Council charges personal trainer for using public park for sessions
PUBLISHED: 05:32 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:45 14 September 2020
A personal trainer has hit out at a town council after it charged him for using a public park for sessions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Liam O’Dell, 29, who runs BreakingRecords Fitness branded Swaffham Town Council’s (STC) decision to charge him for using the town’s recreation ground for personal training sessions “ridiculous”.
The council contacted Mr O’Dell after noticing he had been using its ground.
After discussing the matter at a meeting on August 12, councillors unanimously agreed to charge BreakingRecords £50 for use of the recreation ground and agree a fee structure to charge for the use of all council-owned properties or land.
A spokesperson said: “In the middle of a global pandemic it is not unreasonable to expect communication from organised groups or businesses who wish to use public facilities on land that the council owns and manages - particularly, as play areas, skateparks and other facilities had only just been brought back into use under Covid-19 restrictions.
“It was unanimously agreed by councillors to retrospectively grant temporary permission and to make a reasonable charge for the hire of the space for commercial use.”
Mr O’Dell started BreakingRecords Fitness in 2015 after moving to Necton, to provide strength and conditioning, express group training and nutrition services.
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Before lockdown the business used Swaffham Community Centre for indoor sessions, but Mr O’Dell said he began using the recreation ground two months ago to make his customers feel safer.
He said: “I have been using public spaces around the district throughout lockdown for outdoor sessions and I have not had a problem anywhere else. Other places have asked for my liability insurance and Covid-19 risk assessment but I have never been charged.
“There isn’t any signage saying I needed to ask for permission from the council, I think it’s ridiculous.
“What about other members of the public that use the recreation ground to socialise or kids having lessons on the skate park? Where do you draw the line?
“I feel like this could have been dealt with privately instead of being hung up like laundry.”
The council added: “Community groups based in the town use the facilities at The Rec free of charge, but all request permission to do so out of courtesy to the council.”
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