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Newcastle’s pioneering Parks Trust appoints founding Chair and Board of Trustees

Newcastle City Council is delighted to announce Jim Beirne MBE as the founding Chair of the Newcastle Parks Trust. He will be supported by a series of senior and experienced Trustee appointments to govern the new, independent charity from next year.

Newcastle Parks Trust is the City Council’s innovative response to budget cuts of over 90% following seven years of national austerity. With growing concerns about the future of its green estate, the Council, determined to protect the City’s precious parks and allotments from further cuts, decided to establish the new charity back in November 2017, ensuring that Newcastle’s estate flourishes and grows.

The national search for the new charity’s first Board of Trustees began earlier this year.

Jim was appointed following a rigorous recruitment process, with support from the National Trust, and his experience, profile, strong charitable background, and overall contribution to the civic and cultural life of the city make him an outstanding candidate for founding Chair.

The remaining Board appointments are an 11-strong panel of Trustees with a wealth of backgrounds and expertise, including two Council nominees.

Jim has successfully led Live Theatre since 2000 as Chief Executive, overseeing its development as one of the leading new writing theatres in the UK, with many of its plays touring nationally and internationally, garnered with prestigious accolades including an Olivier Award.

Innovation in its work with children and young people has seen the recent opening of Live Tales, a children and young people’s writing centre based in the new Live Garden on Newcastle’s Quayside and Sunderland’s Fire Station.

Under Jim’s direction Live Theatre has undertaken a £19 million capital development creating a social enterprise model that includes a cultural hub of award winning buildings and restaurants and is now recognised as one of the country’s most enterprising cultural institutions.

On announcing his appointment as Chair, Jim said:

“I’m delighted to be taking on the role of Chair of this independent charity.

“It’s an exciting new chapter in the City’s history as the parks play a vital role in the social and economic wellbeing of our communities. I look forward to working with the Trustees, the team, the city and many other stakeholders to take forward this innovative new initiative.”

The pioneering Parks Trust was developed with support from the National Trust and investment from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) it has also factored in valuable input from the public following city-wide consultation and extensive research.

The Trust will be the first purpose-built charity set up to take on an existing portfolio of parks and green spaces across an entire city.

The new charity, which will take over the running of parks and allotments in 2019, has a number of significant benefits.

As an independent charity, Newcastle Parks Trust will be absolutely focussed on making sure Newcastle’s parks and green spaces deliver for the city and its people - this will be its charitable purpose.

Income generated in the parks will be reinvested back into the Trust, supporting the parks and green spaces across the city. The model will also provide greater opportunities for funding, public engagement and participation.

Newcastle City Council will make a total of £9.5 million revenue contribution to the Newcastle Parks Trust over the first 10 years of operation, a sign of its unwavering commitment to the future of the city’s parks and allotments, despite operating in increasing financial uncertainty.

Development of the Parks Trust is ongoing. Residents and stakeholders have recently had the opportunity to input into the new arrangements through a city-wide programme of engagement, and work to recruit a Chief Executive to drive forward the business of running the parks estate continues.

Councillor Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Public Health, as well as new Vice Chair of the Trust said:

“I am thrilled to announce Jim Beirne MBE as the Chair of the Newcastle Parks Trust.

“He joins a strong, passionate and varied board of trustees that will drive the vision for the Parks Trust forward and help to create and maintain stunning green spaces across Newcastle.

“Our parks are valuable assets and loved by our residents, they are a big part of what makes Newcastle a great place to live, work and visit and this group, expertly led by Jim, will help to deliver this ambition.”

Find out more about the Parks Trust
  • Arts Council England
  • Community Foundation
  • European Regional Development Fund


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