In local news this week we see that West London Council has introduced a £350 tax for fitness instructors to use any number of parks and open spaces within the council’s remit.
This controversial decision has caused mixed feelings amongst park users who question the practicalities of enforcing such a fee. One person told the BBC:
“If people are running around, I really can’t see how the council can install a tax like that. How many people will say they are friends rather than personal trainers?”
The Conservative Council perhaps unsurprisingly defended its decision to impose the tax telling the BBC:
“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. This is about ensuring residents using the park are safe, as there are issues surrounding insurance and liability should anyone be injured, and also the parks have to be maintained. If trainers were to hire space elsewhere in a club, for example, they would spend much more than if they bought a licence.”*
As a fully neutral, (totally unsarcastic) news-reporting blog, here at Newsbites we felt unqualified to form any opinion on this cunning money making scheme. Therefore, in order to offer you, the reader a fully rounded view we turned to Graham, our man on the ground, always happy to give us an opinion on any subject.
Graham scratched his head contemplatively before coming up with this offering on the subject:
“I think the National Rivers Authority want a cut, due to the grass being watered by rain, which has come from water vapour that has risen, cooled, etc… some of which has come from rivers! It has put me off exercise for life, and photography… might be charged for taking pictures of the trees… If I exercise Milly in a park will she have to pay too?”
We presume Milly is his dog… but think he is kept entirely more interesting the less we know about him, so do not ask.
An opposing view from one member of the public we asked was:
“Well, I can’t see the harm. The council gets money, the trainers raise their fees and they get money. It’s win, win. Does anyone actually lose?”
Well, we did a bit of investigative reporting into how much it would cost to buy a field in and around London. You can purchase a six acre woodland in Kent for £45,000. So, if 129 personal trainers wanted to get together and make a one off payment of £350, instead of an annual one they could purchase their very own six acre wood to train in. Alternatively, an extremely antisocial fitness instructor could pay off their own field for 129 years, and feel like they were investing rather than being taxed.
In the mean while, however, anyone hoping to use the parks of West London for anything other than recreation had better have their licences ready to flash the park patrol.
BBC article available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13195576