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  1. ITV Report

Anger as council becomes first in the UK to charge for free park run

Around 300 people regularly take part in the park run at Little Stoke Park Photo: ITV News

A parish council in South Gloucestershire is to become the first in the UK to charge a group to use one of its parks for a weekend fun run.

Hundreds take part in two free, timed runs organised by Parkrun UK in Little Stoke Park near Bristol.

The put on a 2km run for children and a 5km route for anyone who wants to take part - and until now the runs have been free.

But now Stoke Gifford Parish Council say its unfair to expect non-running residents to pay for the upkeep on the paths, voting by a majority in favour of the charge.

They initially proposed a charge of £1 per runner as a maintenance fee, but has now voted that the volunteer-run organisation should pay.

The Council say the event should contribute to counteract the increased wear caused by 300 runners. Credit: ITV News

So far more than 17,000 people have signed a petition to keep the run free and open to all.

Parkrun said it is "extremely disappointed" over the council's decision to impose charges for the run, which has more than 4,000 registered users.

The organisation operates on the basis that runs are open to everyone and are free and says it will have to end the Little Stoke park event rather than charge people.

Since the decision taken at the council meeting last night (13 April), many other running groups and athletes have come out in support of the free running event.

Am totally against this short sighted decision. I fully support the right for this event for children to be free.

– Paula Radcliffe, athlete

Stoke Gifford Parish Council says that Parkrun are an organised group, and like any other group using the facilities should contribute towards the maintenance.

The Parish Council cannot and will not stop people from using the parks for exercise and running, but when it comes to an organisation with paid directors, fund raisers and sponsors it would be unfair to expect the residents to pay.

– Chair, Stoke Gifford Parish Council

The council added that 300 runners puts a lot of strain on the paths, and they've received complaints from locals about people parking on the pavement and grass verges.

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