AN ICE rink operator who was in talks to build a stadium at King’s Park has spoken about their reasons for pulling out.
Somerset-based Burnham Developments twice attempted to progress plans to build an Olympic-sized rink and other leisure facilities.
They overcame concerns about the Five Parks Act but withdrew from talks when faced with competition from AFC Bournemouth.
This meant the council was obliged to go through a tendering process and this was not a risk the company wanted to take.
Director and consultant John Collinson said: “We were in negotiations about the detailed terms of an exclusivity arrangement and in parallel with that we were advised to talk with AFC Bournemouth.
“The proposal was to share parking with the football club, however the outcome of sharing our progress with AFC Bournemouth was that they separately contacted the council to say that they would like to develop the project themselves without us.
“We can’t afford to enter public competitions, we can only do deals with either private or public landowners on a one-to-one basis.”
AFC Bournemouth then withdrew as well and Burnham Developments approached the council again, only to be told another interested party had come forward.
Mr Collinson stressed he had no complaints about his dealings with Bournemouth council and said: “All we can do is wish them well and hope they get the ice rink that we all believe the town deserves.
“It was very unfortunate that the football club for a very limited time decided they wanted to compete against us.
“If they hadn’t done that I dare say we would have been well on our way to getting the thing completed now.”
Eddie Mitchell, who as AFC Bournemouth chairman spearheaded their interest in the ice rink project, declined to comment on the reasons they withdrew.
But he said: “If I was personally given the opportunity through my company to look at the possibility of funding for a new ice rink complex, I would be more than interested.”
Cllr Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for tourism, leisure and culture, said: “We are currently in discussions with an ice rink operator and we remain committed to the provision of a new ice facility in King’s Park.
“However, at a time when the council’s finances are under severe pressure, we need to ensure that any proposals are economically viable and can be developed and operated without subsidy.”