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ABERGAVENNY RURAL DISTRICT…

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ABERGAVENNY RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL. MEMBERS STRONGLY CRITICISED. IMPASSIONED ORATION BY HAULAGE CONTRACTOR. The monthly meeting of the Abergavenny Rural District Council was held (Ill Tuesday, Mr. Robert Johnson presiding. There were also present Messrs. Edgar W. Lewis (vice- chairman), Ecnjamin Price, J. W. Williams, Chas. Thomas, John Jenkins, Alfred Edwards, Matthew J. Knight, David Edwards, John Bay nam, and J. W. Price. National Service Expenditure. The Clerk reported that he had received a number of posters from the National Service Department, which were to he published through- out the district. The Department stated that they would bear the expense of posting. "A Tall Order." The Clerk reported the receipt from the I<oca] Government Board of an order made on the recommendation of the Food Controller conferring on local authorities the powers and duties of enforcing certain 'provisions. It was I Suggested that the Sanitary Inspector or other officers should make inquiries as to the oper- ations of the orders in the course of their usual occupations. There were the Sugar and Con- fectionery Orders, the Feeding of Game Order, the Price of Milk Order, the Brewers' Sugar Order, the Potitc, (1916) Main Crop Order, the Manufacture of Flour and Bread Order, the Swedes Order, and many others. Th ? Chairman Are we supposed to deal with them ? The Clerk Perhaps the Sanitary Inspector and the Medical Officer will see to it in their spare time. (Laughter). They authorise you to enforce these orders, and it is a very big order. You would want to appoint somebody specially to scour the district to see that tea is net over- I charged for and that horses do not have too much corn, and so on. The Chairman I am thankful to say that I have enough to do already. Are we to take this seriou.lv ? The Clerk I can't see how a small staff can carry out these orders. Mr. M. J. Knight Don't the police carry out some of these orders ? The Clerk: There is no authority. It is for the local Councils. The Chairman Ic wants a detective, I.should think. The Clerk You would want to pay a salary of £ 150 or £ 200 a year to carry it out. You had better adjourn it and think it over. The Chairman: 1 should think so. It is a tall order for us to undertake. The matter was adjourned. Waste Paper and Food. I The Clerk also read a circular from the Local Government Board with regard to waste paper, food. etc. They had no waste paper worth mentioning, and he supposed they had no waste food. The Chairman We don't know of any. School Managers. I In reply to a letter from the Monmouthshire Education Committee, Mr. Edwin Eynon was appointed a representative manager for the Grosmont School, and Mr. Alfred Edwards for N the Llanwenarth School.. Mr. John Baynam was appointed a member of the Old Age Pensions Committee. No Infectious Disease. I The Sanitary Inspector (Mr. A. J. Willcox) reported that no cases of infectious disease had occurred in their district since the last meeting, the last case being on April 17th. The Isolation Hospital had been closed since the 2nd inst. Haulage Contractor and Rotten Road." The Surveyor (Mr. A. J. Willcox) reported 011 a claim made by the Council against Mr. Moses Walters, timber haulage contractor, for damage to the Cwmyov road, and a claim by Mr. Walters for hauling stone for the Council. They owed Air. Walters f29 14F. Sd. for hauling stone on the Grosmont-road. Will reference to the Cwmyoy road, he had prepared an estimate showing what it would cost to put the road in good condition, and his estimate amounted to £z.(J IDS. gd. It did not require so much stone, however, and the actual cost was 1-24 4s. cjd. Mr. Walters was present at the meeting in order to address the members 011 the matter. He was invited into the room and he made a lem ;thy and impassioned oration, in which he strongly criticised the Council. He said that for the last 18 months lie had been working from Pontrilas in that district in the haulage of timber. He had had difficulties in working in that district. He started on the Cwmyoy read, and he was still working at another remarkable nlace. He did not know of two roads harder to work on than the Grosmont pitch and that strange and wonderful hill at Queen's Head, Cwmyoy. At Cwmyoy he worked less than 100 tons in eight loads, and the result was damage to the road. Why was the road damaged ? The same could be said of the Hill- side road at Grosmont up to the village of Grosmont. Once he got into the village of Grosmont there was no difficulty and no damage. Capid's Hill stood firm and wore well, although the engine was heavy. He was speaking as a public man of over 25 years, a memb-r of the Monmouthshire County Council and the Mynyd- disllwvn Council, and he put it to them that in asking him to pay for damage done to the Cwmyoy road were they not themselves to bla me ? Every modern go-ahead Council pre- pared for emergencies, but he submitted that these roads were rotten from being neglected and starved. It seemed a strong thing to say, but he believed it was literally true. They had been neglected and starved all these years. There was a sprinkling of stone on them, but they had foundations of clay. The Chairman Probably the road is good enough for ordinary traffic. I Hard on the Landlords." Mr. Walters said that might be, but he sub- mitted that the landlords of the districts of I Grosmont and Cwmyoy had had to suffer in the price of their material and the extra work that had to be done in bringing the stuff from the district. The overseers had taken the rates from them and seen that they paid them, and this had gone on for 60, 7° or 80 years. In all fairness to them these roads ought to be kept in proper repair for any emergercy that might arise, such as this. When the time came that tne landlord reaped his harvest and cut the timber that had been growing on his land and on which he had paid rates for all those years, he thought it was only fair that the Council should help him to get his material into the market, where, as they knew, it was most urgently needed at the present time. He really did not under- stand why they should try to penalise him in asking for damages for work that was absolutely necessary to be done by someone. He did not know why it was that they pitched on him, because of all the innocent creatures that had ever appeared before them he did not think that thev could find one more so than himself. (Laughter). They might think that traction work was a profitable affair. His profits had been on the wrong side, and he was prepared to show them his bank pass-book, as he had done their Surveyor, in order to convince them that what he said was perfectly correct. He had lost hundreds of pounds, and he was not ashamed of it, but rather he felt proud that no one could charge him with being a profiteer out of the needs of the country at the present time. He had volunteered and had been striving for the past two years to do his bit in this particular work, and he was satisfied if he did not get any- thing out of it. There was about 1,000 tons still required to be brought in from the Hillside Grosmont, and he appealed to them as public men, as citizens, and as patriors to put these roads in order. Let them have fair play. Really and truly, he thought he ought to have a bill against the Council, instead of they against him, because of the extra labour and expense he had been put to. He had spent scores of pounds in the upkeep of the traction engine, simplv because of the dreadful state of the roads he had had to travel in their district and the Monmouth district. There were not two district councils in the county of Monmouth, he told them candidly and without any austerity, who had worse by-roads than they had. Why, he did not know. Take the Mynyddisllyn or Bed- wellty, or even the Dore district. He had travelled 011 the Garway Hill and had no trouble there. He wanted their co-operation, because he felt that they were as much patriots as him- self and wanted to serve their country a" much as he did. Let them serve it together. They might not have a traction. He happened to have one, which he used for the public good. Instead of paying them damages, let them pay him for what he had done for them in hauling stone at a less price than they could get anyone else to haul t for them. He would be glad to continue to do that work at a less price than the I contract, and he thought that ought to be sufficient for a poor haulier to undertake, under the circumstances. I Members' Retorts to their Critic. Mr. J. W. Williams said that Mr. Walters said that he hauled the timber from Llanthony because no one else would do it. He was given to understand that he offered to do it at a less price than a man who practically had the con- tract. Then lie said that the roads round there were rotten. Did he consider that it was fair to come there with a traction engne about 15 tons and 7ft. 3m. wheels and drawing 26 tons of timber in wagons, to tear up their road and then ask that they should put it in repair ? He left it to the Council to consider whether it was a just or fair statement. There were men who were hauling on the road now, and they had not cut the road up. Mr. Walters said that there was a local farmer who did the tushing, but he would not undertake to haul the timber. He did not admit that the engine was 15 tons. The County Council had had the fame question some years ago and went to law o\er it, and it cost them 1'1,200. It was the duty of every public body to keep the roads in the best repair, whatever the traffic on them and whatever the weight. That had been his opinion for 25 years, and he believed it was the correct policy, because the best roads would stand the pressure, and they were always having to repair a patched road. If they kept the roads as they should be they would find that this engine of his did not do any damage. Mr. J. W. Williams As a conscientious man and a traction engine owner, (10 you tninK it was a fair thing to brirg a traction of those dimen- sions into that lane ? Mr. Walters It is the fairest tiling possible when the work can't be done by any other means. Mr. Williams It could have been done. You are speaking from a business standpoint. I blame you for bringing an engine of those dimensions into the lane. You could not possibly pass a vehicle in the lane. Mr. Knight If you are so patriotic, why is it that since you signed the agreement you threw up the contract with Mr. Marsh and left about 660 sticks behind ? Your traction broke about three arches, and when the frost came the culverts fell in. Mr. Walters said that he did not throw up the contract, but JUessrs. JVlarsn threw it up. Mr. Knight Because you left the job. Mr. Walters I left the job because it was wet weather and I had undertaken to keep the road in repair. To require me to do that is the most scandalous thing in your history. It ought to be put in a case and put in the Abergavenny museum. It would be useful in years to come. Mr. Baynam Don't you think it was ex- cessive traffic to bring 27 tons on that pitch ? Mr. Walters I don't admit that it was 27 tons. There was not six tons in the wagons that went over that road. Mr. Williams Your drivers have said that they brought an average of 10 tons on each wagon. It is a question of your word against that of your men. Mr. Walters said that the railway weights would prove that, but he had not got the figures for the Cwmyoy timber. Mr. Williams Your parting shot when you went away was that the farmers of Cwmyoy would have cause to remember you, and they have. Mr. Walters If you wanted to be patriotic the best thing you could do is to support the business in your district, and if you were patriotic you could do some service at the front or do something the same as I am doing for the country. Mr. Williams I am afraid that the patriot- ism is all on one side, and that is yours. I Mr. Walters: 1 don t want to create any feeling, but I could say a few things. I Patriotism Ail Tommy-rot." Mr. J. W. Prica I can't follow your remarks about patriotism. A traction engine is one of the most valuable things to-day, and timber hauling is very profitable. Mr. Walters said that he could prove that it did not pay him. At Cwmyoy he hauled 100 tons. When he got to the Queen's Head pitch he broke a shaft, which cost him f,I 7 to repair, and he had to pay the men 10 days for doing nothing. Mr. Knight You must remember what it has cost us. Mr. Walters If you did your duty at Cwmyoy and on your by-roads you would never have seen me here to-day, because the engine could work without doing any damage. Mr. David Kdwards You said that we should keep the roads to stand your traction engine. Do you think that we, as ratepayers, are going to keep every road to stand your traffic ? What is it going to cost us, as ratepayers, to meet your traffic on these little roads ? Mr. Walters That is one standpoint. There are two sets of men on every public body. One is always saying Keep the rates down, keep the rates down," and the other says Let us have progress, let us have improvement, let us widen our roads, let us put foundations in them that will stand any pressure." I am one of the latter. The Surveyor said that before Mr. Walters left the room he should like to say, as Surveyor, that he resented his remarks that their roads were the worst in the county. It was ungentle- manly of him to come there and make such statements. He had only hauled on one or two of the roads in their district, and yet he said that the roads in their district were rotten roads. They and Monmouth were the most rural districts in the county, and they did not receive the amount in rates that an urban district did to maintain the roads, but he would say that some of their roads were equal to any in the Mynyddisllwyn area, where there was more traffic. These were roads that Ivlr. Walters had probably never seen. Mr. Walters said that he would like to make one word of explanation. He only referred to the roads he had been working on, and he still said that these roads were in a bad state. That was not the fault of the Surveyor, because he had to carry out the instructions of the Council. They were only paying a .-1d. rate to maintain and keep in repair 200 miles of roads, and he did not think that was a credit to them at all. The Chairman I don't think that is a matter that we can discuss with you. Mr. Walters then left the oom, and furthe discussion took place on the matter. Mr. Williams said that the engine blocked the Cwm- yoy road up for nine or ten days. Mr. Walters' talk about patriotism was all tommy rot." Eventually it was decided to adjourn further consideration of the matter. Messrs. Underwood and the Llanvihangel Road. I The Highways Clerk (Mr. J. H. Farquhar) read a letter from Messrs. Underwood pressing for the payment due to them from the Council under their agreement to maintain the 1..1an- vihangel road to the waterworks road, up to the 31st of March last. They pointed out that while they had control of the road a good deal of traffic passed over it which was not stipulated for in the agreement, and that as the repair of the road was now being undertaken by the Government the Council had not been called upon to spend any money on it. The Surveyor said that if these other people had not been repairing the road it would have cost Messrs. Underwood a great deal more than £ 10 to put the road in good condition when they gave it up. Mr. J. W. Williams said that Messrs. Under- wood had not fulfilled the agreement by keeping the road in repair. The Clerk was directed to reply that the Council could not see their way to pay the (io. Roads Board and Llanthony Road. The Surveyor reporttd that he had met the chief engineer to the Roads Board with reference to the road from Llanvihangel to Llanthony, on which a large amount of timber hauling was being done. < They went over the road together, and the chief engineer said that the road was not in a worse condition than he expected to see, and that the Council need not trouble about the question of repairs. He (the Surveyor) had worked out the average cost of the mainterance of the road from Llanvihangel station to Llan- thony at ^240 per year for the past six or seven years, and his estimate of the cost for the en- suing year was £ '052, or a difference of i'412. The chief engineer said that he would recom- mend the Roads Board to make the Council a grant of that amount, and that his recommenda- tions were invariably accepted. The chief engineer advised him to use slag for the repair of the road, as it would wear better and be more durable than limestone, and he (the Surveyor) agreed with that view. <4-

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