Parkrun vote sparks national media frenzy

A BBC reporter interviews a runner in Little Stoke Park on the morning of the cancelled parkrun on 16th April 2016.

A decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to insist on a financial contribution from the organisers of a popular free weekly run held in Little Stoke Park sparked a media frenzy last month, with the story featuring for several days in national newspapers and on TV news bulletins.

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.

In common with parkruns all around the country, the event is delivered entirely by local volunteers, with support from parkrun UK, a national not-for-profit organisation funded by sponsorship and grants.

The parish council originally decided to levy a charge of £1 per runner “to maintain park facilities in the future”, but this was never implemented and the demand later morphed into a requirement to make an (unspecified) financial contribution. It also suggested that parkrun could apply for a grant from a suitable body (such as South Gloucestershire Council) in order to provide a source for this contribution.

Local parkrun representatives said the organisation’s founding principles ruled out any compulsory charge being made on participants and forbade them from handling money, effectively ruling out a grant application.

Following a six month delay to allow a solution to be found, the parish council met on 12th April to make a decision on “the future of parkrun at Little Stoke Park”.

The prospect of the council becoming the first in the country to charge parkrun for use of a park attracted attention from the regional media and generated interest from around the country, fuelled by an online petition that had attracted 9,000 signatures by the time the meeting began.

After councillors decided, by six votes to four, to withdraw permission for the run after 28th May, should parkrun not apply for a grant, it quickly became a national story, attracting condemnation from sporting celebrities including Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Holmes.

The Little Stoke parkrun on the following Saturday was cancelled by the organisers, who feared a mass protest, however, around 25 runners ignored the plea and were greeted by a BBC TV crew which broadcast interviews with them on their Breakfast Show.

Meeting of Stoke Gifford Parish Council at which the future of parkrun in Little Stoke Park was discussed.

Photos: 1 A BBC reporter interviews a runner in Little Stoke Park on 16th April 2016. 2 Meeting of Stoke Gifford Parish Council on 12th April 2016.

Reactions on Twitter

Publications and media coverage (rolling updates)
Dear Little Stoke parkrunners
17th October 2016 | Little Stoke parkrun

Cash-strapped council wants to levy charge on popular parkrun
20th November | Stoke Gifford Journal

Keep Little Stoke parkrun in Little Stoke Park
22nd January 2016 | parkrun UK

Thousands sign petition to keep local parkrun
12th February 2016 | Stoke Gifford Journal

Stoke Gifford Parish Council statement on parkrun
23rd March 2016 | Cllr Ernie Brown, Stoke Gifford Council

A Statement On Behalf Of Little Stoke parkrun and parkrun UK
30th March | Little Stoke parkrun

Don’t charge us for the Little Stoke parkrun, the health and social benefits are too great
11th April 2016 | Western Daily Press

Little Stoke Parkrun: Users could be first in WORLD to pay to run
12th April 2016 | Bristol Post

Parkrun faces being charged to use Little Stoke paths
12th April 2016 | BBC Bristol


Little Stoke Parkrun has been ‘evicted’ by Stoke Gifford Parish Council
12th April | Bristol Post

‘Shock’ over Little Stoke Parkrun charge decision
12th April | BBC News (video)

The Parish Council have voted 6:4 that Little Stoke parkrun should contribute financially to the park…
12th April | Little Stoke parkrun on Facebook

parkrun reaction to Stoke Gifford Parish Council decision
12th April 2016 | parkrun UK

The official line from HQ regarding Little Stoke parkrun
13th April 2016 | parkrun UK

Little Stoke Parkrun: Event cancelled after council becomes first in world to charge runners to use Bristol park
13th April 2016 | The Independent

Sporting stars including Dame Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe blast ‘disgraceful’ decision for Parish council to start charging users to run in the local park
13th April 2016 | Daily Mail

Paula Radcliffe joins backlash as council becomes first in world to charge runners who use public park
13th April 2016 | The Telegraph

Why charging parkrun is a terrible idea
13th April | The Guardian

Parkrun decision “a health tax”
13th April | South Gloucestershire Labour councillors

Little Stoke Parkrun petition backed by thousands
13th April 2016 | BBC Bristol

How did a weekend fun run cause a national outcry?
13th April 2016 | BBC News

RECAP: Little Stoke parkrun reaction – Organisation to fight Stoke Gifford Parish Council’s decision to charge them
13th April 2016 | Bristol Post

Little Stoke parkrun cancels Saturday’s event over safety fears after council’s charge decision
14th April 2016 | Bristol Post

Councils might be desperate for cash, but charging parkrun isn’t the solution
15th April | The Guardian

‘I’d struggle without it’: Little Stoke parkrunners on what it means to them
15th April 2016 | The Guardian

Letter: Council duty to ask park runners to pay
15th April 2016 | Western Daily Press

OPINION: Why Stoke Gifford Parish Council have made the WRONG decision about Parkrun
16th April | Bristol Post

Little Stoke Parkrun: MPs push for debate as pranksters design spoof t-shirts and signs
18th April 2016  | Bristol Post

The latest on Little Stoke parkrun
20th April 2016 | parkrun UK

Minister backs free Parkrun after Stoke Gifford furore
21st April 2016 | BBC News

Jack Lopresti MP calls for a debate on Local Government powers to charge for the use of their facilities
28th April 2016 | Jack Lopresti MP

House of Commons – Business of the House: Jack Lopresti
28th April 2016 | TheyWorkForYou

Councillors “bullied and threatened” after asking Little Stoke parkrun to pay to use local park
4th May 2016 | Bristol Post

Parkrun row: MP accuses government of interfering
11th May 2016 | BBC News

‘Parish council was right to charge Parkrun’ says Jack Lopresti MP
11th May 2016 | Bristol Post

Transcript of Westminster Hall debate
11th May | TheyWorkForYou

Event Cancellation – Saturday 28th May
25th May 2016 | Little Stoke parkrun

Organisers cancel Little Stoke parkrun amid fears emotions will ‘boil over’ following row with council
25th May 2016 | The Telegraph


Announcing the closure of Little Stoke parkrun
2nd June 2016 | parkrun UK

Little Stoke Parkrun permanently closed by organisers
2nd June 2016 | BBC News

Little Stoke parkrun closes after eviction from Stoke Gifford Parish Council
2nd June 2016 | Bristol Post

Organisers permanently cancel Little Stoke parkrun as council stops group running for free
2nd June 2016 | The Telegraph

Share this page:


  1. May 2016 | Little Stoke Gifford Matters

    Stoke Gifford Parish Council announce over £600,000 in grants/funding for improvements to facilities in Little Stoke Park, including:

    New changing facilities £400,000
    New cafe/social area £100,000
    New groundskeeping machinery £30,000
    Investment in sports pitches £7,000
    Maintenance for pitches £7,500 and changing rooms £90,000

    “A recent site inspection confirmed that the ground grading criteria (step 7) of the Gloucestershire County Football League had been met at Little Stoke Park to provide County Standard Football in the Park from the 2016/17 Football Season.”

    2nd June 2016 | parkrun UK
    Closure of Little Stoke parkrun

Comments are closed.