Councillors remain concerned as SGC moves towards approving parkrun in nature reserve

Bradley Stoke 10k Run 2011 - in the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve.

Members of Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) have continued to express concern about a new weekly parkrun being established in the town’s Three Brooks nature reserve, despite assurances from an expert that the proposed event “will not conflict with the designation or long term management of the site”.

The town council’s previous request that South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), which owns the nature reserve, carry out a “widespread consultation across all residents of Bradley Stoke, before any final decision is made,” appears to have been ignored, with SGC saying that local parkrun organisers have “agreed to all the restrictions and requirements in the standard booking agreements for the use of public open space”.

Additionally, SGC’s biodiversity officer has walked the proposed route and reported that it has been “carefully selected to avoid ecological harm to the site” and will not result in runners impinging on grassland that is managed for conservation purposes. The officer adds that the event should be monitored and suitable action taken should any ecological harm occur.

Discussing the matter at their Annual General Meeting on 11th May, town councillors were informed by local parkrun ambassador Geoff Keogh that further to the original application parkrun made to SGC last year, they have now submitted an updated application.

Cllr Roger Avenin asked whether SGC’s proposed contract committed parkrun to repairing any damage caused. Mr Keogh stated that the contract contains a standard clause that is satisfied by the nationally-arranged third party insurance which parkrun UK has in place, adding that he was not aware of any claims being made on the policy in the organisation’s 11 year history.

In response to a further question posed by Cllr Avenin about whether any other parkruns in the UK were held in nature reserves, Mr Keogh replied that several are run on National Trust and Forestry Commission land, including sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Cllr Brian Hopkinson noted that there had been concerns about large numbers of parkrun participants “running three abreast” and impacting local residents using the reserve, but said he felt reassured by the responses from the officers at SGC, who had “come up with something that is sensible”.

Journal editor Stephen Horton said he had become aware that a statement made by an SGC officer (reported in the minutes of a previous town council meeting) that the manager of the Willow Brook Centre was “positive” about providing parking facilities for parkrun participants might not be wholly correct and asked that the council be mindful of possible car parking issues arising from parkrun.

Returning to the concerns over possible footpath damage, Cllr Roger Avenin proposed that, once the amended route is known, a video/photographic record of the route is carried out to assess the state of the paths before the first run takes place and then again after six months. This was carried unanimously.

Councillors also agreed that when the consultation document on the new proposed route is sent through by SGC, it is forwarded to all town councillors and added to the next appropriate committee meeting for discussion and formal response.

Related link: Draft minutes of the BSTC Annual General Meeting on 11th May (item 17.1 refers) [MS Word]

This article originally appeared in the June 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.

UPDATE (14th June): Details of the parkrun proposals, including a route map, were included in the agenda pack for last night’s meeting of BSTC’s Leisure Youth & Amenities Committee, however discussion on the matter was postponed until the Full Council meeting on 22nd June (starting 7pm at the Jubilee Centre). Journal editor Stephen Horton requested that the detailed proposals be published online before that meeting and the town council agreed to do this. A link will be provided here once this has been done.

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  1. It will be amazing to have a park run again, locally to the Stokes. Regards parking, have you seen how empty Willow Brook centre is on a Saturday morning between 9 and 9.30am? Also, what’s wrong with our ‘Community school’ opening their carpark to help with their community, or use of the sports centre? As I said, most cars will be gone at 9.30 or just after, when the majority of the public will just be crawling out of their beds!!!

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