Big Half Marathon Wapping Lock In – Council says “meh”

Questions about the Big Half Marathon event which is taking over Wapping on Sunday 4th March have been met with a resounding “meh” by Tower Hamlets Council.

To summarise:

  • 15,000 runners will be coming through Wapping on 4th March.
  • Route is Vaughan Way, Wapping High Street and Garnett Street.
  • All residents vehicles parked on route must be removed before the event
  • Vehicles that are not removed will be towed away
  • 170,000 leaflets were distributed by race organisers
  • Neither Council or event organisers are proposing any change to event route.
  • Neither the Council or London Marathon Events Ltd consider that Will Tuckley’s roles with both organisations* constitutes a conflict of interest.

(*Will Tuckley is both CEO of Tower Hamlets Council and a Director of London Marathon Events Ltd which created the Big Half Marathon event for Vitality UK, a provider of life insurance.)

You can read more details of the responses from the Council and London Marathon Events Ltd below if you can be bothered.

Here are links to the main commercial organisations involved.

Last weekend LW spoke to Anamur Rahman who runs Fresh Foods in Wapping Lane and told him about the imminent Big Half Marathon event.

Amanur had no idea this was happening and is not impressed.

Among the many issues that Amanur told us about where the problem of not being able to bring his stock in by car. He even has problems getting to Wapping by train as busses are cancelled for these events and sometimes the Overground too.

25% drop in business

Amanur has some pithy responses to those Wapping residents who think that a lock-in must be a great for local shopkeepers and businesses. (Open invitation for these people to go and chat with Amanur anytime.)

“My business sees a drop of 25% when these lock-ins happen because of these races. People just don’t bother leaving home because they can’t go anywhere so they don’t come in to the shop,” said Amanur.

“Why can’t other parts of London host these big sporting events sometimes as well? We like to do our bit, what about others?”

Other shopkeepers LW spoke to echoed Amamanur’s views.

Council response

“To organise the event, a pre-planning meeting was held with the council and representatives of London Marathon Events on 26 May 2017. This set out the potential route and traffic management for the Big Half. Road closure timings were considered; keeping impact to residents and businesses at a minimum was a key focus and safety for everyone involved in the event were priorities.

“The decision to close the roads for the Big Half was agreed by TfL and each of the three boroughs it passes through.

“In February 2018, Transport for London, in line with the Traffic Regulation Act, 1984, issued an order that they would facilitate the Big Half as the traffic authority.

“Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, did not attend any meetings with the Big Half about the organisation of the event and did not take part in any board decision about it.

“London Marathon Events Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation with all profits generated going to the London Marathon Charitable Trust.”

Responses from Matt Jackson, Senior Communications Manager London Marathon Events Ltd.

Who made the decision?

“The decision to close the roads for the event was agreed by each borough council and TFL. The decision was made on the recommendation from officers including the Highways Team from each council. Tower Hamlets council work closely with London Marathon Events to ensure that we meet our responsibilities. Safety arrangements are monitored through a Licensing, Operational, Safety and Planning Group that specifically scrutinises the event plans for this event.”

Will Tuckley

“We have been working on this event with Tower Hamlets since 2016 and went through a long period of consultation with the council engaging representatives from their events team, highways team and communications team. Will Tuckley has not attended any meeting with us about the organisation of the Big Half. He did not take part in any Board decision about the Big Half.”

Leaflet distribution

“The event was announced in April 2017 and since then we have worked closely with the council to ensure residents and businesses are aware. We aim to keep road closures to a minimum and re-open them as quickly as possible to minimise any inconvenience to residents and businesses. A save the date leaflet was sent out across the route in November 2017 and, at the beginning of February, nearly 170,000 leaflets were sent via Royal Mail to residents throughout Wapping and across the whole route detailing the road closures.”

LW Comment

Even by the standards of Tower Hamlets the level of incompetence shown by the Council and its complete and utter lack of respect for Wapping residents is breathtaking.

And remember these are the people who want your vote in May. Seriously?

Quite how any of the organisations involved think it is OK for the Tower Hamlets CEO to be a director of London Marathon Events Ltd is beyond reasoning.

There is absolutely no suggestion whatsoever that Mr Tuckley has had any involvement with the Big Half Event in Tower Hamlets.

But this is TOWER HAMLETS! It’s the corruption capital of the UK!

Does no individual in the Council understand the need for every aspect of their work to not only be whiter than white but to also appear to be whiter than white?

Which part of this is complicated?

The alternative to voting

As our systems have failed some are considering direct action against the Big Half Marathon.

As Sir Mo Farah is running there is much more of a chance of getting widespread publicity for any protest to embarrass  the Council, call out the Big Half Marathon for their complete lack of respect for the community and of course put London Marathon Events Ltd firmly in the spotlight.

Who knows the protest might even get on TV?

Possible protests might happen when residents cars are being towed away on the evening of the 3rd March, other protests during the race itself on 4th March.

One of the best ideas we have heard is a peaceful street party along Wapping High Street! Count LW in for that – as long as there is lashings and lashings of jelly and ice cream!

The Wapping Big Half Event protest street party was going well until the neighbourhood children turned into a raging mob after too many sugary drinks!

Inform police of any planned protests

Anyone who is considering a protest / direct action against the Big Half Marathon must inform Tower Hamlets police of this in advance.

We don’t know the full details of this sort of stuff but best option is to talk to the SNT officers or dial 101 and explain what you want to do. We had a chat with SNT about this yesterday and they were very helpful.

Any problems getting in touch with the right people let us know and we can help out.

If you do protest please keep it peaceful – anything else and you lose the argument.




5 thoughts on “Big Half Marathon Wapping Lock In – Council says “meh”

  1. It is simply not the case that “Anyone who is considering a protest / direct action against the Big Half Marathon must inform Tower Hamlets police of this in advance.” Unless there is a march organised as part of your protest you do NOT have to tell the police in advance. There is no requirement in law to give the police advance notice of a demonstration (you may wish to if you want their assistance in facilitation). East London has a long and proud tradition of peaceful and nonviolent direct action. Please correct this misinformation and uphold the right of any citizen of Wapping to protest without notice. Direct action is participatory democracy in action, people representing themselves for change – and we do not have to tell any authority or ask anyone’s permission to do that.

    1. Thanks for clarifying this Glen. We should have said ‘should inform Tower Hamlets police’ and not ‘must inform’. our error. However we do think it would be a very good idea if anyone considering a protest could inform the police of their intentions as it more work for them and they are overworked as it is.

  2. I am a big fan of the LoveWapping output but I completely disagree on this. This is not London marathon day where the streets are closed until late afternoon, this is a half marathon. It starts at 9 and Wapping is about mile 7 so all the runners will be through by 11. Okay so people have to move cars from the three streets for a couple of hours but is that really so bad? People will still be able to walk the streets, go to businesses and cross the roads at the crossing points.

    To say Wapping is the only area affected in London isn’t the case. Google ‘running events London’ and you’ll see that there are 10k races and half marathons in every part of London at some point during the year. Also it’s a Sunday. If I’m out and about before 11am on a typical Sunday there is barely anyone about. If it were a Saturday then yes that is a problem but that isn’t the case here.

    Lastly I’d say this. I live on Wapping High Street so the runners will be streaming past my window for an two or so hours. But I won’t be at home, I’ll be one of the runners. I’m doing this because I’m raising money for Manorfield School in Tower Hamlets so they can build a new nursery, which there is no budget for but lots of people are helping raise the £27,000 by running this race. I think the lasting impact of that on the school and it’s children will outweigh the inconvenience of people living on the route for two hours on a Sunday morning.

    Wapping is wonderful because it has a village feel. That’s largely because there is no main thoroughfare in it. But the trade off is sometimes things going on elsewhere get in the way. I’d rather that than live somewhere else.

    Rather than protest or complain I’d like to see people on the streets cheering on the runners, most of whom will be raising money for very very good causes. Don’t penalize the runners. It’s something we have trained for, raised money for, literally sweated (and sometimes bled) for. Please come and support us. We’ll be done by 11.

    1. Thanks for your comment James, much appreciated. However it remains our view, and many of the people we have talked to about this event, that Wapping residents and many others across the entire borough are routinely inconvenienced by these events without any real consultation. If there had been proper consultation and the Council had done what it is supposed to do, then this would not be such an issue. As it is the Big Half Event is, in our opinion, yet another example of Tower Hamlets residents being ignored by those in authority or who have enough money to get their way. We should all remember that disruption is not confined to Wapping, it is across the entire borough. As one shopkeeper said Wapping residents are happy to do their bit but it would be nice if other areas of London would shoulder their fair share of the burden.

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