THE CHARITY with responsibility for looking after Alresford’s historic Avenue is demanding the town council help it out with the costs.

Last month the New Alresford Town Trust revealed maintenance costs had been running at £9,000 per year for six years and it had recently spent £10,000 on tree work.

Robin Atkins, who is chair and treasurer of the trust, said: “We are a local registered charity set up in 1890 to take over the assets and responsibilities of the Bailiff and Burgesses of Alresford, including that of The Avenue.

“I believe – as do my fellow trustees – that New Alresford Town Council, who raise a precept on behalf of the residents, has a moral obligation to fund the majority of the annual costs of The Avenue and have made this view clear to New Alresford Town Council, with no response to our request.”

Mr Atkins’ belief that the council tax raising town council should contribute financially has a historical basis dating to the trust’s formation.

Since 1572 the borough of New Alresford and its income had been in the hands of nine men – one bailiff and eight burgesses – but the Municipal Corporations Act of 1883 abolished bailiffs and burgesses and replaced them with democratically elected parish and district councils.

The Bailiff and Burgesses of Alresford managed to resist this change until 1890 when they proposed using the Charitable Trusts Act 1860 to transfer the future administration of their rights and assets to a body to be known as the New Alresford Town Trust.

The Charity Commissioners agreed but gave just four of the nine trustee posts to the former bailiff and burgesses. The other five would go to nominated members of the soon to be formed New Alresford Parish – now Town – Council.

Despite the council’s majority on the board of trustees, Mr Atkins said previously the trust bore its costs “almost entirely” itself, with support from the Friends of The Avenue – 23 households in Alresford plus local firms Charters, Hellards, C&D Trees and Richard Steel, Funeral Directors.

The trust’s work in The Avenue – under the auspices of trustee Ernie Jeffs – comprises grass cutting, leaf collection, grass and soil cultivation, tree maintenance which includes the trees in Broad Street, bulb planting and general tidying.

The Herald has approached New Alresford Town Council for comment.