Councils set to be banned from charging for park fun runs under Government plans

Councils in England will be prevented from charging people to take part in weekend fun runs under new rules.

It comes after a parish council near Bristol considered a £1 charge for participants last year.

The Olympic gold medal-winner Dame Kelly Holmes was among those expressing concern after Stoke Gifford parish council said it was worried about "increased wear" at Little Stoke Park.

In a document, the Department for Communities and Local Government says it is "consulting on proposals to legislate to put it beyond doubt that local authorities, including parish councils, cannot charge parkrun or junior parkrun for the use of public parks".

Adults run a 5km course, while for children it is 2km.

The documents notes that while it is "appropriate" for a sum to be charged for the "exclusive use of a facility such as a tennis court", it adds that "the government does not consider it appropriate for a local authority to charge a volunteer community seeking to provide a free weekly event".

It is also being considered whether to extend the proposals beyond parkrun and junior parkrun.

"This weekend, thousands of runners will be limbering up on the starting line of parkruns across the country," Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said.

"These sporting events offer a fantastic opportunity to bring people together and improve their fitness too.

"These new rules will make sure this continues and prevent any council from charging for the everyday use of public parks."

Parkrun UK's CEO, Tom Williams, told The Times: "We are really pleased to see the Government's passion for protecting public areas of open space so that future generations are able to enjoy them as we do.

"It is critical that all park users work together in order to ensure their sustainability, and at parkrun we are committed to doing whatever we can to support local authorities across all of our event locations."