Councillors To Consider Allowing Free Parkruns

Following petition by residents to allow scheme to organise runs in the borough

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Councillors will be asked next week to endorse a series of proposals that could pave the way for organised amateur runs to be held in the borough.

Councillors on the community services overview and scrutiny committee are expected to endorse plans that could see trial events being staged by Parkrun UK, a not-for profit company that organises free runs for people of all ages.

Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.

Parkrun has approached the council and asked for permission to begin organising events in the borough’s parks and open spaces. These events normally attract hundreds of participants. The scheme is a free facility and the usual fee of £624 +VAT was prohibitive to the organisers. A petition was established which recieved 2,586 signatures.

The council press release states: 'The council is keen to promote sports and fitness and to encourage residents to lead healthier lifestyles and so supports the principle of this initiative. However it is important that public events on this scale are managed safely, that there is proper stewarding in place, plus properly drawn up emergency plans in case runners are taken ill or suffer a medical emergency while participating. Other considerations include having adequate arrangements in place to pick up any litter left behind by the runners and prevent any damage being caused to the open space.'

If councillors agree at their meeting next week, town hall officials will be authorised to enter into discussions with Parkrun with a view to reaching an agreement that paves the way for events to commence on a trial basis.

The trial period would allow the council to assess the impact of the runs on the open space and also to monitor how well Parkrun manages the events. If the discussions result in an agreement, the council will also consider awarding Parkrun a grant from its public health budget to help fund the initiative.

The council’s community services spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This could be an exciting addition to the borough and would certainly reinforce the work we do to encourage people to take regular exercise and stay fit and healthy. If councillors support the idea at their meeting next week then our officials will meet formally with Parkrun and look to reach an agreement for the borough to start hosting these events on a six month trial basis. However it is important that the organisers are able to demonstrate to us that they can meet our requirements for staging events of this size.”

Councillors will meet to discuss the proposals on Thursday, November 27.

November 21, 2014