CAMPAIGNERS battling to see an ice rink open in Bournemouth have been backed by the Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association (BAHA).

Industry leaders say that the facility, which has been on the cards for more than 30 years, could support tourism in the town.

An online petition calling for an Olympic-sized rink has gathered almost 1,200 signatures, while 200 more have put their names to paper copies being circulated in Bournemouth.

Paul Clarke, chairman of BAHA, said: “We would be very happy to support this initiative, which will not only add a wet weather attraction, but also a destination experience and activity ideal for not only the local conurbation but tourists as well.”

Mary Waygood, who started the Facebook group Westover Ice Rink – Memories, said: “It’s all going really well.

“This support from BAHA is absolutely fantastic, and really welcome.”

On Friday evening, supporters of the initiative gathered at the BIC’s temporary rink before taking to the ice together.

Bournemouth Borough Council has given planning permission for a rink at Kings Park, but currently has no developer in place to build it.

Mary, who is hoping for 5,000 signatures by the beginning of March, said: “There are some questions that we’d like to put to the council.

“If they are having trouble finding an investor for Kings Park, would they consider building a rink on the site of council-owned property? If there is property not being used, then perhaps that could be transferred to a suitable site for the rink. It has come to the point where actions speak louder than words.”

Supporters say a rink would be commercially viable if it were big enough.

Councillor Lawrence Williams, portfolio holder for tourism, leisure and culture, said: “The council is committed to working with the private sector to provide a new permanent ice facility for Bournemouth. “Land at Kings Park has been earmarked as a suitable site for this development and the Council secured outline planning permission in October 2010.

“Unfortunately, it has so far been difficult to attract a suitable developer and operator in the current economic climate and no bids were received as a result of a detailed marketing of the site, ending in March 2012, despite a number of expressions of interest.”

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