The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has said it will not take legal action against cycling clubs or individuals who stop at Velolife café and has apologised for suggesting that it might. However, Cycling UK has warned that stopping at Velolife during an organised ride could still be considered a breach of planning requirements and could lead to action against the café itself.
Velolife, in Warren Row near Henley-on-Thames, has been at the centre of a planning dispute for the last couple of years and owner Lee Goodwin was recently issued with an injunction ordering him to stop cyclists from meeting at the café.
Similarly-worded enforcement notices were issued to a number of local cycling clubs, warning them that they could face legal action should their members stop at Velolife during an organised ride.
These letters to clubs have now been withdrawn.
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, initially welcomed the news.
“Cycling clubs and their members shouldn’t be concerned about legal proceedings if they stop at a particular café, so we’re relieved that the council has now confirmed that it will not take any such action,” he said.
A joint statement issued yesterday on behalf of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, British Cycling and Cycling UK stated: “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 hope that with the support of British Cycling and Cycling UK we will be able to strike the right balance for all concerned.”
Duncan Sharkey, managing director at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, added: “Ensuring that the café and those who want to use its facilities are able to continue, while respecting the rights of those who live nearby has proven tricky. However, I hope that by working together we will find a solution everyone is happy with.”
It later transpired that while the council had indeed agreed to lift the threat of legal proceedings against cycling clubs, they had simultaneously informed Goodwin that should a club stop at Velolife during an organised ride, it could lead to further action against him and his business.
Responding to this development late yesterday, Dollimore commented: “Yesterday, Cycling UK and British Cycling met with representatives from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Subsequently, the Council confirmed that they were happy to withdraw enforcement letters sent to cycling clubs threatening legal action if they attended the Velolife Café.
"In a joint statement issued this morning, the Council then indicated that it would work to ensure that Velolife was able to continue, and that it was not its intention to stop people enjoying the facilities there.
"It is therefore incredibly frustrating and disappointing to have to issue this further statement a few hours later, following discussions with Velolife’s owner Lee Goodwin this afternoon and lengthy email exchanges with the Council.
"Cycling UK was informed a few hours ago that the Council had informed Mr Goodwin today that, notwithstanding their statement that no action would be taken against clubs attending Velolife, Mr Goodwin still needed to ensure that clubs did not use the café as a stop before, during or after organised rides, and that to do so would breach the terms of the draft injunction the Council has sought.
"Accordingly, Cycling UK are obliged to clarify their position, and notify local cycling clubs that whilst their attendance at Velolife will not lead to enforcement action against the club, any such attendance may be considered a breach of planning requirements by RBWM and lead to further action against Mr Goodwin.
"Cycling UK will be discussing matters with Mr Goodwin and considering what further steps need to be taken as a matter of urgency."
Certainly looking forward to hearing the results of this FOI request.
It’s a shameful way for a local authority to behave, wasting public money on something that, even if it were enforceable* would produce no public good @RBWM
*its not https://t.co/ZmGKgKmdr9
— Chris Boardman (@Chris_Boardman) August 17, 2019