Council says no to athletics race

Breckland in Linford Wood
Breckland in Linford Wood

MILTON Keynes could have staged a significant event in the UK athletics calendar next month – but will not because the city’s council has refused to temporarily close a small, quiet road.

Marshall Milton Keynes Athletic Club stalwart Mick Bromilow had been asked by the English Road Runners Association to try and host its National Road Relays competition on October 13-14.

But despite the fact that only one small road would need to be closed for a few hours that weekend, Milton Keynes Council has refused permission, saying the club needed to give at least four weeks notice.

The club had been asked to host the competition at short notice after Birmingham City Council pulled the plug because of an E. Coli outbreak close to the previous Sutton Park venue.

Mr Bromilow said he was given the thumbs up by Thames Valley Police to close the road near to the athletics club’s Stantonbury track, but the council said no, despite him first contacting officials three and a half weeks in advance.

“It’s Breckland by Linford Woods. I reckon there are half a dozen businesses on that road, including the British Standards Institute,” said Mr Bromilow.

“The road is in a non-residential area with a few businesses – most of which wouldn’t be operating over the weekend.

“We would have expected around 2,600 runners to take part over the Saturday and Sunday. It’s really sad that we can’t do it. The council’s rules haven’t helped.

“I think this is the first time in 50 or 60 years that the National Road Relays have been cancelled.”

The event would have been worth around £5,000 to the club, which Mr Bromilow said would have gone towards the cost of building a new indoor training facility – due to be named after Olympic champion Greg Rutherford.

A statement from the council said: “There is a lead in time of a minimum of four weeks for certain types of road closures, but that’s only if they are for an annual event, which this isn’t. We would actually strongly recommend people to contact us much sooner than that – several months before an event they are planning – to be on the safe side.

“There are a number of legal steps we have to take before we can close a road – thereby effectively removing the public’s right of way to use that road.

“As well as looking at the best way of achieving the closure, and placing notices of the intended road closures on lampposts etc, we have to make sure we have consulted with anyone who may be affected, and publish the notice in the local press several weeks in advance.

”In this instance, where the road is being closed for a sporting event, legislation requires the council to apply to the Secretary of State for consent to close it due to a previous closure along the same length of road already this year.

“It’s unfortunate but on this occasion Mr Bromilow did not submit his application in time.”