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MP urges council to back ice rink.

AN MP last night urged council planners to back a new rink planned for a city which once hosted Britain's top ice hockey team.

Roberta Blackman- Woods, MP for Durham City, has been supporting the County Durham Ice Foundation's (CDIF) bid for a rink to replace the city's old one, which closed 12 years ago.

CDIF was established as a lobbying body in 2002 to promote the need for a new ice sports facility for the county.

The group is made up of a mix of ice skaters and ice hockey fans rendered 'homeless' by the closure of the city's former Riverside Rink and the eclipse of the all-conquering Durham Wasps team.

This week, the CDIF announced plans for a 3,000 seater ice arena on the site of the former LG Philips factory at Belmont, on the north eastern outskirts of the city.

As well as public skating, it is intended to stage ice hockey by reviving the Wasps, as well as skating tournaments, concerts and exhibitions on the Olympic-sized rink, or pad.

There will also be a retail park with shops, a fitness suite and restaurants featuring popular brand names.

Ms Blackman-Woods said: "There is a shortage of activities for young people in Durham, and the new rink is very welcome. I would urge the local planning authorities to support it.

"Skating is an enjoyable and healthy activity for young people."

Rich Endean, from the CDIF, said the new rink could be up and running as early as Autumn next year if planners agreed.

He said: "The advantage we have is that the structure of the factory building is still in place, which will hasten the development."

More than 1,000 ice hockey fans who attended the Ian Defty Memorial Trophy, held at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena on Wednesday night, were told of plans for the new rink.

The competition, featuring many former Durham Wasps players, was held in memory of the Durham-born ice hockey player who was found dead at home in Meadowfield, Durham, earlier this year.

It is hoped that the next Memorial Trophy tournament will be held at the new rink in Durham.

Organiser Gary Barr said: "I know if Ian was alive he would have welcomed the return of ice hockey to Durham."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 30, 2008
Words:379
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