Ouch, that hurts! Future of parkrun in doubt after free event announces new £5 parking charge at Blickling

Around 2000 runners take part in parkruns across Norfolk every week.
Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Around 2000 runners take part in parkruns across Norfolk every week. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Runners have reacted angrily to the announcement that they are now expected to pay to park on the National Trust estate.

Uncertainty surrounds the future of free weekly running sessions in North Norfolk after visitors were warned they would now be expected to pay to park.

Organisers of Blickling parkrun has announced that the National Trust is now charging £5 entry per vehicle to its estate near Aylsham following the installation of new parking meters.

Those taking part in the timed 5k run, which is organised by volunteers, were previously offered free parking.

Runners have reacted angrily to the announcement this week.

Cindy Grand said: 'That's disgusting - I'm not paying £5 to park for 30 minutes, it will definitely have a detrimental effect on the number of runners.'

Clive Hedges said: 'Ouch, that hurts!' Tony Witmond said: 'It's a shame but I guess the National Trust are hard up for cash.'

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Amanda Baker added: 'Looks like we won't be doing Blickling anymore then.'

Blickling is one of 12 parkruns in Norfolk which between them attract more than 2000 runners every Saturday morning.

It is unclear whether the event held at Sheringham Park – which also belongs to the National Trust – is affected.

But last year organisers warned the free weekly running sessions could be put in jeopardy if charges were introduced.

Their comments followed the announcement that a parkrun near Bristol has been permanently halted after councillors voted to charge for the site's upkeep.

Mick Liston said: 'This is nationwide charge, so the charge will apply at Sheringham as well.'

Blickling parkrun is advising runners to become members of the National Trust, which lists the cost of a single adult membership on its website as £64.80 a year.

Members of the conservation organisation also need to take their National Trust membership cards to obtain a parking ticket.

A spokesperson said: 'It's much cheaper to join the National Trust and then you can visit all National Trust sites free of charge. You'll be surprised how many there are.'

But Mr Hedges, chair of the North Norfolk Beach Runners, replied: 'I think you're missing the point - parkrun is a free event. I'm certain that the coffee shop at Blickling benefits on a Saturday morning.'

Last week it emerged that dog owners are to be banned from running with their pets in the Norwich parkrun, after organisers decided it was making the event too risky.

MORE: Dogs to be banned from Norwich parkrun, after organisers say they make the event too risky

The National Trust states on its website: 'We're a charity which relies on the support of its members and supporters to fund its conservation work. The costs of looking after the amazing places in our care are going up. Last year, we spent the equivalent of over a £2m a week on conservation work at our places, a rise of 15 per cent compared to 2015.'

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