|The Rushden Echo, 6th May, 1910, transcribed by Gill Hollis
“Reform Bill” for Rushden
Mr. John Spencer’s Scheme
Enlargement of the Urban Council
Extra County Councillor
Town to be Divided into Wards - Triennial Elections Abolished
At the next meeting of the Rushden Urban District Council, Mr. John Spencer, according to notice, will bring in his “Reform Bill” for Rushden.
Mr. Spencer proposes, first of all, the enlargement of the Urban Council from 12 to 18 Councillors, his reason for suggesting this increase being
2. The growth of the town. Rushden has practically doubled itself said Mr. Spencer to a “Rushden Echo” interviewer since the Urban Council was formed in 1894, whereas the number of Councillors remains the same, namely 12. Take the other local authorities. Higham Ferrers, with a population of 2,700, has 16 members on the Council; Kettering, with a population of 30,000, has 20 Urban Councillors; Wellingborough, population 20,000, has 18 Councillors; Oundle, population 2,400, 15 Councillors; Brackley, 2,500, 16; Daventry, 3,700, 16.
Secondly, Mr. Spencer proposes that Rushden should be divided into three wards, for both Urban Council and County Council purposes.
“Why?” asked the “Rushden Echo” representative.
“For two reasons,” Mr. Spencer replied. “First, it would create more interest in local government in all parts of the town, and, secondly, those living in the ward would be sure to know the needs best.”
Mr. Spencer suggests that the wards might be formed as follows :-
South Ward Start from Ward’s Corner, taking the whole of the town south of Newton-road as far as the town boundary; the south side of Church-street and all that part of the town south thereof, including the small portion of Wellingborough-road called Skinner’s Hill, and embracing the Bedford-road and the Court Estate.
West Ward Start from Ward’s Corner, taking the north side of Church-street, the west side of High-street to Hayway, taking the south side of Hayway, and on to the town boundary, including Spencer-park, Oakley Estate, Victoria Estate, Windmill Estate, and the whole of the Wellingborough-road district.
North (or East) Ward Start from Ward’s Corner, taking the north side of Newton-road to the town boundaries; and the east side of High-street from Ward’s Corner, up to Hayway, and the north side of Hayway to the town boundary, including the Rushden Hill district, Shirley Park, and the Rock Estate.
Mr. Spencer, in answer to our representative’s inquiries, said that the population of the three wards would come out as nearly equal as possible. He would allocate six Urban Councillors to each ward.
Mr. Spencer proposes to revert to the earlier method of electing the Urban Council, namely, for one third of the Councillors to retire each year in rotation, instead of the whole of the Councillors retiring together at the end of every three years. With six Urban Councillors for each ward, two could retire each year after the first election.
Mr. Spencer’s idea in suggesting this change is that it would tend to keep the Council and the public in continual touch with each other, and that, further, it would give the ratepayers a better opportunity of stating their views on any expenditure which may from time to time arise.
Rushden, says Mr. Spencer, is entitled to three County Councillors, whereas now there are only two. He proposes that there should be one County Councillor for each of the three suggested wards. In stating that Rushden is the most under-represented town in Northants for County Council purposes, in proportion to population, Mr. Spencer said that Rushden, with 2,700 electors, had two Councillors, whereas many other divisions, with considerably fewer than half the electorate of Rushden, had each one member. For instance, the following have one County Councillor each :- Brixworth 635 electors, Brackley 528, Brington 597, Greens Norton 599, Harrowden 536, Middleton Cheney 508, Towcester 600. Finedon, with an electorate of 731, had an Alderman as well as a Councillor. Wellingborough had three Aldermen and four Councillors, each of the following wards electing a County Councillor :- West Ward (electorate 799), East 1,180, North 768, South 1,193.
Seeing that the County Council is becoming more and more an administrative body, and that in the near future there is the likelihood of Poor Law business being handed over to it, as well as other work, Mr. Spencer urges that the time has come when an effort should be made to secure for Rushden more adequate representation on the County Council.