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