Local Government Officers, Pragmatism and Creativity during Austerity – The case of Urban Green Newcastle

Siobhan Daly*, Rachael Chapman, Andreja Pegan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


In the UK during austerity non-statutory services such as parks have been subject to funding cuts. Local governments face pressures to identify transformative financial solutions to parks provision and to protect parks as public spaces. Yet, how local government officers tackle the problem(s) of parks and balance these demands is under-explored. This article discusses how local government officers led the transfer of Newcastle upon Tyne’s parks from local government to a new entity, Urban Green Newcastle (UGN) a charity and company limited by guarantee.
Working within a project framework and across the local authority, as well as in consultation with the public, we show how local government officers crafted narratives to legitimise their work and to provide an ex-post rationalisation for: (i) the need to act creatively; (ii) the changes to democratic accountability and control in the new model; and (iii) the risks involved in creating UGN. The article deepens our understanding of the agency of local government officers during austerity via its attention to legitimisation narratives. More specifically, for the first time in debates about parks, we show how local government officers contribute to the (re)conception of parks as public spaces through the negotiation of alternative narratives of parks management, governance, and democratic accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number1
Early online date26 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024


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