Relief at ice rink as safety test is passed

An ice rink has been allowed to keep its entertainment licence after improving its fire safety procedures, fire chiefs announced yesterday.

An ice rink has been allowed to keep its entertainment licence after improving its fire safety procedures, fire chiefs announced yesterday.

Whitley Bay Ice Rink, which is also home to the Whitley Warriors ice hockey team, was given 21 days to comply with fire safety requirements or lose the licence for three months after it failed an inspection following a fire on March 26.

Fire officers raised concerns about the venue's safety procedures following the blaze after it was revealed that there were around 25 people still in the building when the fire brigade arrived.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service claimed public safety had been compromised and asked for a review of the premises' licence to host concerts and ice hockey games despite licence holder Francis Smith claiming no-one was in danger.

A North Tyneside Council licensing committee said it would suspend the rink's licence for three months if the safety issues were not addressed.

But the fire authority and council have now confirmed the ice rink, on Hillheads Road, Whitley Bay, has complied with their requirements.

Hugh MacLeod, from the fire service, said: "We carried out an inspection under the supervision of the council and we are satisfied with all the work they have done.

"They have complied with all our requirements. We will be monitoring the situation so conditions are not allowed to deteriorate."

Mr Smith said yesterday: "I'm pleased our licence will not be suspended. We have complied with all the requirements."

Former Olympic skater Joanne Conway is one of thousands who learned to skate at the Whitley Bay Ice Rink. Yesterday the former British number one, who represented Britain at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, said: "It would have been a real shame if the suspension had gone ahead. The rink is popular with many children and the only one in the North apart from the one in Billingham in Teesside.

"It is good news that the suspension has not gone ahead, but now is the time for real improvements to take place."

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer