Colchester ice rink firm owes creditors almost £270k with ‘little chance’ of pay-out
Suppliers, small businesses and individuals have “little chance” of getting any of the quarter of a million pounds they are owed from the collapse of Colchester’s outdoor ice rink.
"It is absolutely horrible. Everyone has lost out. I am deeply saddened, apologetic, and distraught by it.
This is on my conscience every day."
The Winter Wonderland attraction in Castle Park was forced to close on December 23, 12 days early, after it had been unable to open for several days in the first few weeks as the ice melted in unseasonably warm weather.
Reflective Ice Ltd, the company set up to run the rink, went into liquidation as a result.
A report published by liquidator Andrew Dix at LB Insolvency Solutions has revealed various creditors are owed £269,913, while there is only £1,851 in the bank – which will be swallowed up in liquidation costs such as statutory notices.
Chris Bray, a case manager at LB Insolvency, said: “We can’t make categorical statements but there is not much chance of a dividend, unless some pot of gold is revealed – and there is no reason to suspect there will.
“If there is a dividend it will be very small.
“If a VAT refund of £26,520 is made by HM Revenue & Customs comes in it could make some funds available. We will try to realise some assets.
“It is a genuine hard luck story.”
Anyone who bought advance tickets on a credit or debit card are still advised to contact their card company in a bid to recoup their money.
"We can’t make categorical statements but there is not much chance of a dividend, unless some pot of gold is revealed – and there is no reason to suspect there will.
If there is a dividend it will be very small."
The report also reveals Ben Payne, the director of the company and the man behind the attraction, is himself owed £49,000 which he invested in the project, while the firm he is managing director of, Illuminate Design, is also owed £30,241.
Mr Bray added: “It shows it was a genuine scenario as he risked his own money.”
Mr Payne said: “It is absolutely horrible. Everyone has lost out. I am deeply saddened, apologetic, and distraught by it.
“This is on my conscience every day.
“It was not a decision we took easily [to close], it was the last thing I had dreamed of doing.
“I have been called every name under the sun, and I can take that on the chin and understand that.
“The report shows what I invested into this, and I am not sitting in the Bahamas on my luxury yacht – I have not earned a penny out of it at all, it has just cost me a lot of money. Everyone has lost out because of something we could not control, and that is the biggest disappointment.
“Who would have known this year would have been the hottest one by several degrees? If we had I would not have done an ice rink.
“Now I am just trying to move on. It is a great shame.
“I can look back proudly at what we achieved when it was running – on the opening night, when it was icy and all lit up, that was what we had hoped for.”
He added that outdoor ice rinks across the country, who had been operating a lot longer, were in a similar position after the warm winter.
Mr Payne also said the weather would not have allowed the rink to re-open for almost a week after he pulled the plug on the attraction, a move which stopped rising costs.
The liquidation process is expected to take several months to complete.