Monday, 10 November 2014

Save Athletics at Tooting Bec

Fresh on the heels of the news that Crystal Palace athletics is under threat from the Mayor of London, concerns have been raised about another South London track. Tooting Bec Athletics Track has been a feature of running in that part of London since the 1930s, with the current synthetic track being opened in 1985. Today it is the home of Herne Hill Harriers, among other users.

Wandsworth Council, which currently runs the track, has announced that as part of its budget cuts it is 'exploring possible new management proposals for the Tooting Bec athletics track in a bid to secure its long term future. Next month councillors are likely to consider proposals that could involve seeking expressions of interest from local sports clubs, voluntary groups, charities and health and fitness professionals who could take over the day-to-day running of the track and all its amenities'.

While the Council is presenting this as being about 'safeguarding the future' of the track, they have refused to guarantee that it won't close down if nobody else steps forward to take over running it. There also worries that if it is privatised the costs of using the facilities could increase. A campaign to save the track has been launched, with a petition and a rally yesterday. More than 200 people turned out at the track with banners reading 'Keep it Open and Affordable'.

(photo from HHH Triathlon on twitter
Wandsworth Council has also been criticised by runners recently for refusing to allow parkrun events in its parks without charging a fee. Other London councils are not charging because they recognise that these free, volunteer-led runs are attracting people to the parks at relatively quiet times of day and bring health and social benefits to the local community.

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