It's the news we didn't want to hear – parkrun may not return on 5th June as expected due to landowner permission issues
If there’s one thing that we runners love, it’s parkrun. It’s been the word on everyone’s lips since restrictions started lifting, and we’ve been doing everything we can to support its planned return on 5th June.
But now things aren’t looking so promising for our parkrun hopes: only 179 of 589 events have landowner permission to run again. And if those numbers don’t pick up, it seems as though none of them will go ahead, with organisers concerned that demand will overwhelm the events that are possible.
A source at parkrun told The Guardian that they were “finding it difficult to convince many local authorities that returning was safe, legal and ratified by the government”, despite the fact that it has had legal permission to return since March.
Yet all is not lost, with MPs taking action to help the situation. “Parkruns were legally able to return from Step 1 of the government roadmap in March,” wrote MP David Davis to the House of Commons last week. “Yet, today, a significant number of landowners (a mix of local authorities and some private landowners) are putting unacceptable and potentially unlawful barriers in the way of parkrun returning.
“A number of the responses the charity has received from local authorities are embarrassing. Some cite the need for isolation tents. Some suggest waiting several weeks (or even months) for a Safety Advisory Group meeting. Others have asked for parkrun to assess and mitigate against variants of concern at a local level. All despite parkrun having a legal permission to return, a Government-supported COVID framework that has been developed in conjunction with Sport England and Public Health England, and despite all the evidence pointing to negligible outdoor transmission of coronavirus.”
He’s asking us all to reach out to our local government political representatives and chief executives to request that they urgently support the return of parkrun. “Personally, I would consider it a national embarrassment if we allow this situation to stop the return of public health initiatives like parkrun,” says Davis.
It wasn’t all bad news for parkrun fans though: a further relaxation of restrictions across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland means that parkrun may soon be able to return in other areas of the UK. “We are working hard to understand what, if any, gathering restriction may be in place in the coming months, and as soon as we have clarity on that, we will look to confirm a return date for these areas,” says parkrun on their latest blog update.
The final decision on England’s parkruns will be made on Friday 21st May – we’ll keep you updated with all the news as we know more.