|The Rushden Echo, 18th August 1911, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Contracts and Wages
Disinfection Of Schools
A meeting of this Council was held on Wednesday night, when there were present:- Mr. J. Claridge (chairman), Mr. G. Miller (vice-chairman), Messrs. G. H. Skinner, F. Knight, C. E. Bayes, J. S. Clipson, T. Swindall, J. Spencer, W. Bazeley, and F. Ballard, with the Clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason), the Surveyor (Mr. W. B. Madin), and the Sanitary Inspector (Mr. F. J. Allen).
Plans, Etc., Committee
A meeting of the Plans, Highways, and Lighting Committee was held at the Council Buildings on Wednesday, the 26th July, 1911, when there were present:- Messrs. J. Claridge (chairman), G. Miller, C. E. Bayes, and Fred Knight.
were presented by:-
The Rushden and Higham Ferrers District Gas Co. for a shed on the Works and passed.
The Executors of the late Mr. E. Claridge for six new w.c’s to cottages in Orchard Place and passed.
It was resolved to commence full street lighting for the winter season on Saturday the 19th August next.
A letter was received from Mr. J. Nuttal resigning his position as road foreman. The resignation was accepted, and the Surveyor was instructed to advertise for a successor at a salary of 30s 0d per week.
It was resolved to allow Mr. James Whiting to continue to occupy the Fire Station Cottage rent free, he undertaking the position of caretaker of the Fire Station.
Mr. Skinner asked if they could not dispense with a road foreman by making certain men responsible for certain roads. He was about the streets a good deal and he saw very little need for a road foreman.
The Chairman: I don’t think there would be any economy in that.
Mr. Skinner: I think there would be a good deal in it.
The Chairman did not see how they could carry out such a scheme.
Mr. Bates asked if it was right that Mr. Whiting had a month’s notice to leave the fire station.
The Surveyor said it was necessary to give a month’s notice, as Mr. Nuttall was the caretaker.
Mr. Bazeley: This is really a reduction in the salary of the road foreman?
The Chairman: Yes.
The report was adopted, but Messrs. Bazeley and Spencer voted against a reduction of the road foreman’s salary.
Finance and Estates Committee
A meeting of the Finance and Estates Committee was held at the Council Buildings, on Tuesday, the 1st August, 1911, at 10 a.m., when there were present:- Messrs. J. Claridge (chairman), G. Miller, F. Ballard, W. Bazeley, F. Knight, and T. Swindall.
Surveyor’s Cash Account
The Committee examined the Surveyor’s cash account with the wages books the expenditure shown therein being as follows:-
The committee examined the Collector’s accounts, from which it appeared that the following sums had been collected since the last meeting:-
The Treasurer’s accounts were also examined from which it appeared that he had received the following sums since the last meeting:-
And that the following balances were in hand on the under mentioned accounts:-
Tradesmen’s and Other Accounts
A number of accounts, amounting to £848 0s 11d were examined and passed for payment.
The clerk read a letter from Mr. G. L. Gibson, the District Auditor, stating that he completed the audit of the Council’s accounts for the year ended 31st March, 1911, on the 13th July.
The report was adopted.
Health and Sanitary Committee
A meeting of the Health and Sanitary Committee was held at the Council Buildings on Wednesday, the 2nd August, 1911, when there were present:- Messrs. G. Miller (Chairman), J. Claridge, C. Bates, J. Spencer, T. Swindall, and the Ven. A. Kitchin.
Health and Sanitary Reports
The Medical Officer reported that five cases of infectious disease had been notified since the last meeting, viz., four of scarlet fever and one of enteric fever. Two cases of tuberculoses had been reported under treatment in Hospitals in Kent.
The Sanitary Inspector reported that since the last meeting 24 preliminary notices had been issued calling attention to various nuisances, etc., which for the most part had been complied with.
Four books belonging to the Public Library had been found in an infected house and destroyed. It was resolved to recommend the Council to replace the books.
The Inspector gave a detailed statement of his work during the past month.
With regard to the disinfection of the schools, the Inspector reported that he had received in reply a letter from the Secretary stating that if the Council desired to disinfect the schools they could have the use of the sprayer on payment of a fee and on condition that no part of the cost of the disinfection was charged to the Education Authority. The Committee thought there must be some misunderstanding with regard to the matter and the Clerk was requested to write to the Secretary of the Education Authority pointing out that the disinfection was recommended by the Medical Officer of Health and the Committee were under the impression that the Education Authority would find it more convenient for the Inspector to do the work than undertake it themselves. If the Education Authority preferred the latter course then the Council would serve the usual statutory notice.
The Clerk stated, in reply to a question, that the Education Authority had now requested the Council to carry out the disinfection.
The report was adopted.
An application was received for the renewal of the pawnbroker’s certificate held by Mr. Beaverstock, and the application was acceded to.
Contracts and Wages
Mr. Bazeley, in accordance with notice, moved that in all contracts entered into by the Council a clause be inserted requiring the contractor to pay the whole of the workmen such rates of wages and observe such hours of labour as are recognized by the workmen’s trade unions in the district; and that in the absence of trade union rates the Council themselves fix the rates of wages and hours of labour and specify the same in the schedule annexed to the general conditions of tender. Mr. Bazeley said similar conditions were inserted in all contracts by truly progressive bodies throughout the land, and he thought their experience in Rushden showed that such a clause was needed. To accept the lowest tender under all conditions was very unfair and public bodies ought to be model employees. Underpaid labour was the cause of the labour unrest to-day and was the cause of thousands of workers emigrating because they could hardly exist here. They knew that one contractor had very unfair advantage over another in the matter of wages and it was time the Council woke up and ensured better conditions of labour as far as they could. They could not have real efficiency from underpaid labour.
Mr. Spencer seconded the motion and thoroughly agreed with the remarks of Mr. Bazeley. He thought that, failing doing the work themselves the best thing they could do was to place all contractors on the same footing as regards wages and to see that the wages the Council paid were the best in the district.
The Chairman: It is usual for a Council to fix rates of labour?
Mr. Bazeley: Yes, in cases such as carting, where there is no trade union rate of labour, it is for the Council to fix the rate.
Mr. Ballard: It is a fact that one contractor pays lower wages than others?
The Chairman: I think that is what Mr. Bazeley means.
Mr. Ballard: I know that one contractor’s tender was much lower, but I understood he wanted the stuff. I did not know that there was any difference in the wages.
Mr. Bates: I believe there was 7/- difference in the wages paid by two contractors.
The Chairman: I don’t see how you can make them pay more wages.
Mr. Bates: We can if this resolution is carried.
Mr. Bayes: I used to pay my man a guinea a week.
The Chairman: But you had a tip.
Mr. Bayes: So could he have.
Mr. Spencer: It is none too much for a man to live on.
Mr. Bazeley: You can’t wonder at labour unrest under the present circumstances.
Mr. Knight: It wouldn’t affect present tenders?
The Chairman: No.
Mr. Knight: Then I move as an amendment that the matter be deferred until we issue fresh contracts.
Mr. Skinner seconded the motion.
Mr. Ballard said he would support the amendment if Mr. Knight would move in favour of doing their own carting. He thought that was the only real solution of the difficulty.
The Chairman said he was quite in favour of paying a fair wage but the difficulty was to know what a fair wage was for that class of work.
Mr. Bates: It would be easy to fix that.
The Chairman said he would be very sorry for any contractor to the Council to underpay his men. Having issued tenders they were bound to accept the lowest tender. All they had to do was to see that the conditions of tendering were carried out.
Mr. Skinner said the difficulty was that if there was a good man about he was either snapped up by the Council or went into the shoe trade. Then when they were worn out and had to walk with a stick they came to work on the land. (Laughter.)
Mr. Swindall thought the Council would have great difficulty in fixing prices for various workers, except in cases where there were trade union rates.
Mr. Bazeley said they could get plenty of information to enable them to fix rates.
The Chairman and Mr. Ballard expressed themselves willing to support the first part of the motion, but Mr. Bazeley declined to withdraw the latter portion.
The amendment was then put and carried by seven votes to four. There voted for it: The Chairman, Vice-chairman, Messrs. Skinner, Knight, Ballard, Clipson, and Swindall; against, Messrs. Bayes, Bazeley, Spencer, and Bates.