The owner of a cycling café near Reading says its existence “hangs in the balance” as the council have banned cyclists from meeting outside.
Velolife café and workshop in Warren Row, Berkshire, has received a notice from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council forbidding cyclists from meeting outside because they “cause a nuisance to nearby residents.”
The owner of the cafe Lee Goodwin, who opened Velolife in 2016, said he fears for his business as the council has warned clubs it is “investigating the position with regard to criminal offences” if cyclists meet at the café for “organised rides,” whether they start or finish at the venue.
Mr Goodwin told Cycling Weekly: “It’s absolutely bonkers.
“There has been no restriction put on any gathering of any people, only if you come by bicycle, which is completely discriminatory in itself.
“It’s been dealt with so heavy-handedly. The scary thing is that it’s particularly targeting cyclists or customers that choose to ride. When we have such an issue with climate change, and with health and with obesity, for a borough to be seen to be trying to close down a thriving community facility is daft.”
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 cyclist meeting place.
According to the council, the café was set up for customers outside the community, particularly cyclists travelling to organised events at the site.
A government planning inspector was called in to handle the dispute in July last year, ruling that the site is allowed to continue as a café and cycle repair shop, saying the venue was a popular facility for the local community as well as cyclists.
But the inspector found residents living in a nearby cottage would experience some noise and disturbance from the groups of cyclists meeting there for a weekend group ride and an evening ride, with up to 20 cyclists gathering outside, opting to forbid the use of Velolife as a “cyclist meet”.
The council have now taken matters a step further and issued a warning to cycle clubs in the area, saying that any meeting of cyclists for “organised rides” that start or finish at the café are in breach of the rules.
A notice from the council also warns that it is “investigating the position with regards to criminal offence.”
The notice says: “In order for the council not to have to consider taking any action against your club, or persons that rides with your club, I would invite you to ensure that all your members do not organise any rides or events that will incorporate Velolife.
“If any evidence is fathered following this letter that identifies [the club] in the activity or a ‘cyclist meet,’ you may be added to the court application as a named defendant, although I hope this will not be necessary.”
Velolife has also 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.
A spokeswoman from the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead said: “The planning inspector has made it clear that groups of cyclists meeting outside Velolife café cause a nuisance to nearby residents. The appeal decision has concluded that the lawful use of the site is as a café with cycle repair. In this decision the planning inspector upheld and varied the enforcement notice and deemed that cyclist meets should not take place at the café but that cyclists are still welcome to use the café facilities but must not congregate outside.”