‘No plans’ to charge for Hartlepool Parkrun events

The first ever Hartlepool Park Run, from Maritime Avenue at the Marina to Seaton Carew and back.
The first ever Hartlepool Park Run, from Maritime Avenue at the Marina to Seaton Carew and back.

Council bosses say they have no plans to introduce a charge on a free weekly running event.

Hundreds of people have been taking part in the Hartlepool Parkrun since its inception in 2014.

The first ever Hartlepool Park Run, from Maritime Avenue at the Marina to Seaton Carew and back.

The first ever Hartlepool Park Run, from Maritime Avenue at the Marina to Seaton Carew and back.

Each Saturday, the group takes on a 5km course along the promenade in Seaton Carew.

But after news that a local council in South Gloucestershire have decided to charge organisers of the fun run, Hartlepool Borough Concil chiefs have spoken out to reassure runners they have no plans to follow suit.

A spokesman said: “The council has an agreement with the local Parkrun group for them to use the promenade at Seaton Carew on a regular basis. There is no charge levied and the council has no plans to introduce charges.

“We helped the group to set up and it plays a key role in helping to encourage local people to take part in regular physical activity.”

The seafront course is open to people of all ages and abilities, and those taking part can walk or run the distance at their own pace.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council recently met with criticism when it announced it was introducing a charge for the local park run at Little Stoke Park, in Stoke Gifford.

The council said ity had recently paid £55,000 to resurface the car park, and that the path will soon need to be replaced at a cost of £60,000.

The authority also says the fun run had led to “increased wear” and complaints from local residents.

Speaking to the BBC, council chairman Ernest Brown, said: “The football club pay £60 to hire the pitch. We’re not proposing to charge £60, no way, but at the same time, as an organisation they should contribute towards the upkeep.”

But more than 20,000 people have signed a Change.org petition against the council’s decision to charge Parkrun to use the grounds.

The authority was met with criticism by sports minister Tracey Crouch, who tweeted: “Completely agree with @parkrunUK. Decision by PC contrary to gov sports strategy & creates barrier to participation.”

She added: “What I always say: good councils recognise value of investment in sport & leisure on other more expensive budgets”.

Famous athlete Paula Radcliffe also spoke out against the decision.

She took to Twitter to say: “Am totally against this short- sighted decision. I fully support the right for this event for children to be free.”

She later clarified that the event, which is open to adults, children and dogs at most locations, should be “free for everyone, always”.

Dame Kelly Holmes also criticised the council, writing: “Have I missed the whole reason park runs exist & are free? StokeGiffordParishCouncil decision is a disgrace.com.”

Parkrun has more than 850 weekly events in 12 countries, all delivered by volunteers and free to take part in.

The Hartlepool Parkrun is at 9am each Saturday.

To find out more about the event, go to www.parkrun.org.uk