Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust appoints its first Chief Executive

James Cross
James Cross

James Cross, the former Chief Executive of Natural England, has been selected as the first Chief Executive of Newcastle’s pioneering Parks and Allotments Trust.

For the last four years James has led Natural England, an advisory body working with central government that is responsible for the creation of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Beauty and National Nature Reserves.

James has also worked as part of Open Access to countryside, the network of National Trials 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. He also has strong North East connections and is a Board Member and Trustee of the University of Teesside.

James will work closely with Jim Beirne MBE, the current Chief Executive of Live Theatre, who has overseen numerous innovative commercial cultural partnerships. Jim was selected as the Chair of the Trust in July, alongside a founding Board of Trustees, made up of 13 individuals from a variety of backgrounds and with a wealth of expertise.

Both James and Jim, as well as the other trustees, were recruited by a panel of experts that included Newcastle City Council Councillors, Officers and representatives from the National Trust.

Newcastle Parks and Allotments 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 parks and allotments from further cuts - decided to establish the new charity back in November 2017, to ensure that Newcastle’s green estate continues to flourish and grow.

The pioneering Trust is being developed with advice and support from the National Trust and with investment from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and its development has also benefited from valuable input from the public following city-wide consultation and extensive research.

Following the announcement James said;

“The parks, allotment and green spaces in and around Newcastle are amazing and enhance our lives by providing a place right in the heart of our communities to improve our physical and mental wellbeing, to play sport, to practice our hobbies or to spend time with our friends and family.

I am over the moon to be able to work alongside the people of Newcastle to find new ways of strengthening these connections, forging new ones and investing in the parks future.”

Speaking on behalf of Newcastle Parks Trust, Chair Jim Beirne MBE said;

“I am delighted to welcome James Cross on board as Chief Executive of the Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust, he brings a wealth of experience from Natural England, to compliment the local and business experience on the board, to drive the Trust forward as a truly innovative partnership”

Councillor Kim McGuinness, Newcastle City Council Cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Public Health said;

“I am delighted to welcome James into his role as Chief Executive of the Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust.

The experience, passion and dedication that James has shown throughout his career, and his experience leading Natural England make him the perfect candidate to drive forward our vision for this innovative charitable trust.

Our Parks are valuable assets and loved by our residents. They are a big part of what makes Newcastle a brilliant place to live, work and visit and the Board of Trustees will work closely with James to keep parks at the heart of our city”

Following the rigorous selection process to appoint the Chief Executive, Chair and Board, the Trust is now in a strong position to take the next steps in its development and will begin the process of registering itself as a charitable organisation.

The Trust will take on the care of Newcastle’s parks and allotments in 2019.