Worries that Gosport’s skating is on thin ice

Young ice skaters training at Planet Ice in Gosport in May - from left, Gina Kenney, Izzy Erdogan, Summer Crisp, and Mae-Li Stirrat 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150561-13)
Young ice skaters training at Planet Ice in Gosport in May - from left, Gina Kenney, Izzy Erdogan, Summer Crisp, and Mae-Li Stirrat 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150561-13)

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  • A row over coaching contracts has parents and their children skaters concerned on the future of the sport
  • Planet Ice has increased the cost of renting the ice which coaches are unhappy about
  • But the firm says the changes they’ve made are fair
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CONCERNS have been raised over the future of ice skating in the area as prices for coaches to rent a rink have doubled in price.

Planet Ice, in Gosport, has offered coaches who use the rink a new contract where they have to pay £12 an hour to rent it or £250 a week. They will also be paid £12.50 per 30 minutes if they teach skaters for Planet Ice.

The children at the rink are distraught as their coaches have become a part of their family.

Dee World

On their old contract, they were paying £122 a week to rent the ice.

A lot of the coaches are unhappy with the new deal and parents of skaters who use the rink, on Forest Way, and members of the rink are concerned for their future.

Dee World, whose daughter uses the ice, said: ‘Many parents were horrified to hear that Planet Ice has suddenly increased the coaches’ rent by almost double.

‘Gosport is such a small rink in comparison to larger rinks but has still managed to produce good skaters of high standards.

‘The children at the rink are distraught as their coaches have become a part of their family.’

She added: ‘I alone pay Planet Ice £120 a month for my children to train at their facility before I even pay for lessons.

‘Without the ice rent from the coaches and the dedicated skaters each week the rink is doomed to close and a great community leisure facility will be lost to Gosport and the surrounding area.’

Parents are concerned that the coaches will stop using the rink. This means they will have to travel miles to stay with their coaches or learn from someone new.

The nearest ice rinks apart from Gosport are on the Isle of Wight or Basingstoke, which is also run by Planet Ice.

One coach, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘It is so sad for the young skaters and I think the price hikes are appalling.

‘The contracts only benefit people who can work full-time but a lot of the coaches do it as part of their hobby and can only do part-time.’

Jade Gilbert, a 15-year-old skater, said the one-to-one aspect of training is important and the new contract could mean people learn in groups.

‘There’s no way I could go back to group lessons or change my coach,’ she said. ‘That would be an impossibility as it takes years to train a skater.

‘I think what Planet Ice is doing is disgusting.’

But Planet Ice has hit back at the coaches saying they have been reluctant to meet the business when consultations have been held.

Heath Rhodes, a director at Planet Ice, added there are enough hours available for coaches to use the ice for their lessons and they are now paying the coaches to teach their group sessions which they used to do for free.

‘In the past, the coaches and Planet Ice had an agreement to do certain things “in kind”,’ he said. ‘The arrangement was that coaches received a subsidised price when they rented the ice off us for their private lessons.

‘We gave them that subsidised price on the basis they taught some of our skaters like the ones who do the Learn to Skate programme.

‘But the “in kind” arrangement was not working.’

He added: ‘There are a lot of misconceptions over what’s happened and clearly there is an issue with transparency which is why we decided to hold a consultation in Gosport. But no coaches turned up.’