Despite being a councilor, I am often behind the curve when it comes to local big news. A recent example was the announcement that the "Southend Marathon cancelled three weeks before the race".
I wish Southend-on-Sea was more welcoming to cruise nights. I wish it was welcoming to bikers and their shakedowns. I wish it was more welcoming to those who want to run twenty-six miles, and help charity whilst doing it.
Apparently road closures proved unpopular for some businesses.
I understand the demands of business, and I want a commercially vibrant borough. I realise that jobs and prosperity hang on the success of local businesses. However, we cannot be hostage to profits, and sometimes we have to push back against commercial interests.
Of course, runners, bikers, drivers could find alternate venues. But the seafront is a great place to host these events, and this natural and shared resource is theirs too.
I do not blame the Council entirely, although I find their conservative and mean-spirited approach at times somewhat at odds with their stated desire to see the borough become a magnet for more visitors.
The news that the marathon has been cancelled was a surprise to say the least. I get a mountain of emails most days, but I am sure that I did not get any advanced notification of this. I have yet to receive an explanation, and although this is now promised this has only come as a result of my prompting. Sometimes it does seem that some decisions are not explained to us - and yet we still attract some blame.
I find the decision baffling, and in anticipation of an explanation - wrong. We are meant to be encouraging exercise, less car use, and the idea of enabling a big society through charitable endeavour. This latest cancellation fails on this criteria.
I doubt the decision will be reversed, but I think it important that this councilor (whose ward hosts a part of the marathon course) shows that he does not endorse this decision.