Salford Council's ice rink has been steeped in controversy since it first appeared as a `pink rink' in 2007. Its launch, outside the Civic Centre in Swinton, was met by trade unions protesting about the cost while the Council was about to withdraw funding from the Salford Women's Centre (the grant was subsequently restored).
After that first year, the rink's costs were subjected to a `call-in' by the Lib Dems, where Salford Council justified it, stating that…
"There are rinks operating in both Manchester and Trafford (user prices are higher at both) and Salford's residents should have the same opportunities as residents of other cities.
"It is more economical and environmentally friendly for them to use an ice rink on their doorstep than to have to travel out of the city and pay transport costs and higher usage fees. In the current economic climate this offers Salford a 'real' cheaper alternative to entertain their families during the festive period."
Three years later, and the rink has moved to The Lowry Plaza at Salford Quays, a notoriously difficult place to get to by public transport for Salford people, and the ticket prices have almost caught up with Manchester's ice rink in Spinningfield.
For an adult to skate at Salford's ice rink on a Saturday, the price is £8.50 (+95p booking fee online), compared to Manchester's price of £8.50 (+95p booking fee). And while Salford's rink is £1 cheaper for concessions and young people on a Saturday, Salford charges £3.50 for children under 5, while in Manchester they skate free*
Top end ticket prices for Salford this year have risen on average (our statistician says) by 41% with a Saturday skate for an adult costing £8.50, compared to £6 last year. The 41% rise also applies to young people, with a £2.50 hike over last year. Prices are around £1 cheaper during the week.
A Salford Council budget report, produced for the events budget this year states… "In 2009 skating prices were held at 2008 rates and it is suggested that prices are increased for 2010 by a small amount. This would support achievement of the income target."
The income target, according to this report is £85,000 in ticket sales and sponsorship, compared to a total cost of £228,450. If generated, this would leave Salford's council tax payers with the cost of £143,450.
The report adds that the ice rink under achieved its income target last year because of the "extreme weather" conditions. But the ice rink has never met its modest target of 20% capacity, or 15,000 skaters. In 2007 there 7000 skaters, in 2008 12,500, and in 2009 "in excess of 10,000".
The decision to move the rink to Salford Quays is in line with the Council's requirements "to relocate the ice rink to an area in the city with higher footfall".
The total cost of £228,450 includes a massive £13,500 in "management fees" and £62,500 in "staffing". The ice rink is open for just over a month, from 3rd December – 9th January.
Further details at www.visitsalford.info
*Ticket prices based on skating Saturday afternoon 11th December in Manchester and at Salford Quays. For full price list click here.