A Lancashire pensioner who served in the Army in the Second World War was followed into a bank by two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) who accused him of cycling on the pavement, and summoned a police van to support them.
The 84-year-old, who was eventually issued with a £30 fixed penalty notice, has now sent it back to the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, whom he has invited him to take him to court.
According to the Manchester Evening News, 84-year-old James Gresty, a grandfather of seven and great-grandfather of four, had been making one of his regular visits to the Sale branch of the Halifax, when the pair of PCSOs walked into the bank after him and claimed they had seen him cycling on the pavement, asking him to step outside and explain himself.
When he refused, they called for help, and shortly afterwards, regular officers arrived and Mr Gresty was issued with the fixed penalty notice.
Mr Gresty, who says that he had got off his bike and pushed it along the pavement and into the branch told the newspaper: "I was dumbfounded and couldn’t believe all these officers were wasting their time on me – an 84-year-old man who has never done anything wrong in his life.”
He continued: "You’d have thought I was raiding the bank, given the way they descended on the place. I bet they sent more officers than they would if I’d been robbing it.
"I felt like a criminal, they were very aggressive towards me and their behaviour was discourteous, but I knew I was in the right so I stood my ground. I may be 84 but I’m not a pushover," he added.
He said that he had suspected something wasn’t right when he noticed the PCSOs observing him from across the road, shortly before they followed him into the bank.
"They said they’d seen me cycling on the pavement,” he explained. “I told them I’d got off my bike and pushed it in but they didn’t listen. They asked me to go outside with them, I said no and then I saw one of them phoning for back-up. The next minute, a police van turned up with two more of them. It was ridiculous. The officers took my details and gave me this slip saying I had to pay £30 for cycling on the pavement,” he added.
"I was so angry that I put the slip in an envelope and sent it to the chief constable. I wrote that I’m not going to pay and they’ll have to take me to court. I doubt any court in the land would rule in their favour," continued Mr Gresty.
Since the incident, the retired grocer, who served with the York and Lancaster regiment in World War II, has returned to the location to see if other cyclists are being issued with fixed penalty notices.
"I’ve seen lots of people on their bikes on the pavement but I’ve never seen anyone being given a fine,” he told the nespaper.
"They’re obviously having some kind of a clampdown on it but they picked the wrong person with me. I use my bike to get out and about – they’re not going to stop me from doing that," he added.
One witness to the incident said that staff at the Halifax had tried to help Mr Gresty. "It was disgusting that this old chap was followed into the bank and confronted like he was a criminal," he added.
Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts commented: "People cycling through the pedestrian area in Sale town centre has been a persistent problem and we have received many complaints from the public. We regularly run initiatives to tackle this and always receive a positive response. In the past week we have been addressing the problem again after an 82-year-old woman was knocked down, suffering facial injuries.
"In this particular case a PCSO tried to speak to Mr Gresty after he had ridden his bike through the pedestrian area. He refused to speak to the PCSO and after a number of attempts to speak to him from other officers failed he was issued with a fixed penalty notice,” he continued.
"I appreciate people’s concerns of how this may have appeared and as in any case where people feel that they have been inappropriately issued with a fixed penalty this will be reviewed," he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.