News of a Parish Council in Gloucestershire deciding to restrict parkrun’s free use of one of its parks has hit headlines around the world today. Rather than weighing in on this contested issue myself, I’ll share these passionate and informed words of Gavin Megaw.
In the post, Gavin draws on many of the positive externalities parkrun has upon communities, which he uses to suggest that various ways that it already pays for itself. It is a very interesting debate and ties into much work in Sport Geography which analyses the impact of sport – teams, events, facilities etc – upon local communities, and in particular their economic implications. These often focus upon larger scale phenomenon (see this great video from John Oliver doing some comedic sport geography is exploring the value of stadiums for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcwJt4bcnXs), so it is very interesting to see this debate playing out in a more local-scale and bottom-up sporting environment.
parkrun is often argued to be exemplary of the ‘big society’ practice so witnessing this decision, and the public reaction is fascinating for so many reasons. If I get round to it, I may flesh out some of the ways it is in a future post.
But for now, enjoy Gavin’s thoughts …
Parish Councillors are not used to publicity. They do their job in their local communities quietly, representing their electorate and providing access to facilities, such as parks.
This week, however, Stoke Gifford Parish Council in South Gloucestershire managed to gain coverage on every major media outlet as they told parkrun that they could not use Little Stoke park to run their weekly free timed 5k runs.
No big deal, you might say. Are they not merely representing the views of the locality? Well, this is a big deal, and it is questionable whether they really are representing the views of their electorate.
Two years ago this group of 9 individuals seemed delighted to have a local parkrun. The Parish Council supported the event and the benefit it provided for the local community. In a country facing terrible rising obesity levels and a breakdown in community relations, it is not hard…
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