18 April 2019
On 12 March 2019 Derbyshire County Council’s Public Health Department issued a statement regarding the participation of Derbyshire’s primary, infant and junior schools in “The Daily Mile”, a national initiative in which all children run, jog or walk around a route within school grounds for 15 minutes each day, with the aims of improving health, fitness and general wellbeing, and helping to reduce childhood obesity. Whereas we at CADAF wholeheartedly endorse the principle behind this idea, we are extremely concerned at schools becoming involved with The Daily Mile.
Why? Because The Daily Mile is very prominently described in all its literature and promotional material as being “supported by INEOS”. And for INEOS to be so publicly trumpeting its “support” for something which promotes healthy activity for children is hypocritical in the extreme.
CADAF has attempted to find out what “support” INEOS are giving: we have contacted The Daily Mile by email to ask this question, only to be told that our enquiry has been forwarded to “INEOS’ dedicated team” who would reply in the “next few days”. The dedicated team did not even acknowledge our email. We sent several more emails to The Daily Mile in an attempt to chase up our enquiry, only to be given the exact same reply that our new email has been forwarded to INEOS’ “dedicated team”.
Goodness knows what they are dedicated to, but it’s certainly not replying to questions from the public: no response has ever been received from them.
So let’s look at what we can find out about the relationship between INEOS and The Daily Mile. To do this, we need to start with something called “GO Run For Fun”.
“GO RUN FOR FUN”
“GO Run For Fun” is a project started by INEOS in the summer of 2013. Its logo shows its name as “INEOS GO Run For Fun” and the letter “O” in “GO” shares the same distinctive styling as the “O” in “INEOS” to psychologically reinforce the connection: maybe that’s why it’s a capital letter. For reasons of trademarking we are unable to reproduce the logo here, but if you go to their website you can’t miss it. The GO Run For Fun website http://www.gorunforfun.com/ states: “’GO Run For Fun’ is a trademark of INEOS Capital Limited”. INEOS’ website page https://www.ineos.com/go-run-for-fun/ describes Jim Ratcliffe as the founder of GO Run For Fun. A search of the Charity Commission website under “Go Run For Fun Foundation”(https://beta.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details/?regid=1156230&subid=0) shows three current Trustees (as at 10 April 2019), named as John Reece, Leen Heemskerk and John Paul Mayock and states its aims as to “advance health and education amongst young people and to promote community participation in healthy recreation”.
“Education”? Yes: each participating school is given training for one staff member and two Year-5 pupils who will then go back to their schools and “deliver” six so-called “missions” to all the other children in their school on health & wellbeing; teamwork; hydration; healthy eating; endurance and fitness; and resilience. Sounds good? Well, yes but the schools also receive supporting materials such as wallcharts, animated videos, and individual “mission trackers”, all no doubt proudly sporting the “INEOS GO Run For Fun” logo. And then there’s the actual Event itself: “sports-day” style events held at various locations around the country in which the pupils of participating schools all come together to run a distance of up to 2K – and all of them wearing bright pink T-shirts with the “INEOS GO Run For Fun” logo writ large across the chest, which the kids get to keep afterwards to remind them which company organised all this and of course to help improve the INEOS brand image.
And if you think that this is just a case of a very wealthy major business acting altruistically by putting some of their profits into a good cause, then think again: the GO Run For Fun website actively asks for donations from supporters.
“THE DAILY MILE”
So, what of “The Daily Mile”?
This scheme was started in 2012 by a (since-retired) schoolteacher, Elaine Wyllie to encourage her schoolchildren to become fitter through running. The aim was to get children running a mile – or for a period of 15 minutes – every schoolday. Since its inception it has grown into a much wider “movement”. Along the way (on 4 May 2016) it took the status of a Charitable organisation known as The Daily Mile Foundation (Registered Charity number 1166911). In its literature, The Daily Mile states: “The Daily Mile is supported by senior representatives across health, education and sport, who all agree that every child should have the opportunity to do The Daily Mile.” These “senior representatives” are not named.
But what concerns us at CADAF is that in all their literature, leaflets, posters etc The Daily Mile is prominently described as being “supported by INEOS”. But if we dig a little deeper it becomes evident that INEOS are more than mere “supporters” of the scheme.
The Foundation is registered with the Charity Commission, and shows its Public Address as Hawkslease, Chapel Lane, Lyndhurst, SO43 7FG. This address also serves as the Registered Offices of INEOS/INEOS Group Limited, as well as countless other INEOS subsidiaries. According to the Charity Commission the Charity’s Trustees are listed as Elaine Wyllie, John Wyllie, Ursula Heath, Leonardus Hendrik Heemskerk and John Paul Mayock. (https://beta.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details/?regid=1166911&subid=0). Let’s just look at that list: Elaine Wyllie, fair enough, she founded the movement in the first place and it would be reasonable to assume that John Wyllie might be either her husband, her son or some other close relative. But who’s Ursula Heath? Well, she was described in 2017 as INEOS’ Group Communications Officer and in 2018 as the Media Contact for Jim Ratcliffe’s Grenadier project, which aims to produce a “successor” to the Land Rover Defender. She is also a co-author of Ratcliffe’s book “The Alchemists”. Leonardus Hendrik Heemskerk? He has held numerous INEOS Directorships, including with subsidiaries in Norway, and with INEOS Europe Limited. If you think the name sounds vaguely familiar, so it should: a Leen Heemskerk was named as a Trustee of the GO Run For Fun Foundation, remember? John Paul Mayock is a Trustee of both Foundations. INEOS owner, CEO and Chairman Jim Ratcliffe has previously been named as a Trustee of The Daily Mile Foundation and another former Trustee, Ian Fyfe, who effectively was Ursula Heath’s predecessor in the Foundation, has worked for INEOS Group as a Human Resources Director. Thus, three of the five Trustees are INEOS “people”; does this give them a controlling vote?
The Daily Mile certainly has grown in its ambition: their entry on the Charity Commission website includes the following statement: “The Daily Mile Foundation seeks implementation partners across the world, to help us grow The Daily Mile programme so we may offer it to all Primary and Nursery school children.” This grandiose vision has all the hallmarks of Ratcliffe. Indeed, it was reported in the Times Educational Supplement in June 2018 that he even thinks The Daily Mile should be a legal requirement in all British schools (https://www.tes.com/news/call-law-make-all-primaries-do-daily-mile).
To all appearances, it seems that INEOS has in effect merged the Daily Mile programme with the GO Run For Fun initiative, or at the very least, is running them alongside each other. On INEOS’ own website, Ian Fyfe says: “The Daily Mile is effectively a GO Run For Fun event at school every day.” (https://www.ineos.com/inch-magazine/articles/issue-9/visionary-approach/).
As we have said, The Daily Mile aims to promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle amongst our infant and junior schoolchildren through exercise. Their literature promotes the benefits of children being outdoors and getting exercise in the fresh air. These are all very admirable objectives and are much to be encouraged; however, given the nature of their industrial activities, INEOS are a totally unsuitable business to be associated as partners in promoting and achieving these benefits: it’s like being sponsored by a tobacco company.
If we take the core concept of children running for a 15-minute period, during that quarter of an hour INEOS’ Grangemouth petrochemicals plant alone will have pumped out in excess of 45 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere, according to the latest figures available, for 2016 (https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15626151.revealed-scotlands-worst-corporate-carbon-polluters/). They will also have produced 37 tonnes of “product” (1.3M tonnes pa/365/24/4: https://www.ineos.com/globalassets/ineos-group/grangemouth/about/ineos-grangemouth-a5-visitor-welcome-bookletfinal-pdf.pdf) including plastics which INEOS state are “used as the building blocks in the manufacture of household items” including “bottles and pipes” and “food packaging”. And this is just one of several manufacturing installations they have in the UK.
At this time when we are becoming ever more conscious of the threat to the environment of plastic pollution – and in particular the continued mass-production of single-use plastic items such as bottles and food packaging – in addition to the contribution to global warming and the damage caused to the atmosphere by greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide and methane, we should be educating children about these environmental hazards, not encouraging them to think that large-scale plastics manufacturers and petrochemicals companies such as INEOS are altruistic by nature and have a keen interest in promoting healthy lifestyles and environments.
Only last October INEOS director Tom Crotty wrote to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, seeking his intervention in deferring the implementation of two pieces of EU environmental legislation beyond the specified deadlines at their plant at Newton Aycliffe, near Middlesbrough (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sir-jim-ratcliffe-s-firm-ineos-made-threat-over-dirty-air-rules-3qzgwxrcg). Crotty said “In order to meet the deadlines, we would need to approve this expenditure early in 2019 and we can see no financial justification for this”. How Crotty said this with a straight face we are at a loss to know, given that there were no fewer than 176 recorded breaches of the existing regulations between 2014 and 2017 at this one plant. Clearly INEOS, despite their vast financial resources, are prepared to put profits before environmental and health concerns. Perhaps they are reluctant to spend money meeting new EU regulations when the UK will be leaving the EU before long: but if that is the case it illustrates that INEOS might not support the carry-forward of those new regulations into our post-EU future.
“SUPPORTED BY INEOS”
The Daily Mile’s website and literature clearly state that the initiative is “supported by INEOS”. However, it is difficult to ascertain what form that support takes. The website and literature state that no special kit is required, the children will be running around in their ordinary school clothes, and that no footwear is provided, although “many schools have found that it’s a good idea to make black trainers part of the school uniform.” No equipment is required, and the only facilities such as playing fields or sports halls to be used are those which already belong to the participating schools. The only other form of practical support which INEOS could provide is by way of financial funding but again, it is difficult to see how much funding would be required by The Daily Mile Foundation and why.
Maybe INEOS provide promotional leaflets to explain what The Daily Mile is all about? Well no, because all promotional material is downloadable from their website. The website itself had to be set up and there are presumably maintenance costs but by its very nature there would be very little need for regular updates or revamping. It would be reasonable to assume therefore that the costs of running the site would be relatively low; possibly little more than the costs of running this one.
How about advertising costs then? Well, how many people have actually seen an advert for The Daily Mile? INEOS have apparently brought in ITV as another “supporter” and “The Daily Mile supported by INEOS and ITV” has appeared on the closing credits of popular family entertainment shows such as Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. But did ITV charge INEOS for this?
Certainly, INEOS have been busy lately contacting local Councils and Education Authorities to push for them to introduce The Daily Mile in all primary and junior schools but again, the costs involved would be minimal; a drop in the ocean for INEOS.
As we have said above, all our attempts to discover what form INEOS’ “support” actually takes have been met with a deafening silence. There is a worrying lack of transparency about INEOS’ alleged “support”, all of which leads us to wonder whether INEOS’ interest is purely an attempt to paint themselves as having a “green and healthy” ethos at its heart; which would be far from the truth.
But there is something we DO know about …
NATIONAL LOTTERY FUNDING
In January 2019 it was announced that The Daily Mile was to receive a grant of £1.5M of National Lottery funding to allow “the recruitment of national and local coordinators to support and encourage more schools in England to sign up – with a vision of helping all 20,000 primary schools in the country to take part in an active mile a day” (http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/news/Daily-Mile-could-be-introduced-in-all-primary-schools-in-England-following-%C2%A315m-grant/340295).
That seems an awful lot of money to spend on what is effectively administration costs for a project which actually needs little or no administration whatsoever, since every one of those 20,000 schools can conduct their own daily-mile-style programme totally independently and with no external support or monitoring.
REACTION FROM UNIONS, STUDENTS AND PARENTS
CADAF are not alone in being concerned about INEOS’ involvement in The Daily Mile. The National Education Union and the UK Student Climate Network (who have been organising “school strikes” to protest against climate change) have also recently spoken out about it, as reported in the Guardian on 5 April 2019 (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/05/ineos-daily-mile-sponsorship-teaching-union?fbclid=IwAR1CiaM0zn7KZthTtWgS7eM2p5VLbw_xIF8hweZG7L8Q-yEv-5zvDM9XCNU).
CADAF SAYS …
We are not in the slightest bit opposed to the idea of schools adopting the concept of children running a mile, or alternatively running or exercising for 15 minutes every day. It’s a great idea, but surely any, and indeed, every school can adopt it without any extra funding or facilities being required; without the need for officially signing-up to “The Daily Mile supported by INEOS”; and certainly without the intervention or “support” of a polluting petrochemicals plastics manufacturer like INEOS.
INEOS are a totally unsuitable business to be engaged as a partner in such an initiative.
We would like all Councils and Local Education Authorities to advise their Infant and Junior schools to consider all the above facts very carefully before joining The Daily Mile scheme and to consider implementing their own similar and independent activities instead.
CADAF are actively lobbying Derbyshire County Council to discontinue their association with “The Daily Mile supported by INEOS” and to instigate their own scheme in its place. Please contact your local Council or Education Authority and ask them to do the same.
Whilst researching for this article, we noticed that a new mini-industry seems to be springing up as a result of The Daily Mile: providing and laying all-weather surfaces and tracks to schools to help them participate! CADAF will not give publicity to any of the businesses involved but searching “Daily Mile track” or “Daily Mile surface” on the internet revealed numerous entries. Schools are naturally required to pay for this themselves: we note that INEOS do not offer to cover the cost.