Future of marathon in doubt

Going off track: Sammy Tum from Kenya was this year’s male M7 Cities Marathon winner. Blacktown’s Labor councillors oppose council’s plans to reduce its association with the M7 Cities Marathon. Picture: Natalie RobertsBlacktown Council’s $80,000 funding of the M7 Cities Marathon is under threat as it tries to get more bang for its buck.

Council is reviewing its festivals and events program to ensure it remains contemporary and popular.

The aim is not to reduce the $906,000 events budget but to ensure the funding is best used.

Out of 412 competitors who took part in this year’s 42-kilometre M7 Cities Marathon from Liverpool to Rooty Hill, only 73 were from the Blacktown LGA, according to the report.

It suggests approaching Fairfield and Liverpool Councils to see if they’re willing to increase their sponsorship.

“Should neither council increase their funding, then it will be recommended that council consider next year ceasing its sponsorship for its event, on the basis this saving to the budget would be allocated to other events,” it states.

The annual Hot Summer Grooves Festival is also under threat, to be replaced with a new event at Nurragingy Reserve’s Chinese gardens.

Liberal councillors and independent Russ Dickens voted to support the report, which sparked an angry reaction from Labor councillors.

They will put forward a rescission motion at next week’s meeting.

“The marathon is world renowned and is recognised as a tough but reliable course,” Councillor Stephen Bali said.

Councillor Tony Bleasdale added: “It would be foolish not to continue this marathon, an event that is known globally.”

Liberal councillor Jackie Donaldson said: “It’s not benefiting locals and the money could be used on better community events”.

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