Holloway leisure centre’s star attraction back on ice after �1.1million refit

Sobell ice rink to stay closed indefinitely as Islington Council sues contractors

ISLINGTON’S only ice rink will remain closed indefinitely after a desperately-needed �1.1million overhaul ended in disaster.

The Sobell Leisure Centre ice rink, in Hornsey Road, Holloway, dramatically shut down last month after costly new refrigeration equipment stopped working.

Skaters only returned to the ice in July after it was closed for seven months for a vital upgrade.

Now Islington Council is suing the contractor whic

carried out that work – and town hall chiefs have admitted the rink will have to be rebuilt from scratch for a second time.

Councillor Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for planning and regeneration, said: “The ice rink has packed up. We have taken legal action against the firm that did the design and installation.

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“I’m bitterly disappointed that this has happened. We have been badly let down.”

Skaters had been under the impression the rink was just having teething problems – and were told it would reopen at the end of January. But it is now clear the ice is not freezing properly and major work is required to fix the problem.

The actual work on the ice rink surface cost �533,000, and the council wants to avoid forking out tens of thousands to patch up the system – only for it to fail again a few months down the line.

He said: “We are likely to have to start again from scratch. We don’t want to throw good money after bad, but it takes a while. We’re expecting it to be closed for another two to three months.”

The closure has put four ice skating coaches out of work, and left students with nowhere to practise. Head coach Karen Coombes, 45, who has been skating at the Sobell since she was eight, said: “I don’t have a job. There’s no ice. It’s just unbelievable.

“I was out of work for the whole of the renovation. I feel like I want to cry.”

The Sobell had been earmarked for demolition, but was saved in the summer after a massive grassroots campaign.

Ms Coombes said her ice skating school had just started to get back on its feet. She added: “We really fought for the rink to stay open and now we get it taken away from us again. We lost lots of pupils and I had just started building everything up again – and now it’s gone again.

“We are in the same place we were in a year ago. How can they get it so wrong?”

Rebecca Morris, 12, of Mercers Road, Holloway, used to skate several times a week. Her mother Ferelyth Morris said: “It’s been such a waste of time, money and effort, and it’s extremely disappointing. I think it’s a real shame that kids don’t have a place to go and skate.

“Rebecca has been skating for a long time and it’s very important to her.”

Mother-of-three Yemi Hailemariam, of St John Street, Finsbury, whose 11-year-old daughter Helawit has been using the Sobell ice rink since she was six, said: “I’m totally shocked. We were told it would be reopening in January.

“I’m worried about my daughter’s fitness because it’s the only activity she does to keep fit.”