With the future of the Little Stoke parkrun under threat after Stoke Gifford Parish Council signalled its intention to levy a charge of £1 per runner towards the maintenance costs of Little Stoke Park, it has been revealed that Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is being considered as an alternative venue for the popular Saturday morning running event.
The news comes as an online petition to ‘Keep Little Stoke parkrun in Little Stoke Park’ passed a new milestone of 8,000 signatures.
Stoke Gifford Parish Council has said it plans to make a decision on the future of the Little Stoke parkrun at its meeting on Tuesday 12th April.
Hundreds of parkruns take place around the country at 9am every Saturday. Each event is a free-to-enter timed 5k run that is open to everyone and designed to be safe and easy to take part in.
They are organised on an entirely voluntary basis, with a core team of helpers in each locality supplemented by participants who, from time to time, “give up” their run in order to help.
A meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) on 9th March was informed that South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) has “approved in principle” a ‘hire of open space’ application from parkrun to use the Three Brooks LNR from April 2016. The manager of Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre [from where it is presumed the parkrun would start] is said to be supportive of the idea, while the Willow Brook Centre is said to be “positive” about providing parking facilities for parkrun participants.
The final decision on the use of the nature reserve lies with SGC, as they own the land, but town councillors noted that they “have a responsibility to ensure that Bradley Stoke residents are not impacted on by the events i.e. large number of runners on the reserve inconveniencing dog walkers, pedestrians etc., issues with parking for those attending the events and damage to the paths in the reserve”.
A member of the public invited to speak at the meeting commented that she was uncomfortable with the idea of a nature reserve being used for the purposes of a parkrun event as it was not an appropriate location, being at odds with the ethos of nature reserves in general, which are designed to be areas of peace and tranquillity for all.
Councillors raised concerns about the limited consultation that had taken place with local residents, seeming to consist of an email sent to some local SGC councillors and a few other people. They felt that before any firm decision was taken by SGC, the views of the residents of Bradley Stoke need to be sought through a more formalised consultation process.
It was agreed to ask SGC to carry out a widespread consultation across all residents of Bradley Stoke, before any final decision is made.
The Journal understands that efforts to establish a weekly parkrun in the Three Brooks LNR will be progressed even if Stoke Gifford Parish Council agrees to allow the Little Stoke parkrun to continue, as it would help ease the pressures caused by high attendance at Little Stoke and other local parkruns.
Further concerns about the establishment of a parkrun in Bradley Stoke were voiced by councillors at the meeting of BSTC’s Planning Committee on 23rd March, where a Parish Biodiversity Action Plan produced by SGC was discussed. In their agreed response to SGC, councillors noted: “The town council are concerned that the possible proposed weekly parkrun events taking place on the nature reserve will be detrimental and environmentally unfriendly to the nature reserve and conflict with the Parish Biodiversity Action Plan.”
Editor’s note: The town council discussions reported in this article are based on the official draft minutes.
- BSTC Full Council draft minutes, 9/3/16 [MS Word]
- BSTC Planning Committee draft minutes, 23/3/16 [MS Word]
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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