Moray Paralympians call for early decision on ice rink future

Moray’s Paralympics curling medal winners are warning that they may be forced to move unless the future of the local ice rink is decided soon.

Gregor Ewan and Jim Gault returned with bronze medals from the games in Sochi this year – but both are warning that their preparations for future international events are being seriously hampered as doubts remain over the future of the rink at the Moray Leisure Centre in Elgin.

As well as providing a facility for our international curlers the rink is the home for the highly successful Moray Figure Skating Academy – which regularly produces Scottish champions and international competitors.

The fate of the rink is in the balance as it requires an upgrade to its ageing ice plant, which requires repairs at around £50,000 or a complete replacement at £350,000.

Elgin-based Mr Ewan trains several times a week at the rink alongside his Lossiemouth-based GB team mate Jim Gault. Mr Ewan said: “If nothing happens soon I am going to have to move to either Inverness or Aberdeen in order to carry on competing.”

Mr Gault added: “We are hoping to compete in the world championships in Finland next year as well as the 2018 Paralympics games.

”But we and everyone else needs to know what is happening with the Elgin rink.”

Half the funding for the replacement option has already been promised from sportScotland – but the remainder would need to be supported by Moray Council, who already provides an annual subsidy of £600,000 to Moray Leisure Ltd., the trust that operates the centre.

Council chiefs have urged the trust to contact the Ice4all group, who are curlers, skaters and hockey players who use the rink and hope to take over its running – however, so far contact has not been made.

Complicating the situation further is the current review of leisure facilities by Moray Council, currently running a month behind schedule.

Moray Leisure Ltd chairman Drew Baillie said: “We are geared up and ready to implement the cheaper £50,000 option should the council decide it its leisure review that an ice rink should remain in Moray.

”That hopefully gives us time to reopen the rink before the curling season in September – but we appreciate that the council is under financial restraints.”

Moray Council say that a meeting is to be held on July 2 when the future of the rink will be discussed.

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