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Bark runs! Unlicensed trainers blamed for tree damage in Primrose Hill

“These trees don’t grow overnight but they can be damaged in barely a second"

16 July, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Jenny McCririck said personal trainers are ‘trashing’ the park

TREES are being damaged in the pursuit of fitness by “unlicensed” personal trainers on Primrose Hill.

The Royal Parks said the lockdown saw a “surge of people using trees as part of their workout in open spaces” due to the closure of gyms.

A spokesperson for the agency which manages the park added: “We believe that most of the people flouting the rules are unlicensed fitness operators, and therefore have not signed up to our code of conduct which clearly states that using trees and park furniture is not allowed.

“Affixing items to trees is prohibited in the Royal Parks and is in breach of our regulations.”

Joanna Reeves, who lives nearby and founded the iloveprimrosehill.com website, said: “During the lockdown accredited trainers weren’t allowed to train and that’s when non-accredited trainers moved in.

“The worst thing is they have been throwing restraint bands and bungee ropes over branches and around tree trunks for their various exercises and the trees aren’t strong enough to sustain that day after day.

“These trees don’t grow overnight but they can be damaged in barely a second.”

Jenny McCririck, who lives nearby, said: “This was happening before the pandemic happened but when lockdown started it got so much worse. There’s so many of them, especially in the morning, shouting, playing loud music and using and pulling on the trees – just trashing the park really.”

Ms McCririck, wife of the late horse-racing commentator John, added: “It’s not fair on the trees or on those who want to use and look after the park. Licensed trainers pay hundreds of pounds a year to train clients in the royal parks so these people who are unlicensed are making a nice little number.

“There’s a lack of supervision and when we go to Royal Parks they tell us to call 101 if we see anything but, when I have done that the operator has said the police are too busy and officers seem reluctant to enforce park rules and refer us back to park management – we’re going around in circles.”

Licensed personal trainer Anthony Mayatt said: “I rely on the park for my livelihood so I respect the park. I’ve seen unlicensed trainers even hanging boxing punch bags off tree branches, which is crazy.”

He added: “If they ban all trainers because of them, it will destroy my business, but until there are more checks on licences, they will keep thinking they can get away with it.”

A Royal Parks spokesperson said: “We have informed the police of the issue and they are responsible for enforcement of park regulations.”

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