A parish council near Bristol has come under fire today after announcing it would be the first in the world to charge runners to use its Little Stoke park.
Stoke Gifford parish council said it was introducing the charge to those taking part in parkrun to help cover the cost of maintaining paths throughout the park.
It said it was unfair on local residents to pay for the upkeep themselves, given the fact parkrun was an organised event with paid directors and sponsors.
A statement from the council said: ‘Parkrun are an organised group and like any other group using the facilities should contribute towards the maintenance.
‘The parish council has only recently paid out £55,000 from public funds for resurfacing the car park and with the additional 300+ runners per week, will shortly need to replace / repair the path at an estimated cost of £60,000, so as Parkrun are significant users of the path on a regular basis they should contribute towards the upkeep.’
Tom Williams, chief operating officer for parkrun, said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the decision. ‘Parkrun has had unprecedented success in engaging the least active and encouraging them to exercise regularly,’ he added.
‘Our aim is to break down barriers to participation in, and delivery of, physical activity and this is consistent across 850 parkruns worldwide, which are all delivered by volunteers and are free to take part in. Imposing a charge at one event is something that contradicts our founding principles and would set a precedent that threatens our future.’