SHEFFIELD’S iconic Ski Village is unlikely ever to re-open – with its owners unable to get insurance following arson attacks, vandalism, and theft, writes Claire Lewis.
The landmark alpine ski complex has stood at Parkwood Springs for the last 25 years - but owner Kevin Pullan says insurance firms are now unwilling to take the gamble after much of the site was destroyed in a blaze last April.
The blaze which ripped through the wooden clubhouse was logged by fire investigators as accidental, but has been followed by repeated arson attacks by vandals.
The Ski Village on Vale Road has also been targeted by thieves looking for metal to sell on as scrap. Two suspects who were chased from the complex by police only last week were arrested after being found with a cutting saw.
Mr Pullan, whose firm bought the Ski Village in 2007, said: “We have been inundated with vandalism and thefts since the first fire.
“The last incident was as a recent as Friday when the police helicopter spotted two vehicles on the site and followed them down Penistone Road until officers on the ground apprehended two men carrying a cutting saw. It is like the Wild West up there.
“When the village was up and running and we were on site 24/7 we could contain things, but when our insurance ran out in August we have not been able to get re-insured, and there is no way we can keep the site secure because people seem to think they can walk on and help themselves to whatever they want. It is proving impossible to get re-insured.”
He described Parkwood Springs as a ‘forgotten’ area of Sheffield, crying out for investment.
“It’s the forgotten area of Sheffield,” Mr Pullen said. “When we took over in 2007 there was talk of the landfill site eventually closing and a huge park being created, and there was talk of EU grants for the area, but all that seems to have fizzled out.
“There is also an unauthorised gypsy camp up there which is growing all the time, and a sense that people can get away with getting up to no good.
“I don’t blame the police or the council - I have written to the council but there is no money available, and the police are doing all they can. It’s investment the area needs to bring it up to the 21st century.”
He said he suspects the Ski Village site will end up being used for industry, or connected to the nearby landfill site, rather than as a base for a leisure facility.
“The slope material is still there if anybody was interested in talking to us and taking it on, but in 2013 it’s difficult to see that happening,” he said.
“I see the site being used for industry, maybe something associated with the tip like storage containers - something as far removed from an alpine ski village as you could get.”
The Ski Village opened in 1988 as the largest artificial ski resort in Europe.
Around 50 members of staff have lost their jobs since the initial fire ripped tore the complex.
Anyone with information about criminals targeting the ski village should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.