Preston parkrun has issued a statement as part of a nationwide response to a decision by a parish council in Bristol to charge parkrunners to use its park.Advertisement
The decision in Stoke Gifford has sent shockwaves through the running community around the globe.
Parkruns, a free network of organising timed running events, take place across the UK – and the Preston run is attended by nearly 300 people each week.
The event in Avenham Park, which began in 2012, is free and remains so, and parkrun’s founder Paul Sinton Hewitt CBE has released a statement.
He said: “Dear parkrunner, yesterday (Tuesday) Stoke Gifford Parish Council in Bristol, England, became the first in the world to impose a financial charge on parkrun to continue delivering our free, weekly events in a local park.
“I am writing to reassure you that we are working very hard with the local event team, the wider parkrun community and all levels of local and national government to appeal this decision, so that parkrun can continue, for free, in Little Stoke Park, forever.
“Importantly, we will not allow this decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to set a precedent that could undermine one of our core founding principles: that there should be no barrier to participation in physical activity, however small. You can read our official statement on the Little Stoke parkrun situation here.
“It has been truly humbling to see the groundswell of support and solidarity shown to the Little Stoke parkrun community. parkrunners the world over have been contacting us offering help and support, and whilst we understand how passionate you are about protecting something so important, we ask that you always act with respect and dignity when defending parkrun. We must all remain calm and measured in our actions. We are all extremely disappointed but we will do things the right way, following the proper channels.
“There is however one very important thing that you can do to help, something that will help this debate take place in the right context. Please take a moment to visit our new microsite loveparkrun.com to see the incredible impact we are having and share the positive story of how we are challenging inactivity with your social network.
“We should all be proud of the very real impact parkrun has already had, and continues to have, on the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Little Stoke situation, although disappointing, only makes us more determined to succeed in creating a healthier and happier planet.
“I would like to thank the many thousands of volunteers all over the world for protecting and defending the parkrun principles. In particular, I would like to congratulate and thank the Little Stoke parkrun team for their heroic efforts over the past year. Thank you all for your continued passion and support.”
Stoke Gifford took the decision to ‘evict’ the parkrun on Tuesday night saying the weekly five kilometre run should help with financial contributions to the park.
Preston City Council leader, councillor Peter Rankin, said there no plans to levy a charge on Preston parkrun.
Do you do parkrun? What do you think about the decision? Let us know in the comments below