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Anxiety rises as 12,000 runners take to the roads

PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:08 25 August 2010

RESIDENTS have sought reassurance from the organisers of a half marathon event to avoid the disaster that happened last year.

RESIDENTS have sought reassurance from the organisers of a half marathon event to avoid the "disaster" that happened last year.

Members of The Westcombe Society met with Greenwich council to seek assurances that disruption caused by the Run to the Beat event will be kept to a minimum.

It follows a decision by Greenwich council on July 23 to grant a live and recorded music license at points along the route through the borough from the O2 Arena on September 27 from 9.45am

Residents of Westcombe Park say they were blocked in for several hours during last year's event.

Westcombe Society also sent a letter to the council's licensing committee asking for speakers at the music stage on Charlton Way corner, Blackheath, to be directed towards the heath away from residents.

Chairman of the society's planning and environment sub-committee Dick Allard said: "Last year was a complete disaster and we are eager to avoid it happening again.

"I hope the organisers have learnt some lessons. The council has assured us that every household will get a leaflet explaining which areas are blocked off and a route in and out of Westcombe Park.

"Last year there were all sorts of horror stories about people missing their holiday flights because they were blocked in and so on. There should not be any nasty surprises.

"We are a little concerned about the noise level and some sensible arrangement needs to be met for music noise levels along the route, which can get a bit intrusive.

"There is also a bit of a worry about the number of events that are getting special dispensation for licences. We want the council to be mindful that they seem to be steadily increasing."

They received seven letters of objection which raised concern over noise, anti-social behaviour, "disorderly and menacing youths by the gates of King Williams Walk," disruption for park users.

More than 12,000 competitors are expected to take part in Run to the Beat. A spokesman for organisers IMG said: "This year we have made a concerted effort, talking to residents and liaising with Westcombe Society.

"A letter and a map is due to be sent to 28,000 residents showing access routes throughout the event. An advert will also go out in the council newspaper Greenwich Time.

"All stages with special licences have to comply with the council's rules on noise levels."

A spokesman for Greenwich council said: "Following discussion with local residents' groups, the road closures and restrictions have been planned so that - unlike last year - all residents living within the area encircled by the route will be able to get out to the A102M to go north or south.

"The council's licensing subcommittee set a number of conditions on the event before agreeing the application. These include strict time limits on each music stage decibel limits on each music stage the organisers to run and publicise a complaints hotline.

"The sub-committee refused three of the proposed music stages on the grounds that they were in sensitive residential areas and that an unacceptable level of nuisance would be caused in these areas.

"The council is working with organisers to ensure that they distribute clear information to residents about road closures and parking restrictions.

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