Running Free: Government consultation on preserving the free use of public parks

Pete Davis's picture

The Government is consulting on proposed legislation that will restrict local authorities from charging Parkrun and Junior Parkrun to use public parks for their non-exclusive use. The consultation asks specific questions (see below) and gives us orienteers an opportunity to make our voice heard. The club committee has reviewed the consultation document and will make the response below. Members may want to express their own views by responding before the cut-off date of 5 July.

Response of Southampton Orienteering Club

Introduction

The Department for Communities and Local Government 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. It is also consulting on whether the proposals should be extended beyond parkrun and junior parkrun, to other organisations or types of use of public parks.

Question 1:

Do you agree that local authorities should not be able to charge parkrun or parkrun junior for the use of public parks?

Response:

We agree that local authorities should not be able to charge parkrun or parkrun junior for the use of public parks.

Question 2:

Is there any specific activity, in addition to parkrun or junior parkrun, that takes place in a public park, that does not require exclusive use of the park or a part of the park, that should be considered for inclusion in provisions to prevent local authorities charging for that activity, and if so why?

Response:

We believe that this principle should apply to other not-for-profit sports clubs, including orienteering clubs, for events where there is non-exclusive use of a public park; and that this should be extended to other ‘publicly owned’ areas, for example, woods and forests managed by such bodies as the Forestry Commission.

Our reason for proposing this is that such provision would support the Government principles behind these type of events, which provide a great way to use our public facilities, are excellent examples of communities organising events on a voluntary and not-for profit-basis and enable the public as individuals, families and groups to enjoy healthy exercise.

Question 3:

Are there any activities that involve a financial charge to a client or clients by a professional or business, but do not involve exclusive use of a public park or part of the park, that should be considered for inclusion in provisions to prevent local authorities charging for that activity, and if so why?

Response:

We offer no comment.