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Cops back plan to 'recycle' bent bikes

PUBLISHED: 17:03 14 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:07 05 October 2010

A PROPOSED scheme to sell nicked bikes back to the public in London s East End, with full police approval, has been shortlisted this week to compete in a Government social enterprise competition. The Bikeworks organisation plans a 'recycling' project to sell bikes recovered by the police when owners can't be traced

By Mike Brooke

A PROPOSED scheme to sell nicked bikes back to the public in London's East End, with full police approval, has been shortlisted this week to compete in a Government 'social enterprise' competition.

The Bikeworks organisation which offers the public training and repair skills now plans to start the East London bicycle 'recycling' project to sell bikes recovered by the Met Police where owners cannot be traced.

It has been chosen by Junior Housing Minister Iain Wright to compete for a share of a £500,000 Whitehall fund.

The 15 organisations from around the country on the shortlist pitch their business ideas to a panel of leading entrepreneurs, including Big Issue Invest chief Nigel Kershaw, at an event in May. All 15 receive coaching to help develop their social enterprises.

Bikeworks looks like a strong contender with its plan to tackle rising cycle thefts in the East End, with many stolen machines often ending up being sold illicitly down Brick Lane market on a Sunday morning.

Police last year took the unusual step of setting up their own street stall in Brick Lane to sell off recovered bikes themselves in a bid to put the thieves out of business.

The social enterprise competition was announced following December's launch of a £1.5 million project challenging charities to go beyond standard 'homeless' services like providing food and shelter and offer training and job opportunities.

It is a bid to revamp the Government's much-criticised homeless strategy to promote more 'entrepreneurial' spirit and give the homeless the confidence to move onto 'sustained independent living.'

mike.brooke@archant.co.uk

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