Little Stoke Parkrun event off after charge vote

Runners in Little Stoke Park near Bristol Image copyright Robin Phillips
Image caption None of the Parkrun UK events currently charge participants as the organisation believes its events should be open and free for everyone

A Parkrun event which became the focus of an international outcry after a council voted to charge organisers to stage it has been cancelled.

Organisers of the weekly run, in Little Stoke Park, near Bristol, have called off Saturday's event amid safety concerns.

They said they feared the number of people wishing to join in may exceed the park's "safe limit".

The announcement came after widespread criticism of the decision.

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Media captionThe park lap that everyone is talking about.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council became the first in the world to charge Parkrun a fee for the use of its grounds following Tuesday's vote.

Following its decision, a petition backed by a number of high-profile sporting names was launched. It has attracted more than 35,000 signatures.

Given the "huge strength of feeling", Parkrun said, it had to consider the implications for Saturday's run.

Image caption Stoke Gifford Parish Council voted to become the first in the world to charge Parkrun a fee for use of its grounds

Little Stoke's big Parkrun row

Council votes to charge organisers for weekly run

Thousands back Parkrun petition

How a weekly fun run sparked a national outcry

Q&A: What is Parkrun?

The organisation thanked supporters, and asked them "to keep things positive and constructive" after the council said it had received hundreds of critical emails.

"Negativity levelled at the parish council will not help matters," Parkrun said in its announcement.

Councillors voted six to four in favour of charges for "wear and tear", and said it was "unfair" to expect non-running residents to pay for park upkeep.

The parish council has given the organisation until 28 May to apply for a community grant to cover its contributions towards park maintenance.

In a post on its website, Parkrun UK said it was investigating legal grounds for an appeal.

Parkrun's ethos is for the event to be free and open to everyone. It stages 850 runs in 12 countries.

Hundreds had taken part in two free, timed runs organised by Parkrun UK in Little Stoke Park.

Posting on the BBC Points West Facebook page, Kim Lipscombe said: "Such a shame it's come to this. Let's hope people will get back to their Saturday morning runs very soon."

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