Ride-outs saved: motorcycles removed from Stevenage Council's injunction application
A controversial High Court injunction application that put bike meet-ups and ride-outs in Stevenage at risk of being made illegal has been altered to take motorcycles out of the firing line.
The injunction application was made by Stevenage Borough Council against "persons unknown" and was aimed primarily at preventing car cruising events after several accidents in the area.
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But the inclusion of motorcycles in the wording of the document meant that bikers could have found themselves on the wrong side of the law for taking part in group rides or gathering at cafés.
Local kit retailer and bike café, Bike Stop, intended to fight the injunction in court, but managed, along with their legal team, to get motorbikes excluded before the hearing.
"We recognise that there is a legitimate concern in respect of the threat of criminal damage or injury that may arise from car-cruises," said Bike Stop owner, Martin Brown.
"Had the injunction been granted in the form sought it would have prohibited all motorcycle rides and criminalised legitimate lawful activities. It would have been impossible to run a business that encouraged others to breach such an injunction in the hope that it would not be enforced."
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT - WE WON! Great news – Motorcycles completely removed from the order!! We are pleased...Posted by Bike Stop on Thursday, 20 August 2020
Bike Stop was represented by Alexander Carter-Silk of Keystone Law who was in no doubt of the importance of fighting the injunction.
"What is shocking is that these orders have and continue to be obtained without contest from courts all over the UK, without opposition the judges cannot appreciate the harm they can cause," he said.
"When this application came to light it rightly caused outrage, but it was left to Monica and Martin Brown (owners of Bike Stop) to stand up and be heard. It has been a privilege to represent two wonderful people, our fee is waived."
Bike Stop Stevenage will fight council's injunction in court in bid to prevent ban on ride-outs
First published on 18 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke
The owners of Bike Stop, in Stevenage, will be in court on Thursday, August 19, to oppose Stevenage Borough Council’s High Court injunction application intended to target car cruising events.
Bike Stop are concerned that the broad scope of the injunction will unfairly target law-abiding bikers by making group rides illegal.
A letter from Bike Stop’s solicitor, Alexander Carter-Silk from Keystone Law explains the kit retailer’s position. "To be clear our client does not oppose the council taking whatever lawful targeted steps it considers appropriate to prevent so called "car cruises".
"But our client is extremely concerned that the existing wording of the Draft Order... will, on its ordinary construction, have the effect of making what is currently perfectly lawful and reasonable behaviour by our client’s customers, unlawful and making them liable to further action for contempt of court (including by arrest).
"This could cause very significant damage to our client’s business and is completely inconsistent with the rights (including human rights) of our client’s customers and potential customers."
How you can help
Bike Stop owner Martin Brown is looking for public support to help his cause. "We need as many people as possible to send a simple email to the courts saying they wish to attend the virtual hearing on Thursday," he said.
If you want to do so, email DisputeResolutionLaw@hertfordshire.gov.uk, and firstname.lastname@example.org with the following sentence: "I wish to formally register my interest to attend the Court proceedings concerning Claim Number: G00LU797"
Bike Stop’s petition
The decision to fight the injunction in court follows a change.org petition named ‘Protect Sociable, Charitable and Educational Motorcycle Ride-outs in Stevenage’, which amassed over 2000 signatures in its first weekend and highlighted some of the positive ride-out activities that would be jeopardised should the injunction be granted.
These include Air Ambulance Charity events, the motorcycle safety initiative BikeSafe and the Sunday Social Ride-outs from Bike Stop itself, which are organised by local clubs and almost always include police, ambulance and fire service riders.
The petition had to be launched through change.org after the council denied an application for an official petition against the injunction.
Stevenage Council injunction could mean ban on group rides in the town
First published on 14 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke
Stevenage Borough Council have applied to the High Court for an injunction to ban car cruising that could also mean a ban on group ride-outs for motorbikes in the town.
The injunction would grant police the powers of arrest for those participating in "street cruises" as defined by a specific list of activities (many of which are already illegal) including "driving or riding in convoy". The injunction would apply to car drivers, motorcycle riders, passengers and/or spectators.
By strict application, a ban on driving or riding in convoy would mean riding schools and charity ride-outs would be outlawed as well as meet-ups at cafés such as the one at popular Stevenage kit retailer, Bike Stop.
"When our customers ride their motorbikes to Bike Stop many enjoy a ride-out with friends," said Bike Stop owners Martin and Monica Brown in a letter to Stevenage Borough Council.
"If the ban goes ahead would this be constituted as a convoy and therefore be deemed illegal? Enforcing a ban on our customers would therefore seriously put in jeopardy our business that has managed to survive for nearly 40 years despite the daily challenges caused by the downturn in the retail High Street, a three-month closure due to COVID-19 and now we face the prospect of a proposed ban of riding in convoy by our local council."
Full list of activities that would be restrained by the injunction
- Driving or riding at excessive speed, or otherwise dangerously
- Driving or riding in convoy
- Racing against other motor-vehicles
- Performing stunts in or on motor-vehicles
- Sounding horns or playing radios
- Dropping litter
- Supplying or using illegal drugs
- Urinating in public
- Shouting or swearing at, or abusing, threatening or otherwise intimidating another person
- Obstruction of any other road-user
- Stopping or parking vehicles or otherwise congregating at the location of a street cruise for the purpose of watching it
The application has also prompted a response from the Stevenage and District Motorcycle Club who added: "We are a responsible group of motorcyclists who, as a Club have been meeting almost weekly in Stevenage and the surrounding area for almost sixty years.
"To our knowledge, there has never been as much as a request from a member of the community for us to be quiet, let alone any formal complaints.
You may be aware Stevenage Borough Council are requesting a Crown Court injunction to stop two vehicles or more...Posted by Stevenage & District Motorcycle Club on Tuesday, 11 August 2020
"The solution to the car cruise (and general antisocial driving and riding) issue is clearly enforcement of laws that already exist and not the implementation of an injunction that reinforces those laws.
"By implementing this injunction, you are not only stopping responsible people going about their business but are inadvertently banning work vehicles travelling together and events such as funeral processions."
Stevenage and District Motorcycle Club applied to the council to start a petition against the application but this was denied.
If the injunction goes through it would mean serious limitations to the bikers of Stevenage and those who wish to use venues like Bike Stop as the start or end point of a ride-out. It would also preclude charity ride-outs like those organised in support of the air ambulance and it seems that there is very little the public can do to stop it without the risk of incurring legal fees.
Stevenage isn’t the only place in the UK where car cruising events take place. How long will it be before other councils attempt to do the same?