As David Cameron's chubby cheeks flush red with embarrassment at his dear old mum's 'gift' of 200 grand (nice gift Dave, all I seem to get is Amazon vouchers) and the world's billionaires dig a hole in Panama to bury their swag another tax is being formulated in Stoke Gifford Parish Council. Yes, these local politicians have noticed a problem, every Saturday hundreds of early risers gather with the cruel intention of using the local park to RUN.
Parkrun is a free running event held over 5km every Saturday morning in 395 parks around the UK (not to mention hundreds of locations around the world). It is also surely a shining example of community action or what Cameron once labelled the 'Big Society'. Groups of committed volunteers help make each event possible and the event itself is changing lives in so many ways. It's making people fitter and it's bringing people closer together.
Take me for example, I started doing Parkrun in Gunnersbury less than a year ago and have been addicted ever since. Now two stone lighter I'm training for my first marathon. But aside from the health benefits there's a real sense of community at Parkrun that is so welcoming to all ages and all abilities. Just the other week a man called Alan, a man in his 80s, completed his 400th run. The Parkrun community gathered at the finishing line to cheer him on. In the same race a 14 year old pulled off a sprint finish to beat me, a single mum runs pushing a pram, a man in his 50s is pulled along by his border terrier and we are cheered on our way by all the brilliant volunteers. There is simply nothing like it.
Stoke Gifford Parish Council are worried about the state of the park paths. They say it's unfair on non-running residents to have to pay for path maintenance and have voted to charge Parkrun to hold the event, which will ultimately have the effect of shutting it down. But surely what they should be saying is 'get involved!'. Why are there any non-running residents? Why aren't you volunteering? Come join the community! Surely this is exactly what taxpayers money should be assisting with? Is this not what public parks are for?
I am slightly stunned that this council has voted this plan through but I feel this is a small example of the country's problems at large. Just as this council seek to sacrifice a genuine force for good at the alter of finance, the Prime Minister sought to cut disabilities benefits with one hand and take tax free gifts with the other. He needs to look again at the Big Society, and he can start by joining his local Parkrun.
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