Purple Mountain, the company set to be replaced as operators of the Dalby Forest café and bike hire facilities, have organised a protest ride for Saturday March 24.
Pace Cycles and Eurest Services will operate the trail centre, near Pickering in North Yorkshire, from April 1 after Purple Mountain lost out in a tender process which attracted interest from 15 businesses.
But Purple Mountain believe the procurement process was unfairly handled and, having attracted more than 1,000 signatures to an e-petition, will ride from the Forestry Commission offices in Pickering to the Purple Mountain Cafe in Dalby Courtyard, starting at 10.30am on Saturday.
Here’s Purple Mountain’s latest statement in full:
“Purple Mountain Bike Centre and Cafe, a local business employing more than 60 people, is set to be ousted out of Dalby Forest with less than a month’s notice by big business, Eurest, a multi national company owned by the Compass group, the largest food service provider in the world , whilst the bike centre gets taken over by Pace Cycles and CTC.
“Purple Mountain played a big part at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, in both 2010, and 2011. Most recently they have been asked personally by cabinet member for the 2012 Olympic Games Stephen Castle to consult on the Olympic legacy facilities in London after Castle visited the Purple Mountain setup in 2011 and was so impressed.
“Purple Mountain are showing definite signs that they will NOT give up their fight to see justice being done.
“This is most certainly not an issue of sour grapes – it is a very serious issue surrounding probity and honesty. We believe the tender process for the bike centre and cafe has been carried out in bad faith and process has not been followed. We believe declarations of interest should have been made, and may not have been done, although in a feedback meeting with Purple Mountain FC [Forestry Commission] bosses, when directly asked whether anyone had declared an interest, [FC] would not comment on the matter. When Purple Mountain director Vicky Griffin directly asked Alan Eves, Forest management director whether he was a friend of Adrian Carter, owner of Pace Cycles Ltd, the company who have won the tender, he answered: ‘Well I’m an acquaintance.’ Vicky Griffin, director of Purple Mountain, feels he is more than an acquaintance: ‘I know that I’ve seen them in the pub together drinking socially, I’ve seen them on cycle rides together, they live in the same village and I believe they may have been on an overseas mountain bike trip together. It is common knowledge that they are more than acquaintances.’
“If Eves has failed to declare an interest this is in breach of the procurement process, and him being involved in the process puts into question the probity and transparency surrounding the whole issue. At a time when government are so hot on the issue of ‘cronyism’ it seems odd that the FC think they can behave with complete impunity.
“Last Friday directors/owners Ruth and Vicky Griffin met with the secretary of state for Defra, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, to discuss in particular the issues surrounding probity and transparency. She said: ‘This is a serious indictment of the Forestry Commission and I will have this looked into.’ She made a note of the both Alan Eves and Adrian Carter.
“Purple Mountain bosses came out of the meeting feeling upbeat and felt that taking things to the top mabe on this occasion what [we] have to do. The Forestry Commission cannot be seen to get away with this behaviour – we assure you this is definitely not a matter of sour grapes. Interestingly, Vicky Griffin met another of the unsuccessful local tenders and he felt exactly the same about the whole issue, and is making his own legal case against the FC also.
“This last week has seen Purple Mountain rallying more support from all angles. The matter has been brought to the attention of the Ryedale Council who are interested from a number of levels
– It is against Ryedale Council policy to replace small local business with big business.
– It was Ryedale Council who put a great deal of investment into the courtyard at Dalby Forest: approx £50k council, £350K ERDF, £300k Yorkshire Forward – to develop the courtyard for craft workshops, a bike centre and a cafe.
“Ryedale Council have been made aware that one company, being Pace Cycles Ltd, the alleged friend of the forest business manger, occupies at least 75% of these, currently using them for retail of cycles, a bike demo centre and national suspension service centre , which is not what was agreed in 2010. When Pace take over the bike centre from April 1 2012, they will just about have a monopoly on the whole courtyard site – this cannot be right surely ?
“This weekend sees the public voicing their concern by way of a protest ride and rally. The protest ride will leave the FC offices in Pickering at 10.30am and will ride to Purple Mountain cafe in Dalby Courtyard . Those who don’t wish to ride can join the protest rally in the courtyard. Purple Mountain have already got the support of the public, over 1,000 people have signed a petition against this happening, with some members of the public voicing some very strong views. Although James Lee, land agent at [the] Forestry Commission, said: “Public Opinion is irrelevant.”
“Come down and have your say on Saturday – Purple Mountain are providing free tea and coffee and biker bar to all the supporters.”