Fitness trainers and professional dog walkers may have to pay hundreds of pounds a year to use parks in Carlisle, a move that has triggered wider industry debate.
The city council is the latest to plan a raft of charges, from £300 a year for "lowkey" commercial use such as dog walkers, £1,000 for big events such as circuses and £200 for fee-charging community events such as charity runs. Food-sellers will pay £50 a day.
Should the charges be approved, they are due to start next April in Bitts Park, Hammonds Pond and Rickerby Park. They tap into an "emerging market" of use of parks for commercial activities, said the council's assistant director Angela Culleton. "The charges enable us to recover the costs of putting the parks right afterwards."
The proposals follow a pilot in Bitts Park last summer for an event as part of Love Parks Week. It raised £1,705 from a sponsor, fair owner and two catering companies.
Parks consultant Sid Sullivan said: "The charges do not generate a commercial rate of return that covers all costs. It is a distraction to the main purpose of the parks - either we want their benefits or we want a glorified market place with all of its disadvantages."
But parks consultant Stewart Harding said: "There's nothing wrong with charging commercial enterprises, as the private sector benefits from the improved environmental quality that parks provide. New York charges a voluntary window tax on businesses that overlook Central Park and has raised considerable sums."
Proposed annual cost set by local authority for low-key users in Carlisle's parks - £300.