Thousands sign petition to keep local parkrun

Little Stoke Parkrun trial event on 22nd August 2012.

More than 7,000 people have signed an online petition to persuade Stoke Gifford Parish Council to allow the hugely popular Little Stoke parkrun to continue at Little Stoke Park after its future was threatened by a council decision to levy a charge of £1 per runner.

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.

Hundreds of participants

The Little Stoke event began in November 2012, with support from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), and has seen its number of participants grow from fewer than a hundred per week during its first six months to an average of 235 per week in 2015, with some runs attracting in excess of 300.

It is delivered entirely by local volunteers who contribute thousands of hours of their time over the course of a year.

A founding principle of the global parkrun organisation is that events should be inclusive and have no barriers to participation, which local organisers say rules out any compulsory charge being made on participants and any handling of money by parkrun volunteers.

A parish council meeting last October voted to delay the imposition of a charge for six months, to allow time for other revenue raising avenues to be explored, but on 22nd January local parkrun organisers reported in an email to participants that they had been informed that the council had indicated it now planned to make a decision on “whether or not to withdraw permission” for the local adult parkrun at a meeting of Full Council on 9th February.

An online petition was started, which attracted 5,000 signatures in the first 48-hours, and runners were encouraged to write letters to the local media (the Bradley Stoke Journal has so far received 27 emails on the matter, read one here).

Organisers added: “We remain hopeful that the parish council will accept our argument that Little Stoke parkrun imposes little cost and brings substantial benefits to the community, and is deserving of their continued support.”

Financial contribution

The Journal understands that the parish council has now moved away from the idea of imposing a £1 per runner charge (which would have yielded £11,000 in 2015) and would instead like parkrun to make a financial contribution to the maintenance of the park by applying to SGC for a Community Grant (usually limited to £3,000 per organisation per year).

A statement released by the parish council following an Extraordinary Meeting held on 26th January reads:

“At the parish council meeting in October 2015, the discussion concerning our continued support for parkrun was deferred for a period of six months, in order for full negotiations to take place. That period has not yet expired and the parish councillors have always indicated their preference for the run to continue.”

“The parish council has requested South Gloucestershire Council, who are the land owners, to assist with talks with parkrun on our behalf.”

“A decision regarding the future of the parkrun at Little Stoke Park will be made at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday 12th April 2016, 7pm at the Little Stoke Community Hall.”

Timeline of the Little Stoke parkrun

  • 3/11/12: Inaugural parkrun attended by 112 runners
  • 21/9/13: First parkrun with more than 200 runners
  • 29/6/14: Inaugural junior parkrun attended by 96 kids
  • 6/6/15: First parkrun with more than 300 runners
  • 8/9/15: Parish council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee unanimously agrees that adult parkrunners should pay £1 per adult per run, with effect from 7/11/15
  • 13/10/15: Parish council agrees to delay the imposition of a charge for six months, to allow time for other revenue raising avenues to be explored
  • 22/1/16: parkrun team reports that no progress has been made and parish council has informed it that a decision on withdrawing permission for parkrun will be made at a Full Council meeting on 9/2/16. Online petition to ‘Keep Little Stoke parkrun in Little Stoke park’ started
  • 24/1/16: Online petition reaches 5,000 signatures
  • 29/1/16: Parish council says it has asked South Gloucestershire Council to assist with talks with parkrun and a decision will now be made at a Full Council meeting on 12/4/16

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Postscript (9th February): A news item on the Little Stoke parkrun website reports that members of the local parkrun team and parkrun ambassador Geoff Keogh attended the Stoke Gifford Parish Council meeting on 9th February in order to read a statement during the public session. It concludes: “Parkrun was not listed as an agenda item for discussion at this evening’s meeting but we understand that a member of the council has been tasked with arranging a meeting between representatives of Stoke Gifford Parish Council and the Little Stoke parkrun core team which we welcome. The decision about the future of Little Stoke parkrun will [now] be made at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday 12th April 2016.”

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  1. Meeting of Stoke Gifford Parish Council on 12th April 2016 at which it was decided that "parkrun should contribute (by means of a grant) to Little Stoke Park".

    Stoke Gifford Parish Council has this evening effectively voted to evict Saturday (adult) parkrun from Little Stoke Park. A motion that “parkrun should contribute [by means of a grant]* to Little Stoke Park” was carried by 5 votes to 4**. With the local parkrun team saying it is not permitted to apply for a grant or contribute financially in any way, this appears to mean the end for the Saturday event, although the Sunday junior event will be allowed to continue.

    Speaking after the decision was made, council chair Cllr Ernie Brown confirmed to The Journal that: “Permission for Saturday parkrun to use Little Stoke Park has been withdrawn”. He added that he didn’t know from what date the decision would be effective, but said this would be discussed by councillors later tonight during a private session at the end of the meeting.

    * The clarification “by means of a grant” was added after the votes had been counted, following a question from the floor.

    ** Later amended to 6 votes to 4, following a question from the floor, when Cllr Brown said he would cast his previously withheld chair’s vote FOR the motion.

    Photo: Tonight’s meeting at Little Stoke Community Hall


    Discussion on Facebook:

  2. & judging by the article and responses on the BBC website Stoke Gifford is becoming the laughing stock of the country – thanks guys!

  3. Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Cllr Brown said it had been decided that permission for parkrun to use the park will be withdrawn unless they apply for a grant by 28th May.

  4. To Stoke Gifford Parish Council
    Your decision to charge Parkrun is foolhardy and stupid. You are the first council in the world to stifle rather than encourage a healthy activity. You know the arguments both for and against and frankly you have made a small minded and nasty decision. You could have handled this very differently but instead have gone against the vast majority of public opinion (much of it from the local residents you are supposed to represent) which will probably result in the event ceasing to exist in your area, denying the local residents a free, safe environment for healthy exercise and the benefits that come from it. Well done

  5. Following the Worldwide interest in this and the near 100% feeling that the decision is wrong, I just wonder how many Stoke Gifford councillors have woken up this morning and thought “what the hell have we done…..?”

    You lot are the laughing stock of this Country and the World- well done!!

  6. As an impartial observer I am staggered at the lack of political nous shown by our local politicians. How often do we read that health and wellbeing is best done with the combined efforts of the individual, all parts of the NHS and local authorities. Awful own goal and severely tarnished reputation – shame on the Council.

  7. This is systemic of our society the greed to build houses, hotels and such like and restrict open spaces. The general public needs these types of activities for their long term well being. Hash words are needed on that lack of vision in Stoke Gifford Parish Council has on such a popular beneficial activity. Democracy is all about time and when the vote comes around the pubic know who to get rid of.

  8. There is one solution. The 6 members who voted for this need to lose their seats on the council. The local people who this affects need to spearhead this attack on parkrun. I would be more than happy to donate a fiver to the cause and I’m sure that many of the hundreds of thousands of other parkrunners would do the same.

  9. At the next Stoke Gifford Parish Council Elections vote against the members who voted to impose a charge at Little Stoke parkrun.

  10. SHAME ON YOU Stoke Gifford Councillors! Your decision shows pettiness, shortsightedness and most of all COMPLETE IGNORANCE.

    The concept of Parkrun is the best idea EVER in sport, for the health of the nation. Every week 80,000 people from all over the country participate in these events and take this ethos back the friends and family ensuring that future generations will also benefit.

    Rather than banning it, get off your backsides and RUN IT.

  11. Immense support for Little Stoke parkrun in the national press and on social media, but so far very little heard from other users of the park (e.g. footballers) and people living close by (i.e. on the surrounding roads). Here’s one local’s view:

    We’d like to hear others. Please leave a comment, PM us on Facebook ( or email us via

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