Parks Trust's assets rise in value despite recession

Money-spinning events and canny investments have helped the Parks Trust, which manages green space in Milton Keynes, bump up the value of its assets by millions of pounds in just one recessionary year.

Parks Trust said it had strengthened its financial position despite challenging economic times. "More than 80,000 people went to events and we spent more than £4m on the maintenance and improvement of green spaces," said chief executive David Foster.

"Net assets grew by £12.2m to £69.3m from land sales, gains from stock-market investments and an increase in value of our commercial property portfolio.

"Nearly all park maintenance is funded from our investments. Property is our biggest asset, but income comes from park events - weddings, fairs and music."

Foster said trustees came from both the private and public sector as well as some volunteers. Being self-financing, the trust was "pretty well insulated" from the spending review, he explained.

The trust recently borrowed £30m to buy property and increase rental income. Current projects include new ponds, more wild flower planting, a redesign of the main central space, Campbell Park, and 280 educational programmes.

New staff include landscape officer Nick Siggs, contracts manager James Cairncross, rangers Susi Jensen and Dawn Morland, events and education ranger Nikki Gudka, events and recreation co-ordinator Julie Dawes and apprentice craftsmen Alec Hussey and Andrew Cream.

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