Political column: let’s make it happen...

Martin Lee
Martin Lee

Mansfield Labour Leader Martin Lee on running costs and the Mansfield half marathon...

In setting its budget for last year the Council adopted a Labour amendment to use a £90,000 sinking fund that had been maintained to carry out potential repairs to the running track at Berry Hill Park, for the development of sport throughout the District.

It made no sense to Labour councillors that this money was sitting in the Council’s coffers to pay for repairs that are the responsibility of the Park’s Trustees, particularly after the same Trustees had kicked the Harriers off the track.

We believed that the £90,000 should be put to use promoting sports participation in all parts of Mansfield.

To my considerable disappointment this money has now sat in the Council’s bank account for nearly a year and not been invested in sports projects as Council said it should. Although Council authorises the budget each year the mayoral system means the Mayor and the relevant Cabinet member, in this case Councillor Philip Shields, have to make the final decision on how the money is spent. They have brought forward no proposals nor put in place a single sports development project.

So much for the Olympic legacy that we heard so much about at the time Council freed up the £90,000.

It’s not too late to make some amends for this lack of action. The CEO of a local charity, Mansfield 2020, Mansfield Bid and the County Council have worked on a plan to resurrect the Mansfield Half Marathon and Fun Run that took place in our district between 1981 and 2011. The high cost of traffic management, problems with agreeing a satisfactory route, difficulties in booking the Berry Hill Park (ironically) and a decline in the number of volunteers to arrange the event led to the event being cancelled in 2012. All these problems have been worked on, and all but one resolved, the funding for the races re-launch. A business plan has been produced based on the event being self-funding by the second year. There is a requirement in the first year for an investment of £20,000, needed to acquire signage etc, to train traffic management volunteers, establish a website and online entry system and employ a part-time race director.

At the height of its popularity the race attracted over 2000 runners and the Fun Run even more participants. If we move quickly with the Council committing to provide £20,000 to the event it could be staged this September.

This would be the town’s largest sporting event and would promote a healthy lifestyle in the local community as participants train and run in both races. It will attract visitors to our district who will spend money in our shops and hotels. It is a chance to showcase our town.

The money is there, let’s make it happen.

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