The organisers of the Belfast Marathon have said today may be the last time the event is staged due to new legislation.
David Seaton, organising committee chairman for the Belfast Marathon, has said the future of the event is in jeopardy as organisers may have to pay for policing.
He told the BBC: “The new road legislation means we’re going to have pay for policing costs among other things,” he said.
“I’m told that an officer is charged out at £65 an hour and on bank holiday Monday it’s twice that. That’s £130.
“They are usually on duty for seven to eight hours so that’s about a thousand pounds each.
“Last year we had about 120 officers, that’s £120,000. We couldn’t take that hit. That would be the end of the marathon.”
Around 17,000 people are taking part in the marathon today, with many raising money for charity.
However, the PSNI has said the reality of the financial pressures facing the organisation means it must direct resources to the areas of greatest need- drug dealing, burglary, anti-social behaviour, road safety and cyber crime.
A spokesman add: “We encourage event organisers who require traffic to be restricted on a road to make contact with local council at the earliest opportunity to discuss their requirements.
"Should it be determined that police are an essential part of the traffic management plan then discussions will take place around costings which will be dependent on the nature of the event.
As with all large scale public events where the safety of the participants, attendees and the general public is paramount, the Belfast City marathon will be policed in a manner and style appropriate and proportionate to the threat and risk presented. PSNI spokesman
“We have been working alongside the Marathon organisers and various partner agencies and are content with the comprehensive Traffic Management Plan their supplier has developed and will be responsible for implementing.”
Mr Seaton said other running clubs organising similar events would also be affected by the legisation.
He said: “Organisations who parade such as the Orange Order, the Hibernians, the Blanketmen, the Boys Brigade and the gay rights people aren’t subject to this legislation and we are, at a time when the government is very keen to get people out running and exercising with the current obesity proble.”
Mr Seaton said organisers are hoping the new legislation will be applied “softly” so that the marathon can continue in Belfast.
He added: “If it’s not, we are in big, big bother. The future of the marathon and many other road racing events throughout Northern Ireland which are organised primarily by volunteers could all go to the board.”