The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has had a change of heart and said that a Shoreditch bike shop can have a free pump on the footpath outside after all. However, Isambard’s Cycles says that the whole issue has only served to highlight a larger issue about the attitude of councils to small businesses.
Earlier in the week, we reported how Isambard’s Cycles had been fined for having ‘goods on the highway’ after it provided a track pump so that cyclists could inflate their tyres.
In a further statement on Monday, Tower Hamlets said: “We visited Isambard’s Cycles this morning to make clear that there is no issue with having a pump outside the shop.
“We both agreed to move it away from a lamppost so there was space for the public to get past when people are using it. We have also offered to install a bollard that can double as a bicycle pump.
“While, by law, we have to ensure pavements are clear and safe for pedestrians, it is also very important to support our local businesses.”
The owners of Isambard’s Cycles, Sarah Breese and Timothy James, remain unimpressed.
On the shop’s website, they describe the issue as being “the tip of the iceberg” and say that a broader point has not been addressed.
“The pump issue has stirred emotions more widely than we might have anticipated, because it succinctly illustrates a much larger issue about the attitude of councils, and [Tower Hamlets] in particular, to small business,” they wrote.
“It is hard work doing business in [Tower Hamlets]. I think most local business owners would say the same. Our extortionate business rates are spent setting up hoops and hurdles for us to jump over and through.
“We pay £8,000 a year in rates at present. As it stands, within three years, that figure will have risen to £18,000, and we will have had to close up shop.”
They believe that, “rather than providing a steering and guiding hand, a steadying influence, and benevolent support, the council behave like feudal lords to small businesses’ tenant-farmers – extracting whatever tithes they can without even a pretence of logical or moral justification.”
Nevertheless, they finish by saying: “We’d like to thank everyone for their support and for every tweet, letter and email sent in support of common sense. Without that sort of pressure we’re absolutely certain we would have had to remove the pump, or pay to have it there.”