A NEW leadership has been accused of "lacking vision" at the cost of heartache for an entire community.

In emails seen by The Observer, councillor Joginder Bal, the newly appointed commissioner for environment and leisure, informed Fiona Mactaggart, Slough's MP, "there isn't any money in our budget [to provide a temporary rink]".

The revelation comes just weeks after cllr Arvind Dhaliwal, Slough mayor, blocked an urgent meeting amid the town's leadership battle, to discuss a temporary rink proposal which would have enabled contractual negotiations to commence.

Slough Borough Council agreed a £35million leisure strategy in January this year, providing brand new sports facilities, leisure centres and renovation of the current Slough Ice Arena, in Montem Lane.

The work would mean closing the rink for around nine months and the only way to ensure survival of the numerous groups who utilise the facility would be through a temporary rink.

At just 1.8 per cent of the entire Get Active Slough leisure strategy cost, former council leader, cllr Rob Anderson, said finding the money for a temporary facility is the right thing to do.

He said: "This is to protect loads of ice skating clubs, the Slough Jets and ensure the new rink opens with some customers!

"Whenever people say 'we have not got the money' it usually means they have not got the vision."

However, a quashed report on the costs of a temporary rink shows funds are available.

The maximum cost of a temporary rink stands at £632,000, according to the council. This includes £180,000 utilities running costs, although this is not an additional cost as the council currently spends this amount on running the existing rink.

It also includes £200,000 for a temporary car park, despite Montem Leisure car park being so large that the council leases out part of it to a car wash business and a motorcycle training school.

Currently the council has around £800,000 available to spend from its General Fund reserve.

Even taking the maximum cost into consideration, the report shows the council would be able to provide a temporary rink and still have money left over.

Ricci Hodgson, founder of Special People On Ice (SPICE), a skating group for disabled people, said: "The whole thing has been going on for so many months. They don't realise they are playing with the lives and livelihoods of the stakeholders, coaches, staff and skaters. Frankly it's disgusting."

Cllr Bal did not provide an explanation as to why he made the statement.

However a council spokeswoman said cllr Bal had asked officers to investigate all proposals and report back to the next overview and scrutiny meeting on Thursday, July 14.

A decision will then be made at the next cabinet meeting on Monday, July 18.