Camberley’s ice rink – the latest news

The SHBC chief executive, with supporting staff, and representatives of Event by Event spoke to a meeting of residents last night.  Event by Event are running the ice rink/German market/funfare that will be on the London Road Recreation Ground all December

This is a really difficult subject for the Eye.  We don’t live anywhere near the recreation ground, so we won’t suffer from any noise or traffic problems that the event might cause.  This makes it easy for us to take the side of those who will enjoy visiting the park and taking part in the various activities.  However, if we did live near by, we’d probably see things very differently.

So, we’ll try to comment briefly on the meeting from a neutral stance…. We left at the end feeling somewhat reassured.  A lot of thought and effort has obviously gone into preparing everything.  Yes, there have been inexcusable lapses in the way parking and the installation of an electricity transformer have been managed.  It would have been far better if these hadn’t happened – but at least corrective action by the council seems to have been taken promptly.

Inevitably, the main unresolved issue was whether traffic will grind to a halt in December and block residents in their houses.  To some extent the borough council’s view was that this is very much a county council matter.  It is the county council that has road and traffic management expertise, and it is responsible for the final decision.  While technically this will be true, the fact does not give us much comfort.  We’ve been watching the development of Camberley long enough to remember that, when the Atrium was still on the drawing board, many local people said that a roundabout in Southwell Park Road – where Charles Street heads north alongside the Atrium – was essential.  The county council didn’t support the idea, and it left us with the shambolic junction that we have today.

In practice, we suspect that it’s too late to change traffic management plans significantly now, even if a clearly better scheme had been identified during the meeting.  As the chief executive said, some disruption from a major event is inevitable.  We can only hope that the pain proves to be bearable, so that the ice rink reappears next, and subsequent, winters.

Oh, and we wandered past the site of the ice rink yesterday.  We were impressed by the amount of preparation being carried out on the tennis courts themselves.  (We’re not commenting on the destruction of the shrubbery here – that’s another matter.)  We happened to see the Fun House arriving on site, so that’s what we photographed.  Here it is.



26 thoughts on “Camberley’s ice rink – the latest news

  1. What astounded me when I was at the Adult Education Centre two days ago, no one in the office had been informed of the Southwell Park Road partial closure. They were going to get straight on to the council to find out about it. Does the school know, does the Arena Leisure Centre know? Everyone trying to get to these places will be affected.

    • One of the points made at the meeting, Denise, was that communication about the event had been pretty bad. Local people – especially those who don’t use the internet – were in the dark.

  2. I live in Southwell Park Road and will not be able to turn right to go down park street under the bridge as they are putting in a no right turn there. This means I will have to go left and up to the roundabout and back down again along with all the other traffic that currently turns right there.

    It would have been nice to get a complimentary ticket or free drink voucher from the profiteering organisers to compensate for the inconvenience – it is bad enough in December with this so close to the town as well.

  3. Whoever sat round a table with their puffed up chests and brainless cells deciding on a Christmas fair and ice rink plonked right where it is want their heads banging together …….VERY HARD

    • Julie, I assume you have attended the local public meetings on this and have done some in depth investigation as to how successful other towns,like Reigate, have been with their centrally placed rinks.

      • My concern is Camberley not Reigate. I live opposite the site, I know how congested the local roads get under normal circumstances and especially leading up to the busy Christmas period. I can already hear endless piped music ringing in my ears. I’m wondering if Ill ever get out of our Drive. Lets see, hopefully Ill be proved wrong and it will be a huge roaring success and the local residents wont have felt the need to hang themselves off the nearest Christmas chalet.

  4. Aside from the road disruption (that’s my usual route into town), I took my daughter and her friends skating last weekend, and this all just seems like a huge opportunity missed. When the event was advertised as a Victorian Christmas Fair I imagined lots of craft/food/drink stalls alongside the rink, more in keeping with the Farmer’s Market that comes to the town centre every month. Unfortunately we’ve ended up with a bit of a token effort; two completely unthemed (and unused when I was there with the kids) fairground rides, terrible piped music – also not really in keeping with the supposed theme – and virtually no stalls. Also, why are there no skating aids (like the big penguins) for younger children ? The kids enjoyed the skating (it was virtually empty the Saturday morning we were there) though.

    A great idea in principle, completely half-baked implementation. I would hope that the long-term contract is reviewed based on their execution of the brief this year.

    • There’s not much to add, James. I’ve withheld commenting on the implementation so far, but I don’t disagree with what you say. Also, I was never convinced that the market was a good idea. Even if very successful, I felt it was likely to draw trade away from the town. Plus, at their busiest time of year, I doubted that local retailers would have the spare resources to man a shed/hut themselves. It’s a great pity; I was – and am – in favour of having a Christmas ice-rink in Camberley. (Oh, and many residents think that the ‘road disruption’ is actually working rather well. There’ll probably be some pressure to make the temporary layout permanent.)

    • I believe that The Event by Event Company are committed for 5 years for this event. This is the first year and hopefully lessons learned will improve this event year on year. Me, for one, is in favour of making the road changes permanent!

  5. The address on their website and the press releases state Southwell Park Road but if you go to Southwell Park Road the gate has been tied shut with tatty bits of mine tape. I suspect the gate closure was a late idea to force people to walk through the Grand Ave gate and past the one unfortunate person I saw hoping to sell something from their shed. The sheds have all gone now – I think they were too expensive to be viable for small businesses and the brave one that was there at the start has given up, I hope they get their money back.

    The posters they have up use the word “fantastic” which is a bit over dramatic for such a non event. Their website also uses “extensive entertainment programme”, “month-long extravagansa”, and “all the joys, festive cheer and magic of Christmas into one perfect, wintery setting” none of which would not be the words of an honest observer.

    If you go to their website at you’ll see a tab that shows all the sponsors! It says “Coming soon” but I don’t expect anything will actually come soon – no one will want to have their name near this place – I hope the local council (who may be financially sponsoring) don’t get a big bill for the costs of the event but expect they will as Event by Event do not seem to care about the residents or if the event works or not. But the borough council website says they will ensure it’s a fantastic occasion with the following:
    “The Council is working in partnership with Surrey based company Event by Event whose wide experience of similar events will ensure it’s a fantastic occasion not to be missed. ”

    I was not impressed by the opportunity to buy a German sausage for £4 or have a small bottle of beer in a tent for £4 while listening to embarrassingly bad music (presumably so there are no royalties to pay) played far too loud for small children.

    I think visitors from outside Camberley will leave with a dim view of Camberley as a result of an oversold disappointing anticlimax.

    This year is unlikely to attract more sponsors or any local groups, performers, societies and communities to contribute next year which they failed to attract this year.

    Perhaps they should have pedestrianised knoll road outside teh council offices and put it there so people can shop at the same time and you’d get a bit more foot fall from passers by rather than expecting them to trapse so far.

    We’ll see…

    • Sadly, Mark, there’s been a lot wrong with both the idea and its implementation. It’s a pity, because it would be good to have affordable skating in the town. (According to the council, it’s the contractor who’ll have to meet any significant loss. But the true picture might never emerge….)
      Of course, ‘fantastic’ can mean ‘remote from reality’. Hmm.

    • Couldnt agree more. Personally I think Camberley is to small to host an ice rink and make money. At least with any aplomb.What we have now is an abomination, unattractive, in fact downright ugly, without an ounce of festive charm or appeal, endless tinny music, a great big white elephant, How much better would it have been to have a selection of attractive festive chalets in the town centre bringing much needed footfall to the shops, at least that would appear like the council take some pride in Camberley. Whoever agreed to this eyesore needs putting back in their box. In my opinion it should definately not be repeated.

      • Julie, I was one of those people in favour of this venture and unfortunately, I have to agree with you. We are almost half way into the month and I cannot see how this is going to be a success. It would be interesting to see a post event revue from both the borough executive, who sponsored the event and the operator to see what lessons have been learned and the way forward. We definately do not need a repeat. The only positive, that I can see, is the traffic flow system , which I believe has been a success ( apart from those people who turn left from Southwell Park Road towards the Atrium Park and do a sneaky about turn using the Charles Street turning).

  6. Bob, i think the fundamental problem is that Camberley is just a small market town, we dont have the footfall or additional attractions such as Bath, Sommerset House, other cities and obviously Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, ive visited all these and others beside and to be sucessful they needs to be beautifully done and that requires oodles of cash and that requires a guarantee of crowds, everyday single day its open, likewise attractive festive stalls will only invest if returns are worth it. Its unbelievable to think we can compete, christmas is expensive for many families as is time, its got to be a very special day out. What we have is a very cheap, tacky version from the entrance onwards. I have just popped round again to have a look, nobody was on the ice, all the garden sheds shut, and about 6 people at the venue and 2 of those were security guards, even the music sounded sorry for itself. The romantic in me loves the idea and vision but my head has always thought, from the days it was first muted, this is wrong, so wrong, it will never work. On the traffic, it is flowing ok with the reroute but then we havent had the expected crowds and the centre seems considerably quiter than usual. If the council were attempting to do something magical and crowd pleasing for the town the ice rink was certainly not it. I agree totally, as residents, we should demand from the borough executive his verdict of the aftermath. Im sure loads of money will be lost and hopefully whoever is going to lose it will not want a repeat. Cant believe we’re even discussing next year.

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