Ice rinks across southern Scotland at risk due to ‘constant drain’ on utility costs

Ice rinks across southern Scotland say they're at risk due to soaring energy costs.

Border Ice Rink, in Kelso, has seen annual electricity bills double from £40,000 to £80,000 this winter.

Lucy Tile, Chair of the Border Ice Rink, said: "We were pleased to reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown, although it was challenging getting the ice rink reopened.

"To be hit so soon with high electricity and gas prices is putting severe pressure on us."

In an attempt to offset rising costs, the club has introduced ice hockey training sessions and skating discos on Saturday nights throughout February and March.

The facility, which is home to almost 400 curlers and 90 skaters, has also increased the amount of public skating sessions available.

Curling is a popular sport across the region's ice rinks.

The rising cost of energy has also presented challenges to other ice rinks across Scotland.

Mike Ferguson, Chair of the Scottish Ice Rink Association (SIRA), said: "Scottish ice rinks are facing severe constraints and financial pressures.

"We managed to get through Covid-19 and the closures that lockdown brought.

"We thought we had survived and were looking forward to a productive period and a chance to get back to the winter sports that Scots perform well in.

"However, no matter how hard we work at keeping our footfall up, and bringing people into the premises, the utility costs are just a constant drain."

Since opening in 1964, the Border Ice Rink has produced many international skaters and curlers – including David Melrose of the silver medal-winning GB wheelchair curling team.

In a move to become more energy efficient, last year the club’s committee secured a grant of £75,000 from the Fallago Environment Fund to replace outdated refrigeration equipment.

The premises’ current ice plant, which was last replaced in the 1980s, has had a series of faults in recent years.

Nearly 30 curling clubs use the Borders Ice Rink for practice and as a tournament venue.

Members of the Team GB Winter Olympics 2022 curling team have used the Kelso Ice Rink for training. Credit: ITV News

Bill Byres, a member of the Border Ice Rink curling club, said: "We were very pleased to receive this funding as a new ice plant is something that’s sorely needed at the ice rink.

"We still have to organise the fitting of it and that will be something that is likely to be carried out in the close season."

A spokesperson from Dumfries and Galloway Council, which manages Dumfries Ice Rink, added: "Price increases are anticipated in the region of 21% on electricity and 139% on gas.

"We are working with our energy team and finance colleagues to manage this within council resources. 

"We do have solar panels installed to the facility and have further capital works scheduled this year to improve the efficiency of the building."

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