Belfast Telegraph

Belfast residents' cars damaged on marathon day

Cars parked at Annadale embankment during the marathon
Cars parked at Annadale embankment during the marathon
Cars at Annadale enbankment during the marathon
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A furious Belfast man has accused marathon organisers, the local council and PSNI of "passing the buck" after a number of vehicles were damaged near Ormeau Park on race day.

Gary Benson (55) lives just off the Annadale Embankment close to where runners crossed the Belfast City Marathon finish line, which attracted thousands of enthusiastic spectators.

"We were absolutely tortured," he said.

"There was no room for all the traffic and a number of cars were hit - it was complete and utter bedlam.

"The police might as well not have bothered responding - by the time they came out the traffic was gone and they said there's nothing they can do."

His partner Affra Jennings (53) had her Ford S Max damaged in the chaotic spectacle that went on for hours.

"There's a big dent in it and it's going to cost hundreds of pounds to get straightened out," Mr Benson said.

"Why should anyone be left out of pocket over this?

"Why was there no measures put in place to coordinate diverted traffic or parking?"

The frustrated resident and distraught motorhome owner has vowed to start a petition calling for authorities to take action following the "horrendous" traffic conditions which left him standing for three hours to protect his pride and joy.

"Cars were passing other cars with only a millimetre between them," he said.

"It was sheer madness and there wasn't a marshal or police officer in sight."

Mr Benson was left further outraged when Belfast City Council staff and marathon organisers also "washed their hands" of the problem when he complained.

"It turns out no one is responsible for this shambles," he said.

"If that's the case then they shouldn't be organising the event. And if the council isn't responsible then they shouldn't be sponsoring the marathon."

Mr Benson said he knows a number of residents in the Blackwood Street and Sunnyside Street area of the city who had vehicles damaged, including a BMW owner.

The PSNI said it will meet with the Belfast City Marathon organisers and various partner agencies to review the event and "identify any learning points and implement any changes" for future events.

A spokesperson insisted "significant efforts" were made to publicise road closures and that officers provided support to a significant number of stewards at "key locations".

A Belfast City Council spokesperson said it is the responsibility of organisers - who obtained a road closure order prior to the event - to work with the PSNI to manage the closures. They said this should be in line with a traffic management plan submitted as part of the application process.

"Any reports of criminal damage should be made directly to the PSNI," they added.

Belfast City Marathon did not comment.

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