Christmas on ice in Hampstead Heath
PLANS to bring Christmas cheer to Hampstead Heath have been put on ice by the credit crunch as the planned skating rink was cancelled this week. The firm supplying the rink to the City of London Corporation, Cascade Ice, has fallen into administration, fo
PLANS to bring Christmas cheer to Hampstead Heath have been put on ice by the credit crunch as the planned skating rink was cancelled this week.
The firm supplying the rink to the City of London Corporation, Cascade Ice, has fallen into administration, forcing the event to be cancelled.
It is the second year the popular rink has failed to get the go-ahead but Heath bosses say it doesn't mean an end to skating altogether.
A spokeswoman said: "It is with regret that the City of London Corporation is unable to host an ice-rink facility.
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"The corporation was in talks with Cascade Ice to install a temporary rink on the site of the tennis courts at Parliament Hill. However, we have now been advised that Cascade Ice has gone into administration.
"Unfortunately there is not enough time to find another provider and secure the appropriate licence to install the rink in time for this winter.
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"However, as the facility proved so popular in previous years, the City Corporation is keen to have a rink at the Heath in the future and efforts to secure a suitable provider for Winter 2009/10 are continuing."
Residents have been left disappointed by the move, which sees the current economic conditions affecting yet another area of life.
Highgate Society spokesman Brendan Nolan said: "It did run for a couple of years but stopped the year before last.
"It was very good - it ran for six weeks and was always popular and it got people down there as these things always do. I am very sorry it's not happening again this year.
"It was a great place to go and an ice rink at this time of year is always wonderful and very Christmassy. It's a great shame. I hope someone will take it on for next year."
Hampstead councillor and head of the NW3 Hampstead trader's group Linda Chung agrees: "It's a terrible shame, it is lovely to be able to skate in the open air and I hope someone takes it up for next year. It was really popular and everyone said how much they enjoyed it."
Thousands paid to use the rink on Parliament Hill tennis court when it opened in 2005 after private firm PWR was approved to run skating on the Heath.
Meanwhile, Highgate residents are being asked to help fund Christmas lights on their High Street this year.
Traders who have already purchased the lights and the wiring are usually supported by the council putting them in place and getting insurance.
That is set to happen again this year but organisers are being asked to supply an extra £1,000 to support the council costs. The demand comes a week after Haringey admitted having invested £37million in doomed Icelandic banks.
Christmas celebrations organiser, estate agent Chris Underhill, said: "Due to the squeeze on the council's budget, there will be a reduced amount for Christmas lights this year and they have asked residents and traders to contribute.
"We will have to do some emergency fundraising in the next four weeks but they should be going up the end of November as usual."
A Haringey spokeswoman said: "We do always ask for a contribution from traders and think that is fair.
"I don't know why Highgate's has gone up but the amount asked for will be relative to how many lights they require - it is nothing to do with the credit crunch.