The recent decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to charge Parkrun runners £1.00 per head for the privilege of fighting obesity , staying fit and healthy and thus reducing the burden on the NHS and not least encouraging the younger generation to follow their examples and who knows perhaps become future Mo Farahs , has provoked a veritable storm of condemnations the latest from with in the House of Commons itself.

I would love to have a chat with the councillors involved just to get to the core of their thinking on this and to try to understand how they came to a decision which flies in the face of laudable  Government policies and Government initiatives to address the problems of general lack of fitness amongst the UK population. Did they think that these problems were not a factor or of no concern in relation to the Stoke Gifford population catchment area ? The statement which they subsequently issued stresses the fact that the council is not opposed to the concept of “parks” being used for activities which ahem parks were designed for such as running,jumping,playing of games but focuses on the issue of the cost of upkeep and repairs.

If I have understood their argument correctly they are insisting that it is unfair to ask local taxpaying residents  to subsidise the activities , in terms of the costs  of  maintenance and repairs , because there are Parkrunners taking part who  appear to come from outside the Council residential area. So by extension  if someone from Bristol is visiting family in Stoke Gifford and chooses to visit the park in question with their children they really should pay an entrance fee of some kind as they are not local taxpayers and therefore are not contributing to the upkeep of the swings or the park toilets.

Even more bizarre is their claim that” the Parish Council cannot & will not stop people from using the parks for exercise & running but when it comes to an organisation with paid directors, fund raisers and sponsors it would be unfair to expect the resident’s to pay”. So if Cancer Research UK,Oxfam,the Red Cross etc  have paid directors,fund raisers and shop managers it is wrong to treat them as being ” charities ” and we should really stop giving !

Mind boggling !