Council withdraws threat of legal action against cyclists at cafe

The Canary

The threat of legal action against cyclists gathering at a cafe in a small hamlet has been dropped.

Velolife was set up on the site of an old pub as a cafe and bike workshop in 2016 by entrepreneur Lee Goodwin in Warren Row in Berkshire.

The cafe was championed by the likes of former Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman and Team Ineos rider Chris Lawless after it was slapped with restrictions on cycle meets following noise complaints.

Local cycling clubs were threatened with enforcement action by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead for allegedly using the cafe’s car park as a starting point for meets.

A joint statement from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, British Cycling and Cycling UK said the council has apologised and letters that were sent to cycling clubs suggesting legal action have been withdrawn.

The statement said: “Yesterday the council held very constructive talks with representatives from British Cycling and Cycling UK, who represent many cyclists and cycling clubs in the UK.

“The aim of the talks was to look for a pragmatic solution that gives clubs and cyclists clarity regarding the council’s position on Velolife Cafe.

“Following the meeting, the council are pleased to confirm that they will not be taking any action against cycling clubs or individuals who use the facilities at Velolife Cafe and apologises for suggesting that they might.

“Letters sent to cycling clubs indicating that legal action might be considered have already been withdrawn.”

Cycle cafe row
The Velolife cafe and bicycle repair shop in Warren Row, Berkshire (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The statement added: “It has never been the council’s intention to stop a local business from thriving or prevent groups from enjoying the facilities at the cafe.

“However, in its role as a local authority, the council must consider the rights of local residents. The council hope that with the support of British Cycling and Cycling UK, we will be able to strike the right balance for all concerned.”

Colin Walker, British Cycling’s lead cycling delivery manager, said: “First and foremost, we’re delighted that the threat of legal proceedings against cycling clubs for using the Velolife cafe on their weekend rides has been lifted.

“Hats off to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead for meeting with us to discuss this issue, recognise the mistake that had been made in raising the possibility of legal action, and withdrawing the letters sent to clubs.

“We know that cyclists in the region really value the Velolife cafe as a place to visit on their weekend rides, so we certainly hope that the cafe and council can engage constructively to ensure that the planning issues that have been raised can be resolved.”

Last year, an inspector from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead banned the cafe’s use as a meeting point for cyclists after one set of neighbours said up to 20 had been congregating in the car park.

An injunction, seen by the Telegraph, was later sought against the cafe and local clubs threatened with enforcement action after cyclists were said to have met at the cafe in January.

It banned the cafe’s use by “congregating cyclists, including but not limited to, cycle club members arriving by any means including car, van or cycle, at any time of day or night,” the Telegraph reported.

After an outcry from cyclists, the council issued a clarification saying: “Cyclists are welcome to use the facilities at the cafe but must not arrange organised meets that start, end or stop at the cafe.

“This is to prevent large numbers of cyclists congregating outside the cafe and causing a nuisance to residents.”

It apologised for suggesting it would take enforcement action.

The cafe has a further court hearing in November at a venue yet to be set to hear the council’s injunction application.

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