Northampton runner's fury after parkrun car park prices increase by 220 per cent
'Shouldn’t the council be promoting healthy activity rather than just seeing it as a money making exercise?'
A Northampton parkrun member has slammed the council for increasing car parking charges at a popular running event in the county by 220 per cent.
John Schofield, from Moulton, has called West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) out for increasing its parking prices at Brixworth Country Park from £1 to £3.20 for one hour on Saturdays while parkrun is taking place.
parkrun is a five kilometre event where communities come together to walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate at parks across the UK every Saturday morning.
John, 49, said: "Prior to Covid and lockdown, parkrun was a great success across the town.
"All these events are ran exclusively by volunteers as part of the global parkrun events to help promote and support regular exercise for all abilities - a really amazing setup.
"Before Covid there was an arrangement that the parkrun volunteer team could sell tickets for £1 to cover parking while you were at the run - most people would be there no longer than one hour and away from the car park by 10am.
"Fast forward to two weeks ago when I turned up and was told that this was no longer available. It now costs £3.20 for a ticket.
"As I left the car park at 9.45am there was a traffic warden checking every car. This is Brixworth Country Park not the town centre.
"My key points are: shouldn’t the council be promoting healthy activity and supporting a volunteer-based structure encouraging activity rather than just seeing it as a money making exercise?
"I have no issue with a payment of £1 for the duration of the run, perfectly reasonable for the facilities being used.
"Dropping traffic wardens in to specifically target this event is opportunistic."
A West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) spokesman responded to John by saying the £1 parking charge was 'never a permanent agreement'.
The WNC spokesman said: “parkrun is a great project, and the council is pleased to accommodate it in a number of its parks.
"The £1 concession on parking was given to help the Brixworth parkrun get established; it was never a permanent arrangement.
"The standard parking charge now applies, and the parkrun remains very popular. The parking charges help sustain the parks for the public to enjoy them.
“Regular users may wish to buy a season ticket; to park at any time at Brixworth would cost £38 per year, less than £1 per week.
“Parking regulations do need to be enforced, otherwise people who played by the rules would be unfairly treated by those who did not. The parking attendant would simply have been doing a routine check on compliance.”
John responded to WNC's comments saying: "I’m afraid that shows a complete lack of empathy towards the whole event and the government drive to get people exercising, particularly after lockdown.
"I just think the action taken and the subsequent response shows a narrow-minded and blinkered view to something that should be positive and, if WNC supported it, positive for them."