Beccles Fen trust registered with the Charity Commission

A NEW trust formed to manage Beccles Fen has been registered with the Charity Commission bringing to an end a complicated two-year legal wrangle over the status of the lands.

In January councillors attended an extraordinary meeting and agreed proposals to accept the bylaws of the Beccles Fenland Charity Trust, which will manage the marshlands.

Under the new arrangements Beccles Town Council becomes the sole trustee of the charity.

Beccles Fen was granted under a charter during the reign of James I in 1605 but in recent times the town council, as registered freehold owner, has rented much of the land to farmers.

The money that comes in amounts to �40,000 a year and is the council’s third main source of income.

In early 2009, the Charity Commission launched an investigation into whether or not the land might have charitable status and it later wrote to the town council to say it does.

The change in status of Beccles Fen means the lands have to be run separately and be subject to specific rules and accounting procedures.

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A working party headed by town councillor Jeffrey Harris was established to explore the issue and the Charity Commission told the group it could see no reason why the town council should not become the charity trustees.

Mr Harris this week confirmed the Beccles Fenland Charity Trust was registered with the Charity Commission on March 3 in time for the new financial year.

He said Beccles town clerk Claire Boyne is establishing a separate bank account for the income and expenditure from the charity funds.

He added: “We have still got a bit of work to do next to transfer the ownership of the land from Beccles Town Council to the Beccles Fenland Charity Trust.

“The land owned by the current town council and registered with the land registry will be transferred to the Beccles Fenland Charity Trust in its entirety.”