“People’s Route” kickstarts Olympic marathon row

Launch of the People's Route 2012 Photo: Charles Alderwick

New life was breathed into the debate over London’s Olympic marathon route last night as the People’s Route 2012 was officially launched.

The campaign was announced at the annual assembly of community organisers, The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO).

After speakers from various community campaigns addressed an audience of 1000 people, Bethan Lant, a marathon runner and Tower Hamlets resident, took to the stage to announce the launch of the People’s Route 2012 campaign.

“Tonight we are proposing our own Olympic marathon route. We are launching the People’s Route 2012 to get the Olympic marathon running back through East London.

“The route starts at the Mall in West London, goes over Tower Bridge but goes through Tower Hamlets, Hackney and finishes at the Olympic stadium in Newham.”

Everyone present was upstanding in favour of the campaign.

The Olympic organisers (Locog) have come under criticism from Tower Hamlets and Newham councils since September when the changed route was first suggested.  Tower Hamlets council spent £10million on ‘High Street 2012’ – a project to regenerate Whitechapel High Street – a key stretch of the original route.

Sebastian Coe, Locog chairman, announced the changed route in October. “Staging these games is a massive logistical exercise and one with complex challenges,” he said at the time, “The original route required the closure of Tower Bridge and a number of key artery roads.”

But last night TELCO seemed unsatisfied with the explanation: “This would be the first time in history that the Olympic marathon has not ended at the Olympic stadium.

“If our borough was good enough to win the bid on the back of its diversity and opportunity, why is it not good enough to host an Olympic event? If our borough is good enough for the London Marathon, why is it not for the Olympic marathon? Traffic as an excuse is simply not good enough.”

TELCO is a branch of London Citizens and is made up of local institutions such as schools, churches, mosques and university departments.

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