Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust Chief Executive named

The following announcement has been made by Newcastle City Council:

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 Cross 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.

The above news story was issued by Newcastle City Council and included on the Newcastle City Council website. It has been included here for information and does not necessarily represent the views of High West Jesmond Residents’ Association. 

Lending a hand path tidying along Lodore Road

The Lending a Hand group of volunteers have been busy tidying up the path along Lodore Road, High West Jesmond.

Here is a photograph taken by Chris Morgan who was visiting High West Jesmond at the time and spotted the work party busy with their work.

Chris commented on our Facebook page:

“What a team spirited group. Think they may have persuaded me to do another history walk first Sunday in June 2019. Will have to check diary to confirm in the New Year.”

That’s certainly something to look forward to – last year’s Walking the Bounds of High West Jesmond was a well attended and interesting event.

UPDATE: The Walking the Bounds 2019 will take place on Sunday 2 June 2019. Details will be posted to this website nearer the time.

FOVALD caring for our green spaces

FOVALD (Friends of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park) is a small voluntary organisation based in High West Jesmond.

They have adopted the Valley from the City Council and  Little Dene Park from the City’s Freemen (it is part of the Town Moor).

FOVALD also look after the original Little Dene as a nature resource.

On Tuesday mornings, FOVALD organise’s a group called Lending a Hand that does the maintenance & improvement work on the green spaces in this part of High West Jesmond, as well as keeping all the other verges and paths in the area tidy.

Many thanks to FOVALD and to the Lending a Hand group for their ongoing work to enhance our community green spaces.

Annual Ward Priority Setting meeting

Residents are invited to attend a meeting with Dene & South Gosforth Ward councillors to help determine the priorities for the ward for the year ahead.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday 24 July 2018, 7pm at Trinity Christian Community Centre, Lartington Gardens, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 1SX.

The meeting is scheduled to finish at 8.30pm.

Trinity Christian Community Centre, Lartington Gardens, Gosforth

Topics for discussion

According to the agenda for the meeting (available on the Dene & South Gosforth Ward Committee meetings page of Newcastle City Council’s website), the meeting will feature:

  • an update from Northumbria Police – from A/Sgt 918 Wilson
  • an update from Graham Grant, Newcastle City Council on Transport Schemes including
  • Killingworth Road, Haddricks Mill roundabouts and Blue House roundabout
  • an update on community groups and community action across Dene & South Gosforth Ward (this will include both our local community groups – the High West Jesmond Residents’ Association and the Friends of the Valley and Little Dene – FOVALD)
  • ward finance including grant applications
  • agreement of priorities and action of Dene and South Gosforth Ward 2018/19

According to papers on Newcastle City Council’s website, Dene & South Gosforth ward has been allocated £3,565 to spend (amount is before decisions on grants currently under consideration).

Share your view with Council survey

The council has also set up a survey and invited residents to complete this – you can find this survey on the council-run Let’s talk Newcastle website on the Dene and South Gosforth Annual Ward Priorities Meeting page.

The following information has been issued by Newcastle City Council:

Membership of Dene and South Gosforth Ward Committee

Councillor Wendy Taylor, Councillor Karen Robinson and Councillor Henry

Watch the short YouTube video to find out more:

General Information on Ward Annual Priority Setting meetings

Each of the 26 Wards of the city will hold 1 annual targeted event to identify
ward priorities.

Annual events will be led by Ward Councillors in consultation with local
residents and stakeholders to share identified draft priorities and seek
validation and commitment for collaborative solutions with partners and the
community and voluntary sector.

Ward priorities will be agreed for the following 12 months and will inform
ward committee budget expenditure.

Annual events will focus on priorities for the ward and what we can do in
partnership, encouraging all stakeholders to be part of the response

Identified ward priorities will inform a work programme / action plan for the
ward and we will work directly with communities based on core themes of
active citizenship, building community capacity, behavioural change and
developing community partnerships.

Common themes will be considered where joint action plans can be
developed to avoid duplication and promote best practice.

Agenda for meeting

A copy of this agenda is available on the Newcastle City Council website on the Dene & South Gosforth Ward Committee meetings page.

Further information can be obtained from the Communities Officer:

Louise Cameron Tel:0191 277 1786 Email:

The above ward committee meeting details was issued by Newcastle City Council and included on the Newcastle City Council website. It has been included here for information and does not necessarily represent the views of High West Jesmond Residents’ Association. 


Creating a Wildflower Meadow on the Valley

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Park invite you to help with work for the wildflower meadow.

Like to help create a wildflower meadow?

Well come along and join us in sowing wild flower seeds along the banks of the Valley on Sunday 6 May 2018.

All welcome – families, children, students – anyone interested in nature.

Equipment provided but strong shoes will be required.

Meet at 10am on the Valley, Lodore Road.

The Friends of the Valley and Little Dene (FOVALD) was established to manage, maintain and protect the open spaces in High West Jesmond known as The Valley and Little Dene.

Read more about Friends of the Valley and Little Dene (FOVALD).

Newcastle Parks Trust – Council holding feedback sessions

Newcastle City Council are to hold feedback sessions regarding the creation of Newcastle Parks Trust.

In November 2017, after research, discussion and consultation, Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet approved the proposal for Newcastle’s parks and allotments to be managed by a new charitable company (with ownership staying with the City) supported by the National Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.

Recruitment of Chair and Trustees

The next stage of this project is the recruitment of the inaugural
Chair and a Board of Trustees (all voluntary roles).

The posts can be found listed with Guardian Jobs Online: (closes 12 February 2018).

Feedback sessions to residents planned

The Council would also like to feedback to the public, in person, at 4
locations around the City to explain what the council’s Cabinet has decided and what will happen next.

The sessions will be on:-

Sat 10 Feb 2018 – 12pm – 1pm – Jesmond Dene Visitor Centre

Mon 12 Feb 2018 – 7pm – 8pm – Nunsmoor Centre

Tue 13 Feb 2018 – 7pm – 8pm – Civic Centre Armstrong Room

Sat 24 Feb 2018 – 12pm – 1pm – Civic Centre Collingwood Suite


2017 FOVALD Annual Report

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Annual Report

2017 Committee Annual Report

Although 2017 was a dormant year in terms of organised events on the Valley, it did prove to be significant for two contrasting reasons.

Thank you Warwick

The first was, sadly, losing Warwick Ogden. From his family home he had overlooked the Valley since the early 1970’s and soon became the “guardian” of what was a rather neglected open space.

The Valley, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne – mid 1960’s

He witnessed and contributed to the renaissance of the Valley from being a sparsely surrounded field in the years following the Council’s 1960’s tipping contract, to the beautiful open space that it now is.

He was one of our founder members. So we owe a big thank you to Warwick for all his efforts over 45 years.

The Valley, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne in 2016

Lending a Hand

The second is that FOVALD members spread their wings during 2017.

As well as looking after the Valley surrounds and the Little Dene, a sub-group was formed, Lending a Hand, to do the landscape maintenance work in HWJ that the City Council has stopped doing, mainly on Moorfield, Little Moor and  Freeman’s Park (which we now know as Litle Dene Park)).

The group meets once a week and started in early March.

By December, over 1 km of footpaths had been edged; approx 140 barrow/bag loads of leaves collected; and lots of trees & shrubs pruned.

One of the aims is to recycle all compostable material.

FOVALD adopts further park

Freeman’s Park is Town Moor land and the quality of our work persuaded the City’s Freemen to agree to FOVALD adopting the park on a similar basis to the adoption agreement that we have with the City Council for the Valley.

This means that we have responsibility for looking after all of the open spaces that abut HWJ to the north and west, i.e. the Valley, Little Dene and Freeman Park.

All lie within the City’s defined “wildlife corridor”, so we have the opportunity to introduce changes that will not only benefit and enhance the landscape but also wildlife.

So a big thank you to all residents who have contributed.

Little Moor path – the start of work by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand group, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne
Little Moor path – nearly finished! Work undertaken by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand group, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne

The Landscape     

There was little change to report  regarding the Valley’s trees & shrubs.

The ash trees have not succumbed to “die-back” and even the old lilac on the north side, which predated the 1962 “levelling contract”, continued to bloom.

It was good to see “Joanna’s” cherry tree, on Lodore Road next to the garage, starting to make a significant contribution!

Two pear trees and another apple were planted close to an existing apple tree in the north-east corner, close to the blackberry patch – perhaps the start of a “community orchard”?

There are  2-3 trees in Little Dene that are overhanging Lodore Road that will probably need intervention during 2018.

More work was undertaken keeping weeds at bay and it is good to see that the hollies & hazels planted 5 years ago are gradually starting to form an understorey.

A lot of shrub pruning and tree “crown lifting” was carried out on Freeman’s Park, to improve visibility both within and alongside the space and to improve the structure of the plants.

A landscape action plan was produced for 2018 which received approval from the Freemen. This includes the further pruning of trees & shrubs bordering Little Dene flats, which will be the subject of consultation.

A disappointment was the loss of a substantial part of a beautiful “choisya” bush through vandalism. We are hopeful it can be nurtured back to prime condition.


During last winter, bird feeders were placed on the Valley close to the Little Dene.

They have attracted a variety of birds. The most notable seen on the Valley being a woodcock, a bullfinch and a lesser spotted woodpecker.

A recent bird survey in Jesmond Dene also recorded sightings of bullfinches and the lesser spotted woodpecker, plus many species that were recorded in the 2016 FOVALD survey.

This is good news in that it is evidence of the wildlife link between Jesmond Dene and the Valley & the Little Dene.

Grey squirrels continue to occupy the trees in our area.

However, it is also interesting to note that otters have recently been seen in the Dene beside Fisherman’s Lodge.

Several years ago, footprints were seen in the mud beside the culvert entrance in Little Dene and it was suspected, at that time, that the prints may have been an otter’s. Another possible wildlife  corridor link!

Use of the Valley and Freeman’s Park

Without doubt, the most popular use of the Valley in 2017 was dog walking and adult socialising!

People walk around the Valley at all times of the day, with early mornings and lunchtimes being times when people tend to congregate, chat and network.

It has been described as an “outdoor community centre”!

The dryer summer months saw the usual ball games, picnics and “congregations” – large numbers of young people meeting on the Valley on some summer evenings.

Freeman’s Park is different. It is a place to pass through rather than a destination.

However, it is an attractive space and the 4 seats available are frequently used by residents wishing to sit and relax before continuing their journey.

It may be useful to undertake a user count during 2018.

Freeman Park (now also known as Little Dene Park) after maintenance work carried out by FOVALD, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne
Joanna’s cherry tree, the Valley, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne

Committee of Friends of the Valley and Little Dene
February 2018

Read more: You can read more about the work of FOVALD and see a plan of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park on the FOVALD page.