Cycling UK has urged all cycling clubs who received an enforcement notice warning them not to organise “cyclist meets” at the Velolife cycling café to get in touch with them so that they can take the matter up with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
Velolife, near Henley-on-Thames, has been at the centre of a planning dispute for the last couple of years. Last week owner Lee Goodwin was issued with an injunction ordering him to stop cyclists from meeting at the café.
The council subsequently insisted that it is not stopping cyclists from using the café, while simultaneously and bafflingly insisting that cyclists, “must not arrange organised meets that start, end or stop off at the café.”
As you’d imagine, the council’s position on the matter has been widely criticised. Rather more surprisingly, those critics have included its own leader.
The council also saw fit to issue enforcement notices to a number of local cycling clubs, warning them that they could face legal action should their members commit the heinous offence of stopping at Velolife for a coffee.
“Cycling UK has spoken with the owner of Velolife, Lee Goodwin, who’s been receiving legal advice about this ongoing planning dispute for some time,” said Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore.
“Accordingly, we don’t want to say anything further at this stage concerning his case and the legal steps he might take.
“However, we can comment on the Council’s ham-fisted overreaction and decision to serve enforcement notices on local cycling clubs, threatening legal action against them and anyone who rides with the club.”
Goodwin told road.cc that as he understood the planning inspector’s original decision, the specific issue she had been seeking to address was cyclists meeting early in the morning, often on a Sunday, and making noise.
“All we were not to do was organise club rides that started at Velolife – which we don’t do. However, the council decided to take the notion that a “cyclists’ meet” encompassed any gathering of cyclists before, during or after a ride of any sort.”
Dollimore said that this bizarre interpretation begged any number of questions.
“The Council’s interpretation of the Planning Inspector’s decision, set out in their enforcement notices, is that the words ‘cyclists meet’ include any gathering of cyclists who stop off at Velolife during any ‘organised ride’. What constitutes an organised ride is however unclear.
“Does it apply to a club ride involving three people who had arranged beforehand to stop for lunch at Velolife, and if they catch up with me on their ride and I join them, am I someone who’s then riding with the club and at risk of enforcement action for daring to have tea and cake at a café?
“In a hole, the Council has kept digging this week, tweeting out a letter on Wednesday from Managing Director Duncan Sharkey apologising for the enforcement letters not being as clear as they could have been, but managing to add to the confusion.
“Saying that cyclists are welcome to use the café, but must not arrange or organise themselves to do so, is an absurdity of Catch 22 proportions.”
Dollimore says that Cycling UK re keen to hear from any clubs who received correspondence about Velolife from the council.
“If your club or a club you ride with has received an enforcement notice from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, please can you contact Cycling UK by emailing campaigns [at] cyclinguk.org, sending copies of any correspondence received and a contact number so we can pursue this with the Council on behalf of affected clubs.”