|Fitness Trainers Hit With Park Charges|
Council asking sports businesses to pay for licence
There has been an angry response to a new Hammersmith and Fulham Council policy which requires personal fitness trainers to pay a fee if they wish to train clients in local parks. Some are claiming the charge will effectively drive them out of business.
A new annual fee was introduced this month for commercial sports and fitness organisations - it costs £350 for a personal trainer and £1,200 for a large commercial sports organisation. The charge covers all the parks in the borough. This only applies to organised sports and fitness companies/businesses and the Council say they have the support of one business - British Military Fitness - in implementing the charge.
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."
The Council has dismissed claims in the Daily Mail that the charge would apply to all 'businesses' using parks including dog walkers, nannies or teachers.
A spokesperson for the Council said, "H&F Council positively encourages people to use our many parks and open spaces for sport and exercise. However, taxpayers do not expect businesses who 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. If anyone in the borough runs a business from an office, they have to pay business rates and similarly if someone wants to trade in the street, they would need a licence, and if anyone wanted to hold an event in a park, they would need to hire that out for a fee."
In addition the Council say that the move guarantees the relevant insurance, liability, qualifications are in place and helps pay for the upkeep of the park.
A local service provider who asked not to be named said of the move, "We operate on tight margins and the charge will make many classes uneconomic for smaller operators and sole traders. This Council has been remarkably business unfriendly for a Conservative Council."
27 April 2010