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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 16th October 1931, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Provision of Houses: Vote Against Public Debate
Council Land to be Sold for Shops?

An animated discussion on a recommendation by the Housing Committee for the Council to discuss in private the question of the provision of further Council houses was the feature of the meeting of the Rushden Urban District Council on Wednesday evening.

Mr. G. W. Coles, J.P., asked for a public debate on the matter, which, he said, affected probably eight hundred people.

Mr. Tysoe objected to any suggestion that only one party on the Council was anxious to provide further houses.

A further question put by Mr. Coles concerned the selling of Council land on the Irchester-road estate for shops, and he especially referred to the position of the Co-operative Society, who had obtained another site, and wanted to know the exact position. The matter is to be raised at the next meeting.

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

The Housing Committee recommended the Council to meet in Committee at the close of the meeting, to consider the question of the provision of further houses.

Mr. Coles said he would like to move an amendment.

Mr. Allen said the Committee discussed the question and saw the need for houses in the town and agreed that the need should be met, but in view of the financial situation and knowing that a resolution might commit the Council to further road making and building, the Committee thought the Council should have the responsibility of spending any further money in this direction. He would move the resolution.

This was seconded.

Mr. Coles said he would move an amendment that the words “to meet in committee” be deleted, which meant that the subject would be thrashed out in open Council.

The chairman: It is direct negative.

Mr. Coles said he wished to speak against the resolution. There were a very large number of applicants, as everyone knew, for houses, probably over 400 good applications for houses that had yet to be built.

The Chairman: Whether there are one hundred, four hundred, or nine hundred houses needed is not the point; the mere fact that houses are needed is irrelevant.

800 People Affected

Mr. Coles: If you will let me go on I think you will find I am not far out of order. I want to express the view that it should be thrashed out in public. Everyone knows there are a large number of applicants, and the reason why I stress for this to be debated in public is because it has been said that certain councillors have expressed the opinion that the time has arrived for a rest. They are entitled to their opinion, but I think you will agree that it is in the best interests of the applicants that they should know any reason why the Council do not want to build more houses. That is why I want it thrashed out in public, so that they know where they are, and what to expect; it is due to them. It affects 800 people at least, and some have families.

The chairman: It is a direct negative to the resolution which anyone is entitled to oppose, and I am going to rule that it is not an amendment.

Mr. Hornsby: Surely there is no harm in debating the matter in public? I agree with Mr. Coles.

Mr. Spencer suggested a proper report should be presented later for full discussion.

Mr. Tysoe said he wished to support the resolution. Plenty of members, he said, were quite as energetic as Mr. Coles in their desire to get houses for the public.

Mr. Coles: Is that in order, Mr. Chairman? It is a personal matter. You pulled me up rather smartly, and I must ask this.

Chairman: Give your own views, Mr. Tysoe.

Mr. Tysoe’s Protest

Mr. Tysoe said no one could say the Council were not anxious for houses. He did not want it to be thought that only one section was pressing the need for houses for working class people. Whatever their political thoughts or convictions, they wanted houses, as far as the financial state allowed.

Mr. A. Wilmott: I suggest you put the resolution.

This was done and the Chairman declared the Committee’s resolution carried.

Mr. Coles challenged the vote, but on a show of hands it was declared carried by 14 votes to 4.

On the recommendation of the Housing Committee, tenders for interior renovations were accepted as follows:-

83 houses on the Irchester-road site, Mr. A. T. Nichols at £335 19s, the lowest; 140 houses on the Newton-road Estate, Mr. A. T. Nichols in respect of 85 houses at £199 10s, Mr. F. J. Randall in respect of 34 houses at £71 13s 6d, and Mr. H. Freeman in respect of 21 houses at £49 13s 6d, all of which were the lowest tenders; 40 houses on the Kings-road Estate, Mr. H. Freeman for 9 houses at £20 16s 6d, Mr. F. J. Randall at £45 19s 6d for 21 houses, and Mr. A. T. Nichols at £25 2s for 10 houses, the lowest.

For the exterior painting of the 16 houses on the north-west side of Irchester-road, the tender of Messrs. Jaques and Timpson was accepted at £39 10s, the lowest.

Mr. Roe asked if there was any time limit for the work. One firm had nearly 200 houses to renovate and at the rate of two or three a week the work would take three or four years. It would have been better if the contracts had been let for smaller lots of houses.

Mr. Allen, chairman of the Committee, said no time limit was mentioned.

The Surveyor agreed.

Work to be Arranged

Mr. Allen said they had no option with the tenders, which were rather wide, and they were obliged to take the lowest tenders. He thought the renovations would be completed pretty rapidly; the firm that had most houses would obtain more labour to get the work done.

Mr. Roe said he was satisfied if the Housing Committee were.

The Chairman said it might be remedied on the next occasion, when they could see that all the houses did not have to be done in one year. A system could be arranged whereby renovations were carried out at different periods.

Mr. T. Wilmott said he hoped the houses were not in such a bad condition that they wanted a time limit on renovations.

The Surveyor submitted plans for the erection of 24 houses at the south-east end of the open space abutting Irchester-road, 12 of the parlour and 12 of the non-parlour types.

The Council approved the plans which the Surveyor was instructed to forward to the Ministry of Health for approval. He was also instructed to at once advertise for tenders.

The Hall Sub-Committee reported that they had met at the Hall and had given instructions for some slight repairs to be carried out at once owing to the penetration of rain. – This was approved.

Parks Bye-Laws

The special Sub-Committee appointed in connection with the making of new bye-laws for the various parks reported the receipt of a letter from the Ministry of Health asking the Council, in view of the expenses incurred in the making of such bye-laws, to consider whether the bye-laws were necessary.

The Sub-Committee had considered the letter and now recommended that the further consideration be adjourned sine die – This was agreed to.

On the recommendation of the Plans, Highways, and Lighting Committee, plans were approved for: Two houses on the Newton-road for Messrs. T. Swindall and Sons, two houses on the Wymington-road for Mr. F. C. Chamberlain, two houses on the Bedford-road for the Rushden Industrial Co-operative Society Limited, fan and motor house at the rear of their factory in Park-road for Messrs. John White, Ltd., a range of stables in a field off Bedford-road for Mr. B. Folkes, motor house at “, Prospect Avenue for Mr. H. G. Denton.

Increased Lighting

A letter had been received from the Rushden And District Electric Supply Co., Ltd., calling attention to the Michael Faraday Centenary and stating that in connection therewith the company were prepared to increase the thirty-eight 200 nominal candlepower (100 watt.) lamps to 300 nominal candlepower (150 watt.), and the twenty four 300 nominal candlepower (150watt.) to 400 candlepower (200 watt.), free of cost. The letter further stated that it was hoped to continue the concession during the remainder of the present contract for street lighting free of any extra cost but they must reserve the right to revert to the original candlepower if circumstances should arise, at any time, which would, in their opinion, necessitate them doing so.

The lighting Committee and the Council raised no objection to the company’s proposals.

Mr. T. Wilmott, chairman of the Committee, said he thought the whole of the Council would appreciate what the company had done. He had heard several comments about the improvement the extra 50 watts made in the lighting, and the company had been generous to try and include this in their present contract. It was certainly an improvement, and although they had had no floodlighting, this had been very much appreciated by the town and the Committee.

A letter was received from Mr. W. Lewis, of 65, High-street South, complaining of the annoyance caused by the buses standing in front of his house.

The clerk was instructed to reply that the arrangement for this particular bus stand was made with the company in agreement with the police authorities and that no more suitable place was for the present available.

Notice was received from the Rushden and District Electric Supply Co. Ltd., of their intention to lay an electric cable in Wymington-road.

Tenders were received for day-work carting for the ensuing six months and it was agreed to accept those of Mr. Charles Spriggs and Mr. B. Folkes at the respective prices quoted by them.

National Crisis and Local Expenditure

In continuation of the Council’s scheme for planting of trees in the town, the Surveyor was instructed to order a further 100 trees for planting on the Irchester-road Estate.

The chairman said this was a welcome resolution; it would mean more trees on the new estate.

Mr. Roe: Are they going to be lime trees?

Mr. Wilmott (chairman of the Committee): There will be various kinds.

“Rat Week”

The circular from the Ministry of Agriculture with regard to the holding of a “Rat Week” from 2nd to 7th of November next was considered by the Health and Sanitary Committee, who recommended the Council to hold such a “Rat Week” similar to last year but before deciding on the amount to be paid for each tail brought in, the Inspector was instructed to place himself in communication with neighbouring authorities with in a radius of five miles with a view to uniformity as to prices.

Discussion took place regarding the price to be paid per tail.

Dr. Greenfield said that some years they imported rats tails and other years exported them, according to the price paid in other towns.

The Council agreed to stipulate in the resolution that the price was not to exceed 3d per tail, and the resolution was then carried.

Refuse Freighters

In connection with the question of the collection of house refuse, the Health and Sanitary Committee reported that they had again considered the provision of freighters, in the place of horses and carts now in use, and a committee had been appointed to attend a demonstration of one of the machines at Hitchin.

The Clerk submitted the following memorandum of General Rate made the 25th March, 1931: Amount of rate £17,926 10s; recoverable arrears of former rate £82 11s 6d; supplemental list £260 8s; total £18,269 9s 6d; amount collected £16,857 17s 6d; recoverable arrears £38 6s 8d; discount £221 15s 9d; allowances to owners £834 18s 5d; irrecoverable arrears £316 11s 2d; a total of £18,269 9s 6d.

The Clerk also submitted a summary of the irrecoverable amounts, as follows: Unoccupied £273 1s 2d; excusals through de-rating £13 10s; exempt in the services of the Crown £30. The Council agreed that they be written off as such.

Rate Arrears

The Clerk submitted the Rate Arrears account for the year ended 31st March last, from which it appeared that the whole of the recoverable arrears at that date, £82 11s 6d had now been paid with the exception of a sum of £2 11s 9d which had been written off as irrecoverable on account of the property being unoccupied during the month of March. – The account was approved.

Mr. Swindall asked if this meant that all rates owing till March 31st had been paid.

Mr. Green (chairman of the Finance Committee) said he presumed this was so.

Mr. Swindall said this reflected great credit on the office staff, and also on the people of Rushden.

The chairman said he always noticed that Rushden people paid promptly and they did not have to issue summonses as in other places.

The Finance Committee reported that they had had under consideration the question of the employment of the Council’s staff at elections and they recommended to the Council that any officer or clerk so engaged on that day of elections in the conduct thereof, that his salary be reduced by one day’s pay accordingly.

The chairman asked the Council to defer the resolution to be dealt with in Committee.

Mr. A. Wilmott: I do not see any necessity everyone knows it is an economy stunt.

Mr. Perkins said other points might arise; which officers, if any should be allowed to go.

The Council agreed to discuss the matter in Committee.

Messrs. C. Claridge and F. Corby were re-appointed the Council’s representatives on the School Managers.

Damage To Trees

Mr. Claridge raised the question of damage to trees on the Wellingborough-road and said six or seven had been damaged. He wondered whether they could not offer a reward, which would be a help in stopping the perpetrators, and also an incentive for somebody to watch and find the culprits.

Mr. Horrell said there was already a notice up there.

Mr. Claridge: It does not offer any reward. A £5 reward might stop it.

Mr. Wilmott said trees had been damaged in other parts of the town, and bark cut. It wanted some action taking. “You can have as many notices as you like” he added.

The chairman suggested that people who saw the damage done might report to the Surveyor, with the names of offenders if possible. Grown up people were often the silliest in doing such things.

Mr. T. Wilmott said bigger boys were often the culprits. The Council had had boys before them, with their parents and threatened to have them prosecuted. Personally he did not want to see children prosecuted; if he had his way there would be no children’s courts, but the trouble was really half the Council’s fault.

Land of Shops?

Mr. Coles said he would like to ask a definite question and he would like a definite answer. It concerned the matter of shops on the new Housing Estate. The Council had decided not to sell any land for shops, but agreed to let, but bearing in mind the national crises, and the possible attitude of the Ministry, he would like to know whether the Council were prepared to sell land or not. The Co-operative Society had procured another site, and if the Council were not going to sell they wished to start a new shop there.

The Chairman said he could not speak for the whole Council, but personally he thought it would be wiser for Mr. Coles to give notice for the matter to come before the next meeting.

In response to a question, Mr. Perkins said it was legal for the Council to sell their own land, but they had decided not to do so, and he thought six months should elapse before they could alter a decision. To give notice would be the easiest way.

Mr. Coles said that personally he did not mind, but the Society wanted to know what was going to happen. They had a large number of members who would be affected, and they did not want to start a shop and then be told the Council would sell them some land. It was only fair to the Society, who was the largest ratepayers in the town that they should know. He would give notice if the Council wished it.

Mr. Horrell said he was rather surprised at the way Mr. Coles had raised the matter. “He says the Society has bought a plot of land, and then asks us if they were wise in doing it,” said Mr. Horrell.

Mr. Coles: Oh no.

Dr. Greenfield asked if they could rescind a resolution without notice.

The Chairman said they could not do it at that meeting, and he was not sure whether six months had elapsed.

A member said it had.

Mr. Coles said he would give notice to bring the matter forward at the next meeting.

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