Planet Ice announced yesterday that it is to cease operations at Ryde ice rink on 25 March. The company has been the rink’s operator since it took over from Isle of Wight Council. The council still owns the building; Planet Ice is simply the leaseholder.
Planet Ice had an obligation to run the venue as an ice rink for 15 years, after which any guarantee that it would remain an ice rink ended. That obligation runs until February 2016, according to IW Council, and the council is currently seeking clarification from Planet Ice about how it intends to keep to its obligations.
Mike Petrouis of Planet Ice has said he is prepared to talk to interested parties and to sell the remainder of the lease plus fixtures and fittings for £5. Petrouis said the rink was currently losing about £140,000 a year.
iowskaters knows of several interested parties and wishes them well in ensuring the continued operation of the Ryde rink.
The rink, of course, was in the news in January 2012 when HM Revenue and Customs issued winding up orders against eight of Arena Group’s Planet Ice rinks – Basingstoke, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Gosport, Isle of Wight, Peterborough and Hemel Hempstead – over unpaid taxes. Mike Petrouis, previous owner of the Planet Ice brand, at that time emerged as the saviour of those rinks. Of those eight, Norwich has since closed, Cardiff will close when the new winter sports village opens under a different operator (Planet Ice was dropped as a partner by the council over perceived financial concerns), and Hemel Hempstead was at risk until an active campaign saved it. Milton Keynes has benefited from extensive refurbishment as a result of work on the development of which it is part and has reopened. Gosport remains in a run-down condition with a long-promised refurbishment depending on financial support.
Planet Ice recently closed its Leisure Box ice rink in Birmingham, also citing poor financials; a planning application to turn the site into an 11-storey development of flats and shops has since been submitted. Planet Ice has twice tried and failed at the planning stage to redevelop the Ryde rink, first into a hotel and apartments, and second into a combined rink and supermarket.
There is an action group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/794820610588525/
An online petition to express support for the rink is at: https://www.change.org/p/isle-of-wight-save-our-rink