Last week, it was announced that for the first time in 40 years the Great North Run will not finish in South Shields this September. Runners will instead start and finish in Newcastle, setting off in allocated time slots over several hours, with Great North Run organisers stating the changes will create a Covid secure event ensuring it can go ahead in a few months.
I understand the reasons behind the decision, however it is a blow to runners and spectators, alongside businesses who are desperate for a boost in customers over the Great North Run weekend. Taking part in the event in previous years, I know how much the run means to our community and businesses.
Organisers have assured me it will return to our coast next year, but this does not provide immediate help to local businesses who rely so much on the event taking place here.
As a reaction to the devastating news, I wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak on behalf of our small business owners calling for a tailored package of support for the businesses disproportionately affected by the recent decision. I informed him that our town welcomes tens of thousands of runners and spectators who would normally be using bars, restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts and supporting the local economy, something businesses cannot afford to lose.
Moreover, I highlighted how our town has already coped with losing the event entirely in 2020, which we all understood, despite the disappointment. I hope the Chancellor understands that businesses will take a double hit by both the pandemic and now this news.
I recently spoke in the Shields Gazette about the news, you can find the article here.