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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 13th November 1931, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Invitation to County Agricultural Show
Refusal to Sell Council Land for Shops

Three important topics were raised at the monthly meeting of the Rushden Urban District Council, on Wednesday evening.

On a recommendation of the Finance Committee the Council agreed to invite the County Agricultural Society to hold their 1932 Show in the town.

The Council rejected by a majority a motion, submitted by Mr. G. W. Coles, J.P., that they should sell land on the Irchester-road estate, set apart for the erection of shops by the Council, to private tradesmen, with a view to them erecting their own business premises.

The Council also agreed to a scheme for the continuation of Tennyson Place for 300 yards, and Mr. J. Allen, chairman of the Housing Committee, submitted exhaustive details of local applications for Council Houses.

Road and Housing Scheme Debate

The members present were Messrs. L. Perkins, M.B.E., J.P., B.Sc., (in the chair), J. Roe (vice-chair), A. Allebone, C. Claridge, T. Wilmott, F. Green, D. G. Greenfield, M.D., J. Allen, W. E. Capon, T. Swindall, A. Wilmott, G. W. Coles, J.P., J. Spencer, J.P., J. T. Richardson, with the Clerk Mr. G. S. Mason, the Surveyor Mr. J. W. Lloyd, and the Sanitary Inspector, Mr. F. S. F. Piper.

An apology for absence was received from Mr. C. W. Horrell, C.A.

The Housing Committee reported that as instructed by the Council at their last meeting they had considered the question of the provision of further houses, and agreed that it was necessary that further houses be erected. They recommended the Council that the Surveyor be instructed to advertise for tenders for the construction of 300 yards of road in continuation of Tennyson Place on the Irchester-road Estate. This would accommodate about 56 houses of the non-parlour type.

In moving the resolution, Mr. Allen, the chairman of the Housing Committee, said: “If the road is constructed we shall have to build houses, or the road will be useless, and in connection with this I have got out certain figures with respect to the number of applicants and the number of likely tenants who would take these houses. In the books in the office there are about 500 names, and about 56 applications have been received since that register was compiled, making a total of 556.

“I have made a careful analysis of these figures and I find that 92 in the book applied in 1928, or previously, and of these 31 were out of town people, 30 are tenants, and 40 have no children. I made an examination of the book with respect to ex-Servicemen and find there are still on the books 133 such applicants, with war services ranging from 1914-18, 83 of these are in town, 33 are tenants, and 30 have no children. The number of applicants in 1929 was 100; 33 out of town, 25 tenants, and 40 with no children. In 1930 there were 143 applicants, 44 out of town, 33 tenants, and 45 with no children. In 1931 the number is 114 plus the remainder of 56, of those 114, 41 are out of town, 30 are tenants, and 50 have no children. The figures for the 56 I cannot give you.

Total Statistics

“Obviously the very recent applicants would not enter into competition for any houses which might fall vacant. Of the total of 500 applicants, 149 are out of town, 118 are tenants and 175 have no children.

“Subtracting the number of tenants leaves 331, and then I have taken away the out of town people (149), leaving 182. I should like to mention in connection with the ex-Servicemen that according to the census we took just after the war, there were 1,462 returned ex-Servicemen.

“Mr. Lack’s figures, given after careful consideration of the printed list, reveal that 280 applicants out of the 556 are “probable” applicants for Council houses in that they are still making application and of these 280, 57 are out of town, 82 tenants, and 110 have no children.

“I should like to point out the fact that I do not think if we were to make this 300 yards of road, as I move in the resolution, that this Council will be committed to anything not to be desired. There are still a good number of applicants in the town, and many of these, of course, are without children, but the obvious answer to that is that many of the better-class of tenant do not desire to have children in undesirable condition, and we cannot, as a Council rule out these people and say they are to go without houses.”

Mr. Swindall: Has sanction been received from the Ministry for the 25 houses already passed?

The Chairman: Not yet, I understand.

Mr. Swindall: Is it likely we should get permission for 58?

The Clerk: We are not making application for them; only for the road.

Mr. Spencer said it was their duty to deal with the needs of the inhabitants who desired houses.

Mr. Allen: I think the Committee expressed the view that if the Ministry turned down the 24 houses we should not go on with the others.

Mr. Coles: I understand the Ministry are turning down applications for parlour-type houses, but not for the non-parlour type.

Couples in Rooms

Mr. T. Wilmott said he agreed with Mr. Swindall. They should have waited until getting sanction for the other houses, because if they were going to make a road they would have to arrange to build houses. The road, he added, would cost upwards of £3,000, and they should have waited until sanction was obtained for the 24 houses. He understood from one Councillor that the Ministry were refusing parlour-type houses, and could quite agree with that as Mr. Allen had said a number of applications were from people with no children. He knew several married couples who had been in rooms for upwards of ten years, and because they had no children, could not get a house. A non-parlour type house would be plenty large enough for them. He did hope, however, that the Council would not make arrangements for the road construction until they knew what was going to happen about the other 24 houses. He would like to ask the Chairman of the Committee what he meant by tenants. Were they in rooms or tenants with a full house?

Mr. Allen: They have a house.

Mr. Wilmott: Are they overcrowded?

Mr. Allen: Some of them. The accommodation in some cases in a six roomed house is no better than they previously had.

Mr. Richardson said the Committee had looked at the problems all round, and he thought they were aware of these things.

Mr. Swindall said they ought to know exactly where they stood with regard to the erection of more houses. In the last month there had been a General Election and the cry of Economy! Economy! They were building houses all the time, and although they got value for money to a certain extent, they had to borrow money for the purpose. There was a big move in the town with regard to private enterprise and private building. They had plans before them for 15 houses, and he understood that one large shoe manufacturer was willing to build a large number of houses if he could only get them under proper conditions. While the Council were meeting some of the need felt for houses, he thought there were a good many more shoe manufacturers who would perhaps follow suit and want to get houses built, without the Council coming into the breach.

Private Enterprise

The Chairman said he was convinced that the sanction of the Ministry would be obtained for the 24 houses if the position were fully explained to them. There was a very strong reason for putting up a good type of house in that excellent position, and there were plenty of people living in small houses who would be glad to occupy one of them.

“With regard to the resolution,” continued the chairman, “If the Ministry really think that we have reached the limit in Rushden, we shall lose nothing because they will turn down our scheme, but if they give us permission to make the road it practically binds them to give us permission to build houses. People have got to have houses. Houses built by private enterprise are all right for people with five or six pounds a week, but not for a man with only 50s. Ordinary private enterprise in letting houses is finished.

“As regards shoe manufacturers, if they replace old houses with new ones they are doing the right and just thing, but there is not much prospect of the manufacturers I know coming forward and saying they have got a lot of work-people and want to build houses for them.”

As one who had some experience in connection with the houses schemes, he remembered that they were in arrears some five or six years ago, and they did not want that to happen again. Steady progress was required.

Mr. A. Wilmott said that everyone wanted to see progress in the town, but it would be bad business on their part to pass plans for a new road until they had a definite decision over the other 24 houses. There was no necessity to be in a hurry.

The resolution was then put to the meeting and carried, no member voting against. Several did not vote.

Site For Church

A letter was received from the Northants Congregational Association referring to their inspection of sites on the Irchester-road estate and enquiring if the Council were prepared to sell the site marked No.1 on the plan with a frontage of about 150 feet to the proposed road in continuation of Tennyson Place, and if so, the price.

The Committee recommended the Council to agree to sell the plot referred to (subject to the approval of the Ministry of Health) at the price of 1/- per square yard, the purchasers to pay half the cost of the road making in respect of such plot.

The Chairman, in reply to Mr. T. Wilmott, said the site was at the corner of the proposed new road. The purchasers could, however, make a temporary footpath and get on with the building if they desired. With regard to the price, which might seem rather high, a good deal of money had been spent on making the approaches to the road, and therefore the price was fixed as stated, although the land only cost the Council £50 an acre. The resolution was approved.

Reporting on a special meeting of the Finance Committee, Mr. Green (chairman), said it was intimated to the Council that the County Agricultural Show Committee would like to hold the show at Rushden next year and a small committee of the Finance Committee met a Show Committee on Friday last, and it was agreed that it would be very nice to have the show in the town. He would ask Mr. Beetenson to read the Committee’s resolution on the subject.

Mr. Beetenson, reading the minutes of the Committee’s meeting, said it appeared that there was a balance in hand of £185 from the last show, and the Sub-Committee recommended that in the event of the show being held in Rushden, that they should give £150 to the County Society, and be responsible for the decoration of the town, provision of bands, sports, and entertainments. This would involve an estimated expenditure of £135, and after allowing for the £35 in hand (after the deduction of the £150), would mean that £100 would have to be raised by voluntary subscription.

The Show Invitation

The Committee recommended the Council to invite the Society to hold the Show at Rushden on those terms, it being understood that no part of the gate money would be appropriated by the town.

Mr. Green said it was first suggested that they should hand over all the funds, and take no responsibility, but they agreed that was not all they ought to do and they could hardly ask the Show Society to provide the bands, decorations, and entertainments.

When the Show was last held in Rushden, said Mr. Green, £349 was raised by private subscriptions and although they would not get so much this time there should be no difficulty in raising £100. He moved the Committee’s resolution.

Mr. Spencer seconded, and the resolution was carried unanimously.

With regard to the gate money, Mr. Green said £187 was taken at the gate last time, but as the show was to be held at Kettering after next year, there would be no object in having any of the gate receipts and they therefore agreed that the Society should have all responsibility and the proceeds at the gate.

Mr. Green added that he presumed the Council would not be responsible in any way. They would have to call a town’s meeting and appoint committees.

In accordance with notice of motion given at the last meeting, Mr. Coles raised the question of the sale of Council land for shops.

He said: “The reason why I gave notice of motion and why I desire the matter to be discussed to-night is this. You will remember that the last time we discussed the matter the Council came to a decision not to sell any land for shops but to be prepared to erect shops to let. That position was satisfactory in so far as it went, but conditions in the country have changed considerably since the matter was discussed and it is very doubtful indeed whether the Ministry would allow the Council to build shops at this time of National emergency. This might remain for some years and people would have to be there without shops, and with a view to bringing the matter to a head I gave notice of motion that the Council should consider selling land to any Rushden tradesman who desired it.

Petition to Council

“I do not want you to imagine that I am simply here to represent the Co-operative Society, of which I happen to be president, but all want to know exactly what is going to be done in the matter. I am informed that a petition has been sent to the Council, but I knew nothing at all about it, nor did anyone connected with the Co-operative Society officially. It was done solely by people residing on the new estate, who believe it is time they had shops in the neighbourhood.

“I do not want to unduly press this matter, but I want you to judge it from a public point of view – not a co-operative one – of whether it is in the interest of the people who reside up there or not, that land should be sold for shops. We want you to come to a decision.

Mr. Claridge: May I ask whether there was any petition?

Mr. Richardson said he would second the proposition. He had had several enquiries from people as to whether there were likely to be shops up there.

Mr. Roe said they should not depart from their previous resolution. Several people had gone to the neighbourhood on the understanding that the Council were not going to sell the land.

Mr. Spencer: No! No!

Mr. Roe: It would be hardly fair to sell the land now when people have built shops near the estate I shall vote against it at any rate.

Mr. Spencer said he did not think there was any promise that the Council were not going to sell land. He criticised what he described as neglect in the matter. With regard to the selling of the land, it would be no new departure. They sold the land to the County Council for a school, and sold land on the Newton-road which was now occupied by a shop.

He would certainly like to see shops there, though as a Sunday School Superintendent he disliked to see shops in the neighbourhood open all day on Sundays, and if the Council sold land, they ought to make proper conditions to be observed by tradesmen who built shops. He would support the resolution.

Mr. T. Wilmott said he was of the same opinion as the vice-chairman. The Council agreed practically unanimously not to sell land, and if they got sanction or not to build shops they should not run away from their resolution. The houses they had built recently were near the town and several shops near by. He quite agreed that a shop erected in the proper place would be the best paying proposition they would have, better than houses.

“Principle All Right”

Mr. Allen asked if they could not have an answer to Mr. Claridge’s question.

The Chairman said two petitions had been received, one asking for shops, and a counter petition against them. He had no idea of the number of signatures.

Mr. Coles, replying to points raised, said the Council only decided six months ago not to sell land, and shops had been near the estate before then; he only knew of one erected since. The position was no different to what it had ever been; shops had been there a considerable time, and they would not act unfairly by selling land. They were selling land to a religious organisation, so the principle was all right.

The chairman said he was sure none of them would object to selling land for a religious purpose. With regard to the land in Newton-road they did perhaps make a mistake; they hoped tenants would buy their own homes, but only one did so, and it had since been converted into a shop.

The proposition was then put to the meeting and lost, only four voted in favour.

On the recommendation of the Plans, Highways and Lighting Committee, plans were approved as follows: Three houses in Wellingborough-road for Messrs. W. Packwood and Son, subject to the drains being separately connected with the sewer; twelve houses on the Shirley-road for Mrs. J. White, (subject to the drains being constructed to the satisfaction of the Surveyor); billiard hall in Duck-street for Mr. D. E. Mitchell; extensions to stables off the Bedford-road for Mr. B. Folkes.

The Surveyor reported damage to a lamp standard in Higham-road caused by a lorry. He was instructed to have the damage repaired, and forward the account to the owner of the lorry.

Motor Parks Lighting

The Lighting Sub-Committee reported that upon receipt of a letter from the Superintendent of Police with regard to the lighting of the motor parking places in College-street and Rectory-road they had inspected these roads and had given instructions for an extra lamp to be fixed in each case.

The Council and Committee approved the action of the Sub-Committee.

The Lighting Sub-Committee were requested to inspect Griffith-street with regard to the lighting there.

Mr. Spencer said there had been some complaints regarding parking in West-street, during the day and often till late at night.

Mr. Roe said it was a private road.

The Chairman: It is up to the owners of the property to control it as best they can.

The Surveyor reported that as instructed at the last meeting he had obtained estimates for the repairs necessary to the steam roller, from the makers and from Messrs. Mathers. It was resolved to accept that of the makers, Messrs. Aveling and Porter, Ltd., at £42 5s.

In connection with the National Rat Week, the Inspector was authorised to engage two rat catchers at a fee of 10s per week each for a period, at his discretion, not exceeding one fortnight.

The Sanitary Inspector submitted estimates for instruments required by him in connection with the inspection of meat and the lowest, at £1 10s 6d was accepted.

The Farm Sub-Committee reported that the grass round the hedges at the farm had been cut and an offer of £2 had been received for same. An offer had also been received of £9 for the 4 to 5 tons of straw at present stored at the farm. The Sub-Committee recommended that each of these offers be accepted, and the Council and Committee agreed.

The Surveyor was instructed to offer for sale the stock of oats, estimated at about 18 quarters, and to accept the most favourable price.

The Health and Sanitary Committee reported that they had had under consideration the system of collection of house refuse and received a report from the special Sub-Committee on their visit to Hitchin and Letchworth where freighters were used. The further consideration was deferred until the next meeting.

Economy Circular

The Clerk reported that the expenses of the Fire Brigade amounting to £6 6s in connection with the fire at Mr. G. S. North’s poultry farm on the 30th April last had been duly forwarded to Mr. North’s insurance company (The Royal Exchange Assurance) who had refused to pay them, but had offered the sum of £4 4s as an ex-gratia payment.

It was pointed out that the expenses incurred were the actual amounts paid by the Council to the brigade and were usually paid in full by the insurance companies.

It was resolved to accept the sum offered and to write off the balance as irrecoverable.

The Finance Committee reported that they had again had under consideration the circular No. 1222 from the Ministry of Health, particularly with regard to officers’ salaries and after receiving a report of the decisions of neighbouring authorities resolved to recommend the Council to take no action in the matter.

This was approved. In reply to Mr. T. Wilmott, who asked whether neighbouring authorities had taken any action in the matter, Mr. Green Chairman of the Committee said they had made enquiries and the amounts deducted were so small that they did not think it worth while to make any alteration in the Council’s present scale.

The Chairman said the County Council had led the way in making reductions; even the caretakers’ salaries had been cut by 2½ per cent he understood.

The Clerk submitted a report on the various insurances affected by the Council, from which it appeared that three or four different companies were concerned.

It was agreed that it would be in the best interests of the Council if the whole of the policies were with one office. The Clerk was requested to take steps with this end in view.

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