A businessman fighting to reinstate Richmond's former ice rink has taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights and will broadcast a two-minute appeal on television tonight.

Richard Meacock, a keen skater who owns an art gallery on Richmond Hill, blames the Liberal Democrat borough council and the property development company London and Edinburgh Trust (LET) for the demolition of the rink in the summer of 1992 to make way for a block of flats.

LET was given planning permission for the development in 1989 and was required to start work within five years or be forced to reapply. Mr Meacock said LET had not yet begun construction and sees his chance to oppose them by taking any fresh application to a judicial review.

Mr Meacock, who went on a hunger strike over Christmas in 1992-3 in protest, has been vociferous in his four-year fight to bring back the rink to Richmond, including securing tonight's two-minute slot on Carlton's After 5.

'I'm doing this for the children of London who have nowhere to go now. The people who used to come here for a day out were of a considerate nature. It's a pleasant sport for pleasant people. Now all the children have got is drugs and drink.

'The land has been derelict for five years. It is an eyesore,' he said.

However, Jock Maxwell, an LET spokesman, said a new creche and caretaker's apartment had been built on the site and had been open for 18 months.

George Chesman, Richmond Borough Council's assistant head of legal services, said: 'That will keep the planning permission active. There is no need for it to be renewed.'

Mr Meacock also accused LET of reneging on a condition in the original planning permission which required the company to rebuild the ice rink in the borough.

But Mr Chesman said: 'When LET were granted permission they were required to build a new rink only if other factors, such as a suitable site and a rearrangement of the access from the main road, were provided. In the end they weren't, but LET gave Richmond pounds 2.5m to provide other public leisure facilities for the borough and that exonerated them from further liability.'

This outraged Mr Meacock, who said a new rink would have cost LET pounds 22.5m.

Mr Maxwell said the company 'did everything within its power to find an alternative site and spent tens of thousands of pounds. In the end, because LET were not able to get a satisfactory site, it paid over pounds 2.5m to the council.' He said he was not planning to challenge Mr Meacock.

Mr Meacock has twice failed to gain a judicial review into the loss of the rink, which enjoyed international acclaim. Robin Cousins and John Curry trained there, as did Torvill and Dean and Olympic teams from Finland and Japan.

Mr Meacock believes local businesses have lost millions of pounds as a result of its disappearance. More than 12,000 people used the rink every week, bringing considerable trade to the borough. The heart has been ripped out of Richmond,' he said. He claims he has lost pounds 100,000 of business during the past two years.

However, Mr Maxwell said the rink had to close because it was deemed unsafe and needed extensive renovation.

Mr Meacock also owns a pub, a house in Guernsey and runs a flying school in France. But he is willing to liquidate these assets if it means getting the rink back.

'I know it's difficult to believe that anyone would do anything totally altruistic, but that's what I am doing. I'm not giving up until it's back.'

(Photograph omitted)