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Council fines London bike shop that provided free pump for cyclists

Tower Hamlets says Isambard's Cycles needs to apply for licence to keep goods on the pavement...

A London council has fined a bike shop for placing a track pump on the pavement outside to enable cyclists to fill their tyres with air.

Officials from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets fined Shoreditch bike shop Isambard’s Cycles £100 for placing a bench outside the shop with the pump attached, reports the London Evening Standard.

The shop’s owners, Sarah Breese and Timothy James, removed the bench but left the pump there, prompting a return visit from a council enforcement officer who threatened them with a further fine unless they took it away or obtained a licence.

Ms Breese told the newspaper: “The council’s attitude to small business is that of a feudal lord to a tenant farmer. This fine is the tip of the iceberg but totally in keeping with their broader approach.

“We’re a community bike shop. We keep bikes on the road affordably for thousands of local residents. We try to price people into cycling.

“It’s increasingly difficult for us to survive with the council behaving in this way though.

“Yesterday, the same enforcement officer who fined us the first time was taking pictures of our shop and when we asked what he was doing he said we needed to obtain a licence to be able to have the pump there, otherwise we would be fined.

 “We’re still not sure what the issue with the bench is either - the pavement is wide, it's a corner shop and that road is very quiet. The bench gives us no commercial gain,” she added.

A council spokesman said: “Isambard’s Cycles has not been fined for having a ‘free foot pump’.

“We visited the shop on July 16 to tell them that they need to apply for a licence to have items on the footpath outside their shop including bicycles for sale and a bench. This was followed up with a letter.

“The area outside the shop is narrow and it is already difficult to get a pram or a wheelchair past the shop, without these items being displayed.

“A week later they had still not applied for a licence so we issued a fine for having goods on the highway. We then visited again last weekend and they still had not applied for a licence so we said that we would fine them again.”

He added: “We will visit the shop for a fourth time this week to offer help in applying for a licence and, if they do, we can review the latest fine.”

Recently, the council was in the news for another fine, imposed on a girl aged five and her father who had set up a stall outside their Mile End home to sell lemonade to people on their way to the Lovebox festival in Victoria Park.

News of the fine emerged on the same weekend that more than 28,000 cyclists passed through Tower Hamlets during yesterday’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey sportive, which started at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in neighbouring Newham.


Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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