Why Christmas wheel and ice rink could be saved

Attempts to save the Christmas Big Wheel and Ice Rink for the 2017 festive period are underway, the Birmingham Mail can reveal.

Last week it was confirmed that the hugely popular attractions would definitely not be returning to Centenary Square this year because of its redevelopment.

And, with the clock ticking, the best the council could say was that “Both officers and the operator have been unable to find an alternative site large enough to accommodate the ice rink and big wheel.”

Now the Mail understands that talks are at an advanced stage to revive Christmas at an alternative site – which cannot be confirmed yet because it is likely to involve a change of land ownership.

The good news is that the move could not only save the 50m wheel and rink, but the New Year’s Eve fireworks display, too.

The events are organised by Emily Danter, operations director of Ice Skate Birmingham , part of W&D Group.

But the sheer scale of the £500 million redevelopment of Paradise and the £10 million remodelling of Centenary Square have knocked out the Broad Street area.

Birmingham Ice Rink and Wheel in Centenary Square by night

Emily said: “I am hoping to be able to confirm the wheel and rink within about two weeks.

“It is all very complicated, but everyone wants it to happen – including hotels because of the tourism factor.

“The wheel and rink have the broadest demographic, from ages one to 100.

The Big Wheel in front of the Hyatt Hotel in 2014

“We are extremely optimistic and hopeful that a solution can be found to save the event and we are working with all parties so that it comes to fruition.

“Everyone loves the ice rink and wheel – tourists, locals and hoteliers.

The ice rink from the Big Wheel

“Schools, too, because we do specific packages for them which we subsidise.

“The event would involve around 60 jobs, some full time, some part-time.”

If the city council knew about Centenary Square, why wasn’t this sorted earlier?

Looking down into Centenary Square

“This was supposed to be a ‘fallow year’,” said Emily.

“But because of the popularity of it, people and businesses said they didn’t want a fallow year.

“So we began to look at several alternative sites which, for one reason or another became unusable.

“Things have kept changing and land ownerships have changed.”

How can it…

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