A PETITION calling for the popular Christmas ice rink to return to the Eye Of York next year has been signed by more than 10,000 people in less than three weeks.

Staff at the Ice Factor rink said the public’s support has been overwhelming – and claim that even members of staff from the nearby York Crown Court building are among those signing.

They said Grant Read, 17, from Acomb, who regularly skated at the rink, has also collected an additional 800 signatures through Facebook, and two pupils from Manor School had collected almost 400 by asking schoolmates to sign forms.

Now the organisers hope to collect as many as 25,000 signatures by the time the rink closes in early January, and they said it was time for court officials to think again about their blanket opposition to the rink’s return.

The rink opened last month for the fifth year running against a spectacular backdrop of Clifford’s Tower, the Castle Museum and the court. But The Press revealed the organisers had been told by City of York Council to look at alternative locations for next year, such as the Museum Gardens, because of objections from HM Courts Service. It later emerged the council’s stance came after it had been threatened with an injunction by court officials.

Ice Factor producer James Cundall said today: “The support has been overwhelming, from both residents and tourists. Our target was 10,000 and we’ve already passed that figure.”

Mr Cundall said Ice Factor had taken every step possible to ensure it did not disturb the courts, including setting up the rink in the evening when the courts had finished sitting and playing no music during the day, and he urged court officials to reconsider their opposition.

“People should ask whether court officials are abusing their powers by using threats of injunctions, instead of going through the usual channels with the authorities if they had any concerns about disturbance,” he said.

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts Service said the operation of the rink in its current location was “incompatible with the operation of the Crown Court”.

At a council meeting on Thursday night, city strategy director Steve Galloway said there were three alternative sites for the rink now being looked at.