Lessons frozen after rates hike at ice rink

Alicia Gornell
Alicia Gornell
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The father of a talented teenage figure skater has hit out at the firm running the Peterborough ice rink after coaching sessions were cancelled.

Figure skating coaches have stopped running lessons after the charge for renting the pad at the Planet Ice rink in Bretton increased. Lessons were stopped on Tuesday.

One coach said the rate had gone from £77 per week to £300 per week.

Neil Gornall’s daughter, Alicia (17) makes the trip from Spalding to the rink for 6am training at least twice a week.

Neil said: “She is devastated by the news. She gets up at 5am, to go skating on a Tuesday and a Wednesday, and has been having lessons since she was nine.

“She is going to have to give up as there are no coaches, and it is not practical to go to Nottingham, which is the next nearest rink.

“There are no alternatives. The rink has seen so much happiness and heartache for her over the years. What has happened to the Olympic legacy of getting people involved in sport?”

Kim Clayden, a coach who has skated at the rink for 15 years said: “The weekly cost was £77, and now we are told it will be £300. We will not be able to make a living. We have to go to courses, and get re-licenced as a coach every year, skates cost hundreds of pounds.

“We can’t pass on all of the cost to customers, as they won’t be able to afford it.

“I learned to skate here aged nine. It has been my home from home.”

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said he would be writing to Sport England and Planet Ice about the decision.

A protest is set to take place outside the rink at 10am on Saturday.

A spokesman for Planet Ice said they had not reviewed the charges for some time. He said: “In the past we have operated an ‘in kind’ system whereby the charity charges coaches a subsidised rental in exchange for ‘in kind’ services such as teaching our Skate Excellence ‘Learn to’ programme, Learn to Skate in 5 days initiative, coaching for birthday party packages, and in some cases galas including our Christmas performances.

“After reviewing our current system we have come to the conclusion that changes needed to be made.

“The system has exposed coaches to issues relating to tax and employment law, especially in cases where they have failed to declare the “in-kind” benefits to HMRC.

“Additionally it has meant that we have had to utilise all coaches who rent ice from the organisation in the delivery of our educational products, regardless of whether the coach wanted to teach our products or was the best person to do so.”