Criticism takes the fun out of the run

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
Karen Gillum-Green
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
SAFETY FIRST: Inglewood fun run traffic management boss Karen Gillum-Green is angered by criticism of the run’s road safety procedures.

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The boss of traffic management at Inglewood's annual fun run has hit back at complaints about the event's safety.

Lepper Rd resident Paul Austen complained about the organisation, the safety precautions taken and the behaviour of competitors at the Nexans Olex Fun Run/Walk on Sunday.

However, site traffic manager supervisor Karen Gillum-Green said they took safety very seriously and she was annoyed by Mr Austen's complaints.

She said his claim the event was an "accident waiting to happen" was offensive. "It makes me feel highly irate, to be honest.

"It's been accident-free for the last 31 years of its existence."

But another Lepper Rd resident who lives across the road from Mr Austen has backed up his complaints.

Ruth Richardson said her driveway had been used by the organisers in the past, without permission, and this year the walkers had been quite obnoxious.

"I heard one of the walkers calling Paul [Austen] a f...wit. He was just doing his household chores. There was no reason for it."

Mrs Gillum-Green is involved with writing and submitting the traffic management plan for the event, which is sent to the council and then signed off by road engineers.

She said she checked all the safety aspects on the day were in accordance with the plan and also monitored safety during the event.

"We've got 500 to 600 people depending on us to get it right. It's a huge responsibility on us; we can be audited at any time and they can shut the thing down.

"If there were any issues or any imminent danger, we would just can it."

She said site traffic manager supervisors were volunteers and were required to sit a test every three years. "I can sit back and say there's nothing else I could have done to make this safer."

She also disagreed with Mr Austen's comments regarding rubbish left along the race course.

"I personally went back and made sure all the traffic signs were picked up and that we left it clean and tidy."

Mrs Gillum-Green said event organisers had not received a formal letter of complaint from Mr Austen, which would have been the sensible way of voicing his concerns.

Mrs Richardson said it would not take much for organisers to knock on residents' doors, introduce themselves and the event.

She had contacted the organisers in the past with a complaint but had received no response.

Fliers were distributed to residents' letterboxes but did not include a contact number as they had in previous years, she said.

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Mrs Gillum-Green said Mr Austen's suggestion to close the road would be impractical.

- Taranaki Daily News

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