Bootcamps and personal trainers to be charged to use parks after ‘an awful lot of broken benches’

Yoga teachers, fitness trainers, dance teachers are also among those who now will need an annual licence

<p>Bootcamps and personal trainers are set to be charged to use parks like Victoria Park in Bedminster</p>

Bootcamps and personal trainers are set to be charged to use parks like Victoria Park in Bedminster

Bootcamps and personal trainers are among those who will need to pay a fee to use parks in Bristol after community leaders said they should help contribute toward maintenance costs.

The new licensing system being introduced by the council is designed to regulate activities in parks and generate an income stream to pay for their upkeep.

It will affect businesses as well as not-for-profit organisations.

At a communities scrutiny commission meeting on November 23, members were supportive of the scheme, saying it was only right that park users contributed to their maintenance given the council’s limited resources.

Commission chair, Green councillor Martin Fodor, said he suspected that personal training sessions and bootcamps that encourage participants to step up onto park benches were responsible for ‘an awful lot of broken benches’.

Joggers have complained about coming across exercise ropes when running and the “potential trip hazards” they present, he added.

Bristol City Council has made it clear that while it wants to get a “financial return” from commercial operators who use the city’s parks to make money, non-commercial organisations may have to pay a “nominal fee” only.

Yoga teachers, fitness trainers, dance teachers, walking clubs, dog walking businesses, Nordic walking clubs and balloonists are among those who must have an annual licence to operate in parks owned by the local authority, scrutiny councillors heard.

Even school groups need a licence, as the system will allow the council to prevent double-booking and ensure the people in charge of activities are qualified and insured, officers told the councillors.

The council is already in the process of issuing licenses to groups which use its parks, but is aware there may be more groups it does not know about.

Jon James, head of service for natural and marine environment, said: “As a landowner we have a duty to effectively regulate what’s happening on our site.

“If you’re a commercial operator then there’s going to be a fee.

“If you’re non-commercial then we need to see what we can do. There might just be a nominal charge for a licence to cover any administration costs.”

The licensing scheme runs alongside the council’s Future Parks programme, which aims to find ways to commercialise the city’s green spaces to shore up the parks department’s scarce budget after a decade of austerity, the meeting heard.