Bristol

Parkrun faces being charged to use Little Stoke paths

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Media captionLittle Stoke Parkrun could be the first to be charged to cover park "wear-and-tear"

A council could become the first in the world to ask Parkrun to pay a fee for use of its park.

About 300 adults and children regularly take part in two free timed runs organised by Parkrun UK in Little Stoke Park, near Bristol, at weekends.

Parkrun's ethos in the 850 runs it organises in 12 countries is for the event to be free and open to everyone.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council said it was "unfair" to expect non-running residents to pay for path maintenance.

Parkrun UK organisers have warned the event, in Little Stoke, south Gloucestershire, that has attracted 4,083 registered runners, would end if a charge was imposed.

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Media captionParkrun ambassador Geoff Keogh said the event is not-for-profit

Helen Hood, head of event delivery, said: "Every Parkrun worldwide is built on a few fundamental principles - led by the local community, free to participants, and accessible to everyone who wants to take part.

"If Stoke Gifford Parish Council decides to impose any type of charge or levy on participants to run in the park then the event would sadly not be able to continue."


Parkrun UK facts and figures

  • Free to join, 5km (3.1m) timed runs every Saturday morning
  • Number of locations = 395
  • Average run time = 00:27:37
  • Total number of runners = 932,917
  • Total distance run = 50,742,370km (31,529,846m)

Source: parkrun.org.uk


Q&A: The Parkrun phenomenon

Image caption None of the Parkrun UK events currently charge participants as the organisation believes its events should be open and free for everyone

The Little Stoke Park event's co-director, Becky Bushnell, added: "It's a daunting prospect but this has been hanging over us for six months and we need to know if there's a future for us in the park."

Reacting on Facebook, Helen Durnford said on BBC Radio Bristol's page it would be "completely wrong" to have to pay for Parkrun.

"Health benefits are huge for physical and mental wellbeing and the parish council should recognise that for the people that live in their area," she added.

Matt Burden added on the same page that it was "short sighted in the extreme" and Becky Mear asked: "Perhaps this parish council doesn't realise it's responsible for community building and for health and well-being?"

The parish council said in a statement it "cannot and will not stop people from using the parks for exercise and running but when it comes to an organisation with paid directors, fundraisers and sponsors it would be unfair to expect the residents to pay."

Image caption Parkrun has been operating in Little Stoke Park since 2012 offering a 5km run for all participants and a 2km run for children
Image caption Before setting off the runners are urged to be polite to and aware of other park users and to respect the park

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