Charging for parkruns to be banned in Government fitness drive

More than one million people are registered to take part in parkruns across the globe. Credit: PA

Councils in England will be prevented from charging people to take part in parkruns under new rules being brought in by the Government.

Each weekend hundreds of parkrun events take place across the country, and across the globe, with thousands of runners completing three mile (5km) courses in parks.

Parkrun events are all free and are marshaled by volunteers.

The move to prevent authorities imposing a fee comes after a backlash against a parish council near Bristol last year when it proposed a £1 charge on parkrun participants.

Gold medal-winner Dame Kelly Holmes was among those who condemned the actions of Stoke Gifford parish council, which was concerned about the "increased wear" at Little Stoke Park.

Parkrun takes place in 14 countries across the world. Credit: PA

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: "This weekend, thousands of runners will be limbering up on the starting line of parkruns across the country.

"These sporting events offer a fantastic opportunity to bring people together and improve their fitness too.

"These new rules will make sure this continues and prevent any council from charging for the everyday use of public parks."

The Government proposals would make it illegal for local authorities "to charge parkrun or junior parkrun for the use of a public park", The Times reported.

"We are also consulting on whether the proposals should be extended beyond parkrun and junior parkrun, to other organisations or types of use of public parks," the plan states.

"The Government does not consider it appropriate for a local authority to charge a volunteer community seeking to provide a free weekly event."

Tom Williams, chief operating officer for parkrun UK told the newspaper: "We are really pleased to see the Government's passion for protecting public areas of open space so that future generations are able to enjoy them as we do.

"It is critical that all park users work together in order to ensure their sustainability, and at parkrun we are committed to doing whatever we can to support local authorities across all of our event locations."