|The Rushden and Echo and Argus, 24th March, 1950, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Rushden Has Same Rate But Expenditure Rises
Though expenditure is still rising, Rushden Urban Council has contrived to avoid a rate increase, and at a special financial meeting on Monday it was decided to continue the present levy of 18s. 6d. in the pound.
In his speech as chairman of the Finance Committee, Coun. J. Allen said there had been overspending by some committees and saving by others, giving an anticipated net saving of £1,046. Spendings totalled £43,040 and the committees making savings were Health (£1,142), Library (£105) and Housing (£258).
It was estimated that there would be a surplus of £15,735 in the rate fund on March 31st this was partly accounted for by the increased product of a penny rate (£365) compared with a surplus of £13,500 a year ago.
“We shall be brought back with a jerk to austerity,” said Mr. Allen “when we see our commitments for 1950-1951 and beyond.”
Estimated expenditure for the coming year totalled £46,810 : Plans £12,440 (increase £553); Health £12,810 (decrease £592); Library £2,000 (increase £195); Parks £6,000 (increase £1,340); Housing £3,750 (increase £432); Finance £9,810 (increase £796) net increase £2,724.
The Plans Committee increases were due to road improvements, a new sweeper, proposals regarding the church clock, and extra lighting. The Parks Committee were providing play-ground equipment (out of revenue), new gates, and for the reconstruction of Rushden Hall. The increase in the Finance Committee’s estimates was largely due to the implementation of the agreed national awards of salaries.
Mr. Allen noted that the County Council rate remained unchanged at 10s. 1¾d. Owing to loan charges for the improvements scheme, he said the Water Board’s call was for £3,230, but for purposes of rate levy this was reduced to £2,430 by using £800 surplus accumulated by precept balances. The Local Government Act block grant for 1950-1951 would be £14,030 equal to a rate of 3s. 4.55d. and an increase of £770 on last year.
Altogether there was to be an increased expenditure of £3,150 but towards this £2,630 was available, made up of £830 levied for surplus last year, the increased Exchequer grant of £770, the deletion of the Assessment Committee’s precept (£80) and the increase in rate income of £950 resulting from the increased value of the penny rate. This left £520, but the Finance Committee proposed to meet this item out of balance, leaving the rate unchanged at 18s. 6d. for the year 7s. 9.23d. for Urban Council purposes; 10s. 1.75d. for the County Council and 7.02d. for the Water Board.
Adding some comments on the rise of expenditure since before the war Mr. Allen showed that the general rate for 1938-1939 was 12s. 4d., the present figure being a 50 per cent increase. Over the same period, he said, the rateable value of the district was always near £80,000 and the rate income had risen from £50,000 to the £76,816 now estimated. It was as the purchasing value of the pound had diminished that the rate had had to be increased.
As a set-off to these figures Mr. Allen quoted the Ministry of Labour Survey for 1949 showing that wages costs for all industries had risen by 103 per cent since October, 1938. The Finance Committee, he said, considered the financial position very satisfactory. They had a loan debt on housing of £660,000 but other outstanding Urban Council loans were only £18,902.
“In no circumstances on these figures could we be considered spendthrifts,” he concluded.
Several members complimented Mr. Allen on his lucid speech and the Treasurer (Mr. W. D. White), on the preparation of the details.
Coun. F. E. Brown said the Finance Committee was to be commended on not having to increase the rate.
Coun. A. A. Allebone criticised the policy whereby the Finance Committee almost automatically allowed spending proposals to go through. Every committee chairman, he said, inevitably wanted to spend all the money he could and do all he could for his own committee and the Finance Committee should have greater power than they seemed willing to use at the moment.
“Each committee has its own estimates,” retorted Mrs. Muxlow “and if we keep within our estimates we should not be criticised at all.”
The report was adopted, and the first half-yearly rates instalment will be 9s. 3d. in the £.
When the meeting opened the chairman (Coun. W. E. Capon) paid a tribute to the late Mr. W. L. Beetenson, formerly Clerk to the Council, and it was agreed to send a message of sympathy to Mr. Beetenson’s daughter, Mrs. Elsie Pearson.
Members present were Couns. W. E. Capon (chairman), F. E. Brown (vice-chairman), Mrs. W. M. Lean, E. H. Roe, A. A. Allebone, A. H. Dickens, E. E. Newell, A. H. Bailey, W. J. Keller, J. Allen, Mrs. A.U. Muxlow, C. J. Faulkner, J. H. J. Paragreen, W. J. Sawford, E. A. sugars, J. T. Richardson and Mrs. A. Rowthorn. An apology for absence was received from Coun. H. Waring.