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The Parks Trust is moving closer to financial sustainability, says chief executive

He was speaking at the charity’s annual public meeting, at which it presented its Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2016-17.

The success of its commercial property portfolio and investments has generated an improved financial position on the previous year, which has enabled the trust to continue to manage the parks, woodlands and lakes across the city to a high standard and to invest in new facilities in the parks.

The Parks Trust is also getting closer to achieving its objective of long-term financially sustainability, Mr Foster said.

Around 100 people attended the meeting, held at the trust’s head office in Campbell Park Pavilion.

Mr Foster pictured said: “When looking at our financial performance it is important to remember that we are entirely self-financing and receive no money from the government or council tax.

"All our work is funded through our commercial property, our investments and various enterprises on our parkland including the leisure activities at Willen Lake, cricket bat willows and our farming.

“This is why our target of becoming financially sustainable is so important if we are to continue to be able to manage, maintain and improve the city’s green spaces while weathering any financial storms that may come our way in future.”

The audience also heard from The Parks trust chairman Richard Forman and events and community engagement manager Julie Dawes. They gave the audience an insight into what the trust has planned for 2017/18 and beyond.

Questions at the meeting included those about The Parks Trust’s role in the new green space being provided in the expansion areas.

Mr Foster said: “With the really good developers we are very involved and there is a coherent and sensible process for the design, implementation and transfer of new green space.

“But in some areas the landscape is being dealt with as an after-thought and this leads to travesties, such as some of the lovely old agricultural hedges in the Western Expansion Area being sold off piecemeal to individual housebuilders who are proposing to set up local management companies that will impose an annual charge on the new households to pay for their upkeep.

“It is such a shame especially as we have a tried and tested model that has been working well for 25 years.”

Another questioner asked what the trust could do to help Milton Keynes Council maintain its landscape to a better standard. Mr Foster said the trust was keen to explore ways to do this in the coming year.

After the meeting, he said: “Our Annual Public Meeting is a key event for us as it is the way we account to the people of Milton Keynes.

"The parks, lakes, woods and landscapes are such a significant part of the fabric of Milton Keynes. The green space continues to play a vital part in the success of the city, both culturally and economically and it is really important to us that people have confidence in the way we are managing them and in the Trust.

“This is particularly important when you consider the large-scale investments that are currently being made into our green spaces, with Willen Lake part-way through a multi-million pound improvement programme and projects shortly due to commence at Furzton Lake and Campbell Park.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the parks of Milton Keynes can be enjoyed by all, both now and in the future, and this would not be possible without the hard work of our staff, volunteers and trustees.”

To download The Parks Trusts’ Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2016/17, visit www.theparkstrust.com/annualreport 

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