Newcastle has become the first major metropolitan authority in the UK to establish an independent charitable trust to run the city’s parks and allotments.
The city council’s cabinet approved the proposal for a Charitable Parks Trust on Monday evening after three years of planning and one of the council’s biggest-ever public consultations.
A statement from the council said the decision was taken ‘in light of central Government funding cuts’ which have resulted in a 91% fall in the parks budget over the last seven years.
The council will make a £9.5m revenue contribution to the Trust over the first 10 years of its operation.
‘This is the first time that a charitable trust has been set up to manage parks and allotments on such a large scale, and I am delighted,’ said the council’s cabinet member for culture and communities, Cllr Kim McGuinness.
‘Swingeing Government cuts of more than 90% to our parks budgets left us with no option but to look at alternative ways of running our open spaces – spaces that are vital to keeping this city a safe, clean and green environment where people can relax and enjoy their leisure time.
‘We have worked for many months with the National Trust, Social Finance and Heritage Lottery Fund to bring this plan to life and we are proud of what we have achieved so far.’
‘Let me assure people that all money raised in the parks will be spent in the parks and their future remains in public ownership for everyone to enjoy,’ he added.
Harry Bowell, director of the North for the National Trust said: ‘The National Trust is very supportive of Newcastle City Council’s decision to set up a new independent charity to care for their parks.
‘We believe that setting up a Parks Trust is a great way to secure the public social and health benefits that parks offer for the long term.
‘We will work with the new charity to help it get off to the best possible start and share learning with other local authorities interested in finding sustainable ways to secure the future of their parks and green spaces.’