Ban on councils charging for fun runs proposed

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is considering new proposals to ban councils in England from charging people to take part in weekend fun runs.

The news comes as free events, organised by the Parkrun group to encourage fitness, attract thousands of runners on 5km courses in parks across the country. However, some councils have suggested charging entrants for taking part, citing the cost of the upkeep of paths.

The proposals would make it illegal for local authorities to charge Parkrun for the use of a public park. Ministers will also examine whether the plans should be extended to other organisers of fun runs, and to different users of parks such as professional dog walkers and personal trainers.

The consultation said that ‘local authorities quite legitimately charge for a variety of different events and specific activities that take place in local parks’.

It argued: ”However, the government does not consider it appropriate for a local authority to charge a volunteer community seeking to provide a free weekly event for the use of a public park, overturning our long standing convention of free access to parks for their everyday use."

Tom Williams, chief operating officer for Parkrun UK, said free access was key to sustaining the runs set up by the group.

He added: "It's fantastic to see the government committed to protecting the principle of free community access to public parks.

"However, it's just as important that local authorities receive the support required to ensure these wonderful areas of open space are available for future generations.

"This consultation represents a fantastic opportunity for us all to consider the most appropriate strategy for increasing engagement across our parks whilst protecting their future."