Greenwich Council ignored the members of its own governing party to give half-marathon Run To The Beat the go-ahead, it has emerged.

The race – branded “an imposition” by one councillor – will take place for the fifth year running on 28 October, closing roads and forcing diversions to bus services in Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich for much of the day, and placing 14 sound systems at various locations.

Heavily backed by Nike, the event is run commercially by leisure conglomerate IMG, “a global leader in sports, fashion and film”. As well as the disruption, the event has also been criticised for poor information.

Now it’s emerged senior councillors ignored members of their own party to give the race the go-ahead.

Both the Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Party and its Local Government Committee – which acts as a link between the party’s councillors and its rank and file members – had agreed a policy that any repeat of Run To The Beat be subject to a full public consultation. It also said it needed to follow a route which minimised transport disruption.

But no consultation was undertaken on whether the event should continue, and the council has approved a traffic management order to shut main roads across the north of the borough. No details of who approved it, or any conditions placed upon organisers, have been made available.

The senior councillor in charge is Denise Hyland – a close ally of council leader Chris Roberts, who is also in charge of the deteriorating situation at Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels. (Later information is that it’s actually environment cabinet member Maureen O’Mara in charge of this one, rather oddly.)

Other Greenwich councillors have spoken out about the event on this website – with health cabinet member John Fahy calling it “an imposition on borough residents” and Peninsula councillor Mary Mills complaining that organisers “seem to be able to carry on regardless”.

The row over Run To The Beat is likely to exacerbate tensions between Roberts and local party bigwigs, who are growing increasingly frustrated at the way the council is being run, and the tight control he has over councillors.

Indeed, neither the Greenwich & Woolwich party website nor its Eltham counterpart even promote the activities of the council their parties have run for 41 years.

An attempt to usurp Roberts failed in March when those councillors rejected a challenge from John Fahy by 24 votes to 15.

31 replies on “Council defied Greenwich Labour party over Run to the Beat”

  1. As I said in my last comment to your previous post on this issue, I think that the Council may have acted illegally in shutting the same roads twice in one year (Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984).

  2. Assuming that the road was closed under S16A, the restriction is noted under S16B “Where an order has been made under section 16A of this Act in any calendar year, no further order may be made under that section in that year so as to affect any length of road affected by the previous order, unless the further order—
    (a)is made by the Secretary of State as the traffic authority for the road concerned; or
    (b)is made with his consent.”
    Hence, we need to find out under what powers and by whom the road (let’s say Charlton Road) was closed for the London Marathon and Run to the Beat.

  3. The closure certainly was made under 16A. That said, I don’t recall seeing notices for the London Marathon closures – can anyone clarify under what powers those streets are closed?

  4. What about the roads around Westminster / Embankment- they’ve been closed for NYE, london marathon, British 10k, Olympic marathon (x2), jubilee pageant & Lord Mayors show already this year… Different borough but same point.

    It’s one morning – it’s actually a pretty good event (albeit one of the most expensive races of the year). I’m not doing it, but live on the 9mile mark and can’t get my car out but instead will invite a few mates over and watch it.

    The info has been relatively sparse but I did get the letter through.

    Either way I’d rather live it a borough where folk in ever increasing numbers want to visit and experience through either its historic features, walking round a fabulous open space or even running through it in their thousands than shut it off & say no to everyone and follow the rest of the zero community spirit of London…

    Oh, and the politics view is (in my opinion) a non-starter, they’ll just squabble & disagree against whoever motions a view from the other side anyway

  5. Hi,

    This issue seems to have affected my councillor colleagues and their wards more than my own (Kidbrooke) but, as I’m now involved in transport scrutiny, I have raised the issue of traffic orders with officers. I confess not to have known the 16A rule about closing roads twice in one year and, like the commenter, I was concerned by the suggestion that something may have gone awry. I’ve been told that it is right that s16(B) of the legislation as clarified by other sections in the Regulations prevents the same piece of road from being closed twice in one calendar year unless approved by the Secretary of State and that is what happened with both the London Marathon and Run to the Beat. I don’t believe objections can be made to such orders but I may be mistaken. In any event, the road closures are legal and I wanted to assure people of that.

    Of course the event has caused a great number of concerns from a range of people and I believe that other colleagues have been and will continue to pursue these concerns and I hope things can be done much better next year. Lessons need to be learned. I would encourage anyone that has concerns about Run to the Beat to contact their local councillors(s) and complain. It really does help a councillor advocate a certain point when they can cite several objections. I hope that helps and others may be better placed to address the other points raised.

  6. Hayley. Are you saying that the Secretary of State expressly approved the closure of Charlton Road (and others) for Run to the Beat? I think the overwhelming “lesson to be learned” is that permission should be refused in the event that the organisers apply to hold another Run to the Beat. What happended to the local/public consultation that was promised. Wouldn’t that be a good way for people’s concerns to be identified?

  7. I’m told it was approved by the Secretary of State. Now, I’m sure that was done by the office rather than a detailed consideration by the Minister. I assume it’s a formality but that’s just my hunch. All I know is that it was approved under an exemption in the Regulations you cite so technically the route is lawful. Does that address the wider evident issues here? Of course not and I don’t pretend to be able to offer solutions or answers. I just wanted to make sure the approval was lawful and let you know what I found out. Clearly there are wider issues of consultation to be considered. In general, People should not only be listened to, but have their views taken on board and accommodated as far as possible and have real input into what happens in their community. I confess that this is an issue my councillor colleagues have far greater knowledge of because they’ve been working on it behind the scenes and with residents and I would encourage you and anyone else to contact their councillor to make them aware of your concerns. They’re your councillors and they represent you. Tell them what you think.

  8. Hayley – thanks for putting that – and I hope to have more about this myself, but its a real tangle. I just going to join you in urging people to respond to local councillors and council staff on this. I understand that only one submission was received to the consultation on the licence (although I am checking all this again so don’t take it as gospel). Four years ago I was able to get music stations along Woolwich Road moved so they weren’t under people’s windows first thing in the morning – but I need to know that people want me to do that.

  9. Mary –

    I think that you can take it as read – indeed, as good old common sense – that no one wants music stations under their windows first thing in the morning.

    Hayley –

    Could you please clarify: who submitted the application to the Secretary of State? Greenwich Council presumably had to be involved in this process at some stage, and I presume that it was in fact Greenwich Council who submitted the application to the ministry.

  10. Franklin- you’re quite right. I believe Greenwich Council were involved in making the application to the SoS for the applicant. What happened in between with consultation is another matter, but the actual orders, rightly or wrongly, are legal.

  11. Franklin – yes but Run to the Beat organisers clearly think they don’t mind – and will turn up to licensing hearings and say ‘no one has complained so it must be all right’. Believe me, I’ve been to hearings like this, and heard what organisers say. We do need to hear from the public.

    Anyway I do have some information – but first of all I would say that this whole thing is quite difficult and a number of councillors have been asking questions. I also think the well intentioned work of a group of backbench councillors on this last winter somehow wasn’t fed into the process later on. This is all ongoing and it isn’t down to me to predict what other people may come up with – so you will have to wait for answers to some of the questions which arise out of this – and we all agree there are several.

    The issues around licensing the music are dealt with by the Licensing Department and this went out to consultation in the normal way. I myself was involved in passing this on to activist groups on the Millennium Village so I know it went out.

    It appears that the event is dealt with by something called the Councils Major Events Group. This is made up of representatives from a number of Council “service areas and the Emergency Services”. I now quote “The pre-planning of the event involves organising a number of things such as licencing of the music stages and closing roads to enable the runners to participate safely. If the Royal Borough are to host this event then road closures are an unavoidable consequence. Traffic Group (on behalf of IMG) have been requested to arrange the road closures in order to facilitate the event safely. The organisers have supplied the Council with the list of roads on which forms the route of the event. A Traffic Management Order (TMO) has been made under Section 16B of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Further to this, the order has been granted
    Secretary of State for Transport approval because some of the roads were also closed in the past year for the London Marathon”.

  12. Actually, perhaps I should also add that I think everyone involved is doing their very best – and that the questions around this event will eventually lead to something positive.

  13. Here is what happened re the Licensing application in 2009

    I was on the Licensing Sub-Committee that day and I was rather surprised at how few objections there actually were following all the controversy the previous year. The applicants wanted 15 stages but following representations from Councillor Mills and others we cut out three in residential areas:

    Woolwich Church St/Boneta Rd
    Trafalgar Rd/Hoskins St
    Trafalgar Rd/Fingal St

    As far as I know there has never been any proper consultation on road closures or on whether most residents really want the event in their area. It might be a good idea to do this before any decision is made over holding it in 2013 as clearly backbench councillors don’t have any influence on the Executive

  14. Hayley, Mary –

    Thank you for clarifying. Do either of you (or anyone else) know: does the Council receive any financial benefit or compensation from RTTB?

    With an entry fee of £46 and 18,500 runners, that’s £851,000 in revenues on the entry fee alone, plus merchandising.

    Local residents might be less opposed to the roads closures if we knew that the Council was being compensated fairly – and able to employ, for example, two or three more primary school teachers as a result.

    My concerns about the lack of accountability of the Executive to the concerned councillors – aptly summarised by Mary as “the well intentioned work of a group of backbench councillors on this last winter somehow wasn’t fed into the process later on” – still stand…

  15. So the roads were closed with NO public consultation or scrutiny and the Secretary of State just rubber stamps the decision. Is that right Hayley and Mary?

  16. Hi, I’m sorry about the late reply but I wanted to double check I had my facts right.

    IMG World cover all of the cost of our street cleansing team to clean the race route, along with a member of staff to be present in Race control on the day.

    They also gave the Council 50 free places that were given to Starting Blocks (Mayors Trust).

  17. God cheer up all, its a great thing to have locally if you run, and the roads reopen at 12.30 so you can get to B&Q or whatever you need after a nice long lazy breakfast and read of the papers. You wont even know its happening. And people will stay in Greenwich afterwards and spend spend spend so its not the end of the world!

  18. Funny it’s only runners defending this, isn’t it?

    Mick – you posted from an Irish address; do you live around this way and understand the points being made? If RTTB and the council engaged with people, it wouldn’t be in this mess and people would be more welcoming -like they are for the London Marathon.

  19. @ Darryl, I live on Maidenstone Hill so am probably slightly insulated from the ‘chaos’ which 3 hours of closure on a Sunday morning will cause. I do take the point though. But in all honesty, Greenwich is lucky that it gets the lions share of ‘stuff’ that happens in South East London, no where else gets a look in so enjoy the attention the town gets and financially benefits from. You could even dare I suggest, get up and cheer on the thousands of people putting themselves through agony (like my friends) to raise money for many charities. They are the only ones I feel sorry for as I eat my bacon roll clapping them as they pass. Plus there are 14 of us booking a table for lunch in a well known Greenwich pub afterwards, only 2 of us live locally so it will bring money into the area. Rant over, the end, goodnight 😉

  20. That map is a disgrace. From the school of advertising that if you present something as if a child has been let loose with the crayons it is ‘quirky’ and ‘fun’. Google maps for christ sake

  21. how can we complain officially? I am a huge fan of the marathon and get up every year and cheer but this event essentially traps you in all day as the roads do not open till about 3.

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