THE popularity of Bournemouth’s temporary indoor and outdoor ice rinks clearly demonstrates the need for a permanent attraction in the town, according to a local councillor.

Independent Cllr Ron Whittaker, who has campaigned for an Olympic-sized rink at Kings Park for many years, said: “It’s all right to have fun rinks for Christmas but what we really need is a permanent rink where major events can be staged.”

Bournemouth has been without a full-sized ice rink since the one in Westover Road shut down in January 1991.

Earlier this year the tendering process for developers interested in operating a rink at Kings Park ended without generating a single bid.

The council decided to put its plans on hold until the state of the economy improves and they can go back out to the market.

In a bid to encourage developers, the council was willing to give the Kings Park site to a company prepared to build and operate a rink. The local authority had also secured outline planning permission for the site, at a cost of almost £70,000.

Cllr Whittaker said: “The popularity of the temporary rinks shows the need for a permanent facility; we would love to have it in the town centre but there are no suitable sites.

“There are good transport links to Kings Park and the council owns the site. To make it profitable we need the support of developers.”

Since the official opening of the first outdoor ice rink in the Lower Gardens and indoor rink at the BIC on December 4 nearly 10,000 skaters have taken to the ice.

Steve Piper, BH Live Director of Venues, said: “As the school holidays begin we expect even more people to enjoy this activity.”

The outdoor rink will close on January 6 while the indoor rink, also operated by BH Live, will remain open until February 24.