The Burgesses’ Land Trust.
The Burgesses’ Land Trust as we know it was established by an Act of Parliament on 17 September 1761 which enclosed certain common and waste lands. The original gift of those lands to the Burgesses of Pool (Welshpool) was made by Lord John de Charlton, Lord Powys, by his charter of 1324 (the seventeenth year of the reign of King Edward II).
The Trust holds assets including some of the original Burgesses’ Lands, although some have been developed for housing over the last century, to meet the trust’s obligations in law (Objectives). The trust is subject to scrutiny of the Charity Commission who can determine if the trustee is making best use of the assets available to it and who have the powers to administer the trust itself if it feels the trustee is failing in its role.
The Trust has two objectives. Only when the needs of objective one have been met can needs under objective two be considered.
Objective One is the maintenance of the edifices of the Borough of Pool. In modern parlance this means the enclosed buildings belonging to Welshpool Town Council i.e., those with four walls and a roof. Whilst the Town Hall can benefit the stand at Mae-Y-Dre is open on three sides and would not qualify.
Objective Two is for the relief of the poor and needy. In modern parlance this is for the benefit of the young and old. The trust cannot make grants to individuals but only to organisations involved in the care of the young, the disabled or disadvantaged and old people. The trust has a separate Objective Two Management Committee to administer the allocation of monies under this objective.
Unusually there is only one trustee that being Welshpool Town Council and more specifically the sixteen Town Councillors acting as one. This arrangement was set out in primary legislation of the 1761 Act of Parliament. The individual Councillors act as one with the Town Council as the responsible body, the Town Clerk is the person legally responsible for the Trusts operation.
But surely the Trust is for the General Well-being of the People of Welshpool?
This is widely held to the truth by many, especially older, people of Welshpool. However this is not the case and the Act of Parliament is very clear in setting out its Objectives. This Act of Parliament has been scrutinised by a leading expert in Trust Law, the Barrister Francesca Quint, and it is her opinion that has steered the Trust over the last seven years and she has guided the modern interpretation of the 1761 Act.
If you wish to make contact with the Trust you can contact the Town Clerk.