The saga began a year ago today (6th October) when AEW UK called in the bailiffs, changed the locks and shut the community out of Ryde Arena. In response to this, Ryde Arena Community Action Group (RACAG) was formed and ever since has been fighting back through solidarity.
Most Islanders have fond memories of the ice rink either through skating, playing or watching ice hockey, or attending Christmas shows, rallies and concerts. At the time of closing, the rink was home to 4 Senior Hockey teams, 4 Junior Hockey teams, 5 Synchronised Skating teams and the Isle of Wight Ice Dance and Figure Skating Club.
The loss to the wider community has been painfully felt also; skaters as young as 18 months used the Arena, not to mention wheelchair users and the elderly. A minimum of 8 schools also used the ice rink for P.E or extracurricular activities and visitors loved the rink just as much as local residents.
Cameron Palin, a member of RACAG said:
“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!”
The Arena was secured as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ by RACAG earlier this year but AEW UK’s response was to market the Arena for £3.5million – an insult to the community. The Isle of Wight Council has valued the asset at £750,000.
Representatives from the Isle of Wight Council, Bob Seely MP and members of the RACAG committee are in talks with AEW UK to find a resolution to the situation.
“We remain positive that the Arena will in time, be fully restored and operational as a Community-run ice rink”.
Tomorrow (Saturday 7th October 2017) a 1 year anniversary walk is taking place, with supporters walking 12 km for every month the rink has been closed. You can join the walk or rally on those taking part from 10:30 outside Ryde Arena.