Runners and walkers taking part in a series of regular weekend events were caught short when public toilets were still closed at 9am last weekend.
The decision by Brighton and Hove City Council to delay opening toilets until 9am affected, among others, hundreds of parkrun participants.
They were surprised to find the doors still shut in Preston Park, Brighton, in Hove Park and on Hove seafront – and the seafront toilets turned out to be closed for refurbishment.
Brighton and Hove’s parkrun ambassador, Labour councillor Nancy Platts, has challenged the council’s decision. She has been an active parkrun participant for seven years, starting before she was elected.
Councillor Platts said that she was disappointed that the usually good relationship between parkrun and the council had been tarnished by the lack of consultation.
More than 1,500 people a week take part in the five events affected by the toilet closures.
After runners lobbied the council, it has agreed to revert to opening the toilets in Preston Park and Hove Park at 8am at weekends.
But Councillor Platts said that she was frustrated that there was no solution to the potentially lengthy closure on Hove seafront.
She said: “We are pleased that the council managed to organise toilet opening times so that Preston Park and Hove Park are opened first on a Saturday and Sunday which enables those events to go ahead as usual.
“There is a deafening silence to my question about why there was no consultation or even some notice given to any of the five parkrun teams.
“There are two junior events on a Sunday in addition to the three 5k events affected on a Saturday.
“There has been no real acknowledgement of the fact that this is a basic need and that there are wheelchair users and people with medical conditions, pregnant women, etc, who also walk the course for exercise.”
Fellow Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson has asked for a timescale for the refurbishment of toilets in King’s Esplanade.
He said: “Hundreds of people take part in the Hove Promenade parkrun which goes through my Central Hove ward every Saturday.
“This is a very popular and successful event, attracting walkers, joggers and runners of all ages and all abilities.
“As a council, we should be doing all we can to support our residents in exercising and removing any barriers to that.”
The council said: “We are having to change opening times and close more of our public toilets this winter due to rapidly rising costs and staffing pressures.
“Some toilets are also closed awaiting refurbishment. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience. We are prioritising keeping our busiest public toilets open.
“We have rearranged our work schedules so we can continue to open the toilets in Preston Park and Hove Park from 8am to support the parkruns in those areas.
“The toilet block at King’s Esplanade, on Hove seafront, is now closed pending refurbishment. We do not have a specific re-opening date at this stage.
“The public toilets at the King Alfred are a 10-minute walk away – so there is an alternative for this location.
“We would obviously also advise people to use their own toilet facilities before leaving their homes.”
The timed 5km parkruns are free to enter and start at 9am each Saturday for all age groups at five locations – Hove Park, Hove Promenade, Preston Park, East Brighton Park and Bevendean Down.
A shorter junior 2km run for youngsters aged 4 to 14 starts at 9am on Sundays at Hove Park and Preston Park.