A fun run has been cancelled after a local council decided to charge a fee for the use of its park. Councillors initially proposed a charge of £1 per runner, for the weekly 5k run around Little Stoke Park in Stoke Gifford, South Gloucestershire.
Organisers claimed that the fee would cover the cost of runners using toilet facilities and monopolising the park paths and car park. The council argues that since football clubs pay to hire a pitch so runners must contribute to the upkeep of the park. Organisers also claimed that safety would be "jeopardised" if the race went ahead because so many people were planning to turn up and support them.
The fun run has now been scrapped after more than 42,000 people signed a Change.org petition in protest at the fee being imposed by Stoke Gifford parish council, Sky News reports. In a statement posted online, Little Stoke parkrun organisers said: "Given the huge strength of feeling heard from you directly and seen from a wider audience on social media we have had to consider the implications of this on Saturday's run (16 April).
"The safety and well-being of parkrunners and other park users is paramount and we are very concerned that this might be jeopardised by the volume of people wishing to run at Little Stoke on Saturday. This could easily exceed the safe limit of the park itself."
Gold medal-winning runners Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Holmes, sports minister Tracey Crouch and the London Marathon also condemned the plan to impose a fee on Twitter. Parkrun, which is appealing the council's decision, has more than 850 weekly events in 12 countries. They are delivered by volunteers and free to take part in.