Questions of dodgy dealing have arisen regarding the sale of
bicycles at the Oxford Union this week, following a complaint
from a student who claims that her own bike was sold there just
two weeks after it went missing. Eleanor Stringer, a second year at Lincoln, had her bike
stolen in Fifth Week of Michaelmas outside Lincoln’s sports
ground, only to see it locked up outside Jesus in Eighth week. After several more sightings she eventually found its new
owner, who told her she had bought the bike for £45 at the Union
bike sale in Seventh Week of Michaelmas. Stringer said that the
bike was “pretty battered” so she decided not to make a
complaint to the police. Just as the allegations were being made earlier this week,
links to the company running the bike sales disappeared. The
Union informed Cherwell that, unlike most other cases where
companies are allowed to use their premises, no formal written
contract existed between the Society and the bike company. The company was unavailable to comment on the allegations face
to face, and the weekly bike sale did not take place this
Wednesday, although a spokeswoman for the Union explained that
this was normal in the second half of Trinity. In normal circumstances the company does sell stolen bikes
that have been recovered by the police. Thames Valley Police explained that stolen goods that are not
claimed after three months are sold cheaply by the police to
raise money for victims support charities. A spokeswoman said, “The auctions are jam packed and
there’s usually a dozen or more bikes at each auction.”
She went on to explain that “bikes are particularly
problematic because so many students don’t report them
stolen and even if they do they don’t have them security
etched or know enough details about them for us to find their
bike from the hundreds on the stolen goods database.” Thus, while in normal circumstances the bikes on sale at the
Union are perfectly legitimate, questions still linger in the
case of Eleanor Stringer’s bike. Commenting on the matter
she said, “It is entirely possible that it was sold in good
faith, but I do wonder.”ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2004