Thursday, 23 August 2012

Goodbye, Run Harrogate

Hi Everyone,

It is with heavy heart that I have made the decision to end Run Harrogate for the time being. I can't actually do the qualification they're asking for until October at the earliest - so carrying on is impossible.

Here's the last communication I received from HBC - I don't feel they've answered our questions regarding what constitutes an 'event', but wanted to share with you so you can make up your own minds:

Dear Miss Ward


Further to our email correspondence regarding the 3K Run Harrogate being held each Thursday on The Stray, I have now heard a little more about your event.

Based on the information the council now has, it appears that you are operating a Running Club.  In fact you have yourself thought about public liability as you say you have asked everyone taking part with Run Harrogate to sign a disclaimer form.  It will be for you to decide whether that disclaimer would cover any liability you may have personally for running the Club.

The council has to make sure, when organised events are taking place on public land it owns or manages, that all public liability is being met and that appropriate risk assessments have been carried out so that it can take into account the safety and well-being of those involved.  This is the climate we have to operate in and you may wish to clarify your own liability if you are to continue and/or expand the Club. 

As I have said earlier, running on The Stray with friends or family is fine, that’s what the area is to be used for.  But when sessions are carried out on a regular more formalised basis and you are inviting people or groups to attend (as your piece in the local paper was doing), then we have to consider this as an organised event and one which has to follow guidelines put in place to protect not only those taking part but other users of the council’s facilities too.

The council is very happy for such organised events to be held on The Stray but there are guidelines for organisers who should:

  • check with the land owner or those responsible for it (Harrogate Borough Council in this instance as managers on behalf of the Duchy of Lancaster) that they are happy for this organised activity to take place on their land.

  • follow the guidelines set out for the use of that piece of land for that specific event or activity; these would be assessed from the application form submitted by the applicant.

  • have sufficient public liability insurance, and also has sufficient skills to provide the event or activity in a safe manner.

We also ask such organisers to read and sign, as part of the application form, a section which indemnifies the council as follows - 

I understand that organisers must indemnify the council against all actions, claims and expenses arising directly or indirectly out of the event or the presence of any of the organisers or of their goods and materials present on the land during the event or not properly removed therefrom unless the claims and expenses are as a result of the negligence of the council, its agents or officers.

The guidance notes and application form are attached and we will happily help you complete the application form.  You may want to think about contacting the Athletics’ Association who will also be able to give you advice and guidance particularly in relation to insurance.

If you wish to carry on with your run informally with just your friends or family, then that will be fine and we will be happy for you to do so.  But if you do wish to carry on with the Running Club then we will have to ask you not to promote it to the general public until you have followed the guidelines in regard to insurance and risk assessments.

Please let me know what you decide to do.

Here's my reply:

Dear Mr Middleton,

Further to your e-mail below, I can confirm that Run Harrogate has now been disbanded.

I have sent out a Tweet to that effect, and will be closing down the Twitter account within the next week.

It's such a shame that the encouragement of physical activity (I maintain that this was a support group, not a club) is so discouraged by HBC - especially when just over a quarter of adults were classified as obese in 2010. I'm sure you don't need to be made aware of the serious health risks associated with obesity - not to mention that it's set to cost the NHS around £6.3 billion in just three years' time.

Whilst you make it clear that The Stray is available for all to use - perhaps a review of what constitutes an event - and indeed the way in which communications are made - is necessary. I feel that 'events' like Run Harrogate should be supported - encouraged, even. You could supply contact information for the relevant organisations (Run England, insurance companies etc) on a simple fact sheet - at least that way you're seen as being slightly more helpful.

Still, thank you for taking the time to contact me and review our situation.

Kind regards,


So, there we have it. Consider the CLUB disbanded.

Luckily, I have met some lovely friends through Run Harrogate - and I hope that we shall all continue to run together every Thursday evening. Same time, same place.

Much love,

Sam x


  1. Garbage! So, 15 people turn up this week, and then come back next week to run without any encouragement (tweeting/emailing)... does that constitute friends or family running?! Or is that still an organised event?!

    Or maybe I should sit at home, eat pizza (for starter), followed by curry, with a Chinese for putting because the council won't let me go out running with a support group?!

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