Run to the Beat gives locals the bum’s rush

Run to the Beat, Charlton Park
It doesn’t look like this year’s Run to the Beat half-marathon is going to get a warm welcome when it takes to the streets of Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich and Blackheath on 27 September – with residents once again complaining about not being warned about road closures and how to get around them.

Greenwich Council started off the screw-ups by burying the licence application for the event’s music stages in the back of its propaganda weekly Greenwich Time – later partly corrected by an odd “clarification” in the paper. The licence did squeak through, however – I’m told that some people on the council who usually wouldn’t say boo to a goose actually got rather exercised by the prospect of the race returning to the streets. However, stringent conditions were applied to the race organisers.

Last year’s event was talked up by council leader Chris Roberts, saying it promised to “become a major event in the sporting calendar”. This year, the usually ubiquitous Labour leader is replaced by a generic quote on the council website:

The Council said: “This event stands to raise thousands for charity as well as giving opportunities for runners and local musicians.

“However, there were a number of real concerns expressed by residents over last year’s event and the Council has therefore set clear requirements on the organisers to ensure that traffic restrictions don’t impose undue difficulties on local residents, and that noise levels are kept to a reasonable level.”

I think we’ll class that as lukewarm backing, shall we?

So, how are the organisers doing in their quest to keep locals on-side? Not very well, it seems. Over to a reader of The Greenwich Phantom

Do you know anything about Run to the Beat? I had a less than clear letter as an East Greenwich resident a couple of months ago which rang alarm bells that we might be stranded on Sunday 27th, and looking at the map on the website I think this may be true.

I’m feeling distinctly grumpy about not being able to get out – and the letter sent home was so waffley it masked that we will hemmed in again. I love marathon day, but am I the only one who feels we shouldn’t have to put up with piss-poor imitations of the London Marathon? RttB’s community engagement is terrible – the info for residents page on the website is “coming soon”. When???

Cue a string of Phantom readers complaining that they hadn’t had leaflets warning them of what to do. I live in an area that’ll also be cut off by the route but have been away, so I checked with my upstairs neighbour. No, we hadn’t had anything. Oh dear. This doesn’t look good.

There’s a comparison here with the London Marathon. It’s actually been pretty rare for LM organisers to directly contact residents – but then again, it’s been running since 1981, everyone knows the marathon route, it takes up a great chunk of a Sunday on BBC1, and the date’s set well over a year in advance (25 April 2010, before you ask). It’s also done and dusted by lunchtime, usually.

But as for Run to the Beat… who knows? Who cares? We just get lumbered with it. And judging by many of the road signs that have appeared, that’s an all-day lock-in we don’t get warned about properly.

So, as a public service, and because Run to the Beat’s organisers clearly can’t be bothered – here is the information you should have had:

The residents’ leaflet (572K, PDF)
Where the music stages are (493K, PDF)
Road closures map (881K, PDF)
Letter for residents (91K, Word doc)

Greenwich Council is, apparently, monitoring Run To The Beat’s performance like a hawk this year. Although since the organisers promise to be “advertising more information about the race in Greenwich Time as Sunday September 27th approaches”, you really have to wonder how serious the council is about backing residents’ interests here.

Anyway, if you think you should have had a leaflet from organisers – and that’s many thousands of people in Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich – then Matthew Norwell is the council’s officer looking into this. If you’re unhappy, it may be worth dropping him a note (firstname.surname@greenwich.gov.uk).

And as for Sunday 27th… if Run to the Beat organisers are going to ignore local residents, then why should we turn out to support it?

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