The LGA has responded to the DCLG Running Free consultation by encouraging greater collaboration between councils and parkrun organisers to increase participation rates and contribute further to improving the health and wellbeing of its local residents.
- The LGA appreciates the Government’s desire to support the long tradition of free use of public parks as well as the principles behind the parkrun concept of providing a great way to use parks through the volunteering efforts of local communities to organise parkrun events.
- Councils see parkruns and junior parkruns as helping them to increase physical activity rates in their local authority areas, which in turn helps improve health and wellbeing amongst their communities and ultimately manages or reduces the increasing costs of treating illnesses.
- Since 2004, when the concept of parkrun started, local authorities have been supportive of having parkruns in their local parks and open spaces. After 13 years of parkrun, no principal council has charged for a parkrun to take place in its parks or open spaces and only one parish council has tried to charge for the continuation of parkrun on their local park.
- Given this, the LGA does not feel that the introduction of legislation to prohibit councils from charging for parkrun, junior parkrun or other similar events in their local parks or open spaces is the right way forward and immediately introduces tension between councils, parkrun and other groups, where they might otherwise negotiate amicably to achieve a positive solution.
- The most constructive way forward is to take an informal approach by supporting good practice, investing through Sport England to develop more parkruns and other physical activity, and helping principal councils (and local parish councils) to try new ways to maintain and support parks and open spaces. This should form part of a coherent Government policy towards ensuring the sustainability of public parks, so that they can continue to be enjoyed by everyone.
Download the full response
Running Free: Consultation on preserving the free use of public parks – LGA response