Last night (12 April 2016), Stoke Gifford Parish Council took the decision to charge the organisation Parkrun for use of the local park in Little Stoke. The Parish Council made this decision based on the idea that the Saturday morning Parkrun event was contributing to the wear and tear of the area and so maintenance costs should be passed on. The decision is an outrage and fails to take into consideration the fantastic principles of Parkrun, or the wider problems being faced by society.
For those of you who are unaware, Parkrun is a free 5km run, held at 9am every Saturday across the globe. These events are open to everyone, regardless of ability or age. Each individual has a recorded time and the event is organised entirely by volunteers. The event is not a race; but a run, walk or jog taken up by a variety of individuals from each community, who complete the course in anytime between 15min to over an hour.
Stoke Gifford Parish Council have decided that this event should no longer be free in their local park, due to maintenance costs they wish to place at the foot of Parkruners. This principle completely ignores the positive impact that Parkrun has on a community, local economy and wider society. Taking community as a starting point, Parkrun encourages and improves a sense of community between neighbours who under any other circumstance would never meet. The goodwill which comes hand in hand with the event is integral to building a positive community which people wish to contribute to. Runners of all ages, abilities and backgrounds come together each Saturday morning to cheer one and other on, making friendships and improving quality of life. Having moved to Australia and lived in Perth for 6 months, I completed the Rockingham Parkrun often and was made to feel part of the community by the friendly and supportive atmosphere.
The short-sightedness of this decision also negatively affects local businesses that trade off of Parkrun. As this is a social event, many individuals move onto local cafes and shops in groups following the event, passing money back into the local economy. The events around the world are sponsored by local companies raising awareness of small business and bringing in extra trade. By introducing this charge and likely closing down the event, all these benefits will be lost.
Finally, Parkrun is doing all it can to assist our society in the fight against obesity. A large number of Parkrunners around the world are taking up running or walking for the first time. The event encourages these individuals because of the unique atmosphere and fact that it is free. The majority of people do not enjoy exercising on their own and this event brings large numbers of people together, motivating one and other. The event should be supported by all government, local and national.
Please sign the petition looking to overturn this decision here.
Sign up for your local Parkrun here.
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