Cycle shop being booted out for bookies
AN independent cycle shop is the latest casualty in Luton Borough Council’s mission to maximise its return on the properties it rents out in the town.
Dave Barford, 61, has been told he needs to move out of the shop he rents in Birdsfoot Lane, to make way for a betting shop.
The council currently is reviewing all its lease agreements across the town, to “ensure both consistency and fairness”.
It is understood the bookies, part of a national chain, have offered to pay a lot more than Mr Barford, who set up My Bike Shop in the busy parade four years ago.
Mr Barford sells new and second hand bikes, and also offers servicing and repairs. He has supplied bikes to sustainable transport charity Sustrans, and to the council for cycle training.
And his customers have flocked to sign a petition to keep the business in its current home.
“I’ve been really humbled by the things they’ve written,” said Dave, of Taunton Road.
“The whole thing doesn’t seem ethically correct – a bookmakers isn’t going to be of any social benefit and there’s already one further down the road.
“They’ve offered me other premises in Lewsey Farm and Hockwell Ring but I’ve become established here now.”
Former competitive cyclist Mr Barford first started working in the industry when he was just 13, with a part-time job at Charlie Cole’s Cycle Shop in Dunstable.
He started My Bike Shop in 1993 but had to move out of his previous premises, in Archway Road in Leagrave, when they were sold for development.
Icknield ward councillor Michael Garrett said Mr Barford’s business was just the sort the council should be supporting.
“When you consider the council is trying to get people cycling, it would be an absolute shame for him to have to leave.”
Customer Janine Benjamin, of Grasmere Road, told the Luton News: “The shop encourages families to be active.
“I can speak for a lot of people when I say I would be sad to see it go.”
A council spokesman said the council was “missing an opportunity” to protect funding for front line services by not making more money from the unit.
“Rent at this building was being charged well below market rates,” he said.
A fortnight ago we revealed how St Augustine’s Scout Group, in Icknield Way, had been told their ground rent would increase from £150 a year to £8,000 a year.
The council said voluntary groups would get help from a hardship fund.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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