§ Mr. Alton
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the future of Liverpool ice rink.
§ Mr. John Patten
Since the Liverpool ice rink is a privately owned company, any decisions on future operations should rest primarily with the owner. However, I recognise that a decline in attendances over recent years has led to the ice rink becoming increasingly dependent on public sector financial support. In addition to £300,000 provided by my Department and the Sports Council in capital grants to improve the facility, urban programme support has been given in partnership with Merseyside county council in the form of a £35,000 bank loan guarantee and grants to offset revenue deficit including a monthly grant of £7,000 currently.
Such funding will cease on the abolition of Merseyside county council since Liverpool city council has so far not indicated an intention to take over any financial assistance, and my Department does not have the powers to maintain urban programme support in the absence of a sponsoring local authority. However, I understand the owner is currently seeking an opportunity to discuss the future of the ice rink with Liverpool city council.