Over 300 people, including Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely and local councillors from across the political spectrum, united in forming a continuous link around Ryde Arena this morning (Saturday) on the second anniversary of its sudden closure by the leaseholders AEW.
The community is frustrated with the impasse over the future of Ryde Arena, which has been name as an Asset of Community Value. AEW previously offered the rink for sale at 4x a commercial valuation, leading to many Islander’s to believe they are ‘holding the community to ransom’ by allowing the building to sit empty and dilapidated, blighting a major gateway to the Island, whilst hoping to profit on a change of use.
‘Olly’ the Olympia ice surfacing machine and some of the children’s balance penguins, which have been purchased by the community, were brought to today’s event, much to the delight of the crowd.
Former rink manager Jim Matthews played music from the ice discos that were popular at Ryde Arena for almost 30 years.
Bob Seely MP and Councillor Wayne Whittle addressed the crowd from the top of ‘Olly’. Mr Seely said of AEW’s actions:
“Whatever colour your politics, it’s the wrong thing to do and they should be more respectful of you and more respectful of the Island.
“Leisure facilities are rapidly disappearing and the loss of the ice rink has been tragic for the youth in the ward, which is one of the most disadvantaged in the country”.
Bob Seely also congratulated the skaters who have carried on against great odds for what they have managed to achieve in spite of all the difficulties of training at rinks on the mainland.
Following the address, Jukebox Jazz entertained the crowd as they came together, linking hands, arms, hockey sticks and placards around the rink.