The Ryde Arena Community Action Group has unveiled a plan to work with investors to try to buy the town’s former ice rink. It says that within the next week it hopes to trigger a “community asset” clause, pausing a commercial sale and allowing it to get “a real valuation”.
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The rink closed suddenly last year, displacing community and sporting groups including the Wight Jewels ice-skating team and the Wightlink Raiders. It has lain empty since then. Protests continue to take place over what is perceived to be little action from the building’s leaseholder, AEW UK.
AEW UK values the building at around £3.5m, according to the community group. Islanders are arguing the valuation is too high.
The Isle of Wight Council recently named the building as a community asset which means that if AEW UK tries to sell it, it must allow a community group six months to raise funds to try to purchase it.
Last night (Monday) the Ryde Arena Community Action group held what it is calling a successful meeting, with support from the community and local councillors.
Robina Marshall from the Ryde Arena Community Action group told Isle of Wight Radio that the plan is to try and save it for the children who have come to rely on the rink:
“We are looking to find a group in the next week who can trigger our side of the asset of community value, in order to express an interest an in order to get a real valuation on the building.
“There’s always hope. To some extent things depend on what sort of value we get for the arena. Based on what we think it’s worth there’s definitely hope.
“We’ve been speaking to a number of social investors…we have lot of support in the community.
“Once we had a price that was actually realistic for this building, there’s a great deal of hope.
“The biggest problem is whether AEW is going to continue to pretend that it’s worth as much as they’ve probably told their investors that it’s worth.
“Perhaps they think that by having it listed at that price…that makes it true. We’d like to get a real valuation and then we can move forward on a purchase.”