A keen ice skater has blamed financial losses and lack of custom at a doomed ice rink on “mismanagement”.

There are fears for the future of Sobell Ice Skating Club after Islington Council confirmed last week the rink at Sobell Leisure Centre would not reopen, almost a year after it was condemned due to flooding.

A club member has disputed claims that only 475 people a week had been using the Tollington Road rink, and argued that with better management by operator GLL, the rink would be financially viable.

Alison Millar, who lives close to the rink and has been skating there for more than seven years, said club members were “shocked” to discover the rink had been making a loss of £250,000 a year.

She added that the club believes more people were using the rink than has been officially recorded, claiming that block bookings for up to 30 people were often recorded as a single booking.

Alison said: “Our own experience of the rink is that it’s not well-maintained by GLL. It certainly is not a loved rink – there’s no promotion of ice activities at the centre really and even booking for casual skating was a bit of a nightmare.

“They haven’t been selling the rink, let’s put it that way.”

Alison, who is in her early 50s and has a daughter who also skates at Sobell, has been travelling to Gillingham in Kent to practise since the Islington rink closed last year.

She said: “Skating is something I find massively helpful for both my physical and mental wellbeing.

“There is a supported atmosphere, camaraderie, and companionship at Sobell.

“It’s not just all about focusing on individual goals and getting your next jump, it’s also about skating with your peers.

“There’s something really unique and lovely about the figure skating club at Sobell that you don’t get at other rinks.”

Islington Council claims that a new Olympic-sized rink at Lee Valley is likely to lead to the Sobell rink’s usage falling even further.

But Alison said: “Lee Valley is just not accessible for the majority of our skaters – it’s not even in the next borough.”

A petition to save the ice rink has garnered more than 3,500 signatures, and a protest against its closure is planned for 6.30pm on Thursday (May 18) outside Islington Town Hall.

Cllr Nurullah Turan, Islington Council’s executive member for health and social care, said: "While it has been a much-loved facility for many residents over the years, the number of visitors is low compared to other facilities at the Sobell, and the proposals that we have put forward will help attract more visitors to the site.

“Furthermore, the opening of larger facilities, such as the new double Olympic-sized rink at Lee Valley and the rink at Alexandra Palace, would have led to a further fall in numbers.”  

Islington Council added that it did not think GG had mismanaged the rink and that, regardless of the dispute over user numbers, it would not change the financial reality that the ice rink was making a significant loss.

A spokesperson for GLL said: “We understand the proposed changes outlined as part of this consultation will be disappointing to Sobell’s ice users.

“With spiralling energy prices and the rink poorly used at off peak times, it’s not been possible to get the rink to a break even position despite all efforts.”