Bike hire business takes fight to the top

A CASTLETON businesswoman is set to meet with a Secretary of State later today in a bid to save her livelihood.

Vicky Griffin runs Purple Mountain which for the last six years has successfully operated the cafe and bike hire facility in Dalby Forest.

But last week Vicky and her company learned they had lost the contract to two companies with international links.

She believes this flies in the face of the Government and Forestry Commission’s (which manages the forest) pledge to support small, independent businesses.

Purple Mountain has concerns about the way the tender process was carried out and that there is no appeal process.

Vicky will be putting these questions to Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the department of environment, food and rural affairs at a crunch meeting which was hastily arranged after intervention from Vicky’s local MP Robert Goodwill. She has also written to the chief executive and chairman of the Forestry Commission.

Vicky told the Gazette: “We have been dogged in our approach, it is our business at the end of the day.

“She is obviously taking it very seriously. We will ask the questions about the process and the questions about transparency and the fact there is no appeal process.

“Hopefully we can make some progress because as a government department they are not acting with a duty of care.”

The Forestry Commission announced earlier this month that Pace Cycles, based in Kirbymoorside, had been awarded the contract for running the bike hire side while Eurest (part of the international leisure group Compass) would run the cafe.

A Facebook campaign has been backed by hundreds of members of the public who have threatened to boycott using Dalby Forest if the management changes, due to be implemented next month, go ahead.