Council votes to charge organisers of free park run

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. Now, the group is being asked for money to help maintain the paths.

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MP defends parish council for charging running group

Credit: ITV News

A West MP has strongly defended the parish council which wants to charge Parkrun for the use of its land near Bristol.

Stoke Gifford parish council was widely criticised for asking the organisers of the free run in Little Stoke park for a contribution towards maintenance. But local MP Jack Lopresti said plans for legislation to stop this happening were "a sledgehammer to crack a nut"

A running statue at Little Stoke park Credit: PA

"I'm not of course against parkrun making profit and paying staff, but I do object to the argument that they should have the right to use Little Stoke Park for free for their organised events which dominate the park when all local organisations have to pay to do so."

– JACK LOPRESTI MP, Filton & Bradley Stoke

Little Stoke park run cancelled

Park Run Credit: ITV News

More than 500 people showed their support for free exercise today by taking part in park run near Bristol.

It follows the cancellation of a similar event because the local authority told runners they'd have to pay to take part.

Little Stoke Parish Council received criticism from around the world for their demand.

Given the huge strength of feeling heard from you directly and seen from a wider audience on social media we have had to consider the implications of this on Saturday's run (16 April). The safety and wellbeing 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.

To that end we will be cancelling the event on Saturday 16th of April.

The Little Stoke parkrun team, the local parkrun ambassadors and parkrun UK will need to consider where we go from this point. At the current time its very unclear but do keep an eye on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages which we'll make sure are updated as soon as we have any more news.

– Little Stoke park run

Becky Bushnell from Little Stoke park run took part in a park run at Ashton Court as the park run at Little Stoke was cancelled.


Parkrun cancel this weekend's event at Little Stoke amid safety fears

This weekend's Parkrun at Little Stoke has been cancelled Credit: ITV News West Country

Organisers of the regular Parkrun at Little Stoke in South Gloucestershire have cancelled this weekend's event on safety grounds. There are fears that huge numbers of people could turn up to express opposition to the decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to charge for use of the park.

A statement on the group's website said the huge strength of feeling following the decision meant the park could be overwhelmed.

South Glos Labour leader criticises parish council over Parkrun charge

The leader of the Labour group on South Gloucestershire Council has criticised Stoke Gifford Parish Council's decision to charge the organisers of Parkrun UK for using a local park. Cllr Pat Rooney pointed out that the two Labour members of the parish council voted against the charge.

Cllr Rooney said: “South Gloucestershire has been thrust into the media spotlight because of this mean-spirited decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council.

"We need to do more to encourage people willingly to embrace healthier activities, not make it more difficult. Stoke Gifford Tories are responsible for levying a health tax.

" I urge the Conservative leadership in South Gloucestershire to encourage their Stoke Gifford colleagues to reverse this decision, and to make it clear that they don’t want it replicated anywhere else in our district.”

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
6 - 4
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:


Your views: the Little Stoke park run charge

A parish council in South Gloucestershire is to becomethe 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. Now the organisers will be asked to pay to use the facilities, with the money going towards maintaining the paths.

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

Meanwhile athletes such as runner Paula Ratcliffe, as well as the London Marathon, have come out in support of the running group, saying running should be free for all.

But what do you think? It''s certainly got many of you talking on our social media sites today.

I wanted to run that badly I would be happy to pay a reasonable fee

– Trudy Pike, via Facebook

It's absolutely disgusting, the council should embrace the benefits of exercise and the reduction of the drain to the NHS.

– Steve Rendell, via Facebook

Locals are restricted on their activities due to such large numbers turning up all at once and laying out courses etc. The car park must get congested and there's the cost of maintaining facilities such as the toilets and bins etc.

A little bit of money from each attendee would help towards upkeep.

– Tamsin King, Facebook

Join the discussion:

Stoke Gifford Parish Council to charge runners who use public park

The Parkrun event at Little Stoke is now likely to end Credit: ITV News West Country

A parish council in South Gloucestershire is to become the first in the UK to charge runners to use one of its parks for a weekend fun run. Councillors in Stoke Gifford tonight voted by a majority to impose a charge for the weekly Parkrun events.

About 300 people regularly take part in the timed runs organised by in Little Stoke Park near Bristol each weekend.

Parkrun UK organised a 2km run for children and a 5km route for anyone who wants to take part - and the runs are totally free.

Now, Stoke Gifford Parish Council want to charge £1 per runner to help maintains the paths and counteract the increased wear caused by so many runners.

Tonight a spokesman for Parkrun said if the charge was introduced it would mean an end to the event at Little Stoke.

Read more: Council proposes fee for park run

Council proposes fee for park run

Council proposes fee for park run. Credit: ITV News

Thousands of people have signed a petition to stop a parish council in South Gloucestershire charging people to run around a local park.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council is proposing those who take part in an organised weekly free run called 'Park Run' in Little Stoke park pay a £1 fee per runner for using the park.

The council says the money would be used to maintain the park and a decision will take place later this year.

Council proposes fee for park run. Credit: ITV News

Becky Bushnell is Co-Event Director of Little Stoke park run and says running in the park should be free for everyone.

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