|Rushden Echo, 15th December, 1944, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Mixed Views On Housing
Conflicting views on temporary houses called by one member “shacks” and “huts” were heard in Rushden Council chamber on Wednesday before the Council decided to ask the government for a share of them.
Morning lighting for the factory workers was the other main subject during a long meeting, and Councillor Paragreen scored a notable success in spurring the Council to action.
The Housing Committee recommended that application be made to the Ministry of Health “for such number of temporary houses as the Ministry may deem appropriate for the district.”
It was reported that when the committee met on December 4th, they were reminded that the advance preparation of the sites for permanent houses was not due to be completed until next June; even then the Ministry might not be in a position to allow building to begin. It may well be that men and women would be demobilised from the forces and waiting for houses before any permanent ones were ready.
Though not invited by the Ministry of Health to take up the scheme for temporary houses, the committee thought that the Council should approach the Government so that it could show the needs of the town and in particular of the Service personnel.
After Coun. Cox had presented the report, Coun. Roe observed that the committee should have decided on the type and the number they needed; experience taught him that if they did not specify what they needed the Ministry would put the application aside.
Coun. Roe also asked if the committee had a site in view.
Coun. Cox replied that the committee was anxious to get the opinion of the whole Council. The Surveyor had one or two sites in view, but nothing could be said about them until some general decision was discussed.
Coun. Allebone, though pleased that the committee were attempting to get something from the Ministry, what he wanted to know was the estimated cost of the houses, the anticipated rent, and what would be the subsidy.
“The Master Builders’ Association,” he continued, “have passed a resolution stating that if they had the facilities of labour and material they could at less cost provide a similar type of dwelling. I feel that some temporary houses are going to cost up to £1,000 each and we (words missing) to subsidise them at the (words missing) possibly 10s. a week, we have to give further consideration to the sex war where men coming back don’t want to live with mothers-in-law,” added Coun. Allebone.
“Or fathers-in-law1” swiftly responded Mrs. Muxlow, amid loud laughter.
The Clerk (Mr. T. L. Watts) said it was useless for the committee to go into details until the Ministry said “Yes” or “No.”
Coun. Allen congratulated the committee on taking a step in the right direction. “I don’t think we need to-night bother about costs or anything else,” he said. “We are not pledged; we merely want the sanction of the Ministry to put up temporary houses.”
Coun. Roe: Probably by the time we get that sanction the men will be home, and there will be no houses for them!
In answer to Mr. Green, the Clerk said the houses would belong to the Ministry.
“I hope we shall bear in mind that they are only temporary houses,” said Coun. Weale. “They have had one shot at the Portal house and found it a most unsatisfactory building. They are now substituting another pea, the “Phoenix,” and we don’t yet know that this is going to be satisfactory.”
He wanted a scheme that would be a credit to the town and would rather get on with the “real” building scheme than with temporary houses which probably were not intended for towns like Rushden.
“I am not over-keen on them. When we once get them we don’t know when they are going away again…. I think the ex-Service men deserve something better than these shacks, these huts…. I don’t think we shall be justified in asking our best tenants to go into these huts.”
Women Want Them
Coun. Dilks said that no-one on the Council would be enamoured of this type of house, but they wanted to be in a position to present the returning men with homes. The houses suggested would provide homes for a temporary period.
Coun. Cox said he had been approached as chairman of the Housing Committee by a large number of serving men’s wives who were in a real dilemma and would be glad to take temporary houses. With children born to them during the war, they did not know what to do for accommodation.
Coun. Allen asked for a definite statement whether returned Service men would have first consideration for Council house vacancies, and Mr. Cox replied: “I would say that Service men will be offered first any temporary or permanent houses that may become vacant.”
The resolution was then adopted.
Early morning street lighting was debated with great vigour after the Highways Committee, to whom the question was referred last month, had reported that in view of the expenditure which would be incurred and the fact that only the gas lamps could be lighted, no action be taken during the present season.
It was stated that the Electric Supply Co. could not obtain the necessary timing dials and that the use of the gas lamps would involve a cost of 4s. per lamp each time adjustments were made, plus 1d. an hour a lamp for gas (about £8 15s. weekly). The adjustments, moreover, would take three weeks to complete.
Coun. Paragreen, who raised the question last month, expressed great disappointment. Wellingborough and even Irchester, he said, had street lighting up to 8 a.m. Rushden had from six to seven thousand workers, and he knew personally of many mishaps pedestrians colliding with lamp-posts or being bumped into walls.
“I should like to meet this committee at seven o’clock to-morrow morning,” said Mr. Paragreen. “I think they would agree with me that there should be some lighting. I am afraid they have considered £ s d rather than the safety of the general public.”
Moving that the report be referred back and the committee instructed to consider providing light during the first four weeks of January, Mr. Paragreen declared: “Even if it calls for £56 a week, it will be money well spent.”
Supporting, Coun. Sugars said that many ratepayers were very much disturbed. People were not getting to work so early; some would not walk, and waited for ‘buses.
Coun. Allebone said he had every sympathy with these remarks, but of the nine members of the Highways Committee not one had voted for morning lighting.
Mr. Paragreen: The committee said years ago they might have to consider all-night lighting. Here is an opportunity to commence, even if the war is on.
Mr. Sugars: Let us get back to peace-time lighting…. It will cost £59? Well, let’s do it straight away.
Summer Time Blamed
Coun. George: We have had four years of this, and in the fifth year we can’t find our way about. Isn’t it ridiculous! The whole trouble is that this Summer Time is wrong in winter. We used to get to work all right at half-past seven.
Coun. Allebone: I do now!
Coun. George: I don’t think it is so bad as is made out. I hoped we should get through this year, believing that it will be the last time.
Advised that his amendment would be useless to secure quick action, Mr. Paragreen withdrew it so that the Council could go into committee and make an immediate decision. This was done and resulted in the decision that for the month of January alternate street lamps will be kept alight all night until 8 a.m. The other lamps will go out, as usual, at 11 p.m.
Hopes of providing new street lamps at several points were frustrated because standards and fittings are not available.
Court Estate Water
Referring to the monthly report from the Water Board, Mrs. Muxlow said she was sorry to see that consideration of a scheme for a piped supply to the Court Estate had been deferred. “I think,” she said, “the time is coming when we have got to take the water to the houses instead of taking the houses to the water.”
British Restaurant figures for the first week of December showed an average of 234 meals daily and average daily receipts of £13 4s. 2d. The restaurant will close from December 23rd to 27th, during which time the gas equipment will be overhauled.
Asked if the restaurant could, if necessary, supply meals to another area, the War Emergency Committee has replied in the negative on the grounds of staffing difficulties and the limited size of the kitchen.
Pay increases were granted to the restaurant staff.
Coun. Sawford suggested that a slicer would be helpful at the restaurant, and Coun. Capon replied: “It isn’t our fault that we haven’t got one. We put our plate up quite early, but it is still up.”
The Clerk announced that although none of the Civil Defence personnel had wanted to leave the service, it had been necessary to release all five sitting case car drivers, eight ambulance attendants (women) and six messengers.
Coun. Bailey asked if many stirrup pumps had been purchased by the public.
The Clerk: Not up to the present, but the response to our letter has not yet come in in a good many instances.
In view of the price asked, the Housing Committee turned down the idea of purchasing a piece of land about seven-tenths of an acre adjacent to the Newton-road extension site.
In response to a County Council enquiry it was agreed to allocate up to five of the post-war Council houses for the temporary accommodation of policemen.
The Medical Officer (Dr. D. A. McCracken) reported 18 births, (7 males) and 19 deaths (12 males). There were three new cases of tuberculosis, two of pneumonia, two of erysipelas and 10 of whooping cough.
Cemetery closing hours were fixed as follows: January, February, November and December 5 p.m., March, April, September and October 7 p.m., May to August 9 p.m. these times are to be shown on the cemetery gates.
From the housing funds the Chief Financial Officer was authorised to invest £34,000 in 3 per cent. Savings Bonds.
The councillors accepted an invitation to attend a jubilee service at St. Peter’s Church next January.
Wishing the members a happy Christmas and peace in the new year, the Chairman said: “If the year brings the end of the war in Europe it will indeed be one to look forward to. We shall certainly carry on with that thought in our mind.”
Members in attendance were: Couns. Dr. R. W. Davies, J.P. (Chairman), H. Waring (Vice-Chairman), A. H. Bailey, J. Roe, C.C., A. Allebone, J.P., C.A., T. W. Cox, F. Green, J.P., Mrs. O. A. H. Muxlow, J. Allen, W. E. Capon, A. F. Weale, J. George, T. J. Swindall, J. E. Dilks, J. H. J. Paragreen, W. J. Sawford, E. A. Sugars and J. T. Richardson, J.P.