Light it—or lump it! Boris is told over 2012 Marathon switch

THE New Year has opened with a people’s campaign to bring the 2012 Olympics Marathon back to East London.

We were snubbed in 2010 when Lord Coe announced it was being switched to the West End—it was no longer planned to run the race to the Olympics stadium at Stratford in tradition with all previous Olympics.

This infuriated community leaders across Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham which led the London Citizens umbrella organisation joining forces with Archant London Newspapers to get the route returned.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman plans High Court action over Lord Coe’s ‘broken pledges’ and is urging the neighbouring mayors of Hackney and Newham to join the fight.

London Citizens appealed to Boris Johnson for help to give us back the only event every man, woman and child could watch free with the world’s leading runners pacing their way through the streets of East London.

But the Mayor snubbed East London when he told City Hall in October that if anyone didn’t like the new West End route, they could “like it or lump it.”

Now London Citizens, which represents 100 organisations, are planning a people’s alternative run from The Mall, through the City, East London and ending at Stratford—as it was originally promised—as a protest when the International Olympics Committee arrives in April.

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Their message to Boris with their people’s torch is: “Light it—or Lump it.”

They also plan a march to Westminster when the IoC arrives and expect between 10,000 and 20,000 protesters.

“Breaking promises like this puts all other pledges of East London’s rejuvenation into doubt,” said London Citizens’ Tower Hamlets organiser David Smith.

“Rerouting the marathon from original promise is an insult, a betrayal of trust. If the East End is good enough for the prestigious London Marathon each year, it’s good enough for the 2012 Olympics Marathon.”

The organisation has set up a Facebook page, supported by Archant London Newspapers, to bring the route back home.

“There are vested interested with politics and organised money that’s setting the West End agenda,” David added.

“The event should show off the real London to the world—not a sanitised small part of it.

“That’s a sad indictment of Boris and Seb Coe.”

London Citizens is proposing the route from The Mall should include Tower Bridge, Whitechapel, Victoria Park, South Hackney, Mile End, Limehouse, Poplar, Canary Wharf, Canning Town, Plaistow and West Ham, ending at the Olympics stadium in Stratford.

This would embrace Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham—three of the five ‘host’ boroughs.

It also plans a campaign of lobbying Boris Johnson at City Hall and Lord Coe’s Olympics HQ at Canary Wharf on February 11.

John Biggs, London Assembly member for East London, is to join the Mayor’s lobby and hopes to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Boris.

“The Mayor and Lord Coe both have the wrong priority,” he said. “They are turning their back on the reason for having the Olympics—to breath new life into East London.

“Switching the Marathon away is a broken promise, a breach of covenant—a departure from the spirit and principals of the Olympics tradition.”

A petition launched this week has already gathered 500 names. London Citizens is now calling for volunteers to help the campaign, teachers, pupils, community leaders, faith leaders, shopkeepers, publicans, West Ham fans—anyone with roots in East London.

Their Facebook page can be found with a search for: ‘The People’s Route.’ All comments are being forwarded to Boris Johnson and Lord Coe.