March 7 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 6, 2013
A personal trainer has become one of the first to be taken to court for not getting a licence to train clients on Primrose Hill.
Fitness coach Alexi Ajavon, 43, has been summoned to Highbury Corner Magistrates Court after refusing to pay for a licence to train in the park, which can cost up to £1,620 a year.
Under controversial rules brought in this summer by Royal Parks, which runs Primrose Hill, all personal trainers must get a licence to be able to use the green space.
Mr Ajavon, who trains clients in one-on-one sessions on Primrose Hill, says he will not be forced into paying “for the grass”.
“I have been training in Primrose Hill for the last 10 years,” the Queen’s Park resident said. “I am training individually, not in big groups of five or 10.
“It’s because of these big groups that everyone has to pay now. But I refuse to pay anything, it’s a matter of principle.”
Police have stopped him twice in the park after the rules were brought in, issuing him a warning for not having a licence.
When he continued to train clients without one, he then received a letter in the post summoning him to court for breaching the law.
He thinks he is one of the first to be prosecuted for not having a Royal Parks fitness licence.
“I understand groups of 15 people can dominate the area for other people who want a quiet space but I have to pay for the year when realistically, I only do it for three or four months of the year. “Nobody understands it. Everyone I speak to supports me. But the police are talking to me like I’m a criminal.
“I am not going to pay for the grass. It’s a public space. If you stop that, they will stop anyone enjoying themselves. They could soon stop picnics.”
French-born Mr Ajavon, who came to London in 1995, has defiantly said he will continue to train in the park after his court case and will refuse to pay a fine if he is sentenced.
A Royal Parks spokesperson said: “We welcome anyone who wants to use the parks to get fit.
“But we must strike a balance between individuals using the parks for recreation and relaxation and businesses operating for commercial gain.
“Our fees for commercial fitness operators are relatively modest with all income invested in maintaining and conserving the parks.”
Mr Ajavon will appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on Monday, December 16 charged with being a personal trainer in a Royal Park without permission.