The Newcastle Parks Trust is the City Council's innovative response to budget cuts following a 90% reduction in funding over the last 7 years.

The City Council values all of its parks and allotments and decided to create the new body in November 2017 to ensure they continue to flourish and to protect them from further cuts.

The council has worked closely with partner organisations, including the National Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund and has developed the Trust following extensive engagement with the public across the city.

The charitable trust, the first of its kind in the UK, will take over the running of parks and allotments in 2019 and will be led by a Board of 13 trustees along with James Cross, who will be the first Chief Executive of the Trust. 

Chief Executive - James Cross 

James Cross James Cross is the former Chief Executive of Natural England, an advisory group that works closely with central government and was responsible for the creation of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Beauty and National Nature Reserves.

Before taking over his role with Natural England James was also part of Open Access to the Countryside, the networks of National Trails and was the Custodian of the Countryside Code, playing a vital role in developing and delivering positive experiences in open, green spaces and parks across the country. 

James has strong connections to the North East and is a Board Member and Trustee of the University of Teesside. 


Following an application process we are thrilled to introduce the founding Newcastle Parks Trust Board of Trustees.

Jim Beirne MBE FRSA D.Litt (hons)


Jim Beirne MBE Jim has been Chief Executive of Live Theatre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne since 2000, overseeing its £19 million range of capital investment.

Jim is trained as a composer and musician, writing for a range of projects at various national festivals and venues such as the South Bank, ICA and Dance Umbrella. Prior to moving to Newcastle he was Director of Performing and Combined Arts for Yorkshire Arts Board (now Arts Council Yorkshire).

Jim is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and has been a trustee of the TMA (now UK Theatres), the Sage Gateshead and Leeds College of Music a former Chair of Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues & Board Member and Chair of Nominations at the International Society of Performing Arts.

He was awarded an MBA in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2012 and received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Northumbria University.

Kim McGuinness – Cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Public Health, Newcastle City Council


Kim McGuinness Kim is one of two City Council appointed trustees, alongside Cllr Marion Williams.

Kim was first elected to Newcastle City Council as a Labour councillor in May 2015 and was appointed to her role as cabinet member in June 2016. She has taken a lead role in a variety of sporting and cultural projects, helping secure prestigious sporting events for the city and overseeing efforts for the Great Exhibition of the North.

She leads for the city on public health, ensuring the city’s mental and physical wellbeing is at key focus of the council.

Kim is passionate about Newcastle and promoting a vibrant, healthy city, thriving on its sport, heritage and culture.

Kim is a trustee of Sport Newcastle, the Heart of the City Partnership (Newcastle Castle) and is Vice Chair of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

Kim was born and brought up in Newcastle upon Tyne, attended Newcastle University and graduated in 2006. Professionally, Kim has worked in private sector finance, universities and more recently at a senior level in educational and environmental charities.


Brian Aitken

Brian Aitken Brian was Editor of The Journal for over 10 years and started his own business “Brian Aitken Associates” in March 2015. His current clients include Newcastle United, Newcastle College, Changing Lives, UK land estates and Troo.

Val Keen

Val Keen Val works in the Homelessness Division at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Val has led on the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act until recently and is now part of the Rough Sleeping Initiative.

Val has previous experience of housing associations, local and central government and voluntary and community sector, focusing on a broad spectrum of issues including young people’s services, social investment and homelessness.

Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron Rob is the owner and director of the recently opened By The River Brew Co., The Bridge Tavern, The Town Wall and Wylam Brewery which sits proudly in The Palace of Arts in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park.

Rob has worked in the licensed trade for over 25 years and has vast experience of owning and developing new cafes, bars and restaurants as well as outdoor festivals and events.

Rob has already supported the development of the Trust and played a part in the initial consultation process.

Paul Collings

Paul Collings Paul runs a selection of small businesses that supply children’s play, sports and leisure equipment across the country.

Having successfully run these businesses for several years, Paul will bring knowledge and business acumen that will help to generate funding opportunities for the parks.

Paul is also aware of the challenges facing local authorities and the threat this can present to parks and green spaces.

Tricia Cresswell

Tricia Creswell Tricia recently retired following 36 years of working for the NHS and Public Health England with roles ranging from Director of Public Health for Newcastle and North Tyneside and Deputy Medical Director for the North East Strategic Health Authority.

Tricia is passionate about tackling health inequalities and is a strong advocate for access to green spaces to improve both physical and mental health.

Kate Culverhouse

Kate Culverhouse Kate is the Executive Director of Groundwork having led the merger of 4 North East trusts in 2009.

Her career with Groundwork has seen her progress from a Project Officer to Project Manager and Operations Manager.

Kate lives in Darlington and is actively involved in the in the local voluntary sector, including being a member of the Darlington Community Carnival Committee.

Nigel Emmerson

Nigel Emmerson Nigel is a solicitor and partner in Womble Bond Dickinson UK LLP law firm, based on Newcastle Quayside.

Nigel specialises in real estate law and has worked with the firm for over 26 years where he is also the firm’s Head of Innovation.

Nigel has also sat on the board of Byker Community Trust for the last 5 years.

Ella Ritchie OBE

Ella Ritchie OBE Ella spent her whole career at Newcastle University, initially as a lecturer in European Politics before moving into senior management positions and becoming the Deputy Vice Chancellor.

Since retiring from her work with Newcastle University she has continued to work in the higher education sector as a consultant and has worked closely with Newcastle City Council on projects such as the Fairness Commission and Learning Challenge.

Ella has lived in Newcastle since 1975 and has a deep attachment to the city.

Gina Tiller

Gina TillerGina is the current chair of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and has helped transform the organisation which has since moved up the performance tables to provide better health services for the people of North Cumbria.

Gina has valuable experience of working on multi-agency boards and is excited to help shape Newcastle’s parks in an innovative and exciting way.

Councillor Marion Williams

Councillor Marion Williams Marion is one of two City Council appointed trustees, alongside Cllr Kim McGuiness (Vice Chair).

Marion Williams is a Councillor for the Callerton & Throckley ward.

She has significant experience as a Trustee of high profile organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and as a Director of the older Civic Trust, The Cockburn Association.

Marion is extremely passionate and supportive of the development of the trust and management of the city’s parks.





Alan Schofield 

Alan works for Morrison Data Services which provides a variety of services to utility companies. Alan is a qualified accountant and has worked in varoius business sectors including IT and property development, 

Alan was born and brought up in Newcastle and has spent all of his career in the North East. 



Page last updated: 
11 December 2018
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