Run to the Beat sign in Wyndcliff Road, Charlton, 26 August 2013

Organisers of the controversial Run To The Beat race are already planning to give Greenwich Council £20,000 to host next year’s event – even though this year’s half-marathon still hasn’t been given licences by the authority.

Objections from residents, who face being shut in by the race’s circular route via Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich on 8 September, mean that this year’s race has to face a licensing hearing for its sound stages this Wednesday at Woolwich Town Hall.

Those objections have meant that what Greenwich Council actually gets out of holding the half-marathon has been revealed – but those expecting a huge sum of money will be disappointed. In fact, local people get very little out of the event, which is run for profit by events conglomerate IMG.

In an email exchange between Charlton resident Anne Waite, objecting to the race, and IMG’s Clayton Payne, it emerges that the firm only gives the council £10,000 for holding the event – but is planning to double it from 2014, even though there’s been no public agreement for the event to continue beyond this year.

Mr Payne writes:

“It is our utmost wish that the local community engages in the event and it serves to support the local community… We are aware that at times the event poses disruption to the local area and to that effect we have doubled our resident and business communications for 2013.

“As a boost to the successful partnership between Greenwich Council and IMG (Organisers), IMG will give £10,000 to the Greenwich Council Sports legacy [sic] this year, and £20,000 from next year.”

Clayton Payne’s statement appears to contradict claims made by Greenwich Council’s environment cabinet member Maureen O’Mara last year, which indicated that the council didn’t have a long-term relationship with the organisers.

Greenwich West councillor O’Mara told a council meeting in October 2012:

“If this race is to return to the borough, it needs to be with residents fully understanding what’s going to happen in their streets, and what’s going to happen with licensing.

“And we need to think – well, what does this bring into the borough? I certainly don’t want go through again, the anguish of the past four weeks. We have to be absolutely clear about why Run To The Beat is here in the first place.

“If residents say they don’t want it, then we’ll have to talk to IMG about that.”

Marathon” – possibly because the marathon causes inconvenience, it’s a not-for-profit event that’s known around the world and which draws huge crowds to pubs, restaurants and local shops. The same can’t be said for RTTB.

So how has Greenwich Council entered into what appears to be a long-term relationship with Run To The Beat’s organisers? This is a particularly baffling question as members of the local Labour Party, which is supposed to control the council, demanded a full consultation should take place before the race was repeated.

Will Maureen O’Mara, often spirited in council meetings, have the bottle to face those local party members to explain why their views don’t matter?

All this said, there has been an improvement in communications from RTTB, with reports of two information leaflets about the race (853 Towers, in the cut-off zone, has had one leaflet, copies of which can be downloaded from here), and there is a promise that roads will be re-opened earlier, largely down to a few local councillors defying O’Mara and kicking off about the issue. One leaflet even, for the first time, featured a map of local bus services, which will still be hugely disrupted.

Mind you, in his letter to runners, RTTB managing director James Robinson’s London geography suggests he may not even be aware what side of the Thames his race is on…

Run To The Beat competitors' leaflet

The Run To The Beat licence hearing is at 5.30pm on Wednesday at Woolwich Town Hall, and is open to the public. If you can’t make it, you can ask your local councillor to speak for you (I understand in Peninsula ward, Mary Mills is happy to speak for residents, and in Charlton, Gary Parker will do the same) – just get in touch with your councillor via the council website and see what they plan to do.

14 replies on “Double your money: Run To The Beat’s £20,000 council sweetener”

  1. Good points. But there is not a word of how much Greenwich has got out of it in the past. And there is nothing on how this back-pocket change amount will be spent. In the wards getting the aggro? Maybe, but then again, maybe not

  2. The “licensing” of the event, is something of a red herring. Even if the Council were to refuse the licences for the stages where objections have been received, this would result in a quiet patch of the route, not its cancellation.

    The fundamental permission for the event itself, has clearly been in place for many months (years?) but does not require (so far as I know) any formal consultation. But it is this aspect that residents care about – not the music. And it is this aspect that does need to be consulted on in some fashion.

  3. I do worry that the cost of the event to the council is more than the money it receives, even at 20K.
    I would be interested to hear if local businesses think they benefit from the race or not.

    I am trying to (re)open my mind this year given it looks like RTB are trying to open roads earlier, although the leaflet they put through my door telling me what time the roads open – was not for the zone my house is in.

    It disturbed me that the daily lives of people are being interrupted for a ‘for profit’ event.
    RTB is a case of corporate influence trumping the needs of individual – for purposes of entertainment and profit. But then again – maybe the wider public benefit so much from this event that its a necessary evil.
    How do we decide?

  4. The road closures were up early this week, Before the licensing thing. Foregone conclusion, eh?
    Did anything happen or was it a rubber stamp?

  5. Followed the link and I am shocked. Only one speaker against. No councillors from any of the half a dozen wards the route crosses.and no civic societies. Do people just enjoy moaning about this event or do they really want it to go? If they are serious then a lot of people need to raise their game. .

  6. Not going to argue with you there, Harvey, but as far as councillors go, it’s essentially been Labour councillors against a bullying Labour council leadership – which creates its own complications.

  7. Understood that councillors have been beaten into submission, but only a handful of objectors and one speaker is not going to impress anybody or change what happens. Surely?

  8. As Chris 2 said above, the licensing thing is a red herring – it was just for the “music” not for the race. Like many people (I hope), I raised my objection to the road closures through my local Councillor and the Minister For Transport. The local Councillors clearly didn’t do what several of them said they’d do this time last year when the previous one was run (i.e. voice their objections to the Council executive). Instead they allowed themselves to be fobbed off with minor changes to the route.

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