The Parks Trust, the self-financing charity that manages over 6,000 acres of Milton Keynes’ green space, held its Annual Public Meeting yesterday, where it published its Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2020/21.
The Parks Trust’s annual report shows that they are in good financial shape, with a healthy increase of £12.9m in their net assets which brings their total endowment fund to £129.3m. The Trust managed to achieve these figures in a very tough year largely due to performance of its investment portfolio. In addition, the Trust released two small areas of land for development and received additional endowments in return for several areas of new greenspace it took on in the year.
It is from these investments that the Trust generates the bulk of their income to pay for the work they do caring and maintaining the parks and green space in Milton Keynes. With the Charity being entirely self-financing, the financial strategy is to grow the asset base to an extent where it can be considered financially sustainable for the long term.
This year, The Parks Trust hosted their annual public meeting at Campbell Park Pavilion, the Trust’s head office. They also offered a live stream of the event, via their Facebook channel, which proved very popular. The Annual Public meeting allows residents of Milton Keynes to hear about The Parks Trust’s work as charity throughout the city as well as giving the opportunity to ask questions to the organisation. A video of the meeting is available on their YouTube channel.
David Foster, Chief Executive, gave an overview of the year which started with the Board having to agree significant cuts to all expenditure including staff pay and benefits as a precaution. As the year went on the loss of income from the Trust’s commercial property portfolio was not as severe as first expected and with the various government support grants including the furlough scheme the Trust was able to reinstate many of the proposed cuts and deliver on a number of key park improvement projects. These included the Remembrance Walk at Newlands, Middleton Wood Meadow and the impressive new watersports centre and café at Willen Lake.
The evening also included an introduction to Chair of The Trust, Zoe Raven, an update about National Lottery Heritage Funded project at Great Linford Manor Park by James Cairncross and Ellie Broad, the launch of the Trust’s new landscape proposition by Steve Revill-Darton and Operations Director, Rob Riekie spoke about the Trust’s tree management.
The launch of their MK inspirational landscapes document was a particularly important part of the evening. Steve Revill-Darton, Green Infrastructure Development Manager at The Trust said ‘The Parks Trust creates and maintains beautiful and inspirational parks, lakes and landscapes that will be loved by the people of Milton Keynes, forever. As Milton Keynes expands, we want to ensure all future areas of the city benefit from the same extent and quality of green space as is found in the established areas of the city. That’s why we’ve created the MK inspirational landscapes document, that details our vision for the future of Milton Keynes and its green spaces’.
The Trust are urging the public to support them and get behind this vision. You can read the full document on their website by clicking here.
David Foster also commented “Our events and activities programme are now in full swing in the parks with many fabulous events planned for the summer including the International Festival programme in Campbell Park and at the Tree Cathedral. As well as local schools making the most of the Trust’s outdoor learning opportunities. We are also really pleased to be able to welcome people back to the pavilion this year for our annual public meeting. During this year’s meeting we answered some interesting questions on use of glyphosate by the Trust, we had a question around the council’s bid for city status for Milton Keynes, another about accessibility in our parks and a discussion around the management of new parks that will be created in the MK East development and also at Tickford Fields”.
On a final note, David Foster announced that he will be retiring from The Parks Trust in 12 months’ time, having been with the Trust for 19 years. The board has put in place a plan for recruiting his successor who they hope to appoint before Christmas with a view to them starting in June next year.
To download a copy of their annual report, click here.