Agenda item

Urgent Item - Christmas Ice Rink


The Leader explained that a notice of intention to take an urgent key decision regarding the Christmas Ice Rink had been published on 8th September. The decision could not reasonably be deferred as the supplier required confirmation of order and deposit payment as soon as possible or Cheltenham risked losing the event. The Vice-Chair of O&S had agreed to waive the call-in period so it could be implemented as soon as possible.

The Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business presented the report and thanked officers for putting it together at short notice. She explained that before the pandemic, the Business Improvement District (BID) had a plan in place for the ice rink, including planning consents and financial modelling. The original planning consent was for the rink to be situated in the north west quadrant of Imperial Gardens and to last for 45 days over the Christmas period, but it fell victim to Covid and the cancellation of live events. With restrictions now eased, the ice rink can come back to bolster the festive period, which is vitally important both for resident and businesses. The BID was no longer in a position to commit to it due to the timing of its recent renewal ballot, so this report set out conditions for the business case and financial conditions for the council to take on the contract and provide full financial underwriting for the event.

She added that a revised application had been submitted to to move the ice rink to the site adjacent to the south-west quadrant, bordered by the Promenade and Queens Hotel. This was due to the new plaza, part of the Quadrangle redevelopment at the rear of the Town Hall, making the original site too small. This application would be determined at the October Planning Committee.

The council’s recovery strategy and Economic Recovery Task Force supported the reopening, reinvention and revitalisation of the Town Centre, and this would add to the wide range of experiences available in the town centre to encourage footfall. She added that the expected advertising and ticket revenue of the rink would help it to break even at just 46.5% capacity, with a potential capacity of 60% resulting in a net profit of £85,353. The environmental impact of generators required to keep the ice cold would be kept to a minimum, while the covered structure would help to keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum. £80,302 would be paid as a non-refundable deposit before the planning permission was granted. Local businesses (including StayLets, the Queens Hotel and TURF Cheltenham) had voiced their support.

The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets added that this was a good use of money that would draw people to the Town Centre and increase economic activity.

The Leader added that while the BID was not in a position to underwrite this project, it would be heavily involved and remained a valuable partner on the Christmas market and more. The Christmas period was more important than ever after what had happened at the last minute last year, and residents would welcome the rink.

The Leader moved to the vote, where it was unanimously:


1.    The Authority’s contract rules be waived pursuant to contract rule 6.1.1 for the appointment of 11th Hour Events Limited to supply and deliver the Christmas ice rink in 2021 on Imperial Gardens;

2.    The Authority appoint 11th Hour Events Limited to supply and deliver the ice rink on behalf of the Authority, in advance of planning permission being considered by the Planning Committee on 14th October 2021, and that the costs and risks set out in this report be noted;

3.    A total potential financial commitment of £335,575 plus VAT be approved;

4.    Authority be delegated to the Director of Planning, Place & Growth to agree the terms of the contract and the entrance fees;

5.    £80,302.50 plus VAT be paid as a non-refundable deposit to secure the contractor before planning permission is determined and the contract entered into.