The leader of the Isle of Wight Council has pledged to continue the search to find an acceptable long-term solution for the future of Ryde Arena – which meets the wishes of the local and wider Island community.
The council owns the freehold of the former ice rink on Ryde seafront, and has been in arbitration proceedings with the leaseholder for the property, AEW, to try to get the building back into reasonable repair for use by the community.
Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart has reaffirmed his commitment to resolving the future of the arena – after it was confirmed at a meeting of the Cabinet today (11th February) that the arbitration proceedings had come to end, as no agreement could be reached.
Empty for years
The prominent seafront building has stood empty in recent years and its condition has deteriorated.
The council had initiated legal action under the terms of the lease to require AEW to use its “best endeavours” to keep the facility open and operational in the longer term.
The legal action required the two parties to use arbitration to resolve the argument as a first step.
The council sought to use the process to get the building back into use, but as no progress was being made the arbitration process was ended to prevent further expense to the council taxpayer.
Whittle: Council made extensive efforts to resolve areas of difference
Cabinet member for regeneration and business development, Councillor Wayne Whittle, said:
“The council has made extensive efforts during the arbitration to resolve areas of difference, and to find agreement which we believe would meet the wishes of the community for this important and sensitive seafront location currently standing dark at a key gateway to the Island.
“However, this disappointingly has not been achieved – and to avoid the potential for further expense to the council in chasing a position we are advised has little hope of a positive resolution through either the arbitration or legal process, we have had to step away to review the position. Our commitment on behalf of the local and Island community remains steadfast.”
Alternative proposal rejected
The council has indicated it is not willing to accept an alternative proposal put forward by AEW of replacing the arena with retail use in such a key and sensitive seafront location. It is also unwilling to make any of its surrounding land available on a temporary or permanent basis unless a proposal comes forward that has the support of the community. Ideally this would be a tourism/leisure-related use which supports the character of the seafront and its designation.
Councillor Stewart added:
“We are hugely disappointed that the arbitration proceedings have failed to find an acceptable resolution, but remain determined to find a way ahead – and to see this currently empty building re-energised for the benefit of the community of Ryde and the Island.”
News shared by Isle of Wight council press office, in their own words. Ed