CUSTOMERS at a cycle shop in Oxford are hoping to take over the business and run it as a community co-operative.

Owner John Wilson, 52, is recovering after a major operation and wants to retire after 25 years in the saddle at Walton Street Cycles, in Jericho.

He is putting the business up for sale and is open to offers from prospective buyers.

One offer is likely to come from a community co-operative, which wants to make sure the shop stays open.

Ryan Crawford, 23, who has been a mechanic at the shop since he was 14, said: “I started out doing work experience on Saturdays — and never left.

“This shop has been here for over 30 years and nobody wants to see it go, so the idea of a community co-operative has been put forward. The idea is that customers and others will register their interest.

“They could get together and sign up to invest in the business, and in theory they might buy it.

“The details of a scheme like this need to be examined quite carefully, but it is one option at the moment.”

Phil Oakley, 26, who works in the cycle workshop, which moved from Walton Well Road to Cranham Terrace five years ago, added: “This has been a big part of John’s life for so long that it's difficult to get used to the idea of him not being in the shop on a day-to-day basis.

“Working for the community has always been a big part of what the shop has been about, so some sort of community takeover would be very appropriate.”

Susanna Pressel, Labour city councillor for Jericho and Osney, is helping to co-ordinate the co-op idea.

She said: “John has suffered a serious illness and as a result has decided to retire.

“Lots of people are interested in the idea of a co-operative and about 40 have come forward so far.

“We're determined this valuable asset will stay open.

“There's a real need for a bike shop with a repairs facility in this area.

“We fought hard back in 2004 to get the shop a new repairs base, so we certainly don’t want to see it close now.”

Craig Simmons, a Green city councillor for St Mary’s ward, said local businesses backed the Oxford Cycle Workshop in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, when it opened several years ago. He added: “There were plans for the Oxford Cycle Workshop to be run as a community co-operative, so it might be able to provide useful advice about a business model.”

Mr Wilson’s brother Phil, 54, a GP in Glasgow, said the Wilson family would be delighted to consider the community proposal.

He added: “John wants to know the business will survive with the kind of community ethos he has always encouraged.”

  • Anyone interested in the co-op plan should email or call 01865 554001.