A DECISION to close a town's ice rink has left sports leaders reeling in shock, fearing it will destroy their clubs.

Ice hockey clubs Slough Jets and SPICE (special people on ice) were appalled on Wednesday, when The Observer personally broke the news to them that Slough Borough Council will not be providing a temporary rink during a nine-month regeneration project of Slough Ice Arena, in Montem Lane.

The devastated clubs fear the decision has left their future in jeopardy.

A heartbroken Ricky Hodgson, chair of trustees for SPICE, a volunteer-run club which teaches children and young adults with learning difficulties, disabilities or additional needs, to ice skate, said: "This is devastating news. It's a real blow. I don't know what will happen, what we'll do.

"Every child has an individual story - a lot have been bullied - and SPICE pulls them altogether and gives them a purpose."

SPICE has been running since 2002 and although it started out as a small group in the corner of the ice rink, the club now sees 120 children, parents and volunteers every week on the ice, 52 weeks of the year.

The same day the club was formally told there was no provision for a temporary ice rink, it received an official invitation from Special Hockey International to attend the next ice hockey tournament that will be taking place in Ontario in March 2017.

The club currently holds the trophy for the British Synchronised Ice Skating best exhibition, following its appearance last month.

Mr Hodgson said: "The team was absolutely made up and they've come back really buoyed up and want to create a new piece. I've got to turn around and say the rink is closing for a year."

Steve English, director of operations for Slough Jets, which boasts 800 regular fans and 1,200 playing members, was equally crushed by the news.

He said: “The problem is no-one really knows what is going on, but it will destroy the club in the long term.

"We are one of the most unique clubs in the community and its impact will have a massive effect."

A Slough Borough Council spokeswoman said: “To carry out the refurbishments the ice rink will have to close in the autumn for a period of nine months and while we apologise for the inconvenience this may cause to some residents and community groups, the council cannot justifiably offer a temporary solution."

She said the council recognises the contribution the ice rink makes to the 'wellbeing of residents' and the council is showing its commitment by investing £7.8 million on refurbishments.

Rob Whitehouse, chief executive of Slough Community Leisure which runs the rink through subsidiary company Absolutely Leisure, said: "We are very pleased that Slough Council has agreed to refurbish the rink and make it fit for the 21st century.

"As a result we know the rink will be closed for a period and we are willing to work with all parties to minimise the impact this may have on our customers and staff."