South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck writes to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for business support after Great North Run route change bombshell
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for the Government to help businesses left out of pocket by the Great North Run route change.
Runners this year will instead both start and finish in Newcastle, setting off in waves over a period of several hours, with Great North Run chiefs stating the changes will help manage crowds and keep the event viable as the nation emerges from covid restrictions.
However, the news has been a bitter blow not just for runners and spectators, but for the businesses in South Tyneside for whom the influx of visitors on Great North Run weekend provides a welcome boost.
Ms Lewell-Buck, herself a Great North Run finisher, said she was 'sad and disappointed' after loss of the race finish line for the event on September 12.
She writes: “This is a huge blow in what is supposed to be the 40th anniversary of the event.
"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.
“Local businesses in South Shields who rely so much on this event taking place here will be hit doubly by both the pandemic and now news of the Great North Run not finishing in South Shields.
"Simply, it is a devastating blow to the many business owners here.”
She added: “Whilst safety must come first, and I am pleased that the event can take place to continue to support charities. I am also thankful that I have been given assurances that the event will return to South Shields next year.
"However, it is for and on behalf of these small business owners as to why I am writing to you today. I am seeking a specific and tailored package of support from the Government for the many business owners who will be disproportionately affected by this news.
"I would be most grateful if you could offer further support to my constituents who have worked so hard in keeping their businesses afloat in the most troubling of times, and just as they begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, to be dealt a further uncertainty.”
In her letter, Ms Lewell-Buck also sets out the history of the ‘proud and celebrated’ event and its role on the local, national and world events calendar, attracting not only tens of thousands of runners from around the world, but also elite athletes such as Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie.
The MP highlights how South Shields had already coped with losing the event entirely in 2020, which she said she and her constituents had understood, despite the disappointment it had been.