Newcastle consults on transfer of parks and allotments to new charitable trust

“Newcastle City Council is to consult on a new funding, management and maintenance model for 33 of the city’s parks and allotments.

The proposal, if implemented, would see Newcastle’s parks and green spaces (comprising more than 400 hectares of land) remain the property of the city council but day-to-day responsibility for funding, managing and maintaining them transferred to a charitable trust.

The council has been awarded £237,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to test the approach.

This money will be used to: construct a business case and legal structure for the trust to operate the council’s parks and allotments; and if implemented, put the governance in place and deliver training to the new trustees, staff and volunteers.

The HLF has, together with the Big Lottery Fund, already invested more than £12m to restore and upgrade the city’s parks. It has been calling on local and national government, communities and businesses to explore innovative ways to fund and maintain public parks.

Newcastle said the scheme had been designed “to help tackle the financial challenges facing the local authority, where park budgets have been dramatically reduced”.

It pointed out that parks were not a statutory service for local authorities but many recognised their vital importance to the health and well-being of local communities.

The city council is working alongside the National Trust to deliver the project. The authority will also explore whether an endowment could be put in place to support the proposed trust, and is required by the HLF to share its findings about the scheme with other councils.”