Tooting Bec Track Update

Update statement on Tooting Bec Track

Thank you to everyone who has signed our petition-please do so if you have not:

There have been various messages on social media over recent days, and I thought it would be helpful to copy a message we have sent to the Wandsworth Council Cabinet member with responsibility for Tooting Bec Track, Cllr Sutters.  Thank you for your ongoing support:

Keith Newton, President, 18th June 2021

Dear Councillor Sutters,

It was agreed by our Executive that I should respond to your tweet on the Wandsworth Council site.  It states ‘we have seen claims on social media in recent days that the track is crumbling, unusable and unsafe and its future is somehow at risk.  Let me say that these claims are totally untrue’. 

As a Club, we have used social media to promote the need for the track to be resurfaced on the back of the unsuccessful capital bid to the Council earlier this year, as this resurfacing remains the most critical single issue for our Club.  I am not sure where terms like ‘crumbling’, ‘unusable’ and ‘unsafe’ have appeared(?), albeit we do recognise that we are worryingly close to these descriptors becoming reality. 

The February 2020 labosport report concluded ‘that the surface is now giving hardness results below the recommended level for competition as defined by UK Athletics…and made recommendations that the surface be replaced…but that training may still take place providing certain criteria and informatives are put in place.’  At that point it was agreed that the track could be used for a further 18 months as a training facility i.e. until August/September 2021, a timeline which has not currently been extended.

The labosport reports further note that the track ‘was upgraded to a synthetic surface in 1985….The thickness measurements suggest that the surface has not been re-topped with a new 4mm layer of material but may indeed be original…the surface has very low shock absorbency, at all five locations tested the result was less than 25% which is the minimum required by ​track quality standard EN 14877.’

EN 14877 requires tests to be carried out at 10, 23 and 40C, ‘and that the performance of the surface shall be classified by the LOWEST result obtained under any of the test conditions.’  Most recently, when the track surface was at 40C, the shock absorbency readings came out just above 25%, hence the agreement that we can hold competitions for a limited period during June to September this year.​To be clear, the testing therefore does not comply with EN 14877, rather the international standard has been relaxed to temporarily permit public use of the facility.  From the Club’s point of view this is clearly better than having no track pending the critical resurface, but the proposed restrictions e.g. the advice not to use spikes on it presents real challenges especially to sprinters, jumpers etc who are preparing for competitions.  

Based on our meeting earlier this week Ed ​Hunt (EA) is hopeful that a further stay of execution for training use will be granted beyond September 2021 until April 2022, but we await this formal confirmation.    

The bottom line is that we are on borrowed time with what has been a neglected surface for decades and, as has been noted, the longer things are left without resurfacing the greater the deterioration will be. ​Tooting Bec track was built for athletic competition and for the training of athletes up to international standard.  As a community club that contests local and national league competitions, we encourage all to participate but we need the track to be of competition standard, a track to stimulate youth and newcomers to prosper and become homegrown champions.  Once again, this year, athletes from the Club comprise around one third of the squad for the London Schools team to contest the English Schools, we have two athletes pursuing Olympic amibitions and a number of others aiming at European U20 and 23 championships.  

We do of course welcome the Council’s commitment to addressing this matter, and the confirmation again in your tweet that the future of the track is not at risk, and look forward to working with you for a successful outcome during the 2021/22 capital allocations. 

Kind regards