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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 14th August 1931, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
House Inspection Puzzles Council
Questions of Expense and Dignity : A Temporary Arrangement
Rushden’s Varied Park Projects

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 14th August 1931

A Holiday Mystery
I have been trying to find out why the Urban District Council held its August meeting this week. The second Wednesday in the month is the normal day of meeting, but from the time when the bug of enthusiasm for civic business first sharpened its teeth on my cranium it has been the custom to defer the August meeting until the third Wednesday, the understanding being that members wanted their holidays like ordinary human beings, and could not be expected to attend committee meetings in the early part of the month. So I said to a councillor who ought to have known, “Why this departure from the time-honoured rule of postponement?” All he could say was that the Clerk approved it, and that committee meetings were held early in order to keep August Week clear of business. He seemed almost to have forgotten that in other years the decks could not be cleared until the third week. I believe there is mystery behind all this. I very nearly believe that Councillors are a declining race, denuded of their ancestral hereditaments and totally unable to find the kudos for a fortnight at Southend. Or is it that, having opened Rushden Hall, they have confirmed their flattering speeches by camping in the avenue? They may cloak themselves in secrecy, but you can’t get away from the fact that seventeen of them were seated round the table on Wednesday.

The periodical inspection of Rushden’s 534 Council houses caused some difficulty at the Urban District Council’s meeting on Wednesday, when a temporary scheme in which the Surveyor and Assistant Surveyor will be employed was criticised from several points of view.

The special sub-committee appointed to consider housing inspection suggested that the work might be done by the Sanitary Inspector in his spare time at remuneration of £50 per annum, or by the Surveyor and the Assistant Surveyor at respective remunerations of £40 and £20 per annum. It was pointed out with regard to the first proposal that Mr. Piper’s appointment as Sanitary Inspector was subject to the approval of the Ministry of Health, and that the latter had already stated that they could not sanction such a proposal. The Housing Committee therefore recommended the adoption of the second proposal as a temporary measure, permanent methods of dealing with the question to be considered later.

Mr. Horrell said he would rather like the recommendation to be referred back. It did not appear to him that there was any particular necessity for a temporary appointment to be made, and he thought the suggestion was rather bad in principle. He was not quite sure as to what the duties were, or as to what it was that it was thought necessary to be attended to at once, but he thought it would be better to have something permanent rather than anything of a temporary character. He thought it was rather infra dig, that the chief officer of the Council should be appointed as an inspector.

Mr. Roe quite agreed with the criticism. He could see great difficulties in the way of these gentlemen going into houses, because very shortly it would be quite dark when they went to a house at night. They could not inspect the house by artificial light, and the tenants would not want them there on Saturday afternoons.

“Improve The Property”

Mr. Hornsby supported the Committee’s proposal and was strongly of opinion that something should be done and at once. There were about 534 Council houses, and it was a matter that needed attention. He was not one of those who wanted to create a fresh official, because it needed £300 or £400 a year, and he would rather see the money spent on improving the property both inside and outside. He was satisfied that Mr. Lloyd or Mr. Piper could carry out the work efficiently without creating a fresh official, which he assumed was in Mr. Horrell’s mind.

Mr. Horrell: I said quite definitely I was not in favour of creating a new post, and my suggestion was that the arrangement should be something permanent instead of a temporary one.

Dr. Greenfield said they recognised that sooner or later there would be work for a special man for the purpose, but at the present they did not quite know the amount of time it would take. They thought that when Mr. Lloyd had done some of the work himself they should be in a much better position to gauge the time that would be necessary.

Mr. Arthur Wilmott said the committee had had all these suggestions over many times. They did not want to appoint a permanent and expensive officer, but they thought they would know where they stood after twelve months.

Mr. Tysoe: I don’t like the idea of one of our chief officials doing a job like that in his spare time.

Dr. Greenfield: It does not mention that the Surveyor should do it in his spare time.

Down On The Law

Mr. Tom Wilmott said that if private builders had put up these 500 houses, instead of the Council, the Sanitary Inspector would have to supervise them. “Give him extra salary to do it, and let him do it in his own working hours.” he declared. “If the law won’t allow him to do it, then it is a silly law. Our Sanitary Inspector works heavier in connection with the shops and other laws, but his houses are no heavier to supervise than ten years ago.”

Mr. Spencer: There is a large number of houses want inspecting, because they want repairing, and the tenants are waiting for them to be repaired.

Speaking as chairman of the Committee, Mr. Allen said the houses were badly in want of repair, and something must be done. They were asking the Surveyor to inspect them as a temporary measure until they were in a position better to advise the Council.

The Chairman suggested that the question of remuneration might be left over until it was found whether any extra time had been put in by the Surveyor and his assistant. Ultimately it might be found necessary to appoint some person whom the Surveyor could trust to go round and report.

Mr. Horrell said he did not want it to be understood that he was at all anxious that the repairs that were wanted should be deferred. He thought, however, that to increase a man’s stipend by £40 and then take it off again was very infra dig.

Mr. Claridge emphasised that Mr. Lloyd did not wish to accept the office; they had to persuade him, almost, to take it.

It was finally agreed to accept the committee’s plan, the arrangements to be for twelve months.

Park Arrangements

The Parks, Baths and Hall Committee submitted a somewhat lengthy report which first disclosed that no tenders had been received for the sole right of supplying refreshments at the Hall. The further consideration of catering arrangements was deferred for the present season.

The Hall Sub-Committee had considered the question of binding the gravel in the drive and in the front of the Hall with “Birovia,” and recommended that the Surveyor be instructed to carry out the work at an estimated cost of £20.

It was also recommended that the entrance to the Hall grounds from Wymington-road be opened to the public at the same time and for a similar number of hours as the main entrance in High-street South.

Messrs. Spencer, Coles, Greenfield and Horrell were appointed as a sub-committee to consider the question of the use of the Hall, particularly with regard to the purposes of a museum and art gallery.

It was stated that the mowing grass on the un-let part of the Hall grounds had been sold for £5.

A draft of the proposed new bye-laws for the whole of the parks in Rushden had been considered and sent by the Clerk to the Ministry of Health with a view to confirmation.

Messrs. C. Thurston and Sons were granted permission to use part of the Spencer Park for their pleasure fair during Feast Week on the usual terms.

The committee had considered the question of providing a new full-sized bowling green for the town, and appointed a special sub-committee, consisting of Messrs. Spencer, Allebone and Coles, to consider further the question of a site in Spencer Park, together with the cost.

Inspecting Bye-Laws

Mr. Swindall said he thought the Council should have an opportunity of seeing the new bye-laws before they were sent to the Ministry.

The Clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason) replied that Mr. Swindall could personally inspect the draft, and when the bye-laws were actually deposited every ratepayer would have to be given an opportunity of inspecting them and of raising objections.

Mr. Swindall said he objected to the principle of bye-laws being adopted before the Council as a whole had discussed them.

Mr. Spencer: They were gone through two or three times.

Mr. Horrell: I am sure Mr. Swindall will be satisfied with them when he sees them.

Mr. Spencer remarked that in Fletcher-road the footpath was in a very bad state, and he would like the Highways Committee to have a look at it.

Mr. T. Wilmott: It is a private road.

The Chairman said that at present the matter could hardly be taken up by the Council; it was one for the owners to deal with.

Mr. Spencer still thought the committee might inspect the path.

Mr. T. Wilmott: They haven’t any power.

The Chairman thought something would no doubt be done if Mr. Spencer’s comments reached the owners of the property.

Pressing For Houses

Mr. Coles stated that at the last meeting he asked that the Housing Committee should consider making a new road and building more houses, bearing in mind the great shortage of houses and the need of finding work during the coming winter. There was nothing said about it in the report that night. He was not complaining, because it had been a holiday month, but he asked that the matter should be considered during the next month.

Mr. Allen said they would consider it at the very earliest opportunity, but he would point out that they already had road-making on hand, and a number of houses to be erected.

Consent was given to the following plans:- Two houses, Palm-road, for Mr. Walter Dickens; house, Wellingborough-road, Mr. G. S. North; lavatory accommodation in Fitzwilliam-street, Messrs. C. W. Horrell, Ltd.; lavatory at Trades Union Club, Higham-road; bay window at rear of 95, High-street South, Mr. G. A. E. Wadsworth; bay window, 1, Birchall-road, Mr. F. Berrill; sewer extensions, Upper Queen-street, Messrs. T. Swindall and Sons; office at rear of 22, Grove-road, Mr. Ralph Hoten.

The Plans, Highways and Lighting Committee recommended that full street lighting commence on August 29th and continue until May 7th, 1932.

The Rushden and District Electric supply Co., Ltd., gave notice of their intention to lay cables in Rectory-road, East Grove, Washbrook-road and Spencer-road.

From the Health and Sanitary Committee came the report that five samples of milk had been taken since the last meeting and submitted for bacteriological examination, the results being satisfactory.

The committee had also considered the question of substituting petrol freighters for the collection of house refuse instead of the horses and carts at present used. Estimates had been given by the Surveyor (Mr. J. W. Lloyd) and the discussion adjourned to a future meeting.

It was mentioned that 3½ acres of spare land on the Irchester-road site had been let for 12 months to Mr. A. Downing at 30s per acre.

The salary of Mr. H. J. Gould, Assistant Surveyor, was increased by £26 per annum.

Consent to a loan of £2,000 for road construction on the Irchester-road estate came from the Ministry of Health, and it was decided to negotiate the loan locally, if possible.

The County Education Committee notified the appointment as School Managers of Messrs. F. Green, L. Baxter, E. Freeman, A. Allebone, W. E. Capon, and the Rev. C. J. Keeler.

The members present were Mr. L. Perkins, M.B.E. (Chairman), Mr. J. Roe (Vice-chairman), Dr. D. G. Greenfield, Messrs. T. Wilmott, T. F. B. Newberry, C. Claridge, F. Green, J. Allen, W. E. Capon, L. Tysoe, C. W. Horrell, C.A., T. Swindall, A. Wilmott, G. W. Coles, J.P., J. Spencer, J.P., J. Hornsby, and J. T. Richardson.

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