(Image by Laura Holme of LH4 photography)
For us the trauma began one year ago today, when AEW UK called in the bailiffs, changed the locks and shut our community out of Ryde Arena. In response to this, we formed Ryde Arena Community Action Group. Showing solidarity from the beginning with our ‘ring around the rink’ demonstration just days later, our determination to win back our rink is as strong today as it was then.
Most Islanders have fond memories of our ice rink, either through skating, playing or watching ice hockey, attending Christmas shows, rallies or concerts. At the time of closing, the rink was home to 4 Senior Hockey teams: The Raiders and Buccaneers (who were semi-professionals) and the Vikings and Hawks. In addition there were four Junior Hockey teams, five Synchronised Skating teams and the Isle of Wight Ice Dance and Figure Skating Club. The loss to the wider Community has been painfully felt; skaters as young as 18 months old used the Arena, not to mention wheelchair users and the elderly, some of whom had hip or knee replacements! A minimum of 8 schools used the ice rink for P.E or extracurricular activities, English and foreign students and visitors loved the rink just as much as we did.
“ We have our MP and every representative of the Isle of Wight Council supporting us, regardless of political perspective. Politicians don’t come together often, but this is beyond politics - this is for our Island! ” Cameron Palin (RACAG) member
The Arena was secured as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ by RACAG earlier this year. AEW UK’s response was to market the Arena for £3.5 million. Savills valued it at £750,000 for the Isle of Wight Council. With the serious dilapidations since AEW took over the lease an asking price more than four and a half times that given by a nationally respected commercial valuer seems like an insult. Representatives from the IOW Council, Bob Seely MP and members of our Committee are currently in talks with AEW UK to find a resolution to the situation. We hope in time to see Ryde Arena restored and fully operational as a Community run ice rink and we remain positive that this hope will one day be a reality.
On Saturday 7th October we will be taking part in a one year anniversary walk of 12 km, that’s one kilometre for every month the rink has been closed. Please show your support and join us outside the rink at 10:30 am. If you can’t join the walk, then please help by sponsoring one of our walkers!