The council at the centre of a legal battle with a cycling café over riders meeting there has finally backed down.
Velolife Café in Warren Row, Berkshire, faced potential closure after the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council tried to ban cyclists meeting outside the site for rides.
The council had tried to seek an injunction banning cyclists from meeting at the café which, if granted, could have seen owner Lee Goodwin forced to shut up shop or even jailed.
Olympic gold medallist and cycling advocate Chris Boardman said: “The withdrawal of this injunction is a long-overdue victory for common sense, and more importantly ends over two years of senseless legal action and unnecessary disruption and anguish for Mr Goodwin, his family and his staff.”
Boardman added: “Britain’s cycling cafés make a positive contribution to the local economy, they encourage and support people to cycle more regularly and are often a core part of the communities which they serve. They should never be subject to the types of punitive and vindictive measures we have seen here, nor should their customers, and I sincerely hope that this case will act as a strong deterrent to others who wish to pursue a similar path in the future.”
The legal battle started in October 2017 when the council issued an enforcement notice after a complaint from a neighbour, which sought to stop Velolife operating as a café, bicycle workshop, retail outlet and a meeting place.
Mr Goodwin appealed the notice and in October last year a government planning inspector ruled that it was lawful for Velolife, formerly a pub, to be run as a café and workshop.
In a bizarre move, 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. The authority later withdrew the threat to clubs and apologised.
That did not stop the council from pursuing an injunction, which would have meant Mr Goodwin was in contempt of court if it was breached and could have seen him jailed.
On Thursday (November 14), Mr Goodwin’s lawyers at Leigh Day confirmed that Windsor and Maidenhead council had withdrawn the application for an injunction.
Mr Goodwin’s legal representative, Jamie Beagent, said: “This is a significant victory for our client and finally brings to an end this unfortunate episode.”
British Cycling’s lead cycling delivery manager, Colin Walker, said: “Aside from putting the café owner’s livelihood at stake, the people who would’ve been hit by this most aren’t a group of antisocial thugs, they are simply people choosing to ride their bikes. At a time when we need to be encouraging people to move more and leave the car at home, discriminating against a group of people like this would have been a travesty and we’re relieved to see the council have finally woken up to this fact.
“I am incredibly proud of the way the cycling community came together on this issue, and the work that British Cycling has done alongside Cycling UK and Leigh Day to support Mr Goodwin and the affected local clubs over recent months, and we are pleased that he can now get on with running his business.”
Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, also welcomed the news: “Velolife should never have been put in this position by the council, but it’s a relief they have belatedly come to their senses, and the café can return to business as usual.
“A legitimate local business shouldn’t have to call on the support of national organisations like British Cycling and Cycling UK to ensure their survival – but I’m glad we were able to help mobilise public support and highlight the absurdity of the council’s position, so Velolife could stay open.”