PLANS to close Dorset’s only all-year ice rink facility have been met with anger and disappointment by regular visitors.

The ice rink at The Ark in Poole Park is set to close in a matter of weeks, with an arts and crafts offering planned to replace the facility.

Nick Davis, of South Coast Caterers, which owns The Ark, said it was costing his business £300 a day to run the ice rink, when some days the attraction made barely £20 in revenue.

It costs £6 for under 12s to use the rink with skate hire, or £2.50 without.

A petition has been set up by furious parents who are calling for the proposal to be axed.

Since Saturday, nearly 900 people have signed the online petition, and hundreds have also signed paper petitions.

Hayley Warren’s 11-year-old daughter Charlee has been skating at The Ark almost every day for the past six months.

Hayley said it would be terrible for the ice rink to close.

“Charlee has started entering competitions and just loves ice skating,” she said.

“It is the last all-year ice rink in the whole of Dorset. Sometimes it is absolutely heaving and the children love using it.

“It would be horrendous for it to disappear. Since going to the ice rink, Charlee’s confidence has grown and there is a real social element to it.

“The next nearest rink is in Basingstoke. I’m willing to take my daughter there but a lot of people won’t be able to do that.”

Judith Pegg, who takes ice skating lessons at the rink, said the facility was a “treasure” and it would cost her “a small fortune as a pensioner to travel elsewhere”.

“Ice skating is by far my favourite way to keep fit and healthy mentally. It allows me to socialise with like-minded adults,” she said.

“I feel my days of having ice skating lessons will be few and far between.”

She added that, despite the petition, “I feel we are fighting a losing battle”. A similar bid to save the popular Westover Ice Rink in Bournemouth, which closed in 1991, was unsuccessful.

Hayley said not enough people in the area knew about The Ark’s ice rink, which opened in 2007.

“Perhaps marketing and advertising the rink to get more people skating in order to make more money would have been a good idea with so many people in Poole knowing nothing about the rink,” she said.

But Nick Davis said even though hundreds of people had signed the petition since Saturday, “nobody had come to use the ice rink”.

“I’m gutted it’s going,” he said.

“But if enough people get behind it and start using it, I’ll keep it. Even if I only broke even on it, I would keep it.

“It costs me £300 a day to run it. I’ve spent a fortune on marketing and maintenance. The amount of electricity it uses is like a hundred freezers running 24/7.

“Last month 235 people used the rink, which generated £573.50 in revenue. It doesn’t make commercial sense.”

He added: “It will cost about £62,000 to take the rink out and put in the arts and crafts centre. We get a lot of local schools visiting and disabled groups who will be able to paint, make pottery and do paper making here.”