Meet the Trust

The Newcastle Parks & Allotments Trust was created by Newcastle City Council.

The charitable trust, the first of its kind in the UK, took over the running of Newcastle’s parks and allotments from April 2019 and is led by a Board of 13 trustees along with James Cross, the first Chief Executive of the Trust.

James Cross

James Cross

Chief Executive

James is the founding Chief Executive of Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust, our pioneering new charity operating in partnership with the people of Newcastle. Together we are making sure our wonderful green spaces, right in the heart of our community, flourish and grow.

Formerly the 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. He oversaw Open Access to the countryside, the network of National Trails including the England Coast Path and was the custodian of the Countryside Code. 

James is also the Chair of Newcastle Parks Enterprises, the founder and Chair of Teddy’s Towers Charitable Trust, a Partner with Westgate Consultancy, a Trustee with the University of Teesside and a member of its Audit and Risk Committee.

Previously he was Chief Executive of the Marine Management Organisation, the Government’s regulator and manager of England’s seas, responsible for maintaining healthy fish stocks, regulation of off- shore wind farms and the protection of marine habitat and species; and a member of Defra’s Executive Committee, where he was responsible for strategic leadership and governance of The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 

James is an Executive Coach, a Chartered Director and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Jim Beirne

Jim Beirne MBE FRSA D.Litt (hons)

Chair

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

Kim McGuinness, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Public Health, Newcastle City Council.

Vice-Chair

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

Trustee

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.

Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron

Trustee

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

Trustee

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 Cresswell

Trustee

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

Trustee

Kate is the Chief Executive of Groundwork North East, having led the merger of five Trusts in 2009 after being the Executive Director of Groundwork in West Durham.

Her career in Groundwork started nearly thirty years ago and throughout that time she has supported and worked with numerous communities throughout the region  and championed environments as places to be proud of, encouraging the need for high quality and accessible open spaces for the benefit of local people.

Kate is actively involved in the voluntary sector across the region, from supporting local initiatives in her home town in Darlington, such as the Darlington Community Carnival and their local Hospice,  to sitting on various Trusts and  boards including the Northern Inclusion Consortium, Bluestone Consortium and The Land of Oak & Iron Partnership Board.
 

Nigel Emmerson

Nigel Emmerson

Trustee

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.

Val Keen

Val Keen

Trustee

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.

Ella Ritchie

Ella Ritchie OBE

Trustee

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.

Alan Schofield

Alan Schofield

Trustee

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

 

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

Gina Tiller

Gina Tiller

Trustee

Gina 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.

Marion Williams

Councillor Marion Williams

Trustee

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.