The rink at the Moray Leisure Centre has been under constant threat because of a change in European legislation that outlawed its existing ice plant.
Campaigners from the various groups using the rink for skating, curling and ice-hockey despaired if agreement over who should pay for a replacement ice plant would ever be reached, as a series of discussion and official reports delayed actual work to the point where it was feared the rink would be forced into closure.
However, councillors on Wednesday finally put an end to the talking and agreed funding of £251,000 for the ice plant. While the total cost of bringing the rink up to standard will be £462,000 it has been understood that a sportScotland grant will cover the shortfall.
Labour councillor Sean Morton welcomed the decision, saying: “This has been a long time coming and I know the users of the rink are feeling very relieved today.
“We have agreed to give them the much needed investment that will help them keep going – and help them keep delivering an excellent environment not just for leisure and relaxation but an excellent training environment that will nurture home grown talent too.
“We should all be very proud of everyone at Ice4All and everyone who wrote to councillors expressing their support for the facility. This decision was the right one after years and years of waiting.”
Speaking as a member of the Moray Leisure Centre board, Councillor Douglas Ross also warmly welcomed the decision, saying: “The future of the ice plant has been subject to many discussions and reports over the years so today’s decision finally brings the saga to an end and secures the long-term future of the ice rink in Moray.
“The rink is extremely well used by local skaters, ice hockey teams and curlers and is an excellent attraction to have in Moray. I know of people from across the area who use it regularly and any other decision today would have been viewed very dimly by people who value the facility.
“User groups were kept up to speed through-out the process and I think it was useful to have their input along with the consultant, staff at the centre and the board of Moray Leisure.
“Moray can be proud of the excellent results users of the ice facility achieve locally, nationally and internationally and I hope they see the decision by the council to invest in this facility as our recognition of their hard work, dedication and the results they achieve.”
Graeme Summers is Chairman of the Ice4All user group, which represents groups that had put Moray firmly on the map as a centre for international-class ice skaters and curlers. He said he was “absolutely delighted” at the decision as would be the thousands of people who used the rink.
There was a moment of doubt for campaigners attending the council meeting when discussions over rumours about a possible commercial enterprise to rival the ice rink led to the public being cleared from the council chamber. However, on their return councillors agreed to the funding package.
Mr Summers said: “The ice rink is a real landmark in Moray and people come from all over to attend training and events. When it seemed that the funding was in jeopardy due to outside interests it made things rather never-wracking, and I’m really thankful to the council for getting us to this point.”