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.
Amusingly, 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.