Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight Council sues firm over ice rink closure

protest 6.10.18 Image copyright Ryde Arena Community Action Groupo
Image caption Campaigners have held rallies to reopen the rink

A council has begun legal action to remove tenants who have left an ice rink closed for two years.

Ryde Arena, on the Isle of Wight, was shut in 2016 by AEW UK, which said the rink operator owed more than £200,000 in rent.

The investment firm has since offered its lease for sale for £3.5m.

Previously, AEW said it had "actively sought a solution to the closure of the property" with the council and the island's MP.

Image copyright Nici Delap
Image caption The rink was used for skating lessons, shows and ice hockey games

The seafront ice rink was taken over in 2015 by a community group, which signed a 35-year sublease.

The group went into liquidation the following year after the site was repossessed by AEW.

The council, which owns the site freehold, said it had negotiated with AEW to reopen the rink without success.

The authority's head of legal services, Helen Miles, said: "We can confirm that Isle of Wight Council has issued in county court proceedings for forfeiture of lease of Ryde Arena."

Image copyright Nichola Roe
Image caption MP Bob Seely said AEW had intended to "make a quick buck" from the site

Speaking at a protest rally in October, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said AEW UK were "bullies".

"I think they bought this place with the intent of changing use and making a quick buck out of it," he said.

AEW previously said it had a "duty to act responsibly with our clients' capital".

It said negotiations had shown "there is currently no party in a financial position to continue operating the property as an ice rink and the council does not wish to assume this role".

The firm said it did not wish to comment on the legal action.

A 15-year council lease condition that the site should contain an ice rink expired in February 2016.

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