Wyre Council moves to clarify decision to trial permits for fitness instructors to use outdoor spaces

Fitness instructors hit back at plans to introduce permits to work on council land last week, but the authority moved to reassure them the scheme remains "a free trial."

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 3:45 pm

The decision to introduce permits in for fitness instructors and personal trainers (PTs) was met with controversy after Wyre Council said permits would cost £25 a year.

It U-turned on the fee the next day, instead announcing the scheme would be a "free trial" to make best use of the green spaces and beaches in the borough.

Some instructors were unhappy with the decision, which was branded "bad timing" following a long period of lockdown where they were unable to work in gyms, instead relying on outdoor spaces.

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Wyre Council has moved to reassure fitness instructors in the borough that its decision to implement a trial of a permit scheme is to ensure "people are using the best possible space," and that those using them are "insured and qualified." Photo: Pexels

The council said last week that it would "look to introduce a small admin fee from next year if the scheme works well" during the pilot, but has since confirmed there has been no agreement to do so at this stage.

Use of “the beach” was also specified as an area requiring a permit, but the council said it had not confirmed which stretches yet as it was still liaising with its coastal team.

The decision to trial a permit scheme was “officer-led” rather than made by councillors, it added.

Instructors should apply for one permit to provide a specific number of venues and classes, but the number issued will "depend on demand" and is unknown by the council at this stage.

Council leader David Henderson said: “I have seen an increase in the use of parks and open spaces over the last three weeks, and while I feel it’s great that people are doing that, there’s such an increase that it does warrant some form of control.”

Encouraging instructors to use the best space for activity sessions was the purpose behind the permit scheme, the council said.

It will also “evaluate how many instructors have signed up, and how many continue to use council parks and open spaces without a permit.”

A spokesman said: “Recently there has been a huge increase in people using our parks and open spaces for personal training and fitness classes, which is brilliant and we welcome this. This is exactly the kind of thing that we want to see on our land.

“We just need to make sure that people are using the best possible space and that those offering classes are insured and qualified. We also want to make sure there are no clashes with other trainers or events and that there is plenty of space for the public too.

“As such we are trialling a pass for PTs or trainers wanting to use our land for this kind of thing. There is no charge and one pass can cover a number of locations and sessions.

“Our intention is not to control what’s taking place but to highlight the opportunities available and manage our sites effectively with public safety in mind.

“This is especially important at this time while Covid restrictions are still in place.

“We want to encourage more instructors to use our spaces and have more activities taking place. By knowing what’s happening on our land we can help trainers to promote their sessions and the public can have confidence that the activities are safe.

“Please note this is a trial at this stage and we welcome any feedback.”