BRACKNELL MP James Sunderland has said he is “gutted” the John Nike ice rink will not re-open, claiming the site’s closure is a “real blow” to the town.

The announcement came this morning following weeks of uncertainty around the future of the leisure complex.

It has been closed since lockdown began in March and site managers have repeatedly warned financial strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic could lead to the permanent closure of the much-loved leisure space.

READ MORE: John Nike Leisure Complex to close

As a result of the closure, all staff working at the complex will lose their jobs.

Speaking to the News about the decision, Mr Sunderland said: “I met with the Nike Group last week so this was not a surprise.

“I am gutted at the announcement and feel for everyone involved, not least those who are expected to lose their jobs and regular users of the facilities.

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“I want the very best leisure facilities in Bracknell and I want Bracknell to be a beacon for sport so this is a real blow.

“But to be fair to the Nike Group, they have been losing serious money on an old site for years and the support already shown by the family is the stuff of legend.

“I would certainly hope that the wider community might be able to come up with a new plan.

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“It may also be that an investor can be found to turn it around or that new leisure facilities might be developed.

“I live in hope and will lean in as best I can but this is a sad day for Bracknell.”

The complex — which includes a ski slope and ice rink — was the home to ice hockey team the Bracknell Bees.

Stuart Robinson, owner of the Bees, said the team will now have to find a new ground for their upcoming season.

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He added: “It is a massive loss to the local community in Bracknell and all our “family” within the Hive.

“The place has given us plenty of wonderful memories over the last 33 years.”

Outpourings of emotion have flooded in since the announcement with many residents upset the ice rink will be no more.

Before the news came through, 12,000 people had signed a petition demanding the site is saved.

Kevin Gibbs, Executive Director for Delivery at Bracknell Forest Council, added: “We are saddened to hear that John Nike Leisuresport Complex (JNL) is to close, as it has been a popular meeting point for leisure activities for many Bracknell Forest residents and families over the years.

“Bracknell Forest Council worked to actively support JNL in its desire to secure a new operator through our leisure contacts, and we share in residents frustration that the venue has been unable to remain open in these challenging times.”