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COLWYN BAY.

CONWAY.

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THE COWLVD WATER BOARD.

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Before going further, we may here call our readers' attention to the inuendo involved in this M passant observation of Mr Parry's. The only inference we can make from this observation, and, we venture to add, the only inference our readers can make from it, is, that Mr Farrington's Scheme was presented under conditions which ought to have disqualined it from being adopted, and that, as it actually was adopted, some underhand work on the part of the Cowlyd Board, was perpetrated in favour of that Scheme. We invite Mr Parry to say whether that is the inference he intended to be made or not. If not, then his ob- servation in this connexion, is cruelty unnecess- ary, and casts an injurious reflection on the Board. If, on the contrary, our interpretation of the meaning of his remark is correct, then we venture to think that it would have been more satisfactory, in every way. it Mr Parry had made a distinct allegation of unfair dealing in this matter, against the Board of which be it remem- bered he was himself, at the time, a member. Passing on, Mr Parry is reported to have said :— "Mr Newton, injhis report states:—'After the fu))est con- sideration. and with an earnest desire to do full Justice to each of the competitors, I recommend that the premium be awarded to Mr Radford. There the machine stopped tor awhile. Mr Radford was in the way, although he had the premium, and his estimate for the whole of the work at the Lake, including- pipes, mains, fittings, crossing the river Conway and all, with 12 inch pipes from Cowlyd to Sarn Mynach. was £ 23,500, and that was for first-class work. This estimate had never been exceeded by £ ,\oo in any premium work, but away he must go. Mr Farrington was appointed to take charge of the Scheme at the rate of 4 per cent, and not to exceed £ ~$o his remuner- ation was altered if I remember rightly. three times. The last was in October, 1892, not to exceed £ 1000." Here again, a grave insinuation is thrown out against the Board (of which Mr Parry was a member) to the effect that the best Scheme was deliberately thrown on one side to make room for Mr Farrington's Scheme. We invite Mr Parry to say whether this is or is not what he meant to convey. We would also ask Mr Parry whether he voted for or against Mr Farrington's Scheme, not with any arrit're pensde, but simply because, at the moment, we do not remember whether he voted for or against it. Again pro- ceeding, Mr Parry states that Mr Farrington's remuneration was altered three times, if he remembered rightly," a remark which suggests (though Mr Parry makes it without comment), that there was something wrong in these altera- tions. Again we invite Mr Parry to state whether the inference we draw, is that which he desired should be drawn. We would also ask Mr Parrv to state the circumstances under which these alterattons in the Engineer's remuneration were made. and whether he voted for the alteration or against them. Proceeding, Mr Parry gave a list of the tenders received, addmg that "Mr Bug- bird's tender was accepted because it was the lowest, and ample security was asked-for before the contract was signed,"—surely a good reason for the acceptance of the contract, and a wise precaution in connection with its letting. But immediately after this Mr Parry is reported to have said, "The Bridge as you know was a separate contract. Mr Farrington's estimate was, if I remember rightlv, £ 1,600 to cross the river Conway, but, somehow or other (I cannot understand how it occurred, because I was not within the 'Cabinet') the Bridge estimate was raised to £ 5000. This was a good rise at one leap. With, respect to this statement (winch, like the others, conveys an insinuation that some dis- creditable work was perpetrated by the Board), we would ask Mr Parry whether it is not the case that when Mr Farrington estimated ^1600 would cover the expenses in connection with the Bridge, it was the intention of the Engineer to carry the water pipes over the river Conway along the old Suspension Bridge, but that the Local Government Board's Engineer having tabood that idea, it became necessary that an absolutely new Bridge should be thrown across the river, and that it is this new Bridge which was estimated to cost £ 5000. We ask Mr Parry whether that is not so and we also ask him didn't he know that that was so. We would further ask Mr Parry whether he did not vote for the con- struction of the new Bridge, at an estimated cost of >65000. In asking these questions, let us again state, once for all, that in asking these we do not mean to imply that Mr Parry did vote for these things. We simply ask the questions because, at the moment of writing, we don't remember which way Mr Parry did vote on these questions. Continuing, Mr Parry names two "blunders" which the Board (of which, be it remembered Mr Parry was himself a member) was guilty of, the nrst being, "the payment to the Contractor of Liooo on his plant. In other words, to pay him beforehand the grand sum of £ 1000 to enable him to buy horse' carts, tools, etc. I never heard of such a thing being done before." Again we put a question to Mr Parry, and that is, is it not a usual thing for a contractor on entering into a large work of this description, to be advanced some money on the plant he lays down ? Against Mr Parry's reported statement that two gentlemen who subsequently went and saw the plant reported that they would not care to give L200 for the whole concern," we have nothing to urge, but we may remark that though those two gentlemen (whoever they were) might not feel disposed to give L200 for the whole concern," yet the whole concern may have been worth a good deal more than that, and in any case it would have been more to the purpose if those two gentlemen had gone and looked at the plant bejore the Board had advanced the great stim of'L I ooo on it, instead of after. Besides, we would again question Mr Parry, and ask him if he did not vote for the advance of the ^1000 to the Contractor on his plant ? Pursuing his list of the Board's blunders, Mr Parry is reported to have said, "The next blunder the Board made was to take upon them- selves the testing of the pipes, and this cost the ratepayers £ 500. There was no need for the Board to meddle with the pipes at all. If the work was cirried-out properly, and according to the specifications (which I consider were right enough, had the Engineer kept up to them), the pressure of the water would soon test them. With six months' high pressure, the strength of the pipes would be soon told, and, whatever fault there would be, it would fall on the contractor. The £ 500 has been spent in vain, and has not been 1veil sbent.' With all due respect to Mr Parry, we beg to say that, if he is correctly reported, in this sentence he is talking sheer nonsense. He asserts that there was no need for the Board to meddle with (!.< to test) the pipes at all the pressure of the water would soon test them." Aye, so it would, and possibly burst some of them after they had been put in position under the ground, with the result that the water would have had to be turned off, the burst pipes dug up, and new ones obtained and laid down, and subjected to the water test," with perhaps the same result. And what would that have cost ? We venture to say that it would have cost a good deal more than ^500, and, in our opinion, the Board acted wisely in testing the pipes before they were put in the ground. Besidas, we must again question Mr Parry, did he, or did he not, vote for the testing of the pipes ? We now come to a statement of Mr Parry's (as reported) of which we candidly confess we cannot make head or tail. We, therefore, reproduce it, in order that our readers may, if possible, get at the true inwardness of it. Now," Mr Parry is reported to have said, "let me refer to the wonderful Ardda land which has been covered with gold. We cannot give the correct figures, but an immense capital has been made by some members of the Board in attempting to shield the money and the loss of time on the part of the Contractor and Engineer on this wonderful land, as to delay and extras. I am prepared to prove to you that there is nothing in it. or at least there ought not to be anything in It. If the Engineer had done his duty, there would not have been a day lost, nor a farthing extra cost on the original contract. It was the duty of the Engineer to get the sand etc., cleared, for the Contractor to enter upon it. Mr Radford said distinctly, that it was part and parcel of his duty 'if the Scheme was entrusted to him. Also. so far as there was dispute, and the owner of the land would not allow the Contractor to proceed with the work, the duty of the Engineer. according to the specifications, was to give the Contractor notice to stop. But there was no need to stop the works, as there was plenty of room between the Lake and Ardda, and that should be done during the sunmer, and not in the middle of winter. It has been said that the Contractor was stopped foreighteen months. Say from June, 1893, to November, 1894, he has received about ,610,000. I could show you almost immediately what sum the Contractor has received on the contract, and as extras, and, if the Contractor was stopped from doing his work, the money ought to have been stopped as well." The only observation we can make touching the above, is that, though Mr Parry asserts that he is prepared to prove there is nothing in it," and that he could show, almost immediately, what sum the Contradtor has received on the contract and as extras," yet he neither proves that there is nothing in it (whatever that may mean) nor shows "what sums the Contractor has had on the contract and as extras." We also reproduce the next statement made by Mr Parry (as reported), again confessing that we do not foHow his line of reasoning, though we are conscious of a vague inuendo running through it. It is as follows :— "A meeting of the Board was held on March 32nd, 1894, but I could not be present. There were only a few members present,-and they resolved to make the Contractor a present of £ 900. On the following day the Chairman met me on Station Road, and inforini2d me of the fact. I complained.— as I generally do, -and said I could not see how they could have voted the money, as it was entirely against the specifica- tions and agreement" The Chairman replied, warmly, But you must see". and then ran away. At the next meeting of Board, I protested against such action, and the Chairman endeavoured to gag me, by asking, Did I think that, because I was not present, I would be allowed to upset the business of the Board ?" In the Weekly News for September 7th, you will find a resolution which was passed at a meeting of the Board held on the 31st of August. It is to the effect that the Chairman, Messrs R. A. Prichard and Thomas Parry, be appointed as a Committee to assist the Clerk and Surveyor in any matter that might arise, and as to the ques- tion of witnesses, etc., necessary for the Arbitration case, and that the Committee be authorised to sign the cheques for whatever money that might be required in Court. Have I been called upon to sign cheques ? No, gentlemen, not one. I knew nothing at all of the way things were being carried 0,1, although I was Chairman of the Finance Committee. I was not once called upon to go to London, Chester, or anywhere else,—and I can tell you there is a nice little bill,—because I was not within the Cabinet." About two years ago, there was a Finance Committee formed, and I well remember the bundle of bills that was produced -amounting to about £ 500 —although the £ 700 had been paid the Contractor. These bills were produced to the Board before they had come before the Finance Committee, and under such circumstances I pro- tested at the tii-ne against these being paid. Eventually, some of the bills were before the Committee, and, upon my asking why all the bills were not produced, the Chairman rose and said that I had no business to ask for tliern. All that came before us, then, was about £ 260, and I protested against them being paid even then, on the grounds that they were not proper bills, and most of them were without any name or signature. They were initialled "M. AV," and the Engineer and Chairman of course made a handle of that, and asked me, ironically, did I dispute Moses Williams, whom they said knew everything about them. I challenged them all, and said that Moses Williams knew nothing about the bills. That same night, I went and saw Moses Williams before anyone else could see him, and he told me that he knew nothing whatever about the men nor the materials, and that lie was asked to sign the bills simply because the work was done to his satisfaction ?s Clerk-of-the-Works, and not as time-keeper. At the November meeting of the Board, Moses Williams himself substantiated this fact. At the meeting held on December 7th, 1894, the Engineer reported that the whole work was completed from Sarn Mynach to within (mark you) six furlongs of the L'ike. This was over twelve months ago. The Contractor has, therefore, since received the sum Of £ 3 ooo for six furlongs." This is such a bewildering mass of statement, feeble wit, and querulousness, that all we can make out of it i-. a suggestion that some hocus pocus work has been going on with regard to the payment of certain monies. Mr Parry does not, as far as we can make out, charge anyone with having paid money that was not due, nor charge anyone with receiving money that was not due. There is one statement, at the beginning of the extract, to the effect that at a meeting of the Board, on March 22nd, 1894, at which Mr Parry could not be present, and which only a few mem- bers attended, "thev resolved to make the Con- tractor a present of -Cgoo." As for this, we can only say we know nothing of it, and we are in- clined to think either that Mr Parry is speaking figuratively when he states that the Board "re- solved to make the Contractor a present of ^900," or that he has made a grievous mistake. In any case, it is a charge which the members involved in it ought to answer. But when Mr Parry, by means of question, conveys the idea that he, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, was not asked to sign cheques, we should like to ask Mr Parry why he was not asked to sign cheques. Was it because he was not present at the meet- ings at which those cheques were presented for signature, or for some other reason ? Mr Parry does not tell us, and we are left to imagine vain things. But surety one of the most naive con- fessions ever made by a Chairman of a Finance Committee is that made by Mr Parry, when he says (as reported) that he "knew nothing at all of the way things were being carried on, although he was Cnairman of the Finance Committee." We are compelled to ask why didn't Mr Parry know anything at a!) of the way things were being carried on ? Was it because he neglected his duty, or because he was kept in the dark by others ? If the former, it is no credit to him if the latter, then it speaks iU for his fitness for the post which he occupied, that he, as Chairman of the Fiiiatic, Committee, should have allowed anyone to keep him in the dark oil *inatters of such vital importance as the examination of accounts and the signing of cheques. The remainder of Mr Parry's statement (as reported) consists of a series of assertions, prophecies (of a kind), sneers at the "Cabinet" of which "the Chancellor of the Exchequer'' is not a member, expressions of doubt as to certain investments of the Board turning out to be good ones, and, besides, the foHowing statement, which, when it is remembered that the whole pith and trend of Mr Parry's address was in the direction of throwing blame on the Cowlyd Water Board for its blunders, and shortcomings, and im- perfections, is simply astounding, and illustrates the hopeless confusion of thought which pervades the whole of this astonishing deliverance. The statement we refer-to is as foHows :— "Our Scheme has often been compared with those in other places, such as the Vyrnwy Water Works, Manchester Water Works, the Ship Canal, and I suppose the Panama Cana). and Salford. Are we bound to follow them ? Is there any gentleman in the room who is prepared to stand up and say that all their deeds have been perfect ? We know well how much money has been spent in many of these places. Has it been for the good of the ratepayers ? No"; certainly not. I will say no more on this point, but don't let us follow bad examples." We repeat Mr Parry's words, "Is there any gen- tleman in the room who is prepared to stand up and say that at) their deeds have been perfect ? Decidedly not, we should say, and the Chairman of the Cowlyd Board, and the Engineer of the Cowlyd Board, and the Clerk of the Cowlyd Board, are each and all prepared to admtt that all their deeds have not been perfect. But that is a sentence that would better befit an advocate for the defence than the leader of the prosecution, and we cannot understand Mr Parry's use of it. For the tine of reasoning from it, is "if the pro- moters of the Liverpoot and Manchester water supply schemes were not perfect in all their deeds, surety there can be little wonder that the pro- moters of the Cowlyd Water Scheme should have made mistakes." And thus, once again, we come to the crux of the whole agitation. After wading at wearisome length through Mr Parry's incoherent and cloudy statement, the only thing that stands out in it with any degree of distinctness, is that the Board (of which, be it remembered, he was and is a member) has made mistakes. Wpll, it is human to err, and, besides, the Board has erred in com- pany with Mr Parry, and in Mr Parry's company. Why then should Mr Parry, of all men, continue to rake up and display before the eyes of the world the blunders (which, after all, are not crimes) of the unfortunate Board of which he was and is a prominent member ? The Board has, through its Chairman, uttered publicly its mea culpa it has said, We have done those things which we ought not to have done and left undone those things which we ought to have done." But it has not yet said and there is no health in us," and we venture to say that Mr Parry has failed to prove that there is no health in the Board. The Board is at the bar of public opinion, and its prosecutors have not brought (we will add, dare not bring) any charge against it beyond that which it has already admitted, viz., that it has made mistakes. The reiteration of this charge (especially by one who has participated in the mistakes) can serve no good purpose, but this reiteration can and does produce evil effects, such as public irritation, suspicion, and passion. We are sure that Mr Parry does not wish to perpetu- ate such a condition of things, and it is in that conviction, and also in the conviction that his present course of action has that tendency and no other, that we appeal to him, and to his sup- porters, to (to use an expressive colloquialism) drop it," and set to work loyally (and to the best of his ability, and in conjunction with the other members of the Board) to make the best of a bad job. If, however, Mr Parry (or anyone else) has reasons for believing that something worse than mistakes has been perpetrated, in the name of all that is honest and manly let them state those reasons, and formulate their charges, so that we may be rid once for all of this infernal cloud and murk of inuendo and hint. The ratepayers know that mistakes have been made, andve dubt not, the ratepayers are magnanimou'noug to forgive mistakes. What the ratepa's do not know, is, that their money has beefiisapro- priated and wilfutty squandered. If ?one oes know this, let them "in the interest the Rte- payers," speak out and say so, depen'g onthe support and countenance of those rwayer to hold them harmless of consequences.