Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Community-run Ryde Arena ice rink shut by bailiffs

Basic Novice B skater Captain of Wight Sparkles Toni Delap Image copyright Nici Delap
Image caption Ryde Arena is home to trainee figure-skaters as well as a National League ice hockey team

The Isle of Wight's only ice rink has been shut by bailiffs, 18 months after being rescued by a community group.

Operators Ryde Arena Ltd said it had been told it owed about £200,000 in rent arrears.

But the group said it had been trying to negotiate a reduced rent to compensate for unrepaired storm damage, which had left it unable to run a bar and cafe and rent out office space.

It said the ice rink would remain closed until further notice.

Image caption The community group held a fundraising campaign in 2015 to save the rink from closure

Ryde Arena Ltd took over the loss-making rink in April 2015 following a campaign which raised thousands of pounds in donations.

It signed a 35-year lease and agreed to pay a rent of £130,000 a year to investment firm AEW Europe, which operates on behalf of the leaseholder, Bank of New York Mellon.

Chairman Ian Jenkins said the group had so far paid about £20,000.

In November 2015, part of the seafront building's roof was ripped off in a storm.

'David and Goliath'

Mr Jenkins said the leaseholder repaired the roof but failed to refurbish part of the water-damaged interior, costing his firm £100,000 in lost income from the bar, cafe and offices.

But he said the leaseholder had continued to demand full rent.

He said: "It's a David and Goliath situation. The emotional and social side they don't care about at all."

The seafront arena hosts the Wightlink Raiders ice hockey team and is also used for training by figure-skaters.

Mr Jenkins said about 20 staff were employed at the arena, as well as several self-employed skating coaches.

AEW Europe and Bank of New York Mellon have been approached for a comment.

The arena freeholder, Isle of Wight Council, said it was "not party to the dispute" and was unable to make a statement.

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