A nomination by the Ryde Arena Community Action Group for Ryde Arena to be listed as an Asset of Community Value has been successful.
The building on Ryde esplanade, the former home of the Island’s only ice rink, was nominated under the ‘Community Right to Bid’ part of the Localism Act.
Now listed, the owner (Isle of Wight Council owns the freehold, AEW/BNY Mellon is the leaseholder) is not able to “dispose” of it (including a sale or a lease of 25 or more years) until a chance has been given for interested community groups to bid for it. At the point the owner declares an intention to sell, community groups have six weeks in order to bid for the property.
Delighted at the news
Robina Marshall, co-chair of the RACAG, told OnTheWight,
“The Ryde Arena Community Action Group is delighted at the news that the Isle of Wight council have taken positive action to protect Ryde Arena and the future of skating on the Isle of Wight. We owe a great deal to the hard work of Lisa Williams in preparing this application.
“In a climate where sports facilities and places of recreation are regularly under threat from development, it is good to know that the Isle of Wight Council recognise that there are profits and costs to a community which are not merely financial. This is not yet a victory and does not secure the rink but it is a big move in the right direction. We believe that the recognition of the importance of skating to the Isle of Wight and the remarkable talent of our youth in this area is something that all political parties on the Island will support in the forthcoming elections.
“By seizing the rink as they did without warning AEW tried to kill the dreams of our young people and the wider community but so far they have failed. With lots of very early morning starts and off ice practice our teams remain strong and have continued to enjoy success in competitions off the Island. They have shown that they will not give up. We as a community must not give up our fight to save the rink for future generations so that they too can have the opportunities that have meant so much to so many.”
Closure first announced in 2015
In February 2015, Planet Ice announced they would be closing the rink.
However, by April of the same year a community group had come together to keep the ice rink going.
It remained open for 18 months, continuing to provide an indoor facility for Islanders and visitors to enjoy, as well as a training base for ice hockey teams and figure skaters.
Locks changed by bailiffs
Sadly, by October 2016 the group running the ice rink said the landlord, AEW/BNY Mellon, had “no interest” in allowing them to run the facilities on a not-for-profit basis. The roof coming off in November caused further financial problems and after bailiffs changed the locks without any notice, Ryde Arena Ltd announced they were going into liquidation.
Ryde Arena Community Action Group purchased all of Ryde Arena Limited’s assets, including the ice machine.
The fight continues
There is still a strong desire to see the ice rink return to the Isle of Wight.
As well as being home to several ice hockey teams, it was also home to five synchronised skating teams. Four of those teams are competing in the British Nationals this weekend and have been having to travel over to the mainland in order to train.
All of the teams and figures skaters that compete represent the Isle of Wight when they do so and could really do with the support of the Island.
We’ll keep you updated on any further developments.