Welsh councils have ‘no plans’ to begin charging for Parkrun events

PARKRUN was founded in 2004 and swiftly grew in popularity, now organising more than 850 fun runs every week in 12 different countries. These events are run by volunteers and participation is free, as founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt believes that “no one should ever have to pay to go running in their community regularly, safely, and for fun.”

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However, Stoke Gifford Parish Council in Gloucestershire have voted to impose charges on these fun runs, arguing that Parkrun should contribute to the maintenance of Little Stoke Park. The council’s decision has been met with much criticism. Parkrun UK’s managing director Tom Williams expressed his disappointment in the decision to charge for fun runs, commenting that free weekly access to exercise has been a fundamental part of Parkrun’s “unprecedented success in engaging the least active and encouraging them to exercise regularly.” Also protesting the council’s decision were Olympians Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe, who took to Twitter in reaction to the announcement; Paula Radcliffe tweeted that she was “totally against this short-sighted decision”, while Dame Kelly Holmes said, “Have I missed the whole reason park runs exist and are free? #StokeGiffordParishCouncil decision is a disgrace.com.”

A number of Welsh councils have stated that they have no plans to follow Stoke’s example. A council spokesman from Cardiff, whose local Parkrun group has more than 15,000 regular runners, commented, “We don’t charge Cardiff Parkrun for their organised runs in our parks and we have no plans to do so.” Similar statements have been issued from Wrexham Council and from Swansea Council, who stated, “We have never charged Parkrun. There are no plans to change this arrangement.” Ceredigion Council meanwhile said, “The council does not charge for organised runs in council parks. There are no plans to introduce charges for organised runs in parks nor is it presently being considered or discussed.”

Parkrun is well-established in Wales, with groups from Harlech and Aberystwyth to Brecon, Swansea Bay, Neath Port Talbot, Porthcawl, Cardiff and Newport. A spokesman for Sport Wales, which has championed Parkrun, said on Wednesday that the organisation “has made a fantastic impact in Wales, getting people running more regularly and introducing new people to exercise using public parks and spaces up and down the country.” He hopes that Parkrun “continues to grow in Wales and contribute to growing participation in sport and physical activity.”