Speed skaters, figure skaters, curlers and hockey players have bandied together in opposition to the decision to keep their ice rink closed until next year.

Members of ice sport clubs who use the ice at the Auchenharvie Leisure Centre in Stevenston were shocked to receive an email from the centre owners, KA Leisure, last Friday.

Kirsty Massie, the media officer for North Ayrshire Ice Hockey Club, whose son plays ice hockey said: “It came out of nowhere.

“Scottish Ice Hockey are looking to restart the season in October, if we’re not back on the ice until January then we won’t be in it.”

In an email to the ice clubs, KA Leisure said that having reviewed the available guidance it had decided not to operate the ice rink for the remainder of the year, citing the ‘substantial cost’ of operating while meeting physical distancing requirements.

She said: “We’re in a kind of limbo.

“We’ve had no ice since March. They’ve decided to not open the rinks, they didn’t contact any of the clubs as far as I’m aware.”

Kirsty Massie’s son Flynn misses being on the ice.

He has been playing ice hockey since he was six and now plays in the Under 14s.

KA Leisure’s letter explained how they plan to place fitness equipment in the rink instead, so as to avoid leaving the space ‘redundant’.

Kirsty said: “I think it’s ridiculous to be honest, you can put your fitness equipment anywhere, you can’t do that with ice. There is nowhere else.”

Councillor John Sweeney, one of KA Leisure’s trustee directors, said: “I have received considerable negative feedback from members of the public and various representatives of clubs associated with the ice rink at Auchenharvie.

“I fully appreciate the anger and frustration as the communication and interaction with ice rink clubs most certainly could have been much better.”

KA Leisure is a not-for-profit charitable organisation responsible for managing leisure facilities across North Ayrshire which, Cllr Sweeney said, is run for the benefit of local communities.

He said: “The decision was certainly made in good faith as a short term disruption to ensure long term sustainability.

“We have based this short term disruption on the Scottish Governments route map on COVID-19, guidance from Public Health Scotland, Sports Scotland and other sports governing bodies. Due to the poor engagement I have offered to meet with club members and parents as a matter of urgency to discuss concerns.”

A petition calling for the rink reopen has over 6,000 signatures.