Greenwich Council misses the beat

Run to the Beat, Charlton Park
Remember these chaps? Last October saw a half-marathon, Run To The Beat, snake an awkward path through the streets of Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich and Blackheath in appalling weather. The conditions didn’t help matters, a Jubilee Line breakdown caused difficulties, and organisers generally didn’t seem up to the job of coping with these problems – the event had, at best, a mixed reception, condemned by some as an outright fiasco, others as something that showed promise.

beatAmusingly, runners were apparently promised a flat route, news to anyone who knows the socking great hill that runs between Greenwich and Woolwich. Like a sad memorial, loads of bus stops around here still have maps on warning people of a day of diversions because of the event.

I heard the organisers were coming back to have another go in 2009, I remember hearing somewhere that Greenwich Council would insist on it going through a proper planning process but I can’t easily find proof of that, alas.

Anyhow, that process is under way, for it is due to return on 27 September (announced in February to little fanfare) with a tweaked route which sees a dangerous-looking kink through Charlton Park (pictured above) replaced with a charge down two Blackheath side streets.

But how can the public have its say on the event? For this, we need to turn to Greenwich Council’s propaganda newspaper, Greenwich Time, which has just popped through my door. Buried in the sports pages is an odd-looking application for a premises licence in the name of Chiswick-based IMG UK Ltd, applying for a single licence to cover several locations in Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich and Blackheath. The licence is for “live and recorded music played at various times throughout the day between 09:45 and 14:00 on the stages listed above”. Two details are missing – one, the name Run To The Beat, and two, the date of the event. (Wouldn’t the lack of a date invalidate the advertisement?)

Does the council make any attempt to draw residents’ attention to this? So that they might object, comment, invite mates down or plan a weekend away to avoid it? No. There’s no supporting editorial in the rest of Greenwich Time at all. You might think the planning for such a big event, which will put a lot of people out, might be worth a quick news story to alert people. So unless you’re a bit clued-up/a bit sad (delete as applicable), you’d have absolutely no idea what’s being planned. And, as far as I can tell, the application can only be seen by visiting a council office in Woolwich.

You how I always bang on about Greenwich Council’s utter inability to communicate with its residents? This is a golden example. Is this a cock-up, because they can’t be bothered to actually talk to people about issues that affect them; or a conspiracy, because the council sees the race as being part of its Olympic ambitions? Who knows?

But with the Olympics on the horizon, this is just the kind of sneaky trick we need to be aware of, as the council buddies up with big corporations to make sure they get whatever they want – whatever locals think.


  1. That advert had me baffled when I first saw it. I guessed it was something to do with a rerun of this fiasco, so it’s nice to have my suspicions confirmed.

    As a resident of one of the two Blackheath side streets being charged down for the first time, I do wonder when Greenwich Council are going to get round to telling me about it. I think it’s appalling that I’ve only been told about it by visiting your excellent blog.

  2. You hadn’t been told? Oh for… it’s hard to over-estimate that council sometimes, and just when I thought I’d been a bit OTT. Hope you can spread the word. Thanks for your kind words, by the way – pleased to be of some kind of service, even if it’s the delivery of awkward news!

  3. Some more details from a mailout sent by Peninsula councillor Mary Mills to people in her ward – clearly those in Charlton and other wards wouldn’t have had this. Thanks to the recipient who passed this on to me:

    There is a licensing application for this event which may be held on 27th September this year. This is for the music they would like to play – but clearly there are also issues around the road closures for this event last year. Contact Greenwich Licensing department for details. Or ring 0208 921 8018. Comments have to be in by 14th July.

    The Council is also planning to have a stand in the Town Hall on the evening of 29th July with people from the organizers and also from the Council’s Community Safety Team to talk to the public about the event. There is a considerable amount of detailed information going out the public this year. Officers have set up a special co-ordination group and Run to the Beat is being discussed with all of them.

    Residents around the music stations will get letters inviting comments on the event – if you have not had a letter please get in touch with licensing about it (address above). If a licence is granted then the organizers will be required to write to all residents in th e affected area – not just those on the route or near the music stations.

    I have some more details or get in touch with the relevant council officers. As far as Peninsula Ward is concerned I understand that letters have gone out round the Millennium Village which was the most affected last year, and that their Residents Association are in touch with Licensing. Letters have also gone out around the sites of music stations along the Woolwich Road.

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