Planet Ice Says It Will Fight Tax Action

The UK's biggest operator of ice rinks vowed today to fight winding-up orders from the taxman which reportedly threaten eight of its centres - including three on the South Coast.

HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) will take Arena Group to court next month in a dispute over unpaid taxes at eight of its Planet Ice rinks.

It was reported today that separate winding-up orders relate to its centres in Basingstoke, Cardiff, Gosport, Hemel Hempstead, the Isle of Wight, Milton Keynes, Norwich and Peterborough.

In a statement, the Arena Group board said it expected the matter to be resolved in the ''next few days''.

It said:

''The decision of HMRC to follow up their action against the Arena Group UK Limited is scheduled to be heard in February where it will go before the courts for their opinion.

''The action taken is with regards to the disputed assessment of unpaid taxes.

''The board of the Arena Group UK Ltd dispute the assessment and action taken by HMRC and the likelihood is that this will be resolved within the next few days.

''This action has no effect or impact on either the Planet Ice brand or its day to day operation. Planet Ice will continue to welcome patrons at all ice rinks in its current portfolio.''

On the centres' websites it was business as usual, with offers for a Valentine's disco night and half-term holiday deals still advertised.

A HMRC spokeswoman said it could not discuss individual cases due to taxpayer confidentiality, but added:

''HMRC's aim is not to wind up companies or make individuals bankrupt, but to collect, as efficiently as we can the debts that are due.

''HMRC only initiates winding up or bankruptcy action where it believes this is the best course of action to protect the interests of the Exchequer in respect of a particular debt. We do not take such action lightly.''