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1- —■ THE LIGHTING OF BANGOR. ANOTHER PROTEST AGAINST THE ELECTRIC LIGHT. VOTE OF CENSURE ON THE CITY COUNCIL. The heated controversy in regard to the lighting of Bangor by electricity entered upon another phase on Friday evening, when a formal meeting of ratepayers was held at the Penrhyn Hall to pro. test against the action of the City Council in pro- ceeding with the electric light scheme contrary to the wishes of the ratepayers. A fortnight pre- viously a meeting had been held in the same hall by the opponents of the scheme, when a resolution was passed calling upon the City Council (which met next day) to defer the carrying out of the scheme. As this was not considered by some to be a criterion of the feeling of the ratepayers, and as the meeting had not been formally called by the Mayor, the City Council refused to take notice of any resolution passed by it. The leading opponents of the scheme, therefore, restlved to sign a requisi- tion to the Mayor to call another meeting of rate- payers,to take further steps in the matter. Twenty- two of the leading citizens of Bangor, including Messrs Charles Pierce, J.P., Hugh Lloyd Jones, Thomas Edwards, painter; W. Lewis Jones, M.A.; W. Thomas, Metropolitan Bank; W. O. Williams, draper; R. Jones Roberts, solicitor, and others, signed the requisition for the meeting, which was held on Friday evening. Unfortunately, the notices convening the meeting had not been posted up until the day before date of the meeting, and the Mayor (Mr J. E. Roberts), who p esided at the meeting, apologised for the delay, which occurred through his being from home at the beginning of the week. That there is a strong feeling against the electric light scheme amongst a large and influential oection of the ratepayers was apparent from the good attendance at the meeting, though the hall could scarcely be said to be full. There were on the platform such strong opponents and influential citizens as Dr E. O. Price, Dr Rowland Jones, Messrs Thomas Lewis, H. Lloyd Jones, T. Edwards, W. Jones, &c.; whilst in the body of the hall there were others well known in Bangor public life, includ- ing Messrs T. P. Lewis, T. C. Lewis, T. J. Williams, &c. When the Mayor took his season the platform, there were but one or two to sup- port him, and he asked members of the City Council present to come on the platform, when Mr Henry Lewis scored a point by referring to the absence of the gentlemen who had signed the re- quisition from the platform to support their action. The Mayor took the first opportunity of clearing away any misunderstanding as to THE EFFECT OF THE MEETING that might lurk in the minds of some of those pre- sent, by saying that any resolution that might be passed by them would not legally bind the mem- bers of the City Council to carry it out. In regard to the pier question, the resolution of the ratepayers was binding on the Council, but it was not so in this case. An old saying is, When doctors disagree who shall decide ? and it is a curious fact in connection with this controversy that the medical men of the town take leading part on different aides. On the one side in favour of the scheme are Drs Grey Ed- wards and Langford Jones, while no more pro- minent opponents of the scheme can be found than Drs E. O. Price and Rowland Jones. On Dr Price fell the onerous task of presenting the case of the opponents of the scheme to the judgment of the audience, and he did so in a masterly fashion. His style of oratory is dramatic and popular, and his remarks were often greeted with loud ^applause, while his eaustic references to the City Council were well received. In opening his speech, he made good use of Dr Grey Edwards' remark in the previous meeting, in which he described the city as the modern Athens." Amidst frequent ap- plausehe drew his hearers' attention to the fact that in ancient Athens the assembly of the peeple was the final court of appeal, and that Bangor was in this respect emulating her. In ancient Athens there arose a certain class who were called tyrants, who took affairs into their own kands, but the people arose as one mass and put down these tyrants. Then he went on to impeach the Council of showing want of ordinary business caution, in that they had not made any enquiry into the business they were likely to get after the installa- tion of the electric light. They were not even aware of the number of houses that could take the electric light;" and when Dr Grey Edwards at- tempted to reply to the remark, he said that" the reply only proved the ignorance of these gentle- men in this matter." The Council had nothing to go upon but the VAGUE GUESSES OF DBEAMER3 -(laughter)-and he thought they showed most culpable negligence in this respect. He then went on to criticise the report and estimate of Mr Med- hurst, .which said « was tacitly accepted by Se Council, but was utterly worthless and unreliable." "This report," he proceeded, "was divided into two sections, the technical part of which the members of the Council were not capable to judge, nor were they supposed to be; and the financial part, which they ought certainly to have under- stood. Mr Medhurst estimated the revenue of the electric light works as being JE2000 in the first year, from 4000 lights, at 10s per light." At this point a passage of arms took place be- tween the Deputy Town Cierk, who sat by the side g tjhe Mayor, and the speaker, the former saying that the report from which Dr Price quoted was a private one, and the latter replying that he had then the pleasure of making it public. It subse- quently transpired that the report had appeared in the public press. The speaker then went on to say that it was utterly unreasonable to think that the 4000 lamps would be taken up the first year, and even if it were possible the estimate gave 10s as the revenue of each lamp, while, as a matter of fact, the average yield in 23 to,"s in England and Scotland was only 7s 9d per light. He took the six towns of Bournemouth, Cambridge, East- bourne, Hove, Northampton, and Oxford (the nearest to the size of Bangor which took the electric light), a*d showed that the average yield Jf gave on £ 13,000 a revenue of ±15oU. Ihen the expenditure, as he estimated it from other places, with the deadly use of the rule of proportion," was JE2100, made up of JE710 interest and redemption, £1000 working expendi- ture, and £ 390 repairs and maintenance. Thus the undertaking would prove a dead loss of £ 553, in- stead of a profit of £238) as stated in the report. He then asked why had the Council not proved these figures, and why they had not sought the experience of an independent man as to the practical details of the scheme. Thisjpart was all Greek to them, and they had not been educated up to it (laughter and applause). Instead of that, they had swallowed the scheme and rushed contrary to the expressed wishes of the ratepayers to carry it into effect. Why did they not at first take the ratepayers into their confidence? There was too much of the hole and comer business in ^Bangor (hear, hear). They might be in the Venice of the middle ages. A veil of secrecy was hung over all, while they as rate- payers had a right to demand that everything be free and opes. After a rhetorical peroration, the speaker concluded by moving a resolution, That this meeting of the ratepayers of Bangor resolve that the scheme for the lighting of Bangor with electricity should not be proceeded with." The motion was seeonded by MrH. Lloyd Jones, chemist, Upper Bangor, who asked what was the reason of the great hurry for the maturement of the scheme. He thought Dr Grey Edwards at the last meeting said that over 80 towns had gone in for a provisional order, and afterwards dropped the matter. There surely must be a reason for this. He referred to a statement that the electric light was a success at Aoerystwyth, whereas the fact was that it was a complete failure. A few only of the houses took advantage of the scheme, and some of those who did so returned to gas. The town paid JE20 a year for each lamp to light the streets, and he calculated that Bangor would need 100 lamps, which at JE15 a lamp would mean S1500, instead of JE290, the price paid for lighting the town at present. One of the reasons given them for the haste was that the gas produced was not sufficient for the town, and he thought that I the responsibility for this lay upon the shoulder of the TWELVE APOSTLES OF THE ELECTRIC LIGHT." Moreover, this could easily be remedied by erecting a gasholder. He was told that the chief reason for the haste, however, was that the supporters of the scheme knew that the rates would in a short time have to be raised Is 6d or 2s in the JE, on account of the large expenditure on the improve- ments already effected, and this would mean fare- well to their scheme. These speakers and subsequent Ones had to struggle against frequent interruptions from various persons, especially from a publican who sat on the first seat, and a blind man. The uproar at times was such that the Mayor was compelled to threaten the interrupters with a "chucking out," and the police were requisitioned to keep an eye on them. It was evident that party feeling ran his-h. On rising to oppose the resolution,Dr Grey Ed- wards created much merriment by a lapsus lingua, calling Mr Lloyd Jones, Mr Lloyd George. Mr 0 George's nama was received with loud applause. In aBswer to Mr Lloyd Jones's reference t; the 80 towns which had dropped the electric light, the speaker said that this occurred when the light was in its infancy. During the last four years, out of about 90 provisional orders only about two had been revoked. He said that he did not think Dr Price could have found such a bad mare's nest (laughter). With regard to the statement of 7s 9d as the average revenue of each lamp, the speaker said that in the towns Dr Price named, the electric light was making rapid strides, and new mains were being put down continually. But while some of the lamps were laid during the first months of the year, a large number of them were laid during the last months of the year, thus throwing the expense of lay- ing on the past year,while the profit was not made until the following year. That these towns cer- tainly considered that the investment was a good one, was proved by the enormous increase in the capital laid dawn in it. In Bournemouth, for in- stance, in 1893, the capital was £ 40,000, while at the end of 1894 it was £ 50,000; and while the lamps in 1893 numbered 14,552, at the end of 1894 they numbered 18,770. Seme very dispa- raging remarks had been made about the members of the City Council; but for honesty of purpose they would not let their opponents beat them. They had given deep thought and consideration to the matter, when the ratepayers were asleep to the movement. Since 1878 they had been TINKERING WITH THE GASWORKS, and had spent aboutJESO, 000 upon them. Now they thought they ought to make a good job of them, instead of being continually patching. Therefore, they had the matter thrashed out, and came to the conclusion that this was the best way to proceed under the circumstances. They wanted the electric light, first, as an assistance to the gas works; and secondly, because electricity was the coming light, and they were determined to keep Bangor abreast of the times(applause). Thecause of the popularity of Bangor at present was the forward policy of its public bodies. With regard to the argument why the Council hai not ob- tained the opinion of experts on Mr Medhurst's scheme, Dr Grey Edwards referred to the case of Chester, where they had been in great difficulty in consequence of such discourtesy. Further, the Council had had the assistance of the consulting engineer to a leading electrical firm, and he had been in conversation with Mr W. H. Preece, and they both approved of the scheme. Mr Medhurst in his report said distinctly that the 4000 lights would not be taken up the first year, and yet they had considered it better to go on with the matter. One of the silliest remarks made was that Bangor was too small a town for the electric light. Surely if Colonel Platt, Mr Kneeshaw, and private per- sons in 'Llandudno, could instal electric light in their houses, with less cost than gas, the town of Bangor certainly could. The speaker was fre- quently applauded, and laid the case before the audience in a capable manner. On the Chairman asking if there was any amend- ment to the resolution, Dr Evans, Brynkinallt, moved one to the effect that though not condemning the electric light, they con- demned the manner in which the Council had proceeded in the matter without consulting the ratepayers. This was not seconded. Another amendment was moved by a tailor (whose name was not given), commending Jthe resolution of the City Council. Much merriment was caused by the style of the speaker. During the course of his address, he asked why "the opponents of the scheme had not brought out men to oppose the present members at the recent elections on the question, so that the ratepayers might have an opportunity of giving a clear mandate in the matter. Mr W. Mark Owen seconded this amendment, and at- tempted to speak; but before he had uttered a few words, a terrible uproar arose, during which it was impossible to hear what Mr Owen had to say. The uproar continuing for some time, the speaker made convulsive efforts to make himself heard, gesticulating in a wild manner, until at last he had to retire amid much laughter. The only sentence that could be heard was, This is not a laughable question, gentlemen." The Chairman ruled this amendment out of order. After Dr Price had replied, a vote was taken, and the :Mayor announced that the resolu- tion had been carried by a large majority. The proposer of the next resolution was Mr Owen Owen, draper, and his resolution was to the effect that in the opinion of the meeting the Town Council had violated the principle of constitutional government in proceeding with the, scheme con- trary to the wishes of the ratepayers. The speaker created some amusement at the outset by a slip of the tongue, saying that "he hoped that his resolution would not be understood. It was a vote of eensure on the unfortunate 13 members of the Council." The speaker was frequently in terrupted by a person at the back of the hall. This created an uproar, which was with difficulty sup- pressed by the Chairman. Mr Owen asked what they should do with the members of the Council, and a voice answered TtrB» THEM OUT." "Yes," said Mr Owen, amidst general laughter, and unless they do what we ask them we must give them notice to quit." Mr T. J. Willliams, who seconded the resolution, complained that it had been said about him that he could only make bullets for others to shoot them. He, however, was going to shoot as well. It had even been said that he, as a public servant, should not take part in public affairs, and he had even been threatened. He was, however, still going to take as much interest as before. As an explanation why candidates had not been nominated to oppose the present members of the Council on this matter, he said that this action of the Council had taken place too late to allow them to do so. Had it not been so, two gentlemen were ready to enter the field in opposition to them. The Council had blundered before the last meeting, but he considered it a social crime on their part to proceed with the scheme againt an unanimous town. Mr Richard Davies, architect, explained his con- duct as one of the majority on the Council. Loud cries of Shame were raised when he stated that he was not going to carry out the resolution of a meeting called by one section only of the rate- payers. Mr Henry Lewis, in answer to several references to his alleged inconsistency, quoted words from a German author to the effect that consistency was but the virtue of little men (laughter). He said that two mistakes had been made. The Council had made a mistake in not consulting the rate- payers in this matter, while the ratepayers had also made a mistake in not rousing themselves to t their interests, until it w&s too late-after the ex- pense had been incurred. He maintained that it was necessary to spend a great deal of money, and a better return would be got from the electric light. The causes of the haste in this matter were, first, in order that as little money should be spent on the gasworks as possible, and also that they might secure the support of those persons which would be sure to obtain an installation of electric light even if the city failed to provide it. Mr T. Lewis complained 1 hat Mr Lewis was misled in his reading of Mr Newbigging's report, and so made misleading statements. In support of his contention, he read the report, and said that it was avidect that Mr Newbigging only recom- mended erecting a gasholder in Hiraei, wnicn would be as easily controlled there as at the gas works. It might be desirable, at some future time," to remove the works there. He then pro- ieeded to show that experience was wholly against A town like Bangor adopting the electric light. After some further conversation the resolution was adopted by a large majority. The meeting then appointed a deputation, con- sisting of Messrs T. Lewis, W. Lewis Jones, C. Pierce, W. Jones (High street), Dr Price, and Dr Rowland Jones, with power to add to their num- ber, to appear, at the enquiry which would be held by the Local Government Board. The meeting, which had lasted from "eight o'clock until close upon eleven o'clock, was brought to a close by a vote of thanks to the chairmanf on the motion of Mr T. Edwards.