By Jonny Long
Only two complaints have been received in the past two years concerning Velolife cycling café despite authorities trying to ban cyclists from meeting at the venue because they "cause a nuisance to nearby residents."
This revelation, which has come to light thanks to a Freedom of Information request submitted to Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) council, details just two complaints made since August 2017, which relate to "unacceptable nose and throat clearing" as well as noise made by cyclists gathering outside the premises.
Of the two complaints received, one was made to the council's planning enforcement and the other was to environmental protection. Neither complaint was followed up with external agencies, such as the police or cycling organisations.
Velolife café in Berkshire has been embroiled in a legal battle with the RBWM council after they banned cyclists from meeting there and threatened legal action to stop cyclists using the spot to meet before or after rides, claiming cyclists cause a nuisance to nearby residents.
The café's owner, Lee Goodwin, has said the issue has threatened the existence of his business and has launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to raise funds for the legal fight against the council. Within two days he had raised £15,000 with the total now hovering just below £20,000, made up from 977 individual donations.
Mr Goodwin said: "We find ourselves in a very difficult situation. Although we are a bicycle café, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council has started legal proceedings against us in order to stop cyclist attending the cafe in groups or gatherings.
"Unfortunately RBWM has given no clarification as to what constitutes a group or gathering.
"If we are not allowed to have cycling clubs or gatherings of cyclists or groups of cyclists (undefined) then we will not be able to continue trading. We were hoping to get this resolved through conversation and common sense however this has not been possible and we are now left with no other option than to fight this in court."
Head of campaigns at Cycling UK, Duncan Dollimore, said: "The situation currently is that the council says that it wants a café with a cycling theme to continue, but is nevertheless seeking an injunction to prevent the owner from permitting any ‘cyclists’ meets’.
"Understandably, the owner and local cycling clubs, who don’t want to jeopardise his business, would like to know what constitutes a ‘cyclists’ meet’, but despite Cycling UK’s attempts to clarify this, the council just won’t say.
"So, the council have applied to enforce an order, the terms of which it doesn’t understand and can’t clarify, but nevertheless one in which it expects Mr Goodwin to comply with in the interim. It’s absurd."
A spokesperson for the council said: "The council has offered Mr Goodwin a reasonable way to avoid the need for an injunction and are meeting with him further to pursue this. There is no clarity about what constitutes a cycle meet unless the courts issue an injunction and then the term would be clarified. The council have been clear that if Mr Goodwin manages the site in the short term, before implementing further controls, there will be no need to bring the matter to court at all."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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