Lytham loses ice rink to Yorkshire

Natalia Pestova and Alexei Kislitsyn at Lytham Ice Rink.
Natalia Pestova and Alexei Kislitsyn at Lytham Ice Rink.

There will be no ice rink in Lytham this Christmas.

The Wonder Ice synthetic facility has attracted an estimated 12,000 skaters to the Piazza over the past two festive seasons but will instead this year be thrilling crowds at a garden centre in Yorkshire.

The switch has been made because the couple behind the structure, Lytham-based Russian ice stars Alexei Kislitsyn and Natalia Pestova, found the £9,000 cost of fitting a marquee around the rink at Lytham prohibitive.

And the couple have thrown down the gauntlet to the Lytham business community to consider supporting the venture financially, possibly by buying advertising around the rink, if it is to return in future years.

“Because of the winter weather in Lytham, especially the winds, we need to build a marquee with a roof around the rink, otherwise the people would not come in the numbers that they do,” said Natalia.

“The cost of placing the rink and wages are generally covered by the money people pay to skate, but the cost of the roof is an extra £9,000.

“We looked for support to cover its cost and paid advertising around the rink would have helped but we found that the businesses we approached were reluctant to do that.”

Natalia said that back in February, the couple were approached by management of Wentworth Garden Centre near Rotherham, who wanted to site the ice rink inside their premises for six weeks over the Christmas period.

“No roof is needed there so it is a good move for us,” she said. “But we are very sad to be leaving Lytham as we live here and really loved seeing people enjoy themselves.

“But we never say never and it would be good to think we could return to Lytham at a future Christmas.

“We have a total of four rinks but the other three are being used at Butlins sites.”

Alexei and Natalia brought the rink to Lytham in 2011, two years after the last appearance of a similar facility.

Natalia said the rink had attracted an estimated 6,000 skaters in each of the last two festive seasons, with a further 3,000 visitors accompanying the participants each season.

Helen Vavoso, proprietor of the Java restaurant in the Piazza, said she was sad that the rink would not be returning and wondered if it might be possibly to look at financial support via the High Street Innovation Fund.

But her colleague on Lytham Business Group, vice-chairman Robert Silverwood, who sits on the committee discussing applications for the High Street fund - a total of £100,000 in central Government cash, around half of which is still available to spend – said such a project would not be a candidate.

“It is a private business and the fund can’t be used to support private business,” he said.

“It is a shame that the rink won’t be here this year but I can empathise with the business decision the couple behind it have made.

Anna Wolniak, manager of the Bosco restaurant in the Piazza, said: “It is a real shame. It brought in a little extra business but the main thing was the atmosphere it brought to the square. The children really enjoyed it.”