LETTERS: Council didn't lose ice rink Ice rink still a hot issue

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The Independent Online
The demise of Richmond icerink continues to be a hot political issue in this area, with Tories, Labour and Richard Meacock, a local campaigner, claiming that Richmond Council somehow "lost Richmond its ice rink" ("Tory fund-raiser blamed for loss of town ice rink", 28 July).

A spokeswoman for John Beckwith, whose then company London and Edinburgh Trust bought the rink and its site for redevelopment, alleges in your article that "the Liberal Democrats accepted pounds 2.5m to build a rink. This money was frittered away and not spent on the purpose for which it was intended."

Beckwith's company gave Liberal Democrat-controlled Richmond Council pounds 2.5m as compen- sation for not building public swimming pools as part of the skating/swimming complex that LET refused to go ahead with.Most of the money has been spent on modernising the council's pools, the rest on leisure facilities as specified in the contract with LET. The original responsibility for building a new ice rink was LET's. Richmond Council ought to be congratulated for safeguarding the modernisation of our swimming pools.

If a developer buys an ice rink intending to close it down, there is little the council can do if, like Richmond ice rink, it has always been privately owned. Similarly, if the developer won't build a new ice rink, then the council can't force it to do so.

David Williams

Leader of the Council,

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

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