A GWENT council looks set to relinquish control of a centuries-old charitable trust after its chief executive admitted that funds had been mismanaged.

The Usk Grammar School Foundation, founded in 1624, could be handed over by Monmouthshire council to a group of local trustees after years of apparently overlooking the fund, valued at £1.8 million.

Pressure is mounting on the local authority after a two-year investigation into the handling of the funds, launched by eagle-eyed public figure Lord Raglan, uncovered eight suspected breaches of charity law.

Community groups in the Usk area could be in for a £50,000 windfall from the foundation every year if campaigners get their way.

After being confronted by the evidence, Monmouthshire council's chief executive, Colin Berg, wrote to Lord Raglan acknowledging "problems in the administration" of the foundation.

He also admitted a failure to distribute the charity's income "in accordance with the relevant scheme", and expressed his personal support for the transfer of the charity's assets to a board of trustees consisting of residents.

Campaigners including Usk town councillors are now lobbying their counterparts in County Hall to authorise this handover.

The Usk Grammar School Foundation was founded for the benefit of boys and girls in the town, to fund their education and extra-curricular activities, using the personal fortune of Roger Edwards, a wealthy benefactor who died in 1624.

Monmouthshire council became the sole trustee of the charity, which owns land and buildings in and around Usk, including the old grammar school in Maryport Street, which now houses Monmouthshire youth services.

Lord Raglan, president of Usk Civic Society, and his friend Martyn Llewellin, a retired accountant, harboured concerns about the council's management of the fund.

The investigation was taken up by local solicitor Hamish Sandison, who reported his findings to Usk town council last night.

He told the meeting at the Sessions House that the Charity Commission had recommended transferring the assets to local control.

Alec Leathwood, chair of Usk town council's finance committee, praised the investigative work of Lord Raglan, Mr Llewellin, and finally Mr Sandison, who provided legal advice free of charge.