A NEW scheme that sees personal trainers in Wokingham borough require permits for outdoor sessions is to be scrapped.
As of today (Saturday, August 1), the Outdoor Fitness Training Permit is required to enable even one-to-one training sessions, with prices starting at £500, rising to £1,500 if there are more than 10 people per gathering.
It applied to all parks that are run by Wokingham Borough Council and also required trainers and coaches to have public liability insurance for £10 million.
Announcing the scheme on Thursday, Cllr Parry Batth, the executive member for leisure at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “This permit gives personal trainers and coaches a different option of venue for their clients.
“We’ve an abundance of fantastic parks and open spaces in our borough which are perfect locations to have fun, get fit, and boost physical and mental wellbeing during these tough times.”
But the scheme was met with horror once it was announced and Wokingham Borough Council are now planning a U-turn, as they are trying to encourage fitness and outdoor exercise and acknowledge that times have been hard for the sector.
READ MORE: Wokingham Borough Council launch compulsory permit for outdoor fitness coaches — starting this Saturday
Cllr John Kaiser, the executive member for finance, told Wokingham.Today that the fees were agreed back in November as part of its budget planning, but pledged to take action.
“It is suspended and it will be cancelled on Monday,” he said.
“We should have been on the ball, we’ve been really busy with Covid-19. This permit may have been appropriate in a pre-Covid environment, but not post-Covid.
“We will cancel it.”
And in a statement on social media, he said: “I believe these fees were agreed pre Covid, back in November as part of the Budget round, since then the world as we know it has changed and due to Covid19 and we have paid out some £40m in grants to companies large and small and supported some 5,000 vulnerable people shielding during lockdown as well redeploying staff to assist in all manner of care around the borough, we understand a lot of people in the leisure and training industry have and continue to have a difficult time financially.
“This is obviously something we need to review, much as we have with the £105million we have in the capital program which we have deferred due to Covid 19.
“Yes, I guess you could suggest we should have been on this sooner but as you can imagine we have had our hands full steering the borough through some pretty choppy water over the last few months and we will be addressing this matter as quickly as possible.”
Cllr Clive Jones, the deputy leader of Wokingham’s Liberal Democrats, was one of those who was critical of the plan.
“There was no consultation that we can find with personal trainers,” he said. “To announced it in a press release and expect personal trainers to pick up a form, return it and have a day to do it in and get public liability insurance – it’s impossible and unnecessary.
“It’s another bad decision from the Conservatives.”
He added that if the Lib Dems were running the council, they would have taken the view that this wasn’t the right time to “take money from people with little or no income for the past four months”.
“It’s been badly thought through, not the right thing at this time. It’s all about making money, the fast-buck mentality of the Tories.”