York Green Party

5 December 2012

The Council has been left with an unexpected clean up job after the "Gunpowder Plod" event on November 5th. The Knavesmire and adjacent cycle track were damaged during the event, and Green Party Councillor Andy D'Agorne has demanded that it not be left to taxpayers to foot the bill.

The event was run by a private company, Rat Race Adventure Sports, who were given the use of the Knavesmire rent-free.

"After the amount of grief they gave the Lib Dems over the years without any fireworks display, it's understandable how much the Council executive wanted this event to happen," said Councillor D'Agorne. "But this event was poorly managed, chaotic and has done a lot of damage to the Knavesmire."

Heavy cranes moving over the soft, waterlogged ground left deep ruts in the grass and also opened up dangerous holes in the surface of the Sustrans Cycle Route that runs through the Knavemire. Both required remedial work, which was paid for by the Parks and Open Spaces department at the Council out of their emergency budget.

"Rat Race's business is running events like this all over the country. You can bet that they will not be getting Battersea Power Station for free for the event they're running next November. It was a questionable decision to give them the Knavesmire for free, but there's no way that we the taxpayers should be left with a bill on our hands for their handiwork."

The event was widely viewed as being poorly managed - there was a huge queue for registration for the run, which many participants struggled to get to in time for the 6pm start on a Monday night. The police were called to help with security problems involving non-ticket holders who - not unreasonably - expected to be able to access parts of the Knavesmire on the night. There were huge queues at the food stalls and the beer tent. The timetable for the event slipped and many with small children were unable to stay for the finale, leading to the organisers issuing a general apology1.

Councillor D'Agorne also has concerns with the company's regard for safety. "It seems unbelievable, but cranes were being manoeuvred in the dark on a cycle track in the very place where Ruby Milnes was killed by a lorry when cycling home from college three years ago. I have asked the council to investigate safety procedures for these events but also to ensure the organisers pay for repairing the damage to the land at the appropriate time of year." said Andy.

Councillor Andy D'Agorne has submitted a written question on the matter to Cllr Sonia Crisp at the council meeting next week.


1 - You can read the apology from Rat Race.

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