The council at the centre of a controversy over cyclists meeting at a café has apologised to cycling clubs for the threat of legal action, but still warned that it could take action that “threatens the future of the café.”
Cycling themed café Velolife near Reading received a notice from The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council, banning cyclists from meeting outside because they “cause a nuisance to nearby residents.”
The council then issued a threat of legal action to cycling clubs meeting at the cafe, warning that it was investigating whether any crimes had been committed.
After a public backlash, the council has apologised to cycling clubs over the warning, but said that if meetings continue it would be forced to take action against the café owner, which “could of course threaten the future of the café, which none of us want to see.”
In response to the controversy, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead published a letter on Wednesday (August 7), which said: “Over the last two years, a number of complaints have been made to the Royal Borough about large volumes of cyclists arriving at the café, which can cause a nuisance to nearby residents.
“Cyclists are welcome to use the facilities at the café, but must not arrange organised meets that start, end or stop at the café. This is to prevent large numbers of cyclists congregating outside the café and causing a nuisance to residents.”
The dispute between Velolife and the council dates back to 2017, when the local authority opposed the site, formerly The Snooty Fox pub, being converted into a café, shop, bike repair workshop and a cyclist meeting place.
A government planning inspector was called in the handle the dispute last year, ruling that Velolife could continue as a café and cycle repair shop but that organised meetings of cyclists must not start or finish at the café.
The council took matters further by issuing a warning to cycling clubs that cyclists meeting for “organised rides” are in breach of the rules.
This caused a backlash against the council as the owner of Velolife, Lee Goodwin, said that the action meant the café’s “existence hangs in the balance.”
In its response to the controversy, the council added: “I would like to apologise for the suggestion we might take enforcement action against [cycling clubs]. I can confirmed that this is not our intention.
“If the situation doesn’t improve, we would have to take action against the operator of the site. That of course could possibly threaten the future of the café, which none of us wish to see.
“As a local authority, we pride ourselves on supporting local independent businesses, as well as creating a cycle-friendly borough. However, this must not come at the expense of other residents and we always seek to strike a balance between the two.”
Velolife has already urged customers not to meet at the cafe, in the car park in the vicinity, or prior to or after a ride, and also asked people not to arrive at the a premises before 9am or after 7pm, seven days a week.