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Anger as troubled City Run faces axe in budget cuts
The future of the City Run is in jeopardy as Bradford Council looks at ways to save cash – despite the event costing 50 per cent less than it did when created in 2009.
The news that Council officials are holding talks to see whether the run, which cost £97,000 in 2009 and £40,000 last year, will be featured in budget plans unveiled on February 28, has led to Keighley MP Kris Hopkins (Con) criticising the authority for leaving it to the last minute to find a solution.
And in a last-ditch attempt to save the run, hailed as a showpiece event at its creation four years ago when Mr Hopkins was Council leader, running clubs have said they would consider taking over the main organising of it, including Saltaire Striders member, Shipley Councillor Martin Love (Green).
The run cost £79,000 in 2010 and £62,000 in 2011 and last year attracted 800 runners. But talks cannot start, according to the Council’s assistant director of Sport, Phil Barker, until the budget is set to avoid building up runners’ hopes only for them to be dashed if it is axed.
Coun Love said getting running clubs involved would prevent the shambles last year when runners were sent the wrong way and could see costs scaled back to £10,000.
Last year runners were sent the wrong way on the 5k loop, which meant the 5k race was around 500m short and the 10k event only about 9k, which meant many runners were unable to tell if they had broken their personal best times.
“To be honest it was quite embarrassing last year,” Coun Love said.
“The budget is obviously a problem and we have to recognise that. But the run could be staged much more cheaply and I would urge the Council to ask running clubs. You don’t have to spend £40,000 on it in this current economic climate. See whether local clubs are prepared to take it on and get the Council to pay for publicity, that kind of thing.”
Mr Hopkins said: “It took a long time to get it going in the first place. Last year the event was struggling financially and they should have found a solution to it rather than wait until the last minute.
“It is a great advert for the city and is important. They have about something like half a billion pounds funding and they could find £10,000 like Coun Love said, so put that challenge to them. What the Council should not do, just because they are not up to providing it, is bin the event.”
Coun Andrew Thornton, the executive member on Bradford Council responsible for sport, said the City Run discussions would centre on the budget and that future plans had nothing to do with last year’s problems.
“We are having initial discussions on whether we will or will not do it. If we do, we need to look at what the form of it will be and the dates. It is really very much wrapped up in budget discussions and the proposals of events programmes.
“Until we get to a budget position on February 28 we won’t have a really clear idea about whether we are going ahead.”
He said that various ways of managing the event if it gets the go-ahead could include partnerships, working with the local running community, using an external event management company or managing the event in-house.
Tony Kingham, from the Bingley Harriers, said that the run was very important for Bradford.
“A lot of people run in that race and Bradford should have a big run,” he said. “I would have thought they could get enough volunteers to help with marshalling the event. I think it is important to showcase the city centre.”
Marc Steele, a member of the Eccleshill Road Runners, said runners would not want to do it if they ended up confused like last year. “I know people who took part in 2012 who were unhappy with the way it was run,” he said.
Last year was the first time a route started and finished at City Park, replacing 2011’s event across gruelling hills through the Bronte countryside.
The run was originally created in 2009 when more than 1,000 people took part.