Who is Urban Green Newcastle?
Urban Green Newcastle is an independent charity responsible for the management, maintenance, restoration, development and protection of 33 parks and more than 60 allotment sites in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Why was Urban Green Newcastle formed?
Spending on parks, allotments and green spaces across the country had hit an all time low. In Newcastle upon Tyne, Council spending reduced by 90% over seven years. It was clear a new approach was needed to secure the future of Newcastle’s open spaces.
Newcastle City Council, working in partnership with National Trust and National Lottery Heritage Fund, carried out an extensive consultation exercise and developed an outline business plan for a new independent charity to manage, maintain, restore, develop and protect the city’s parks and allotments.
Urban Green Newcastle was formed in April 2019.
What does Urban Green Newcastle do?
We breathe life into Newcastle’s parks and allotments, connect people to nature, and improve the health and wellbeing of all families and communities in Newcastle by providing safe and well maintained parks and allotments.
- Help more people from a wide range of backgrounds to enjoy our beautiful and vibrant open spaces, which will always be free to access and enjoy.
- Invest to ensure our parks and allotments are safe and welcoming, that they are clean and well maintained open spaces.
- Deliver exciting events, including arts, cultural and educational activities; as well as opportunities for sport, exercise and play in the city’s parks and allotments.
- Encourage local people to be connected to and committed to our parks and allotments. We’ll provide opportunities for people to come together, get involved and feel proud of their green spaces.
- Ensure our wide range of trusted partners continue to value our parks and allotments and are committed to helping invest in our spaces.
Our long-term targets are ambitious. Working with the people of Newcastle we will:
- Increase annual visitor numbers across by improving and enhancing the visitor experience.
- Increase the number of trees on our estate.
- Boost the number of volunteering hours in our parks and allotments.
- Work toward all our parks having Green Flag awards.
- Increase the value our spaces contribute to the health and wellbeing of the people of Newcastle by proactively promoting new activities and opportunities.
- Aim to be carbon negative by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than our activities create, to positively address the climate change emergency.
What role does the local community play in shaping the work of Urban Green Newcastle?
Newcastle’s amazing parks and allotments would not have survived over the years without the hard work and dedication of many volunteers, Associations and Friends groups.
We are so grateful for all the people and groups who have given up their time and energy to support the parks and allotments, and want to build upon this and find new ways of working with supporters.
We've established Urban Green Connect and Urban Green Park Action to help us communicate with as many people as possible about what they want to see happening in our parks. We're also continuing to work with our Friends of groups, volunteers, the Parks Forum and others, with a genuine commitment to listen and involve as wide a range of stakeholders as possible.
How can people engage with Urban Green Newcastle?
At the heart of the charity is our desire to work in collaboration. We want everyone with an interest in Newcastle’s parks, allotments and green spaces to be able to contribute to their future.
We have begun work to develop individual action plans for each of our 33 parks, which are being carried out in consultation with local communities. As part of the process, we have established Urban Green Park Action so park users and stakeholders can work with us and help identify challenges and opportunities.
Urban Green Newcastle staff are active within the parks and allotments they maintain every day. They are available for anyone to approach and to receive feedback / comments about the parks and allotments. You can contact us here.
We aim to provide the best possible facilities across our parks, however due to the urban nature and abundant food sources both outside and within parks through litter, waste and other items, Newcastle’s parks are no different to any in the country and will be home to a range of wildlife, including rats.
We do however take each report seriously, and have a Pest Control Service Level Agreement in place to look into areas where there are excessive sightings, and if necessary escalate to our service provider for advice and remedial action. (Wherever possible, we aim to avoid the use of poisons and seek alternative solutions appropriate to the setting.)
In the meantime, we are trying to encourage everyone to help out when visiting our parks by avoiding dropping litter, picking up after their dogs, taking home food waste from picnics and not leaving too much food for the birds.
I'd like to volunteer, who should I contact?
If you're interested in volunteering with Urban Green Newcastle, please go to urbangreennewcastle.org/volunteer or send your full name, address and contact details to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can, please state any skills, experience or special interests, as well as any specific parks you'd like to volunteer in.
Please note that we are currently reviewing our application process, but we will reply to any volunteer enquiries as quickly as we can. As lockdown hopefully continues to ease, we are hoping to recommence more activities and events very soon. In the meantime, if you’ve not already registered to receive updates about our activities and events, you can do so by signing up to receive our newsletter and our team will be posting regular updates on our website and social media channels.
How do I find out about Newcastle's proposed National Park City campaign?
London was crowned the world’s first National Park City in July 2019 following a six year campaign that saw its residents and businesses commit to make the capital a city where people, places and nature are better connected.
The city of Newcastle is currently exploring whether it should launch a campaign to become the UK’s next National Park City. Urban Green Newcastle has arranged a series of consultation events with local partners, businesses in the city and members of the public, to discuss what the campaign might look like and what it could achieve.
How is Urban Green Newcastle funded?
Urban Green Newcastle is an independent charity and receives funding from a variety of sources. Our annual accounts are published on the Charity Commission website. We generate our own revenue to pay for operations via fundraising, grants and commercial activities. All funds are reinvested back into the parks and allotments and we aim to be meeting our annual running costs by generating £2m each year by 2027.
How is Urban Green Newcastle structured?
Urban Green Newcastle is led by Chief Executive, James Cross - former Chief Executive of Natural England, the Government's environmental advisor and regulator responsible for the creation of the National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Nature Reserves. It has a staff of 30, a Board of 13 Trustees, which includes representatives from Newcastle City Council; and a Membership, appointed by the Trustees, which includes representatives from seven organisations including Newcastle City Council, University of Newcastle, National Trust, Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria University and the Natural History Society of Northumbria.
What is the role of the Trustees?
Trustees set the strategic direction of Urban Green Newcastle and, through the Chief Executive, oversee the business of the charity and ensure that its strategy is delivered.
Trustees receive no financial remuneration but can claim reasonable expenses (e.g. travel to meetings, sustenance if required). The Chair of our Trustees is Jim Beirne, Chief Executive of Live Theatre in Newcastle.
Who is Urban Green Newcastle accountable to?
Urban Green Newcastle is a charitable company limited by guarantee so it must comply with statutory accounting and reporting obligations. Our Board must prepare an annual report to accompany its accounts each financial year setting out how the charity has been governed, how it has furthered its charitable objectives and what it has achieved for its beneficiaries the residents of and visitors to Newcastle upon Tyne.
This report will be available to the public through the Charity Commission's website, Companies House website, and urbangreennewcastle.org.
Company Members act as the gatekeepers and custodians of Urban Green Newcastle. The Members are entirely separate from the Board and therefore can hold it to account for its actions. Their role is to appoint the first Auditors, and they are able to remove Trustees from the Board where necessary.
Urban Green Newcastle’s Board will establish a community representation group, which will advise the Trustees on how to ensure its activities can support all areas of the city, its residents and relevant interests.
Once a year, we will also produce a report to the City that will outline what we have done in that year and what our plans are for the year to come.
If members of the public are unhappy with anything Urban Green Newcastle has or has not done, they can raise issues through our complaints process. It is expected that Ward Councillors will engage with Urban Green Newcastle to share any ideas, concerns or raise questions on behalf of residents.