Fantastic skating but drunks grating
Troublemakers spoil excitementVICKI WATERHOUSE
Drunken troublemakers have been spoiling the excitement around Palmerston North's temporary ice-skating rink.
The half-covered outdoor facility began operating in The Square last Saturday, in time for the school holidays.
But the company that helped bring it here says ice skates were being stolen from opening day, and police were called to two incidents at the rink last weekend.
Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin said one of them involved a group of drunken men refusing to leave the venue, but Safe City Hosts moved them on before police arrived.
Mr Calkin said the security guards had been "hassled most of the night by intoxicated people" hanging around the area.
The other incident involved a group seen interfering with a forklift at the rink just before it opened.
About 4am yesterday police were called to the venue to deal with another group of disorderly drunks.
"They had gone on to the ice and were refusing to leave," Mr Calkin said.
It was an offence to climb over the fence and get on to the ice, and offenders could be charged with unlawfully being in an enclosed yard, he said.
The ice-skating rink itself was welcome and only a few individuals were causing trouble.
"There's obviously lots of public interest in it and the kids are loving it," he said.
Security guards were at the site every night and were being supported by Safe City Hosts, Maori wardens and police.
Police would be keeping a keen eye on the rink, particularly as it was school holidays and there was a lot of foot traffic through The Square, Mr Calkin said.
The rink was brought to Palmerston North by Douglas Webber Events and Destination Manawatu.
Douglas Webber Events director Gareth Webber said staff members caught one group of people stealing skates red-handed and many pairs of skates had been handed in.
"I don't know what they're going to do with them," he said.
"We've had a lot come back to us, people have come and told us they've found them in bushes."
A security camera has since been installed.
"I think it's all under control now," Mr Webber said.
Despite the problem of drunken opportunists, feedback from the public had been fantastic, Mr Webber said.
"Everybody's keen to see us come back next year," he said.
"The support has been great, a really good sign of things to come."
About 1400 people used the ice-skating rink in the opening weekend alone, and Mr Webber believed a total of 4000 have had a go on the ice.
The ice measures 35 metres by 15 metres, about half the size of an ice hockey rink.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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