The council that threatened legal action against cyclists meeting at a cycling café has been involved in talks with British Cycling and Cycling UK over the controversy, but there is still no solution in sight for the owner.
Velolife in Berkshire has been embroiled in a legal battle with Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) council after the authority tried to ban cyclists from meeting there, saying riders “cause a nuisance to nearby residents.”
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The council has previously threatened legal action against cycling clubs and has said it could take action that would “threaten the future of the café.”
RBWM issued an apology to clubs over the threat and has met with representatives from national governing body British Cycling and charity Cycling UK, but the dispute with the café has yet to be resolved.
After the meetings, the council have confirmed that they will not be taking action against cycling clubs or individuals who use the site and apologised again for suggesting it would.
Managing director of the café, Duncan Sharkey, said: “I am pleased we have been able to hold these very constructive talks with British Cycling and Cycling UK.
“Ensuring that the café and those who want to use its facilities are able to continue, while respecting the rights of those who live nearby has proven tricky. However, I hope that by working together we will find a solution everyone is happy with.”
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 to 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.
After a public backlash, the council withdrew the threat to cycling clubs and apologised but still warned that it could take action that “threatens the future of the café.”
RWBM said it will continue to work with the café owner Lee Goodwin, the freeholder and local residents to “ensure that the business is able to continue while respecting the rights of nearby neighbours.”
Velolife’s owner has confirmed that legal action is still in place against the cafe.
The authority 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 café. However, in its role as a local authority the council must consider the rights of local residents.”
British Cycling’s lead cycling delivery manager, Colin Walker, said: “First and foremost, we’re delighted that the threat of legal proceedings against cycling clubs for using the Velolife café on their weekend rides has been lifted. Hats off to the Royal Borough of Windsor & 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 café as a place to visit on their weekend rides, so we certainly hope that the café and council can engage constructively to ensure that the planning issues that have been raised can be resolved. We’ll continue to talk with all concerned and do our bit to help achieve a positive outcome.”
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK said: “Cycling clubs and their members shouldn’t be concerned about legal proceedings if they stop at a particular café, so we’re relieved that the council has now confirmed that it will not take any such action.
“Given the council’s willingness to meet with and listen to representations from both Cycling UK and British Cycling, and then review their position regarding the cyclists attending Velolife, we hope a swift resolution to the planning dispute concerning the café can also be achieved.
“We spoke with Velolife’s owner Lee Goodwin this morning, and will continue to liaise with him, local clubs and the council to ensure that this much loved and thriving local business can continue.”