An informal meeting was held last night in the Adult Education Centre in Camberley. The purpose was to update local residents on the plans for a Christmas ice rink and market in the London Road Recreation Ground, and for residents to respond with their views. The speakers were council officers and the owner of the company selected to run the temporary event. At the outset, the council’s chief executive stressed that nothing had been decided, nothing was definite, and that points raised during the meeting would be important in making the final decision, and in identifying issues that would have to be resolved before proceeding.
At a rough estimate, something like seventy people were in the audience. Many were no longer in the first flush of youth, which was a pity, as potential users of the ice rink weren’t really represented. Indeed, of the sometimes heated contributions from the floor, only one was in favour of the proposal in its current form.
The audience was told that the rink would be open for thirty days, starting with an official ‘ceremony’ on 1st December, and preceded by a week and a half to set everything up. A final week would be required to clear the site. The whole event would be on the southern part of the park, leaving the grassed northern area free for normal use.
Concerns were predictable and understandable. Traffic, parking, noise and bad behaviour were all raised. No solutions to these were agreed, with the speakers’ response being either to give reassurance or to stress that the matters raised would be taken seriously and investigated. The event itself is expected to be cost-neutral to the council, with any direct losses falling on the shoulders of the event organisers.
It’s not intended to give a full report of the evening here – it was quite a long meeting. Towards the end, the Eye asked what the next steps were; we had already been told that a licence application was expected in May/June and a planning application in July/August, but were any further informal consultations likely? After which, it was agreed that a small group of local residents should be formed to act as a ‘point of contact’ with the council to continue to provide input.
The impression gained from the meeting was that there was lots of support for the principle of what was proposed. However, severe problems were anticipated because of the location concerned.