Velolife café owner could face jail over cyclists meeting, say lawyers

Chris Boardman has weighed in on the council dispute calling it a 'shameful waste of public money'

The owner of Velolife café could face jail if a council injunction is granted, banning cyclists from meeting there, according to his lawyers.

Velolife café and workshop in Berkshire is locked in a legal battle with Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council, after the authority tried to stop cyclists gathering at the site.

The council is now trying to seek an injunction banning cyclists from meeting at the café which, if granted, could see owner Lee Goodwin jailed for contempt of court even if a group of cyclists stop at the café for refreshments.

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Olympic gold medallist and now cycling campaigner Chris Boardman said he feels the court case is a “shameful waste of public money.”

British Cycling policy adviser Boardman said: “I personally visited Velolife café and I didn’t see a nuisance, just a fantastic local business serving the community in a wholly desirable way.

“That the council are actively trying to ban something that is good for everyone seems a shameful waste of scarce public money to prevent activity they should be strongly encouraging. I urge the council to withdraw the injunction immediately in the interests of all involved.”

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.

Earlier this year, the council said: “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.”

The council issue put an enforcement notice in place in October 2017 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 to be run as a café and workshop.

The council is now pursuing an injunction over the enforcement notice, which would put Mr Goodwin in contempt of court if it is breached.

In July, a judge directed Velolife and the council to try to reach an agreement on the definition of “cyclists’ meet” and find a solution before the full hearing on November 19 2019.

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Mr Goodwin’s lawyer, Jamie Beagent, of Leigh Day law firm, said: “It is clear that the enforcement notice as approved by the planning inspector prohibits only the organised meeting of cyclists at the café prior to departing for a ride. The council’s attempts to widen the definitely are ill-founded and wholly inappropriate where taking the draconian step of seeking an injunction.

“It is inappropriate for a injunction to be made against Mr Goodwin where he is doing everything reasonably within his power to prevent ‘cyclists’ meets’ taking place at Velolife and it is truly chilling that Mr Goodwin faces imprisonment if third parties, outside of his control, were to meet at the café prior to departing on a ride.”

Cycling Weekly has approached the council for comment.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.