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Government urges parish council to “reconsider” charging for parkrun

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Acting sports minister David Evennett has urged Stoke Gifford Parish Council to “reconsider” its proposal to begin charging participants to take part in parkrun activities.

Talking in parliament yesterday (21 April) Evennett, who is covering the maternity leave of Tracey Crouch, said that while the matter was ultimately for the council and parkrun to thrash out, the government objected to barriers to physical activity participation.

“The decision to charge for an event that is free in locations across the UK and around the world is one that we as a government think should be reconsidered,” said Evennett. “We want to remove barriers to participation and encourage more and more people to get involved in sport. This is the key message the government wants to get across.”

Earlier this month it emerged that the parish council – based just outside Bristol – wanted to impose a fee on runners using the local Little Stoke Park to pay for “wear and tear” on paths and car parks.

Several members of parliament have since signed an Early Day Motion expressing disappointment with the proposal, while almost 60,000 people have signed a change.org petition against the decision.

Permanent sports minister Crouch tweeted that she “completely agreed” with parkrun’s stance of objecting to the council’s view, and that the council’s position was “contrary to the government’s sport strategy” Sporting Future.

During questions to the ministers from the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), Evennett confirmed that over the five-year parliament the government will “invest more money in grassroots sport than ever before”, highlighting the “very positive” spending review settlement unveiled earlier this year.

“This settlement confirms this government’s continued support for positive outcomes sport can bring and will be spent in line with the new government sport strategy which sets out out how we’ll encourage more people from every background to engage in sport and physical activity,” added the MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford.

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Acting sports minister David Evennett has urged Stoke Gifford Parish Council to “reconsider” its proposal to begin charging participants to take part in parkrun activities.
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