Town hall leaders in Leeds have promised not to make runners pay to take part in local ParkRun events after after a council’s decision to charge for use of its grounds prompted a fierce backlash.
Stoke Gifford Parish Council in Gloucestershire had come under fire over its decision to charge a fee to the organisers of ParkRun UK, who use Little Stoke Park on a Saturday morning. It claimed the charge was needed to help maintain parks in the city.
London marathon winner Paula Radcliffe also waded into the debate, saying ParkRun should remain “free for everyone, always”.
Several local authorities in Yorkshire have now confirmed they will not be charging people to take part in events in their area on a Saturday morning.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for health, wellbeing and adults at Leeds City Council, said: “We have seven ParkRuns in Leeds which are free and we currently have no plans to change this.
“They are great events that encourage people to live healthy and active lifestyles and this is a key priority for us in the city. We are happy to continue to support these events across the city.”
Wakefield City Council also confirmed it would not be charging runners to use the parks. There are currently three Parkrun events in the city, at Thornes Park, Pontefract Park and Nostell Priory.
Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “ParkRuns are a great way to meet new people, get some exercise and enjoy our amazing parks. It’s for anyone of any age, you can be club affiliated or a casual runner.
“You can even take part with your children, a buggy and your dog. I encourage everyone to pop along to their local ParkRun this Saturday to see what it’s all about.”
In York, ParkRun events have been taking place for three years and around 263 people take part in the mini marathon every week.
There are also no plans to charge runners in Sheffield. Ian Turner, Head of Parks and Public Realm, said: “ParkRun takes place in five parks across the city and is becoming increasingly popular with hundreds of people attending every week.
“It’s fantastic to see so many people turning up each week to make the most of these free events, which are also a perfect early morning family activity getting everyone out and enjoying Sheffield’s wonderful outdoors.”