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The Rushden Echo & Argus, 13th March 1931, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council

Rate Reduction to 12s in the £ - Lowest Since 1919

Mr. J. Roe’s Budget Speech

Housing Committee Members’ Complaint

A welcome reduction of 1s (from 13s to 12s in the £) was announced at the meeting of the Rushden Urban District Council on Wednesday evening, when the members present were, Mr. G. W. Coles, J.P., (in the chair), Messrs. L. Perkins, M.B.E., B.Sc. (vice-chair), T. Willmott, J. Roe, A. Allebone, C.C., F. Green, C. Claridge, L. Tysoe, D. G. Greenfield, M.D., C. W. Horrell, C.A., J. Allen, J. Spencer, J.P., J. T. Richardson, A. Wilmott, T. F. B. Newberry, J. Hornsby, and T. Swindall.

The Finance Committee reported that they had had before them the estimate of the receipts and expenditure for the ensuing year. The estimated expenditure, including calls from the County Council amounted to £69,009 15s and the receipts including the block grant in respect of de-rating, £36, 225 3s. 8d., leaving a balance to be provided of £32,784 11s. 4d.

The estimates were approved and the Committee recommended the Council to fix the rate at 12s. in the £ for the year, producing £32,976, and to instruct the Rates Clerk to prepare a rate of 6s. in the £ for sealing at a special meeting of the Council to be held on March 25th.

Full details of the budget were presented by Mr. Roe, who gave the following items of estimated expenditure: Scavenging £550, district roads £3,500, street scavenging, district roads, £1,000 payable on County Council precept £25,133, Wellingborough Assessment Committee £115, cemetery (including loan charges) £1,049, sanitation and sewerage £1,750, disposal works £750, sewers £150, public lighting £1,100. Fire Brigade £200, public offices £200, hospital £100, Free Library £325, salaries £2,888 reduced by grant to £2,000, lavatories £150, establishment charges £650, infectious diseases £300, other public works and purpose £100, parks, with loan interest £1,069. Housing of Working Classes £873, Assisted Housing Scheme £6,872, repairs fund £200, Subsidy Housing Scheme £1,418, private enterprise subsidy houses £1.048. Subsidy Housing Scheme (1924 Act) £12,571, superannuation £244, baths (including repayment of loan) £710, loans £2,146. Rushden Hall £1,150.

Rushden Hall Figures

Mr. Roe added that no charge was expected from the Water Board, and that the coming election would cost the town £125. The figures for Rushden Hall, he said, were interesting. Some time ago he said that the Hall would probably cost the town a 3d or 4d rate. The figures were : Wages £277; interest on the loan £125; repayment of loan £197. Receipts would be £55, which left £645 actual expenditure that must be paid, and this meant just about a 2¾ rate. This year, of course, there would be a few additional expenses that would not recur.

They estimated having a cash balance of £4,570 at the commencement of the next financial year, and a balance of £4,407 at the end of that year. He was pleased to say that the rate proposed would be the lowest the Council had had since 1919 (Applause).

The Chairman congratulated Mr. Roe on his report. Mr. Roe must have spent a considerable time on it, and he had done remarkably well.

Mr. Swindall congratulated the Finance Committee on lowering the rate from 13s. to 12s. in the £, but proceeded to raise a doubt. “If the government was at any time to do away with de-rating,” he said, “we should find our rates go up considerably, and we should find it a very big jump. Having that in mind, I would rather see them remain at 13s.instead of 12s.”

“I don’t think we can anticipate that,” rejoined Alderman Horrell, who continued : “I think it should be recognised that the reduction is due to the County Council call. We have spent just as much on our own services as in other years. If we keep our rate where it is we have got to be careful how we spend our money, as we are not likely to get another shilling off next year; it will probably go up.”

The chairman: I think the Council will be quite willing to give honour where honour is due.

Mr. Spencer: The County made an extraordinary demand last year, and if they are going to rise again next year I can’t see much in it. If public services have got to be cramped and stifled I think it is a mistake only to have a 12s. rate, but if no service is being cramped on purpose to reduce the rate I shall have pleasure in supporting.

Ald. Horrell: We are already anticipating a balance of over £4,000, so we are not cramping our services.

Mr. Roe said the Finance Committee had not cut down the estimates in any instance; the committees had everything they asked for.

The estimates were accepted and the rate declared as proposed.

Vote Canvassing

Several members of the Housing Committee complained of the annoyance caused by candidates canvassing for their votes in the letting of the houses. It was resolved to recommend the Council to make the canvassing of members a disqualification of the applicant concerned.

Mr. Perkins said the Housing Committee had completed 250 houses during the life-time of the present Council, and it had been a bigger work to allocate the houses to the tenants. No member of the committee would refuse to hear anything of a very confidential character, but the practice of canvassing was not only a nuisance but very unfair to applicants who had obeyed the instruction that canvassing should not be carried out. The resolution was perhaps a drastic one to put, but it would only be put into operation if persistent canvassing was carried out.

Mr. Spencer said he was sorry he could not see his way to support the resolution. “If canvassing is permitted for other subjects,” he said, “and in other places – such as the continual pestering in elections – it cannot be wrong for people to canvass asking for a house.”

There were pronounced murmurs of dissent while Mr. Spencer was speaking.

Mr. Tysoe said that so far as elections were concerned he did not canvass three years ago, and he did not suppose he would this time. It was not right for Mr. Perkins not to be supported “I have never promised anybody a house.” Mr. Tysoe continued I don’t give them any hope – only that they will have to take their turn.”

Mr. Hornsby said that the time had arrived when something must be done, although they did not wish to be discourteous to any of the applicants.

Housing Applicants

Mr. Allebone said he wanted all the members to imagine the difficulties that the sub-committee were in. “I have had somebody visit me to-night,” he continued, “and they said they had been to other members of the committee. They said one member had told them that he had voted for them all the way along and I said ‘It is a lie, because your name has never been voted on before’.”

Mr. Spencer said that after those observations he would withdraw his objection.

Mr. Swindall asked how many applicants for houses were on the books.

Mr. Perkins said he thought a fair estimate would be 200 papers that they had not yet tackled. They had had quite 100 new applicants during 1930-31, and quite 100 valid applications were left over from the previous years.

Mr. Roe rose to ask if the Housing Committee had given instructions for a list of applicants to whom they allocated the last batch of houses to be sent to five tradesmen in the town. He was told by applicants that the first intimation of their selection came from tradesmen who communicated with them.

“We don’t want people coming round touting for information of this description,” Mr. Roe declared, “and I hope the committee will give instructions that these names in future will not be divulged.”

A lengthy explanation of the whole incident was offered by Mr. Perkins, who disclosed that on hearing of the matter he had at once made enquiries. It was done almost by an oversight, he said – through the supplying of mis-information. In order to modify what had been done, the list of names was sent out to other people in the same line of business.

Bandstand Cost

After further discussion the full explanation was accepted as being adequate, and the Chairman asked the Press to state that no officer of the Council came under censure.

The Council accepted Mr. H. Wilmott’s tender of £1,703 for the completion of Tennyson-road. Mr. Perkins said that it was necessary to hasten this work, as people using the road had to plough through mud during the severe weather.

The Council agreed to inform Mr. Talbot Brown (Wellingborough) that the committee considered that the cost of a bandstand should not exceed £1,000.

Mr. Allebone pointed out that this instruction did not mean that £1,000 would be spent.

An application was received from the Tuberculosis After-Care Committee asking for the use of the Hall grounds for a summer fete on Saturday, June 27th. The Council agreed to grant the application.

Dr. Greenfield said he wanted to make clear that the After-Care Committee wanted the exclusive use of the park, and to be able to charge for admission.

The Chairman said it was thoroughly understood that the committee would not entertain any application from a sectional body, but they would consider them in cases which embraced the whole of he town. That would limit it considerably.

On the recommendation of the Planning, Highways and Lighting Committee, plans were approved for house in the Hayway for Mr. H. Corby, house and shop in Irchester-road for Mr. A. Dickens, additions to workshop in Graveley-street for Messrs. Beedley and Son. Amended plan of additions to factory in Park-road and Park-place for Messrs. John White, Ltd.

It was decided to hold the last meeting of the present Council on April 15th, and the annual meeting on April 22nd.

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