The Leader of Labour’s councillors on South Gloucestershire Council has slammed a local Conservative parish council for voting to charge organisers of a parkrun – a move that has been widely reported as the first in the world. Councillor Pat Rooney says that she is concerned that the decision is drawing negative attention to the district, and is concerned that Tory councillors elsewhere will follow the lead.
Parkruns are community-run events that are free to all, and are widely seen as promoting exercise and better health for all ages. However, Stoke Gifford Parish Council last night voted to levy a charge on those who organise the parkrun held at Little Stoke Park each Saturday morning. The proposal to levy a charge to contribute towards the upkeep of the park was agreed by 6 votes to 4. The two Labour members of the parish council voted against charging.
Councillor Pat Rooney says:
“South Gloucestershire has been thrust into the media spotlight because of this mean-spirited decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council. It is bitterly disappointing that part of our district is attracting notoriety as the first place in the world to charge for a parkrun.
I agree with Paula Radcliffe when she describes this as a short-sighted decision. We need to do more to encourage people willingly to embrace healthier activities, not make it more difficult. Stoke Gifford Tories are responsible for levying a health tax.
I am concerned that other Tory councillors will take a lead from this now that Stoke Gifford has made the move. I urge the Conservative leadership in South Gloucestershire to encourage their Stoke Gifford colleagues to reverse this decision, and to make it clear that they don’t want it replicated anywhere else in our district.”