|Rushden Echo, 16th November, 1917, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
THE HOUSING OF THE WORKING CLASSES
Wednesday, present Councillors John Spencer, J.P., (chairman), T. Wilmott (vice-chairman), F. Knight, J.P., J. Claridge, J.P., C.C., W. Bazeley, J.P., C. Bates, T. Swindall, J. Hyde, with the clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason), the surveyor (Mr. W. B. Madin), and the sanitary inspector (Mr. F. J. Allen).
The Chairman reported that he and the Vice-Chairman had attended the conference at the Mansion House on infantile mortality, and he would give a report at the next meeting of the Council in committee.
COUNCIL IN COMMITTEE
A meeting of the whole Council in Committee was held at the Council Buildings on Wednesday October 31st, 1917, when there were present: Messrs. J. Spencer (chairman), T. Wilmott, C. Bates, W. Bazeley, J. Claridge, J. S. Clipson, Fred Knight and T. Swindall.
were presented for:-
Additions to store-room in Portland-road, for Mr. F. Hawkes, and no exception taken.
Engine-house at the rear of factory in Victoria-road, for Messrs. Howes and George, and passed.
New w.c. to factory in Moor-road, for the Foresters’ Friendly Society, and passed.
Shed at the rear of the factory in Spencer-road, for Messrs. Sanders and Sanders, and no exception taken.
A w.c. for workmen in Mr. Marriott’s builder’s yard on the Higham-road, and passed.
HOUSING OF THE WORKING CLASSES
The Sites Sub-Committee reported that, after a very careful inspection of building sites in all parts of the town, they had instructed the Clerk to make inquiries with regard to a number of sites in various localities. The Sub-Committee had considered the replies received and unanimously recommended the purchase of a field containing 14½ acres situate on the Newton-road, opposite the Cemetery, from Messrs. Knight and Bradfield, for £1,500, and that the Council enter into a provisional agreement for purchase, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board.
The Committee adopted the recommendation of the Sub-Committee, and resolved to recommend the Council accordingly.
The Sub-Committee were asked to consider further suitable sites in other parts of the town.
The Highways Sub-Committee reported that they had met the Surveyor of the Salvation Army with regard to the question of the acquisition of a small portion of land lying between Queen-street and Messrs. E. Claridge’s factory for street improvement, and had suggested to him that the Army Authorities should give up the ground required, about 95 square yards, on the Council undertaking to set back the fence and make a road-way, it to be understood that when the larger scheme was carried out in the future, the land now given up should be taken into consideration in fixing the compensation to be paid. The Surveyor asked that this proposal might be put into writing and forwarded to him, together with a plan showing the land required. This had been done and a further letter had been received from the Army Headquarters stating that as the larger scheme might be indefinitely postponed, they could only enter into negotiations with the Council on the terms of the purchase of the land in question, and in reply to an inquiry as to the price they required, stated it to be £80.
The Committee considered the price altogether excessive, and expressed the opinion that the Authorities in London were under some misapprehension as to the value of land in Rushden.
The Clerk was instructed to reply to this effect, and make an offer of £25, being at the rate of 5s. per yard, which the Committee considered the full value.
MOOR ROAD FACTORY
The Surveyor reported that the work of lining this factory with “Uralite” was proceeding, and that he had received a letter from Mr. W. Ashford on behalf of his brother, the owner of the property, undertaking that it should not be used as a boot factory for a period exceeding six months after the War.
RETAIL COAL PRICES ORDER, 1917
The Sub-Committee reported that they had met the Retail Coal Merchants carrying on business in this Urban District, and discussed the prices with them. The merchants were asked to submit prices which they did, and which upon examination were found to be on the average slightly in excess of the 7s. 6d. per ton over pre-war prices. The merchants, at the request of the Committee, furnished details of the increases in cost. The explanation given was that the prices in 1913 were governed by favourable contracts. The freightage to Rushden station is fourpence per ton in excess of that to Wellingborough, but owing to the more favourable position of the station at Rushden the merchants expressed themselves as willing to accept the Wellingborough prices.
The Sub-Committee recommended that certain prices be fixed for this Urban District.
The Committee agreed, and resolved to recommend the Council accordingly.
The Clerk reported that he had had a visit from a representative of the Coal Controller with regard to the present shortage of coal, and had pointed out to him one of the principal reasons of the shortage was that the various Coal Clubs in the town had not this year been able to obtain their usual supplies. It was suggested that a return should be obtained from the secretaries of the various Clubs, showing the amounts consumed last year and the estimated requirements for this year, and the information supplied to the Coal Controller. The Clerk was requested to obtain and furnish this information as soon as possible.
An application from the Controller of the Post Office telephones for permission to top certain trees on the public highways, which were growing into the wires, was acceded to.
The Surveyor reported that a tree in Griffith-street had been seriously damaged by one of the lorries of the Petroleum Co. coming into collision with it. He had repaired the mischief as far as possible, and was instructed to send in an account for the cost incurred to the Petroleum Co., and request payment.
A letter was received from Mr. W. G. Wilmott stating that he had received instructions from the owners to complete this road, but found it impossible at present to obtain the necessary materials.
The Surveyor reported that the recent sale of crops realised £108 13s.
HEALTH AND SANITARY REPORTS
The report of the Medical Officer for the month of October was received.
The Sanitary Inspector reported that since the last meeting 23 preliminary notices calling attention to nuisances and other matters had been issued, all of which were receiving attention.
As instructed at the last meeting, Council Notices had been served on Mr. W. W. Smith and Mr. W. Wilkerson to provide and fix efficient eaves gutters to their respective properties and communications had since been received stating that orders had been given for the work to be carried out.
The Inspector had again seen the agent and occupier of Messrs. Edens’ factory in Moor-road, who had informed him that plans were in course of preparation for the extra necessary sanitary convenience.
The defective drains at Nos. 47 to 51, Queen-street, were being repaired or relaid where necessary.
One book belonging to the Free Library, found in an infected house, had been destroyed. It was resolved to recommend the Council to replace the book.
Acting on the advice of the medical Practitioner in attendance, a quantity of infected bedding had been destroyed after a death from consumption. It was resolved to recommend the Council to replace part of the bedding destroyed at a cost not exceeding £1 7s. 6d.
The Inspector also reported that he had inspected certain quantities of meat at two slaughter-houses in the town, which, after consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, he had destroyed as unfit for food. The Committee decided to take no further action in regard thereto.
The Inspector gave a detailed statement of his work during the past month.
DAIRIES, COWSHEDS, AND MILKSHOPS ORDER
An application had been received from Mr. James William Watson, of No. 155, Queen-street, Rushden, to be registered as a purveyor of milk, and his name had been placed on the register.
Several questions mentioned in the report were discussed at length.
The Chairman, with reference to the housing of the working classes, said the sub-committee had given a great deal of time and trouble to the question of sites.
Mr. Claridge: I should like to be satisfied that the land is suitable for the purpose and also for gardening. It strikes me as being rather more than is required.
The Chairman: I do not think you need have any fear on that score. The site selected is admirably adapted with regard to drainage. There is a good bard road on the frontage, and it is suitable for 40 or 50 houses on the highway alone. The cost will be less than the amount we paid for the land on which we built the Council houses. If we are able to build houses by the high-road it would save road-making at the public expense.
Mr. Hyde: The cost is about £100 an acre.
The Chairman: It is about 5d. a yard.
Mr. Swindall: Was it an instruction of the Local Government Board that local authorities should secure sites? Other Councils have not provided sites as far as I have seen.
The Clerk: You are asked to submit a scheme, and the Local Government Board only grant assistance to those Councils which undertake to submit schemes.
Mr. Bates: It shows Rushden is leading the way if we are the only Council to select a site.
Mr. Bazeley: No Local Authority can submit a scheme for housing unless they get a site. I do not think there is an inch of land too much. As regards suitability, the land which is not required immediately for building purposes is suitable for allotments, as the ground surrounding it is used for that purpose and excellent crops are grown upon it. We told the Local Government Board that we needed 100 houses, and a 14½ acre field is not too much to buy to lay out on a proper scheme giving the right amount to each house.
Mr. Swindall: The allotment ground is let at a cheaper rate than we should be able to let it at if we give £100 an acre.
Mr. Bazeley: If a certain amount of the land is let for allotment purposes there would not be much burden on the rates.
Mr. Swindall: I am not altogether opposed to the scheme, but I should like to see more definitely when the scheme can be accomplished. It will be many years, I think, before this scheme can be brought about, and I should have liked to see the purchase of the land deferred until we have some idea as to when it could be carried through. We are choosing now a site for some other Council to build upon. Another Council undoubtedly will have to see this scheme through, and then, I think, would be the best time to secure the land, because the land will be there, and we could purchase it at a more opportune time.
Mr. Bazeley: I think it would be very short-sighted policy to do as Mr. Swindall suggests. The Government are moving in this direction, and they are having all the best architects to submit plans and particulars as to materials for the purpose of carrying out these housing schemes all over the country. We should be slow to wait and have nothing prepared when they are ready to act.
Mr. Hyde: You can do nothing in it at present, and it will be a long time before you can. Who can tell when the war is to end? We should try to win the war before we commit ourselves to these things. When the end of the war is in sight, then will be the time to welcome the men home and to provide houses.
The Chairman: The matter was not brought forward by ourselves. The Government, considering the scarcity of houses throughout the country, asked the Local Authorities to formulate schemes, and they were very anxious that every Council should do what they could. I believe with the Government, that this is a most urgent problem, and housing is needed in Rushden as much as in any place. Scores of people to-day are waiting for houses and cannot obtain them, and when the soldiers come back from the front, the houses must be ready. We, as a progressive town, should do all we can to provide employment for the men when the war is over. The Government, when the shops are released, will be able to bring the material. The men will be able to go into mines and brickworks. If every Local Authority throughout the country neglected its opportunities, what position would the Government be in? The Government wish to have the schemes ready after the war. After all, we have to build for the future. When we provided waterworks it was for the future. We should be neglecting an opportunity if we did not do our duty in this matter. I do not believe in waiting, because it is a most urgent matter. This is a suitable site, and the price is a reasonable one. It is Messrs. Knight & Bradfield’s land, but I wish to make it clear that Mr. Knight retired from the Committee, and had nothing to do with selecting the site. It was after seeing all the likely sites and considering the prices that the Committee unanimously selected this site.
Messrs. Spencer, Wilmott, Bazeley and Bates voted for the recommendation, which was carried, the other members not voting.
SALVATION ARMY LAND
On this question, the Clerk read a letter from the Salvation Army headquarters, stating that they could not reduce the price named, which would not re-imburse them. The price named, the letter stated, was far lower than the price put upon it under the Valuation Act.
Mr. Knight: This land is absolutely useless as far as the Salvation Army is concerned, and the letter the Clerk has read is not in accordance with the facts. There is no doubt that they had to help to make the road, but they bought the land at a very low figure. I think it shows bad taste on the part of the Salvation Army headquarters. They have a body here which has been generously supported, both financially and in other ways, and I do not think they should try to bleed the town when a public improvement is required without any detriment to them, but, if anything, rather an improvement. To ask 17s. a yard for this land, shaped as it is, is not right. I protest, not against the local body, but against the headquarters. This is a public improvement, for the public generally. It is a dangerous spot, and this opening is very much required and would be appreciated by the town, and if the Salvation Army headquarters want the public of Rushden to support them in the future as they have done in the past they are not going the right way to work. (Applause.) The townspeople have treated them very generously in the past, and it is not wise of the headquarters to stop a great public improvement.
Mr. Bates: Is it possible to carry out the improvement without getting the land from the Salvation Army?
The Chairman: It would be best to refer the matter back to the committee.
Mr. Bates moved that the matter be referred back to the committee, which was seconded by Mr. Wilmott and carried.
With regard to the part of the report dealing with coal, Mr. Bates asked: If people go to the railway station for one or two hundredweights of coal, would it be possible to get it?
The Chairman: If the coal merchants sell at the station, they have to sell at 2d. per cwt less than if delivered. We, as a Council, cannot force them to sell, but it is a great convenience to the public.
Mr. Bazeley: The public are suffering a great deal from the want of coal, and the merchants have not sufficient labour to take it to the customers’ houses. There is a good deal of shortage in some of the working-class houses owing to the merchants not being able to deliver coal.
The Chairman: There are a great many complaints that people could not obtain the coal. People from various parts of the town approached me, and said it was impossible to obtain coal, so I went to see the Clerk. Mr Mason wrote to the Coal Controller, who sent a representative, and the Clerk and Mr. Swindall met him and tried to make suggestions whereby the coal supply for Rushden should be increased.
Mr. Knight said there was a scarcity of men, and everything was being done that could be done.
Mr. Bates thought it was not altogether a shortage of coal. He understood there was coal at the station, and the people could not get it.
Mr. Swindall: It is the shortage of coal. If the collieries would send the coal the merchants would distribute it.
Mr. Bazeley: We do not want to see the public of Rushden suffer unnecessarily for the want of coal. I should like the coal merchants to try to arrange a system to supply the town with the coal they do get as fairly as possible, so that no one unduly suffers.
The recommendations of the committee were carried.
The whole of the minutes were then adopted.
FINANCE & ESTATES COMMITTEE
A meeting of the Finance and Estates Committee was held at the Council Buildings, on Tuesday, November 6th, 1917, at 10a.m. when there were present:- Messrs. T. Wilmott (in the chair), C. Bates, J. Claridge, J. Hyde, and Fred Knight.
SURVEYOR’S CASH ACCOUNT
The Committee examined the Surveyor’s cash account with the wages books, the expenditure shown therein being as follows:-
The Collector’s accounts were also examined, from which it appeared that he had collected the following sums since the last meeting:-
The Committee also examined the Treasurer’s accounts, from which it appeared that he had received the following sums since the last meeting:-
And that the following were in hand:-
TRADESMEN’S AND OTHER ACCOUNTS
A number of accounts amounting to £676 14s. 5d. were examined and passed for payment.
The report was adopted.
FREE LIBRARY COMMITTEE
A meeting of the Free Library Committee was held at the Library on Friday, October 26th, 1917, when there were present:- Messrs. J. Claridge (chairman), J. Spencer, J. S. Clipson, J. T. Colson, W. W. Rial, T. Swindall, and the Revs. C. J. Keeler and P. Robson.
The minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee held on November 3rd, 1916, were read and confirmed.
The following were re-appointed members of the Management Committee for the ensuing year: The Chairman, Messrs. W. Clarke, S. Saddler, W. W. Rial, and the Revs. P. Robson and C. J. Keeler.
It was resolved to request the Council to authorise the Committee to expend the sum of £25 in the purchase of new books.
The Secretary reported that 167 books had been added to the Library during the past twelve months, as follows: Fiction 114, Non-fiction 1, Juveniles 52.
The Librarian reported that the number of books issued for the twelve months ended August 31st, 1917, was 29,013, made up as follows:-
PAPERS AND PERIODICALS
It was resolved to continue the present arrangement with Mr. Charles Robinson for the supply of papers and periodicals for a further year, viz., to the end of 1918.
It was also resolved that the sale of papers and periodicals take place as usual on December 29th next.
The report was adopted.
PRISONERS OF WAR FUND
Mr. O. Claridge wrote asking for the use of a room at the Council Buildings for the Prisoners of War Fund Committee, and this was granted.