HALTON’S long-awaited ice rink welcomes its first skaters today.

Silver Blades is the last unit to open at the £10m Hive leisure park in Earle Road, Widnes An ice disco will launch the new rink at 8pm.

Mark Johnson, Silver Blades managing director, said: "We are really excited. This is going to be a tremendous facility for the area and I think it will be very popular.

"Everyone has worked really hard and have done a great job to have it ready for Christmas."

More than 700 people applied to work at rink.

Thirty staff of all ages are now in post.

The rink will open all over the festive period including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and there are taster sessions in the new year.

Halton Council leader, Cllr Rob Polhill, said: “I am delighted that it is opening for Christmas and would like to thank Silver Blades for working so hard to get it ready in time.

“We said many years ago we would bring an ice rink to Halton and I can’t wait to see it full of people having a great time.

“This is somewhere that visitors, not just from Halton, but also from our neighbouring towns and cities will want to come.

“We hope they will keep coming back and enjoying everything on offer in Halton and at The Hive”

The rink will have 800 seats and host ice hockey and sledge hockey matches, figure skating and ice dance, synchronised skating, parent and toddler sessions and lessons for children and adults.

It could also become a training and practice venue for top teams and celebrities from ITV’s show, Dancing on Ice.

The Hive is already home to Widnes Superbowl, Reel Cinema, Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s, Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre restaurant.

For details of courses and offers, silver-blades.co.uk and Facebook page –http://www.facebook.com/SilverbladesIceRinkWidnes