|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 25th March 1949, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Rushden Rate Down 6d
Council Rejects Bid for 8d Cut
Seven members of the Rushden Urban Council were not satisfied with a proposed rate cut of 6d at the Budget meeting on Wednesday. They wanted 8d off, but were out-voted, and so the rate goes down from 19s to 18s 6d in the £.
In his speech as chairman of the Finance Committee, Councillor A.A. Allebone claimed that the Council had finished the year in a very strong financial position. The steep rise in cost of materials had to some extent flattened out, but against this the Council had worked for the last six months under the new and increased scale of wages applicable to the outside staff. The rise in labour costs would affect the requirements of all the spending committees next year.
The committees had in the aggregate under spent their estimates by £693, but this under spending had been caused almost entirely by inability to obtain labour for the tasks which had been contemplated.
Dealing with the budgeting for 1949-50, Mr. Allebone noted a reduced call by all the precepting authorities the County Council by 1s 6¼d the Wellingborough Assessment Committee by one-fifth of a penny, and the Water Board by slightly over a penny. Another pleasing item was the increased nett income from Exchequer grants.
The Register General had estimated Rushden’s population at 16,320, against 15,570 for the previous year, so that the capitation grant would increase from £11,606 to £12,164.
The Council’s own committees had, without exception, increased their demands.
The increases aggregated £4,706, which was equal to a rate of 11½d.
On these figures, said Mr. Allebone, the Council’s requirements would be covered by a rate of 18s 4d. In view, however, of this year’s favourable circumstances, which might not be repeated next year, the committee had decided that it would be only wise and prudent to make provision against a possible heavy increase in the rate.
The proposed rate of 18s 6d would give a surplus on the year’s working of £804, and raise the general surplus to £11,741.
Figures supplied by the Finance Committee showed that the Council required £42,983 for its own purposes and £42, 969 for other authorities chiefly the County Council. Deducting the Exchequer grant of £12,164, this left £73,788 to be raised.
Councillor A. F. Weale led the effort to secure a bigger cut when he moved an amendment that the rate should be 18s 4d.
After congratulating Mr. Allebone as “the youngest councillor who had ever held the position of chairman of the Finance Committee” he said the “extra twopence” which was proposed to inflict upon the ratepayers would bring in about £800. This was to be added to the balance but the Council already had a balance of £10,900 and not long ago it was agreed that £10,000 was a good working balance.
Pleading that there were people who found difficulty in paying their rates, Mr. Weale declared: “It is easy to say it is a mere twopence, but it goes on and on.” He thought it was illegal to add to levies when the purpose to which the money would be put was not declared.
Councillor Roe, seconding the amendment, said he did not think they could accuse the officers of not allowing for contingencies. He thought the Finance Committee would have given the public the benefit when they found they had something over.
Councillor W. J. Sawford asked for a broad view to be taken and referred to street lighting as a case where expenditure had suddenly increased. He hoped no member anticipated that the County Council would reduce their call by another 1s 6d next year.
The amendment was supported by Councillor J. Allen who said it was almost an impossibility for some people to face up to the rates as they were at present.
Councillor W. E. Capon said that in 1946-7 they had a balance of £9,000 and their expenses were just about the same as this year. Now they were to have a balance of nearly £12,000, and he did not think it was fair at all. He thought they should have a rate of 18s, which would mean a reduction of twopence a week on Council houses.
Supporting the committee, Councillor A. H. Bailey spoke of the state of the footpaths and asked where the money would come from when repairs became possible.
Declaring that he never bought anything “on tick,” Councillor H. Waring indicated that the Council should follow the same principle by avoiding loans. Cheeseparing, he said would do no good.
Several members, apart from any criticism, congratulated Mr. Allebone on his speech and hoped that he would have the opportunity to present many future budgets.
Mr. Weale’s amendment was rejected by nine votes to seven, and the financial report was then adopted by ten votes to four.
The debate was heard by the new Liberal prospective candidates who will take part in the May election.