For more than 2 decades, residents of Westcombe Park have welcomed the London Marathon. Most were happy to cheer the runners on, though for some it was a (minor) inconvenience, with the area entirely cut off from the rest of the world for an hour or so. But the Vehicle Crossing Point at the Gibb memorial was invariably reopened as soon as it was safe to do so, once the marathon Rear Command vehicle had passed, and always by 10.30 or so, allowing residents to reach the rest of London and vice versa.
But in 2008, all that changed. Without any warning, the crossing point remained blocked for hours after it was safe to cross the Marathon route. All the roads from Westcombe Park Road to the stations were also blocked. None of this was announced in advance. As a result, families missed their holiday flights and ‘once in a lifetime’ events like christenings. Disabled people waited in vain for care assistants to get them up and feed them. Chaos (and the siege) reigned.
Following extensive negotiations between the Westcombe Society and the Council, new arrangements were introduced for the half marathon last September to provide at least one entrance/exit point to the Area. - see http://bit.ly/cB7gCM
This arrangement worked well and residents assumed it would be repeated for the full marathon. But the powers that be had other ideas. No information on the crossing point was circulated by the Council or the organisers, as used to happen. No ‘yellow notices’ were posted anywhere between Westcombe Park and the Clarendon Hotel (and beyond). The first warning residents had was the appearance of a flashing sign at the Gibb Memorial announcing that the roads would be closed for 12 hours until 7.00 pm.
Coming so soon after the Council’s approval of the Olympic Equestrian events in Greenwich Park, starting with a test event next summer, some residents wonder if the Council’s secrecy over the covert arrangements is an experiment connected with the Olympics.
The Westcombe Society will be monitoring the situation and would welcome reports on your experience