The future of a hugely popular, free weekly running event held in a Little Stoke Park for the past three years could be under threat after the local council said it planned to levy a charge of £1 per runner to cover ongoing maintenance costs of the park.
One of hundreds of similar events that take place around the country at 9am every Saturday morning, Little Stoke parkrun is a free-to-enter timed 5k run that is open to everyone and designed to be safe and easy to take part in.
The Little Stoke event began in November 2012, with support from South Gloucestershire Council, and has seen its number of participants grow from fewer than a hundred per week during its first six months to an average of 243 per week in October 2015.
The increasing numbers have put a strain on car parking at the Little Stoke Lane venue, which the organisers have attempted to solve by encouraging runners to walk, jog or cycle to the venue. Additional car parking has been made available at Little Stoke Baptist Church and car sharing is encouraged.
The event is organised on an entirely voluntary basis, with a core team of helpers supplemented by participants who, from time to time, “give up” their run in order to help.
After a unanimous decision to levy a charge was made by Stoke Gifford Parish Council’s Finance Committee on 8th September, representatives of parkrun were invited to attend a meeting of Full Council on 13th October, where the matter was thrown open for debate.
Chair of council Ernie Brown told the meeting that the park had significant running costs, including maintenance of the car park and perimeter path (both of these are used by parkrun participants), and, in these times of austerity, needed to be “run as a business”, adding “nothing is free in this day and age”.
Share this article: