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Majority of Aviemore trust members in favour of ice rink project

By Gavin Musgrove

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Nearly three-quarters of those polled are in favour of a community trust going forward with a proposal for a seasonal ice rink in Aviemore.

The Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust (AGCT) recently surveyed its members on the proposal for a rink for winter 2021/22.

Part of the rationale behind the move is to prove to Cairngorm Mountain owners Highlands and Islands Enterprise that the trust can manage a major project in its bid to take over the resort.

Aviemore Ice Rink in its heyday. Picture: Auld Aviemore
Aviemore Ice Rink in its heyday. Picture: Auld Aviemore

AGCT chairwoman Hazel Pavitt told the Strathy: “We have all the results in but as a board we have not met to fully discuss yet.

“I can, however, confirm that we had a 78 per cent positive response with 22 per cent against to the question of should AGCT pursue projects out with the ski area.

“So this is a mandate to continue our community based initiatives in addition to our projects within the Cairngorm Estate; including our aim for asset transfer.

“Interestingly the seasonal community ice rink was very popular with 84 per cent for and only 16 per cent against for this project.

“I think that our members understand that we will need to show future investors of all sorts our community ability to realise our aspirations in a tangible form.

“The trust feel very positive in now moving forwards with our ideas after Covid-19.

“We hope that we will attract more members and we’d like to encourage many more to become involved in this positive push forward.

“We are also interested in hearing from aspiring board members and, a potential new project manager to work with the AGCT team.”

Proposals for an ice rink in the village over winter were highlighted as a possible project by AGCT at its AGM last November.

But the trust had said it needed its members’ views in order to inform its board on whether to proceed with such a project.

AGCT said projects away from Cairngorm Mountain are within the trust’s scope but it is conscious that many members joined because of their interest in the resort takeover.

The Cairngorm ski area and wider estate pictured from the Spey Valley Golf Course in Aviemore.
The Cairngorm ski area and wider estate pictured from the Spey Valley Golf Course in Aviemore.

HIE has stressed that such a project is not a pre-requisite for a community bid for Cairngorm Mountain and the wider estate.

An HIE spokesman said: "AGCT is an important stakeholder in the future of Cairngorm and the local area. We meet regularly and greatly value the relationship we have with their directors and members.

"We have supported the trust in many ways, including providing access to expertise and advice on community ownership, and funding two posts to help them develop their future plans.

"As a member of the local stakeholder group formed when the funicular was taken out of service, AGCT was consulted on how the operating company might make improvements to the business on the mountain.

"Their representatives and other local organisations put forward ideas, some of which were able to be implemented by the operating company.

"AGCT has also made us aware of their idea for a pop-up ice rink. While this is unconnected to Cairngorm or HIE, we agree it seems a potentially good project for them.

"We have not received an asset transfer request from AGCT. There is no specific requirement for a community group to undertake a different commercial project as a pre-requirement for a successful asset transfer request.

"We believe the trust is aware of this but also recognise that they cover the wider Aviemore and Glenmore area and not just Cairngorm and that they do need to generate their own income.

"We very much look forward to continuing to work constructively with AGCT and other stakeholders to deliver lasting benefits in the local community."

The Aviemore Centre Ice Rink opened in 1966 and proved to be a hugely popular venue.

However, it was controversially demolished with little notice in the late-90s after organisers of the Highland Trade Fair said the facilities were not up to standard and threatened to relocate the event elsewhere if improvements were not made.

The rink was knocked down using a public subsidy to make way for a fair under canvas. However, organisers relocated its renamed Made in Scotland trade fair to the Central Belt just two years later.

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