While councils across the south east have given the green light for Parkrun events to restart later this month once the current lockdown restrictions are lifted in Hastings the borough council is still refusing to give the go ahead and is asking organisers to meet impossible conditions.
Parkrun enthusiast and ward councillor for West St Leonards Matthew Beaver says he is frustrated with the delay by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) in giving its permission for Hastings Parkrun to restart. He’s frustrated too that emails he has sent to senior Labour councillors who could influence the situation have all been ignored
The latest data issued by Parkrun.org.uk confirms that ‘full landowner permission’ has not yet been given for the Hastings Parkrun to restart. This is despite many other towns along the coast having already done so including Eastbourne, Seaford, Peacehaven and all five Parkruns in Brighton and Hove as well as Uckfield and major towns in Kent such as Ashford, Canterbury, Folkestone and Tunbridge Wells – in fact Hastings is the only Parkrun in East Sussex missing from the list.
Mr Beaver says: “After repeated requests for an explanation from officers and lead members, there has been nothing but complete silence on this matter – no explanation as to what is going on or the evidence being used to base this decision upon.”
Mr Beaver points out that Parkrun is a free event every Saturday morning at 9am – it’s free to register and free to enter and open to all ages from 11 upwards and to all abilities from county level runners to those who prefer to walk the 5k route.
“It has very good transport links with buses running to the start, a train station no more than five or ten minutes away and ample free parking and brings Parkrun tourists to the area who then use the shops and cafes in the area before heading home.
“Given the last 18 months we have had, where mental and physical health and well-being has come to the forefront of everything we do, it seems crazy that the permission has not yet been given when so many others have already done so.
“Even crazier when you consider that Active Hastings under the auspices of HBC in partnership with ‘Run Talk Run Hollington’ has organised an event every week from June 3rd to August 19th in the Robsack Area – free to attend and for all abilities, yet the Parkrun has not yet been given that privilege.
“I would like to know what reasons HBC are basing their decisions on? It seems strange when you compare it to those other council areas of all political hues who have given their permission – many with a higher number of cases than in Hastings.”
In 2014 Parkrun approached HBC to ask for £1,500, equivalent to half the initial start up cost, as a one off grant but were told it didn’t fit into the HBC health and well-being agenda.
“This is about people’s mental and physical health – a free event every week, open to all ages and abilities bringing residents and visitors to this end of St Leonard’s and should now be given that permission to restart,” Mr Beaver said this week.
In a statement HBC told Hastings In Focus: it had: “…informed the local Parkrun organisers that the council would provisionally agree to restart subject to: a positive Step 4 COVID-19 restrictions lifting announcement, and receipt of their local risk assessment which would need to address concerns about the congregation of people at the start and finish.
“The national Parkrun organisation has stated that events will not resume until at least July 24th. Any new date for a local start will continue to be provisional subject to lockdown easing and local conditions eg infection rates. We are also in discussion with the local run director regarding their Hastings specific risk assessment which they have promised to provide.”
Mr Beaver says the council knows that the Parkrun organisation has said it will not provide local risk assessments and is at a loss to understand why the council is still asking for one when no other council in the south east has adopted that position.