|The Rushden Echo, 11th/25th November 1898, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Fair Wages Clause
The Water Supply
Trial Well Abandoned
The Council meet on Wednesday under the presidency of Mr. John Claridge, when there were also present:- Messrs. W. H. Wilkins, G. Fountain, G. Miller, G. Denton, T. Swindall, F. Knight, J. Spencer, B. Mortimer, W. H. Brawne, G. S. Mason (clerk), Madin (surveyor), Martin (sanitary inspector), and Dr. Owen (medical officer).
Plans were presented by Mr. J. W. Cooper for two houses in Queen-street, passed subject to alterations; Mr. H. Adnit for eight houses on the Wellingborough-road, rejected for proper system of drainage to be shown; Mrs. C. L. Bradfield for sanitary improvements to houses in Duck-street, passed; Mr. Wm. Sanders for coach-house and stable at rear of house in Hayway, passed.
A recommendation was received from the committee to the effect that Lawton-road, Blinco-road, Allen-road, and Upper Queen-street, be formed and sewered under the Private Street Works Act.
The council concurred.
The Clerk reported that the loan as arranged had been received from the West Ham Corporation.
Fair Wages Clause
Mr. John Spencer moved, according to notice, “That should the Council at any time deem it advisable to issue contracts the same shall have a clause inserted that the workmen employed shall receive not less than the standing rate of wages in this district.” He said it might be argued that this was an inopportune time and that the matter should have been brought forward just when contracts were about to be issued. He contended, however, that the present was the best time inasmuch as the debate would be dispassionate and without being levelled at any individual. At the present time, too, there was no election, so that the motion could not be said to be
An Election Move.
The idea of this fair wage clause was to protect the workmen, and was one which the Government, in their wisdom, had seen fit to adopt. He thought Rushden was the only town of any size which had no such clause. This clause would be fair to employers, placing them all on the same basis, and it would be the means of securing the best workmen to do the work.
Mr. Knight said he should be prepared to second the motion if he thought there had been any unfairness in the past. He did not know whether there was a uniform rate of wages among the contractors in Rushden. Such a clause might result in throwing some of the older men out of work.
Mr. Swindall pointed out that in unskilled labour there were many men who were worth more than others.
Mr. Denton said that if they inserted this clause it was
because they could not enforce it. For instance, no contractor would be bound to pay practically the same rate of wages to every man on the job, and he did not think the Council should insist on him doing so. When men were getting into years and could not do the work of younger men, the Council could not ask that the same wage should be paid to them as to those who were younger. The principle that the workmen should not be injured but protected was one with which they all agreed.
Mr. Knight said that contractors engaged men of various ages and capabilities, and he was almost afraid this clause would go hard against men who were
Past Middle Age
The Chairman: Is there a standard rate of wages among contractors in the district?
Mr. Spencer: The society rate at Kettering and Wellingborough is considered to be the one here.
Mr. Denton said there was a class below the efficient workman.
Mr. Spencer said that where the fair wage clause was in operation any complaints against contractors under the Council were dealt with by a committee of the Council.
Mr. Wilkins said they were all agreed that public bodies should be model employers, and he thought every one would admit the Rushden Council had been from its formation. He had never heard any complaint as to the wages paid by the contractors. If under Mr. Spencer’s motion the contractors had to increase the men’s wages it would only be fair that the Council should compensate the contractors. Would Mr. Spencer be prepared to add to his proposition the words “That in case of a rise in wages the Council
Compensate The Contractor
for such advance of wages?”
Mr. Spencer accepted the addition, and Mr. Wilkins then seconded the altered proposition.
Mr. Miller said he wanted to be clear that it was to the interests of the workmen that this resolution should be carried. It would be hard if these old men who were receiving a wage now with which they were satisfied should be thrown out of employment. Mr. Spencer should have brought evidence that the workmen were dissatisfied and that they were being paid a lower wage than the standard rate. If the workmen complained, it was another thing altogether.
Mr. Spencer said that the real object of the resolution was that the Council work should go only to the best employers. This clause did not apply to those men directly employed by the Council.
The Clerk: We should have to have a 10s stamp on all contracts.
Replying to Mr. Fountain, Mr. Spencer said that an exception would always be taken in the case of elderly men.
Mr. Denton said that if the clause were to be strictly adhered to, a contractor
Could Not Employ Old Men
Mr. Miller said he would prefer Mr. Spencer’s motion unaltered.
Other members concurred.
Mr. Spencer then moved his proposition without the addition suggested by Mr. Wilkins.
Mr. Miller seconded it.
Two voted for the proposition (Mr. Spencer and Mr. Miller). As no one voted against it, the Chairman declared it carried.
The Surveyor reported that according to instructions he had stopped the boring at the trial well near Knuston spinney at a depth of 117 feet. He sent samples of the materials to the specialists (Mr. Eunson and Mr. Cameron), who now advised the Council to discontinue the boring.
An Irregular Building
The Surveyor reported the erection by Mr. Pearson, auctioneer, of a structure adjoining the W.M.C. in Griffith-street. It projected beyond the building line and was constructed of boards and canvas roof.
Mr. Wilkins said the building infringed the bye-laws (1) by projecting beyond the building line, (2) as a wooden building within the prescribed distance from the street, and (3) as a wooden building within the prohibited distance of an adjoining property.
It was decided to call on Mr. Pearson to remove the building within three days.
25th November 1898
Rushden Urban Council
There were present on Wednesday night Messrs. J. Claridge (chairman), F. Knight (vice-chairman), H. Brawne, G. Denton, G. Fountain, W. H. Wilkins, G. H. Skinner, T. Swindall, G. S. Mason (clerk), W. B. Madin (surveyor), J. B. Martin (sanitary inspector), and Dr. Owen (medical officer).
The following reports of committee work were received:-
Plans were presented by Mr. T. Swindall for five houses in York-road and passed subject to an additional ventilation shaft being erected; also plans by Messrs. Whittington and Tomlin for four houses in Denmark-road and passed.
Washbrook-road. Owners of property in this road asked for a footpath to be constructed on the north side of the road. The Plans Committee were requested to visit the site and report.
Pightles Estate. The Surveyor submitted his estimate of the cost of completing the following roads on this estate Denmark-road, Pightles-terrace, Oswald-street, Winchester-road, and the upper portion of Robert-street. the surveyor was instructed to supply Messrs. Knight and Bradfield with a copy of his estimate and the matter was referred to the Finance Committee to deal with.
The Infringement of Bye-Laws. The Clerk reported that in accordance with instructions he had served Mr. Pearson with a notice to remove the building reported on at the last Council meeting. He had received a letter from Mr. Pearson’s agent, stating that Mr. Pearson was very ill at Nottingham and that they proposed to leave the town on Tuesday next. The Clerk further reported that, after consultation with the chairman, he had replied to Mr. Pearson that the summons would not be served if the building were removed by the time named. The committee approved of this.
Infectious Diseases. The Inspector reported that, on the recommendation of the medical men attending the cases, he had destroyed the bedding belonging to Mr. G. Willmott and Mr. Green, value £1 and £1 1s respectively. The inspector’s action was confirmed and compensation to the value stated ordered to be paid.
Water Works. The Clerk was instructed to obtain from Mr. Eunson an account of his fees, &c., to date, and to ask him to meet the Council on an early date, in the evening if possible.
The reports were adopted.
“The Light That Failed”
One was forcibly reminded of the title of Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel by the fact that the meeting was held almost in darkness. The light which had lately been put in has been a complete failure.
A small committee was appointed to deal with the lighting and carpeting of the Council Chamber.