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Parkrun to challenge council's plan to charge for parks

Thousands have signed a petition against the fee for Parkrun. Credit: Claire Hayhurst / PA Wire/PA Images

Parkrun organisers will appeal against Stoke Gifford Parish Council's decision to charge for use of its facilities.

The plan to introduce a levy for the organisation to use parks has prompted a fierce backlash with more than 37,000 people signing a Change.org petition in protest.

In a statement, Parkrun said it intended to appeal against the decision and was "investigating whether there is a legal basis to do so".

As we look towards opening our 1,000th location later this year it is clear that a per-event or per-runner charge simply would not be sustainable and would threaten our free-to-participate ethos.

By agreeing to a charge in relation to use of the land at Little Stoke Park we would be establishing a precedent that would put the future of Parkrun at risk.

– Chief Operating Officer for Parkrun, Tom Williams

Meanwhile Saturday's Little Stoke Parkrun has been cancelled due to fears safety may be "jeopardised" by the number of supporters planning to attend.

A statement posted online said: "The safety and well-being of parkrunners and other park users is paramount and we are very concerned that this might be jeopardised by the volume of people wishing to run at Little Stoke on Saturday.

"This could easily exceed the safe limit of the park itself."

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Council under fire over Parkrun charge decision

Stoke Gifford Parish Council has been heavily criticised for its decision to charge Parkrun organisers for using its facilities.

More than 30,000 people have signed a Change.org petition against the fee and leading British athletes including Paula Radcliffe and Jo Pavey have also condemned the move.

But the council has defended the charge, describing Parkrun as an organisation with paid directors and staff - meaning it should contribute towards upkeep for its parks.

ITV News' Rupert Evelyn reports:

Jo Pavey 'appalled' at council's decision to charge Parkrun

European gold medallist Jo Pavey has said the decision taken by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to charge Parkrun to use its facilities is "appalling".

Speaking to ITV News, the Olympian said the introduction of a fee would "put up barriers for people getting out there and enjoying the Parkrun and goes against the spirit of what Parkrun stands for".

She added that it seemed like the decision was just about making money.

Four-time World Ironman champion and head of participation for Parkrun, Chrissie Wellington, said the decision was a "lose lose situation for everybody".

  1. West Country

Stoke Gifford Parish Council defends park run charge

Stoke Gifford Parish Council who have caused outrage around the country by voting to charge organisers of a weekly fun run have firmly defended their decision.

Speaking to ITV News, council chairman Ernie Brown from Stoke Gifford Parish Council said that the decision was "very difficult" but essential for maintaining the park for everyone.

They should contribute towards the upkeep of the park. No different to the football club, cricket club, tennis club... they all hire our facilities, why should any organisation be free of charge?

– Ernie Brown, Stoke Gifford Parish Council
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councillors voting for and against the charge

Parkrun UK have said they will have to close the weekend runs at Little Stoke Park near Bristol - but the parish said they have left them with many options.

Mr Brown said the organisation can apply for the grant and the Council "have even offered to fill out the form on their behalf".

If you joined any other running group you would be charged a fee.

– Ernie Brown

Around 300 runners take part in the 2km and 5km timed runs every weekend - numbers which Mr Brown said have contributed to the wear and tear of the park's paths.

They say it is "becoming a safety issue" - and with a £20,000 repair bill, they have to make ends meet:

You can watch the full interview below:

Parkrun organiser: 'We're all devastated'

One of the volunteers who organises a free weekly fun run in a local park in Bristol has said he is "devastated" by a council's decision to charge for using the park.

"It does mean that Parkrun in Little Stoke will have to close down," Geoff Keogh told ITV News.

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Sports minister condemns charge for running in park

Tracey Crouch, the minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage, has joined thousands criticising a parish council's decision to charge for a weekly fun run in a public park.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council hastold non-profit organisation Parkrun it wants a fee for the "wear and tear" from more than 300 people joining the 5k event at Little Stoke Park in south Gloucestershire on weekends.

British runner dies during Malta marathon

The runner is said to have collapsed less than a mile from the finish line Credit: Reuters

A British man has died taking part in the Malta marathon, reportedly a mile from the finish line.

Media reports in Malta said the Briton, believed to be 55, was accompanied by his wife during the race.

The runner was allegedly given the all-clear to participate in the 26-mile competition two weeks prior by a doctor after complaining of chest pain.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with the family of a British man who died in Malta on 28 February.

"We stand ready to assist them at this difficult time."

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