Council to start charging for exercising in the park

May 05, 2011 5:14 PM

Council chiefs in Hammersmith and Fulham will charge people to operate a business in parks, as reported by the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard.

The new rules, introduced in April this year, state that anyone making money by being in a park should pay a fee. This means the council will now use patrols to check if anyone suspected of personal training, dog walking, nannying or even teaching for money has got the requisite license.
Conservative councillor Greg Smith, cabinet member for residents' services, defended the fee, saying:
"Taxpayers do not expect businesses who are trying to make money out of our parks to get a free ride on the back of their taxes and these businesses do need to pay for the necessary licence.”

Fees can range from £350 to £1,200 per year. Some small business owners fear they could end up paying £3,500 per year, effectively putting them out of business or forcing them into making unsustainable price rises. With such wide scope for applying this new rule it could lead to a heavy handed approach as councils attempt to extract as much money as possible. If Hammersmith and Fulham are successful in raising revenue there’s no doubt other councils will follow suit.

Of course for big events like concerts, organisers should pay but there is not one clear point at which councils should introduce a fee.  A good guideline could be the number of people involved in the activity, but there is also clearly a distinction to be drawn between commercial activities and community activities.  There is a spectrum here, not one simple point at which is right or wrong to charge, yet the danger is that Hammersmith and Fulham Council have cast the net too wide in this case.

Local residents already pay for their parks and their upkeep through taxes, they should be free to use them for leisure and community purposes in return, it’s unfair to foist this extra charge on individuals who happen to conduct a small part of their business in the park.  This fine is also unenforceable in many cases, how will the council prove that a couple running together are personal trainer and client and not simply friends?  What if two friends are out for a jog, will they be harassed by park police for a license?

Some councils seem loath to look at ways of increasing efficiency and reducing spending, although Hammersmith and Fulham have done plenty in the past.  Councils shouldn’t be using inane fines to try to generate further revenue, hitting ordinary taxpayers who are already feeling the pinch.  The last thing anyone wants while relaxing or exercising in the park is to be hassled for a license which few will be aware they even need.Council chiefs in Hammersmith and Fulham will charge people to operate a business in parks, as reported by the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard.

The new rules, introduced in April this year, state that anyone making money by being in a park should pay a fee. This means the council will now use patrols to check if anyone suspected of personal training, dog walking, nannying or even teaching for money has got the requisite license.
Conservative councillor Greg Smith, cabinet member for residents' services, defended the fee, saying:
"Taxpayers do not expect businesses who are trying to make money out of our parks to get a free ride on the back of their taxes and these businesses do need to pay for the necessary licence.”

Fees can range from £350 to £1,200 per year. Some small business owners fear they could end up paying £3,500 per year, effectively putting them out of business or forcing them into making unsustainable price rises. With such wide scope for applying this new rule it could lead to a heavy handed approach as councils attempt to extract as much money as possible. If Hammersmith and Fulham are successful in raising revenue there’s no doubt other councils will follow suit.

Of course for big events like concerts, organisers should pay but there is not one clear point at which councils should introduce a fee.  A good guideline could be the number of people involved in the activity, but there is also clearly a distinction to be drawn between commercial activities and community activities.  There is a spectrum here, not one simple point at which is right or wrong to charge, yet the danger is that Hammersmith and Fulham Council have cast the net too wide in this case.

Local residents already pay for their parks and their upkeep through taxes, they should be free to use them for leisure and community purposes in return, it’s unfair to foist this extra charge on individuals who happen to conduct a small part of their business in the park.  This fine is also unenforceable in many cases, how will the council prove that a couple running together are personal trainer and client and not simply friends?  What if two friends are out for a jog, will they be harassed by park police for a license?

Some councils seem loath to look at ways of increasing efficiency and reducing spending, although Hammersmith and Fulham have done plenty in the past.  Councils shouldn’t be using inane fines to try to generate further revenue, hitting ordinary taxpayers who are already feeling the pinch.  The last thing anyone wants while relaxing or exercising in the park is to be hassled for a license which few will be aware they even need.

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