A freedom of information (FoI) request has revealed that Velolife, the Berkshire café that is the subject of an injunction banning “cyclists’ meets”, has been the subject of just two complaints to the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) in the last two years.
RBWM says that cycling clubs are entitled to stop at Velolife – but that there’s a chance the café could face legal action if they do.
The situation arose following complaints about cyclists gathering at the café. Changes to opening hours have not resolved the matter and RBWM recently sent community wardens to ‘monitor’ the premises.
Velolife owner, Lee Goodwin, is looking to challenge the injunction and a crowdfunding campaign set up to cover his legal costs has so far raised almost £20,000.
This week RBWM responded to an FoI request asking how many complaints and complainants there have been.
The council said that two complaints had been received – one directed to planning enforcement and the other to environmental protection.
The number of complainants was withheld, although the attached documents seem to make it clear that it was the same person.
Following a noise nuisance complaint in 2016, a series of recommendations were made to Velolife about how to minimise disturbance. These included a suggestion that cyclists meet at “the far end of the car park” on a Saturday morning.
In a 2017 email to the complainant, a council officer stated that the recommendations had been completed and it was then judged that “a noise nuisance was unlikely” and that case was closed.
The same officer states that the planning case continued. “Planning law is more stringent than noise nuisance law, requiring a quieter volume of noise than noise nuisance law.”
The documents also give some sense of the issues. The complainant following up on the matter later in 2017, writing: “We were wondering whether you have been in touch with the Planning Inspectorate in respect of any last minute appeal from Velolife about the removal of the steel containers on the car park as the Art studio/sales were still open and trading at the weekend.
“Once again it was extremely busy and very noisy with large numbers of cyclists both inside the building and outside in the car park. There were again displays of unacceptable nose and throat clearing onto the car park [redacted].”
Speaking last week, Goodwin said that he had been moved by the success of the crowdfunding campaign.
“It has made me a little bit emotional to be honest. It just shows we’re part of a much bigger community. The support has been quite overwhelming.”