Essex County Council agreed the former Olympic venue, in Chapel Lane could play host to a school games event last Friday after plans to hold it in Danbury Park fell through due to heavy snowfall that month.
The council was assured only 600 young athletes from 14 schools would be transported to the venue in three separate coaches.And it apparently never occurred to them that anyone else might come along…
However, each school had invited every parent of every child to watch, causing hundreds of cars to descend on the park leaving residential roads filled to breaking point.
Stewards on the site were unable to cope with the influx of traffic and worried residents even turned to the police after being unable to get out of their driveways.Amazingly, the council didn’t immediately say ‘Mea culpa!’. In fact, they tried to deflect blame by suggesting oh so subtly that it was very unreasonable of people not to give the council advance notice of their intentions to… ummm… freely travel to a place like free people do:
A spokeswoman from Essex County Council said: “Essex County Council’s 2012 Legacy Team had original planned to host a School Games event at Danbury park on 18th March 2013. However due to the heavy snow a late venue change was required and with agreement from the Salvation Army, the event was held at Hadleigh Farm.
“ECC were expecting 600 young children to attend the event from the 14 different School Sports partnerships across Essex, Southend and Thurrock and had put in place the required procedures to handle these numbers.
“However, without prior notice, parents and friends also arrived at the event causing minor delays in traffic entering the venue to park. ECC have engaged over 4,000 children in the School Games initiative, which is one of the legacy strands from the London 2012 Games, since the scheme started in September last year.Yeah. You do realise people don’t need to give you prior notice, right?
“The attendance at this event is testament the enthusiasm of Essex residents in engaging young people in more sport.”It’s also testament to the ability of council staff to overlook the most basic planning requirements for school events.