Announcing the closure of Little Stoke parkrun

It is with great regret that we are announcing the closure of Little Stoke parkrun.

This is a disappointing outcome for everyone at parkrun, the dedicated team of volunteers who have worked so hard on the event since 2012, and of course the participants who have benefitted so much from a free, local, accessible 5k every Saturday morning in Little Stoke Park.

Since the vote, on the 12th of April, by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to introduce a charge for Little Stoke parkrun, we have made attempts to engage with the council to offer alternative ways of contributing to the sustainability of the park. Every parkrun is a partnership between the landowner, the volunteer team and the local community, and unfortunately we were unable to convince Stoke Gifford Parish Council of the true value of the event. Our intention has never been to force parkrun onto the Council, but instead to demonstrate the benefits that weekly, free, fun, physical activity provides to their community.

Therefore, as the Council has now revoked our permission to run in Little Stoke Park for free, we have taken the difficult decision to bring things to a conclusion and, for the first time, permanently close one of our free, weekly, timed runs.

Tom Williams, Chief Operating Officer for parkrun, said:

"Over the past 12 years parkrun has grown from 13 runners in one park to 150,000 runners at 900 locations around the world, every week. Key to this success has been our determination to remove as many barriers to participation as possible, with cost being one of the most critical. Stoke Gifford Parish Council's initial request for us to charge our runners £1 per week went completely against our most fundamental principles and, as a free event, their subsequently revised requirement for parkrun to contribute financially to the maintenance of the park is also something we are unable to do. From the outset, and despite significant efforts from many people inside and outside of parkrun, we were unable to convince them of the true value that a parkrun event provides to its local community.

“Personally I feel a great sense of sadness, however I also feel a phenomenal sense of pride in how the Little Stoke parkrun community has dealt with this extremely challenging situation. From start to finish they have gone above and beyond what I would ever have expected from a volunteer team, and they could have done no more.

“If there is a positive to be taken from this experience it is surely that we have all been motivated to consider what our wonderful areas of open space mean to us, and how important it is that we do everything we can to ensure they remain fully accessible to their local communities. It is also critical that we do everything we can to support our local authorities and landowners, ensuring our parks are there for future generations to enjoy just as much as we do.”

Becky Bushnell, co-Event Director of Little Stoke parkrun, said:

“We are all really disappointed that Little Stoke parkrun has found itself in this position. The past eight months have been a difficult time for the volunteer team as all we have ever wanted to do is run, jog and walk in the park with friends. We are feeling the huge sense of loss of the community that has built up over three and a half years.”

 

a statement of support from England Athletics

There is strong evidence of the positive impact running has on physical and mental wellbeing. England Athletics continue to work closely with parkrun to provide opportunities for more people to be physically active through running. Many of our 1,600 affiliated clubs and organisations both support parkrun events, through members volunteering, and benefit, through the growth of running and in turn new members joining them.

 

parkrun reaction to Stoke Gifford Parish Council decision

Chief Operating Officer for parkrun Tom Williams said:

"We are extremely disappointed that Stoke Gifford Parish Council has voted to impose a charge at Little Stoke parkrun.

“parkrun has had unprecedented success in engaging the least active and encouraging them to exercise regularly. Providing free weekly access has been fundamental to this and we are disappointed that this opportunity is to be removed for the residents of Little Stoke.

"Our aim is to break down barriers to participation in, and delivery of, physical activity and this is consistent across 850 parkruns worldwide, which are all delivered by volunteers and are free to take part in. Imposing a charge at one event is something that contradicts our founding principles and would set a precedent that threatens our future.

“As a nation we must make a decision about whether we want to be healthier or not. The costs to all of us of inactivity and poor health are immense. parkrun has had enormous success at bringing communities together and promoting physical activity in safe and welcoming social environments.

"The past six months have been an uncertain and difficult time for everyone involved with Little Stoke parkrun and our entire global community of more than two million parkrunners is behind them as we discuss our next steps.”

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