Friday, 17 August 2012

A Reply...


I've had a reply to my e-mail from HBC. Here's the full communication so far - just so everything's totally transparent:

Dear Ms Ward

It has been brought to my attention and from reading the local newspaper that you are holding fitness activities on The Stray.

Although there isn’t a problem with you using The Stray to hold these activities, as events, The Council does need to manage activities that take place on land that it manages, and as with Park Run we need to ensure that you have completed a sufficient risk assessment and hold public liability insurance to a minimum of £5 million and have completed the relevant paperwork, we also need to ensure that the staff holding the activity have sufficient qualifications to carry out these activities.

Please can I ask that you submit the relevant information prior to continuing your activities on The Stray.

A copy of the relevant paperwork can be downloaded from our website at or please feel free to contact me via the details below.

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your e-mail. I've informed the group that we can no longer meet to run as I have neither a qualification or PLI. I wasn't aware that this would be required, as we are just like minded people meeting to go for a run. No education takes place, and everyone signs a sheet to say that they are running entirely at their own risk.

I am going to be taking a Leadership in Running course in a couple of months and will look into PLI, however this won't be until October.

I do feel that this is an area that requires clarification - where are the boundary lines drawn? If I were to text a couple of friends to see if they wanted to go for a run, would that be okay - what's the maximum number before this becomes 'an event'? Please don't think I'm being facetious - I've just had a lot of people get in touch to say that it's unclear - and I don't know what to say!

Happy to abide by any rules, would just be good to have all the facts.

I have to say though, I thought HBC would be more supportive of a free running support group that encourages fitness and a healthy lifestyle, especially on the back of the Olympics. 

Anyway, totally appreciate you're just doing your job, would just like clarification if possible.

Thanks so much,


Dear Sam,
I can understand how frustrating this is, as with any organised event we do need to ensure that these activities are carried out in a safe and secure manner, we also need to know who is using any Harrogate Borough Council land, to ensure that these activities don’t clash alongside other activities.

We encourage people to use the facilities, just sometimes we have to check we are happy with what is taking place, I would ask that if any of your friends or colleagues are thinking of similar projects that they take a look at our event paperwork  at  which will give you some idea of the details we need.

Running along The Stray with a couple of friends or family is fine, that’s what the area is to be used, you just need to be a little more careful when you start to carry out these sessions on a regular basis and are inviting people or groups to attend, we felt that your piece in the local paper was maybe some kind of advertising campaign, which is why it was brought to my attention to have a look at.

I am happy to help you move things forward as quickly as possible, but think for the time being you need to look at getting some sort of qualification, and for the protection of yourself and those taking your sessions you will need to have public liability to a minimum of £5 million.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further help

So that's where we're at. Thoughts?

Sam x


  1. So, I surmise from the above: Running with family and friends is fine?! When does something become an event then?! If you have a family of 12 is that too many?!

    Also, if I were to invite friends to play football and do this every Sunday at 2pm, do I then need public liability insurance?!

    If you are not making money from it, no advice is being given, and people understand that they are there are their own risk, then the council can't enforce this.


  2. That's a bummer isn't it?! Can understand their viewpoint in terms of covering the council for any potential injury claims, etc but they still haven't really made clear what they define as an 'event'. How many people? How often? etc. It's very ambiguous.

    Maybe you should just start & end the running group outside the park in a public area and run a route through it? Technically, your event isn't 'in' the park then - just passing through it?

    Hope you manage to sort something out though, as you said in your email - you'd think councils would be more supportive in wake of the Olympic legacy, etc. Hope your hip is holding up ok for Berlin too!

  3. As ever with HBC they don't answer the direct question you ask! They state that it is council-owned land but the land belongs to The Crown (the Queen) and they simply manage it. The Stray Act 1985 gives them the authority to maintain, preserve and improve The Stray but CVlause 5 clearly states that "The inhabitants of The Borough shall have free acces to and a privilege at all times of enjoying recreationupon The Stray without payment but subject to the provisions of this Act".

    I can't see anything in The Act that gives them the right to ask you for what they have so in this respect it would seem on the face of it they are exceeding their authority under the act, possibly even illegally.

    To this end, I would ignore them!


  4. Thanks, guys! I've been given the name and contact number of the Head of Parks so I'm going to give him a call and have a chat. Radio York asked him for a statement and he seemed to think we might not need everything the other gentleman has asked for. Hopefully this will be the case and it will all blow over - I'll let you know! Either way, I think they need to come up with some actual guidelines so we all know where we stand.

    Sam x

  5. Council backing down and someone suggesting we don't need what's been asked for!? LOVE IT!

    We've created a monster! x