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Boot camps in Southend parks to be charged fee
7:30am Friday 18th January 2013 in News
BOOT camp instructors and personal trainers could be charged to use public parks for their classes.
Chiefs at Southend Council have proposed introducing a £150 annual fee for businesses which run fitness sessions for members of the public who want to get in shape.
Enthusiasm for the so-called “boot camps” has soared in recent years and bosses want to cash in on the boom as they strive to save £12million next year.
But sceptical instructors have questioned whether the new charge is entirely fair.
He was a serving paratrooper until last week, but quit the Army to focus full-time on the fitness classes.
He said: “The fee doesn’t seem too high and I’d be happy to pay it as I have always done things properly.
“However, it’s also true to say most of my clients are local people and they all pay their council tax to be able to use the parks.
“These sessions are becoming really popular and it’s a great way of encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle.
“I only charge £5 a session, but I suppose I may have to put that up in the future if my own costs rise.”
Vicky Hitchens owns Fat Loss Bootcamp, which runs sessions in Chalkwell Park.
She said: “The charge doesn’t seem extortionate at all, but there is the question of where do you draw the line?
“If we are being charged, when do you start charging people going for a group jog, or even walking their dogs?”
The £150 fee would grant businesses a permit to use any public land in the borough for fitness classes over 12 months.
Chelmsford Council already charges personal trainers for using its parks.
The idea will have to be signed off by all councillors before it can come into force in April.
However, the authority desperately needs to make dozens of cuts to plug the shortfall in Government funding.
Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory council leader, said: “If a public park is being used to host a commercial activity, then it is reasonable for a charge to be made.
“The exact details will be agreed when the proposal has been approved by council.”
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