Council proposes hefty new fees for Hillingdon’s outdoor fitness coaches
by TOM CRAMP
Fitness instructors using Hillingdon’s parks to deliver their classes may be forced to pay over £1,000 in annual licence fees from April 2021.
The new scheme was proposed due to local residents’ complaints last summer regarding ‘loud and vocal’ fitness instructors holding their classes as early as 06.30am at weekends and weekdays. Reports of athletic equipment such as skipping ropes, kettle bells and jogging weights being strewn across walkways have also been brought to the Council’s attention.
Under the proposed rules, borough residents delivering group classes more than seven times a week will have to pay £981 per year, while non-residents will pay £1,090. Instructors delivering 6 sessions per week will be charged £490 for Hillingdon residents and £545 for non-residents.
The Council could also charge a replacement fee of £20 for each subsequent replacement of the photo identification.
Many instructors and coaches took advantage of the open spaces whilst indoor activities were banned under the tier system laws. Tennis coaches were also coming from outside the borough to use Hillingdon’s free courts to hold paid sessions.
The IKB Insider spoke to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ian Edwards, regarding the issue. He said: “Quite simply, the maintenance of our parks and open spaces costs taxpayers money. What we have are people setting up their businesses and instead of setting up classes at gyms with the normal expense, decide to freeload off the back of the taxpayer.
“We have to take a stand here, this is a commercial activity you’re carrying out here, seeking to replace business overheads with free accommodation and free equipment, all provided for by the public. You need to respect what you’re doing and there needs to be some control.”
Health and safety is also an issue the Council is looking at, with the new scheme requesting coaches to provide information on: emergency procedures, first aid, a site map of proposed class location, Child Protection Policy & DBS, REPS Level 3 and evidence to demonstrate compliance with insurance.
The scheme was initially set to be discussed in January, but it has been pushed back to a Council cabinet meeting on the 22nd April 2021.