Conservative Party Statement:
The Conservatives tasked and trusted the local member, Cllr Wayne Whittle to assist and advise the past group (Ryde Arena Ltd) to take the same steps and outcome as were taken with the Waterside Trust, by running the leisure facility as a not for profit community group.
This, as we know changed course when the past group feared that the refrigeration would be turned off. Ryde Arena Trust then negotiated an arrangement and commitment with the past leaseholder to rent Ryde Arena for an annual substantial and unrealistic amount of money.
Wayne Whittle has continued to give his time throughout to help assist and fund raise for the Arena and its users, along with other similar community run assets such as Aspire Ryde, the Waterside Pool, Inshore Rescue etc. via the Ryde Slide community events.
Wayne Whittle, now the IW Council Executive member for Tourism, Business and Public Realm is working with the new managing group to do all he can to assist their ambitions.
It is the Conservative policy to work cross-party to help and assist the new Arena Group in all their endeavours and not to use this sad situation as a political football to campaign on pre-election.
We are here to help unconditionally and are and have been doing so all along and will continue to do so.
Green Party Statement:
The IW Green Party is committed to community led solutions that bring back empty buildings back into community use and in Ryde, Ryde Green Party members are committed to supporting local residents campaigns against owners/leaseholders of iconic buildings who have left them to dilapidate and become local eyesores. These include Ryde Arena, Vectis Hall, The Royal York Hotel, Ryde Town Hall and Theatre and St. Thomas's Church. We wish to see all these iconic sites come into community ownership and be re-opened as sustainable community facilities which generate employment and economic regeneration of Ryde.
We will support Ryde Arena Community Action Group by actively writing to the present lease holders AEW to put pressure on them to hand over the lease to the group, actively work with the steering group in their campaign and linking them to social investment funding that will enable them to have the resources once they win their campaign, and stand side by side with them as the group represents the spirit of local people standing up for their rights and taking action. The National Co-Leaders of the Green Party (Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley) are the only national political leaders who have visited the Arena and met the group and both have given their full whole hearted support and Ryde Green Party Members are working with Caroline to raise the issue of AEW actions in Parliament.
If our candidates are elected in May, IW Green Party Councillors will immediately call a meeting with the IWCC Regeneration Unit and the Chief Executive of the Council and ask for the formulation and presentation of a coherent plan to bring the Arena back into community ownership and support Ryde Arena Community Action Group in developing a long-term sustainable plan for a community owned ice rink and multi-use recreational and tourist centre which will provide economic regeneration to the Town.
The Island Independent Councillors and Prospective Candidates fully support the Ryde Arena users and will take all possible steps to bring the rink back into use. If elected as the ruling group in May we will seek to negotiate with the leaseholder’s of Ryde arena and take prompt and appropriate action in relation to any breaches in the lease to bring it back into Council control AND undertake work on a business case, including possible partnerships or alternative tenants with the aim of bringing the ice-rink back into use for the community.
We have been actively pursuing the possible aggravation of the lease and understand this is still with IWC legal department at the present.
Cllr Stephens, through his position of Culture Tourism & Sport Board Chairman at the LGA, has arranged a visit for Sport England to visit the Island and the Arena is on the agenda for that visit, at which we will actively seek funding opportunities for the acquisition of the rink. We are extremely fortunate to have a Councillor that holds such an influential national position based in Ryde.
Labour Party Statement:
Ryde Labour is putting forward a 'Regenerate Ryde" platform in the May elections to the County Council, with a commitment to develop a Regeneration Plan which will aim to improve the quality of life for all Ryde residents. Top of the list of actions is the fight to re-open the much-loved ice-rink.
Labour considers buildings like the ice rink to be far too important to be used as just pawns in a game of property speculation, as it seems is the case here. They are community assets: bringing economic activity, and civic pride to our town. Not only have our competitive skaters and the Wightlink Raiders lost their home, but all the young people of Ryde, and across the island, have lost a safe environment to participate in healthy sporting and social activities.
Far too many such assets have been neglected and stripped from our communities after years of privatisation and austerity, leaving us at the mercy of absentee corporations who care nothing for our town, but everything for an unearned profit.
Labour believe that it is simply not good enough for the council to shirk responsibility for where we are, and to claim to be powerless to act. Labour councillors will fight any attempt to change planning permission or to re-develop the site without a re-opened ice rink. We want to make it clear to AEW that there is no quick buck to be made from the denial of this community asset to the people of Ryde, and that we expect them to work with newly elected Labour councillors from Ryde to reach an agreement which will see our skaters back on the ice as soon as possible.
The people of Ryde deserve better than to suffer this asset-stripping in the name of absentee profits. We deserve our ice rink back. Labour councillors will leave no stone unturned to make sure that happens.
Liberal Democrats Statement:
As Liberal Democrats we have always supported local groups actions in fighting for the well-being of the local community. We want to work alongside groups such as yourself to make sure we can achieve the best outcomes for all islanders. Investment is an important part of improving and progressing the Island, but this must be done in the interest of local communities first and as Lib Dems we will support that right.
Statements of support from Isle of Wight Political Parties
(in alphabetical order)