Swindon Link Centre News


Special Report: Ice Dance- below


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Ice Skating

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Swindon Link Centre News

This website has been created to meet the needs of users of the Swindon Borough Council owned Link Centre.  The Link Centre opened just over 20 years ago to meet the needs of the people of West Swindon. Wiltshire is divided for administrative purposes into four district councils: North, South, East and West Wiltshire District Councils and the unitary authority of Swindon. The borough of Swindon has been independent of Wiltshire since 1998. This fact has implications for the legality of unilateral decisions that are made and will be made about the future of the Link Centre

  • One of the distinctive features of the Centre, apart from its remarkable architectural design! is the provision of an ice rink, the first in Wiltshire prior to 1998. Wiltshire no longer has an ice rink, as the ice rink is now in the independent Borough of Swindon! 

  • The energy used to maintain the ice generates heat which is used to provide all of the heating requirements for the rest of the Centre including the swimming pool. The Ice rink also contributes a significant amount of revenue to the Link Centre as more people use the ice rink than any other facility.

  • Swindon is be complimented in providing this large integrated facility.  At present the above radio buttons only link to about half of the facilities which also include a public library and is superbly located. The editor lives in Wiltshire and regrets the lack of similar facilities in what is one of the largest counties in the country.

Ice Rink: Introduction

Swindon Ice Rink is the only ice rink in Wiltshire, or is it? If it is in Wiltshire then surely the introduction of the Swindon Card discriminates against residents of Wiltshire? The ice rink also has an important role in providing facilities for other skaters who would normally skate in different rinks when those rinks are closed for maintenance -as has recently been the case for the Link Centre Ice Rink itself.  (2006) The current closure of Cardiff Ice Rink and the delay in opening the new temporary ice rink there has meant that some skaters now train at the Link Centre rink.(2006) The temporary rink is now open Cardiff Ice Rink

ICE SKATING NEWS Today's date is: 

No public session tonight

Ice hockey takes evening session 2nd January 2013

I can't recall seeing a notice to the effect that there will be no session tonight Wednesday 2nd January 2013. But even so, skaters need to know in advance. I phone up every time I intend to visit as I need to come a long way and there are other skaters who also come a long way. We now have regular visits from former Bristol ice rink skaters.  Perhaps one solution would be to have a twitter account and any cancellations can be posted. Skaters could subscribe to the feed. I notice that there is a council Twitter service and no post about the cancelled public session.

Wednesday evening session

Swindon Link Centre Ice Rink is it serving the needs of the community?

The only ice skating session in the evening at Swindon Link Centre Ice Rink suitable for working adults other than those who favour using hockey skates is the Wednesday night session.  The other evening sessions are devoted to either ice hockey or disco sessions.

Unfortunately, those skaters who use figure skates do not easily mix with those skaters who use hockey skates. The Wednesday evening session is also used for ice dancing and for figure skaters.  Part of the rink is cordoned off to provide a clear ice surface for instructers to provide lessons for adult skaters.  The session tends to have a mix of ice dancers, figure skaters and adult learners and children and a mix of skaters of varying ability that use hockey skates.

Adult learners tend to be discouraged by some of the hockey skaters who tend to skate at great speed. The Chidren are also intimidated by the hockey skaters. 

Whilst the centre needs to bring money in, the decision to try and maximise the number of skaters by allowing hockey skaters on the session is both deterring adult and young learners and their parents from skating. The ice rink is advertised as being the only rink in Wiltshire and attracts visitors outside of Swindon on a regular basis. March 2012


Ice hockey takes adult public ice session

Wednesday evening session taken by ice hockey 14th September 2011

14th September our session taken by ice hockey. Adult skaters and their children have only one evening session at Swindon's Link Centre Ice Rink. Our session  is on Wednesday evenings. Adult skaters have just one evening a week to skate and that session is also the only session for ice dance which requires dance intervals during which the geneal public, those who cannot dance on ice, leave the ice for those who can to dance on ice. The wednesday evening session is the only session during which adult skaters can have ice skating lessons.

Ice hockey which requires financial support from public companies is able to displace public sessions as these companies provide money that apparently is essential for the continuing existence of Swindon Ice Rink. in fact the Link Centre, as no other facility provides the revenue that the ice rink provides.

It is a shame that adults are the group that lose out to privately supported ice hockey and also teenage boys and girls who come to the wednesday evening session.

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Ice Dance

Some time ago Swindon had a thriving ice dance community.  We had opportunities to take part in ice dance intervals on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The Thursday evening session had three dance intervals and a restriction on some skaters who were not allowed to use hockey skates.

 These sessions were well attended both by ice dance skaters and adult skaters who took advantage of the better ice and the calmer less boisterous atmosphere. We also had regular guests from other ice rinks, notably Bristol and Oxford.   Today in 2006 we are reduced to one session a week on a Tuesday evening with two dance intervals

This situation is not due to a dwindling interest in ice dance but rather in the introduction of the Swindon Card a borough wide implementation and a rescheduling of ice time. These two factors that have led to this deterioration in interest in ice dance at Swindon are detailed below:

  1. The introduction of the Swindon Card which was accompanied by a substantial increase in the entrance charge to the ice rink.  This particularly affected skaters who do not live in Swindon. We lost our visitors, who not only had to pay for their transport to the rink but also the new charge which was considerably more than that charged in other rinks. We lost many regular Swindon skaters who live outside Swindon who could no longer afford to skate twice a week.
  2. Changes in the way the ice time is used. Ice rinks like other sporting facilities have periods during which they can use the ice for different purposes.  In this case hockey practice and patches (figure and dance). It made good sense to arrange the ice time before the Tuesday and Thursday public sessions for the use of figure and dance skaters who could during this time have lessons from professional skaters. This arrangement meant that the teachers could stay on into the evening general session and provide skating lessons and take part in the ice dance intervals.  The rearrangement of non-peak ice time that resulted in rescheduling the figure and dance skating time to an earlier period or to a different day in favour of hockey practice sessions immediately before the public general sessions on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings had the following effects on what was a happy community.

 The effect of introducing hockey practice sessions immediately before the evening public session was to result in:

  1. a reluctance of our teachers to stay to give lessons in the evening session as they would have had to wait until after the hockey practice
  2. the loss of an opportunity for working adults to have proper tuition as they could only visit the rink in the evening.
  3. a deterioration in the quality of the ice which is usually very poor and a danger to all ice rink users.
  4. a reduction of the ice dance intervals
  5. the removal of the Thursday evening session replaced by hockey
  6. sharing the ice on Tuesday evening with skaters with hockey skates

Update May 2007 Good News for Ice Dance

The Tuesday evening session with the two dance sessions is being transferred to Wednesday evenings at an earlier time of 7:30 to 9:30 this will be better for ice dance skaters as there is no hockey session before the Wednesday evening session but an ice patch. This means that instructors may decide to stay on for the public session and this will encourage more ice dancers and other skaters who could have tuition. The ice will be of high quality as well.  Hopefully, skaters with hockey skates will not want to use this session and the ice will subsequently be of even higher quality. This session should also provide a better opportunity for adults to use the ice free from the more boisterous skaters. It also provides for a better time for children to practice.

Update Jan 2008 Evening Session Spoilt by Hockey Skaters

Although the new Wednesday session should have been an opportunity for ice dance and adult skaters as well as youngsters to enjoy good ice at a time that is convenient for working people and is not too late for youngsters to have room to practise what they have learned this is not being realised. Not being realised because of teenagers on hockey skates, who although they have many opportunities to skate at other sessions, come along to what is, as mentioned before,  the only opportunmity to skate at Swindon's Links centre for working adults and ice dancers. The ice is cut up by these lads who practise hockey stops creating deep ruts in the ice, creating dangers for skaters both young and old. They are also playing tag, which is particularly dangerous, as their movements are unpredictable, they twist and turn and skate in the wrong direction. Although many of them are quite skilful their actions deter older skaters and intimidate young skaters and upset their parents who are watching.

The Swindon Card

In many respects the Swindon Card is a good idea as it provides an incentive for residents to take more interest in the recreational sporting facilities that Swindon has provided for the enjoyment and wellbeing of its residents and  it provides a lower entrance charge for regular users.

It could be argued that non-residents should pay more or not be entitled to the benefits of the Swindon Card as they could make use of similar facilities in their own area. The Card is available to non-residents for a charge of £22 but there are concessionary rates.  Unfortunately, the introduction of the Card did stop guest visitors to the ice dance evenings which is a great loss.  Also as there are no other ice rinks in Wiltshire non-residents who want to go ice skating have to either buy a card or pay extra currently £7.10  (£5.40 with the card) The price for skating for non-card holders is actually much more than other rinks charge. Bracknell Ice Rink charges £3.85 to £5.95 (the higher price for Friday and Saturday night disco sessions.  The Swindon Card is thus NOT giving a discount but charging more to non-card holders.  Admittedly, Bracknell charges an additional £1.40 for skate hire, but this is good business sense as the hire charge acts as an incentive for skaters to buy their own boots, which in turn will ensure that they skate more frequently    Bracknell

Is Swindon Guilty of Discrimination Against Adults?

 The effects of the combined introduction of the Swindon card and the rescheduling of the ice time has lead to discrimination against adults in that sporting facilities that other age groups have access to have been deliberately removed or reduced or obstacles have been created that cause discrimination against working adults.

 The bulk of the ice time has been given over to ice hockey which is also sponsored by outside agencies, welcome as this funding is it could also be suggested that this has lead to the removal of ice time from other areas. Only one evening session remains; Tuesday evening, (changed to Wednesday evening) although the session has two dance intervals, it is also open to hockey skaters whose blades rapidly destroy the ice surface and has as been mentioned above are difficult to control.

The session is also used to accommodate school parties and private parties –as it is the only time available. This further discourages ice dancers to practice dances in between the two dance intervals. The current lack (May 2007) of an ice rink in Cardiff has lead to some Welsh skaters being taught at Swindon during this evening session and this is very difficult for them in what is often a crowded session.

Is Swindon Free to Restrict Facilities to Swindon Residents?

  1. To what extent is Swindon Borough Council free to determine how its sporting facilities are used?
  2. How much of its funds come from outside agencies?  Does this funding come with conditions?
  3. Is there sympathy for Labour controlled Swindon to restrict their facilities to neighbouring Conservative Wiltshire whose residents benefit from subsidised recreational services?
  4. Should Wiltshire provide an ice rink for its residents? 

Isn't there a strategic national plan to provide the recreational and leisure services that to some may be regarded as a pleasant, and non essential service rather than an extremely important service that has a major role in keeping people fit and healthy both physically and mentally. Ice Rinks in the UK


 For the present, the design of the website is sufficient to provide a public place to which users of the Link Centre may contribute their views.  The initial contact can be made via email to xxxx@linkcentrenews.co.uk  where you will need to replace xxxx with “ed”  Where ed is short for editor. The privacy of all contributors will be respected.

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Page updated: 13/01/2008