A PETITION launched to 'save' Auchenharvie's Ice Rink has been signed by over 1,000 people - after it was revealed by KA Leisure bosses that it would be closed until 2021. 

The petition, started by Andy Kerr, states: "After 34 years of being open for locals and visitors to learn to skate, figure skate, curl and numerous ice hockey clubs from beginners to SNL players the Management have closed the rink until January.

They plan on using the rink for fitness equipment when they have plenty of usable spaces throughout the building and allow the rink to be open at the same time encouraging local kids to keep up with their own sports."

In a letter to clubs and ice rink users, KA Lesuire stated that they would not be using the ice rink for the rest of the calendar year, with a plan to re-open it in January 2021 but reaction to the news has been angry with the petition started and many believing it to be the beginning of the end for the rink after the plans to move the swimming pool to the Ardrossan school campus to be built along the North Shore. 

The letter to clubs said: "Dear Ice Clubs,

"We’re sure this has been as challenging a time for you as it has for us.

"As we’re sure you’ll appreciate KA Leisure are taking a phased approach to the re-opening and re-starting of activities. In addition to ensuring the safety of all of our staff and customers we need to ensure that re-opening activities is financially sustainable.

"Having reviewed all of the available Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland and sport governing body guidance KA Leisure have reached the decision not to operate the ice rink for the remainder of the calendar year. In order to meet the requirements of physical distancing a significantly reduced programme would need to be put in place which would not be able to support the substantial cost of operating the ice rink.  

"Following this, KA Leisure has also decided to utilise the ice rink on a temporary basis for fitness activity. This will allow fitness activities to operate at previous capacity whilst adhering to physical distancing and provide much needed income for the Company. It is planned to operate fitness activities on the ice rink until the festive period 2020 with the ice rink re-opening in January 2021 subject to the easing of restrictions.

"Discussion has taken place with The Galleon Centre in Kilmarnock regarding utilising their spare capacity to accommodate club activity and they have confirmed that they will work with the clubs at Auchenharvie to try and accommodate where possible. If you are interested, please contact me direct for details."

Of the over 1,000 people and counting to sign the petition, many believe that KA Leisure hold plentiful space in Auchenharvie Leisure Centre and other facilities and that the continued closure of the ice rink will have a massive negative effect on those who use it. 

Morag Leslie-Smith said: "This is one of the best ice facilities in Scotland and hundreds if not thousands of youngsters rely upon this for their various activities. It needs to open as soon as it's safe so that it is kept in a viable condition."

Heather Wilson added: "My son uses the ice for ice hockey, so much has been taken away from him since March and to tell him that he won't be able to get back to his sport that he has played since the age of four has devastated him.

"There is plenty of gym space between the newly refurbished gym at Auchenharvie, facilities at Greenwood Academy and the Portal. We are depriving children of exercise and a sport they love. Most of the children will not be able to access gym facilities due to their age this is their exercise and you are taking this away from them. Ice clubs spend so much money over the year on ice fees."

You can view and sign the petition here.