Disappointment as Blackbird Leys Mile cancelled after "administrative oversight"
July 28, 2016
From today's Oxford Mail:
An attempted revival of the legendary Blackbird Leys Mile has ended in frustration as residents are still waiting for permission to run the event.
The family fun run, which typically saw several hundred people race through the estate's streets and green spaces, was hugely popular in the 1980s and had taken place on and off since 2012, backed by the local Independent Working Class Association (IWCA)'s athletics club in the Leys.
Members first applied on March 20 to hold the event this year on Saturday, August 14, but more than four-and-a-half months later had still not heard from Oxford City Council.
Co-organiser Stuart Craft, who coaches the club, said: "We put in all the paperwork on time, with plenty of notice. I have no idea why it's taken this long to process."
Several local parents had already volunteered to be marshals at the event and some families had reportedly chosen their holiday dates so as not to coincide with the run.
Mr Craft said even if the Blackbird Leys Mile was permitted to run in August, it would now be too late to get organised.
He said: "It's sad that it's not there. It brought people from the community together and was a proper grassroots event. Children struggling fitness-wise got around the park and enjoyed themselves, but we also had some really serious runners, and people running around with pushchairs with their little tots."
People of all ages and fitness levels usually take part in the run, which follows a circuit from Blackbird Leys Park to Pegasus School field, Blackbird Leys Road, Cuddesdon Way and then back to the park. It was first set up by the sports-mad Brackett family, who have attended - and usually triumphed - every year since its return.
Oxford City Council spokesperson Chofamba Sithole said: "Oxford City Council’s events office deals with an extremely large number of enquiries and event applications every year. This application was received by Oxford City Council on March 20 2016 and was sent out for stakeholder consultation on May 3."
It is understood a high volume of new events this year, including the Common People and Canal Festivals, led to the slip. The city council helps organise 300 events in the city each year.
Mr Sithole added: "Event applicants will always be informed at an early stage of the process if the event is unlikely to be approved or if changes to the event are required, e.g. if health and safety or access issues need to be improved.
"There were no such issues in relation to this application. Due to an administrative oversight the final notification of approval was not sent to the applicant."