I have only ever run in one marathon, and that was some 25 years ago. It happened to be the Southend Marathon and the fact I finished creditably remains a matter of pride. Regarding Adventure Island, I have fond memories working there as a fifteen year old, and have in more recent years taken my children and others there. It is a major employer in the town that contributes to the community.
I was pleased to learn after many years of the Southend marathon not taking place, this year there was a plan to resume the event in aid of Havens Hospice. I was sad to later learn the event had been cancelled. While we do not know all the reasons, one important one was objections by seafront traders that the closing of roads that would have been needed would be detrimental to their business.
This has been picked up by the local press and feelings have been runing high. According to the Southend Echo in an article titled “Comment: Adventure Island boss responds to criticism over Southend marathon cancellation”, “Philip Miller, executive chairman of the Stockvale Group which owns Adventure Island, hits back at criticism over the cancellation of the Southend Marathon … As lifetime supporters of Havens, which we believe is a superb local charity; of course we were more than happy to see this event go ahead. Our only provisos were that there should be no road closures and no loss of parking. We have found time and time again over the years that either of those taking place totally destroys our trade on that particular day… I applaud the actions of Southend Council for doing the right thing and not being pressured by the Havens representatives who had not followed the proper procedures that are specifically in place to ensure that when public events take place in Southend that everyone is a winner. As I say again – I have always been a great supporter of Havens Hospices, and am sorry this has happened”
Looking at detrimental comments toward Adventure Island, on Facebook etc., I cannot help, despite feeling sadness the Marathon will not be going ahead, sympathizing with businesses, like Adventure Island, that would suffer from road closures etc. thinking if I was in the same position of Mr. Miller I might well come to the same view as him. I confess, I do not know all the arguments from either side or know enough to follow the Councils reasoning to effectively pull the plug. I wonder if an opportunity had been lost by getting interested parties talking together at an early stage and if things could have been done differently. Until I know all the relevant facts, I am disinclined to come to a fully rounded view.
I wish there was a solution that meets the hopes and expectations of all parties: a successful event as far as Haven’s Hospice is concerned and one whereby businesses like Adventure Island will not be adversely affected. As often is the case, one cannot have one’s cake and eat it, much as I would want there to be a compromise. Issues like better parking facilities around the sea front and anything else to improve the town economy as relates to sea front trade is also important. But from what I can see, the right decision was made.