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" THE CROWNING SCENE."

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THE CROWNING SCENE." ONCF ,ga; 'n we have to take np our pen to deplore and condemn the manner in which the business of Cviv/yn Bay and Colwyn is conducted at the District Council. Surely there are many besides ourselves among the ratepayers of the district who deplore the constant succession of violent scenes which are now looked for, all over the country, as a concomitant of the monthly Council meetings A jocular friend of ours once remarked Well, its all right, put it in the papers it advertises Colwyn Bay." There is some truth in that, it does advertise Colwyn Bay, but it advertises Colwyn Bay in a very undesir- able manner. When Mr H. M. Stanley was on his way to Carnarvon a few years ago, a number of boys of all ages crowded round the first-class carriage in which he was seated, at Menai Bridge, for the purpose of obtaining a good look at the famous traveller. A fellow-passenger, with a view to opening up a conversation with Mr Stanley, observed to him, after the train had started, That is the penalty of being notorious, Mr Stanley." Notorious," growled Stanley, notorious is the term applied to a thief." And it is not fame but notoriety that Colwyn Bay is obtaining by the constant publication of the "violent scenes" which occur with monoton- ous frequency at the monthly meetings of its District Council. Well, notoriety is not a desirable thing to have attached to one's name, or place of residence, and-on this account alone, —these scenes are to be deprecated. But there is a far more serious aspect of the case, which ought to be brought to light in the interests of the ratepayers." As our readers are probably aware, when any great public work is under- taken by a District Council, the money for carry- ing out that work, has. as a rule, to be borrowed, and interest paid on it. There are certain firms who make it part of their business to advance money required for such purposes, and their rate of interest is fixed upon a consideration of the security offered for its repayment. Naturally these firms will gladly advance any reasonable amount of money to a Municipal Corporation or District Council, at a low rate of interest, where they find the security irreproachable, and the management of the local public affairs in the hands of capable men. We have no hesitation in saying that the security available for such pur- poses in connection with Colwyn Bay is perfectly satisfactory but we have not the same confidence in regard to the capabilities of its administrators and it is only too likely that the capitalists of whom we have spoken, will base their opinion of the Capacities of the Local Government Body of Colwyn Bay, upon the newspaper reports of their proceedings. We put it to our readers. What opinions of our local rulers are these firms likely to form from a consideration of their doings as reported in the daily papers ? Is it likely, or even possible, to be a favourable opinion ? We think not and, it it should be an unfavourable one, it cannot be expected that any money that may be required, will be advanced at as Iowa rate of interest as that charged on money advanced to public bodies who have a reputation for conduct- ing public business in a businesslike manner. Consequently, should these capitalists feel bound to lend the required money at an advanced rate of interest, owing to the muddle and confusion characterising the methods of doing their public business in the case of any particular Local Government Body, the ratepayers of the district governed by such a Body, will be directly saddled with an unnecessarily increased expenditure, the direct outcome of the mismanagement of public business by its representatives on District or Municipal Council, as the case may be. Hence the imperious necessity of a strict and business- like performance of duty at all such Local Govern- ment Bodies. From what we have already said, and from a consideration of the discreditable mismanagement of public business, as seen during the last twelve months at the Colwyn Bay District Council, of which we have over and over again complained in these columns, without, apparently, affecting the slightest improvement, it will be seen that, in regard to the borrowing of money urgently required for the carrying out of important public works, the District Council of Colwyn Bay is heavily handicapped, while the ratepayers in the District are in some degree of (if not in imminent) danger of having to pay the piper for such dis- cordant music and ungainly dancing as has been the laughing-stock of a large portion of the country for at least the last twelve months, and, on these grounds, we, as representing the rate- payers (though it has been said that our circula- tion is limited and likely to remain so "), feel it incumbent upon us once again to condemn, in no equivocal terms, the disgraceful mismanagement of public business characteristic of the Colwyn Bay and Colwyn District Council. Almost every meeting of this Body supplies texts from which to preach sermons of this kind. The Standing Orders are habitually ignored, and that in the most outrageous manner. It is the rule, and not the exception, for two or three members to speak at the same time while, at almost every meeting of the Council, matters not on the agenda are brought forward, discussed, and even voted upon. Almost as frequently, motions passed at a meet- ing of the Council, are rescinded at the same meet- ing,-a grotesque perversion of order which is simply incredible to members of other similar Bodies. We have a clear recollection of one meeting at which at least two (if not three) motions passed at that meeting, were rescinded at the same meeting. Add to these the continual utterance of gross and vulgar personalities, and a fair picture of the manner in which the Colwyn Bay and Colwyn District Council transacts the public business, is complete. We are stating nothing new in stating this. We have said the same thing frequently before, without a single dissentient voic being- raised against our accusa- tions. Are the ratepayers of Colwyn Bay and Colwyn content with such a condition of things, content to allow it to go on for ever ? The remedy is absolutely in their own hands, and no power in the constitution can remedy it for them, unless they apply that remedy themselves. It is not for us to point out that remedy. It is one which lies in their own hands, and which they themselves only can apply. We must now revert to a subject which we had noted for consideration after a perusal of our re- port in last week's issue of the proceedings at the last ordinary meeting of the Colwyn Bay District Council, in the course of which Mr Blud moved:— That this Council, after reviewing the History of the Cowlyd Water Scheme, is satisfied that the Rev Venables-Williams no longer represents the views of the majority of its members or the rate- payers in general, and so calls upon him to resign his seat on the Board." As our readers will remember, that meeting of the Council was marked by a series of scenes of a violent character, some of which preceded, and one was associated with, Mr Blud's motion. During the course of the preceding scenes, personalities of a regrettable nature were indirlged-in, most of them quite unrebuked by the Chairman, to whose laxity in the chair we now, as we have previously done, attribute a considerable share of the dis- order which regularly obtains at the Council meetings, and it is undoubtedly a serious failure, on the part of the Chairman, that he has not, and does not, more stringently enforce the rules (not to say the amenities) of debate, while he is in the chair. No doubt Mr Thomas Parry has the best intentions in the world, but facilis descensus Averni, and good intentions are of little use apart from good deeds, especially in a case of this kind. However, we have said enough on this point, and doubtless Mr Parry will have further opportunities of ruling the Council in a far different manner to that in which he has ruled it in the past. Well, Mr Blud moved his motion, and read a speech in support of it. As our readers are aware, there has been a long standing agitation against the Cowlyd Water Board, on the ground of alleged mismanagement, and what is aptly described, in Mr Bevan's words, as the crowning scene," was consummated at the last ordinary meeting of the Council. Mr Bevan was not re- ferring particularly to this agitation, as far as we can judge from our report of his remarks, when he said Mr Chairman, I think, sir, with due deference to you, you have allowed this matter to sink, from a discussion of a matter of policy, into a personal attack on the Chairman of the Cowlyd Board [Hear, hear], and, whatever gain we have derived from the advent among us of nc;w members on our Council, I feel convinced, and I say it with regret, that they have considerably lowered the tone of discussion on this Board, for* during the last twelve months it has descended to nothing but personal bickerings and quarellings [hear, hear], and this is the crowning scene." But his words apply very well, for, in fact, if not in intent, Mr Blud's motion was undoubtedly "the crowning scene in the agitation against the alleged mis- management of the Cowlyd Water Scheme, by the Cowlyd Board. We need not say much about the violent language used by Mr Blud when the Rev W. Venables-Williams left the room on Mr Blud being called upon by the Chairman to move the motion of which he had given notice, but we observe with regret that that language was not rebuked by the Chairman. That regret is tempered by the satisfaction we feel on reading that the Rev J. G. Howarth, a gentleman who cannot be suspected of undue partiality for the Rev W. Venables-Williams, strongly condemned Mr Blud's violent language, and called upon him to "withdraw" the phrase "moral coward" flung by Mr Blud after the retiring Chairman of the Cowlyd Water Board, and added the very sensible observation, in reply to a remark of Mr Blud's, that a man is not obliged to remain to be insulted." We imagine our readers will cordially endorse Mr Howarth's remark, and as cordially condemn Mr Blud's fierce outburst. Let us revert then to a consideration of Mr Blud's speech, which, be it remembered, was not made on the spur of the moment, but was the outcome of careful thought, and written down. But, be- fore dealing with the speech itself, we must, we fear at the risk of wearying our readers, once again recapitulate the main features of the subject on which Mr Blud based his motion. Some six or seven years ago, the question of a new water-supply for Colwyn Bay was mooted, by someone. It does not matter a pin who. Later on, that idea took the larger form of a Scheme for a Joint Water Supply to the Districts of Colwyn Bay, Conway Rural, and Conway Urban. The Local Government Bodies of each of these Districts conferred together on the subject, and the outcome of their deliberations was the decision to combine together for the pro- curing of a joint supply, at the joint cost of the Districts concerned, the object, of course, being economy. That idea was deliberately adopted by all the Districts named, after plenty of discussion; and ultimately a Provisional Order was obtained, authorising the carrying out of such a Scheme, and creating an Authority or Board, under the title of the Cowlyd Joint Water-Supply Board," to carry out and administer such Scheme. That Board consisted, and still consists, of members of each Constituent Authority, elected by each Con- stituent Authority to represent their particular Constituent Authority on (and collectively to form) the Joint Water Board. The members elected by the Colwyn Bay Local Board, were the Rev W. Venables-Williams, Mr A. O. Walker, Mr John Porter, and the Rev Thomas Parry. The other Districts similarly sent representatives (whose names for the moment escape us), and, altogether, these representatives formed the Cowlyd Joint Water Board. As in the case of every other public Body, one of the very first acts of this body was to elect a Chairman, and that body of gentlemen, among whom, be it remem- bered, were Messrs A. O. Walker, John Porter, and Thomas Parry, all representing Colwyn Bay, deliberately considering it the best thing thing to do, and after asking, like Mr Bevan, Who was or is more fitted, by knowledge, by experience, and by business capacity, than our worthy Vicar, to occupy the post of Chairman of the Cowlyd Water Board?' unanimously elected the Rev W. Venables-Williams to be the Chairman of the Cowlyd Water Board, and, we may add in passing, that Board, in spite of its changes of membership, has ever since retained the Rev W. Venables-Williams as its Chairman. The Board then went on with the work for which it was called into existence, and has since made many mistakes, costly mistakes,—mistakes which have delayed the completion of the Scheme far beyond the time originally anticipated, and increased its total cost to an extent a long way beyond the amount originally estimated. It may at once be said that it is certain that no one regrets these mistakes, these delays, and this increased expenditure, more than the members of the Cowlyd Board themselves, all large ratepayers in the District, and all equally liable to be rated for the support of the Scheme. Well, after a time, a very curious phenomenon in connexion with this Board began to be observed, and it took the form of some of its members, as it were, withdrawing themselves in effect from all responsibility in connexion with the Board as far as mistakes, delays, and increased expenditure, was concerned, -gat b eriti g up their robes about themselves, and dissociating themselves from its blunders, and mismanagements, and increased liabilities. These would-be seceders then took up an attitude of accusation, and began to publicly condemn the Board (of which, let our readers not forget for one moment, they were, and had from the beginning been-in at least one case,- members), on account of these mistakes, delays, etc. The Rev Thomas Parry, Chairman of the Colwyn Bay District Council, took a prominent part in this movement, and last December publicly made a series of what Mr Blud has described as grave and serious charges against the Cowlyd Board. With Mr Parry's remarks on that occasion, we subsequently dealt in a leading article, in the course of which we invited Mr Parry to reply to certain questions, the burden of which was Did he or did he not, vote for doing any of the things for doing which he, in that speech, condemned the Board?" Mr Parry has not thought fit to reply to our queries, but, at a sub- sequent meeting of the Colwyn Bay District Council, Mr Blud moved a motion calling upon the Chairman of the Cowlyd Water Board to say whether he had any answer to make to the grave and serious charges publicly made, at a public meeting, by a public man, against the Cowlyd Water Board. The Chairman of the Cowlyd Board not being present at that meeting, no reply was made to Mr Blud's challenge except by Messrs John Roberts and John Porter, who, while admitting that the Board had made mistakes, assured the Council that they had been made unwittingly. We dealt with Mr Blud's observations on that occasion, too, and asked Mr Blud as we had previously asked Mr Thomas Parry, to define these "grave and serious charges," and let the ratepayers know what was meant. As we have already said, Mr Parry did not vouchsafe us any reply. Mr Blud, however, was not so reticent, but he was equally unsatis- factory, for his only reply was that he did not value our opinions that he did not" consider our paper was an independent organ, but merely the mouth-piece of one man and that our circulation was a limited one, and likely to remain so"; "grave and serious" allegations these, indeed, but still not exactly what we asked for, and not in the remotest degree reflecting on the Cowlyd Water Board. The next scene in the drama we are discussing, was played at the last ordinary meeting of the Colwyn Bay and Colwyn District Council, when Mr Blud moved the motion and read the speech we have already referred-to. Now it might be supposed that at last our request for a defining of the grave and serious charges" said by Mr Blud to have been made by Mr Thomas Parry against the Cowlyd Board, was about to be acceded-to, especially as Mr Blud had written his statement, and based upon it a demand for the resignation, by the Chairman of the Cowlyd Water Board, of his seat on that Board. But we are again disappointed. Mr Blud's speech contains the assertion that the ratepayers, if asked, would immediately denounce the Scheme as the most costly and most unsatisfactory of all Schemes connected with the District that the Rev W. Venables-Williams, on his own showing, was chiefly responsible for that Scheme that the Rev W. Venables-Williams has again and again boasted of the Scheme as being one of the finest in the Kingdom; that the Rev W. Venables- Williams had said that the Provisional Order only cost £6 8s iod, and in saying that did not com- prehend what he was talking about that these Provisional Orders did not contain compulsory powers, and that hence followed actions for trespass and costly litigation that the majority of the Cowlyd Water Board declare that their responsibility for a supply of water finishes at Sarn Mynach, though it was called a "Joint Water-Supply Board that Conway practically has almost full control of the main and of the main supply, and, from last summer's irregular and precarious supply at Colwyn Bay, might be judged what was to be expected from Conway that, though it had been said that the water could not come to Colwyn Bay because there was a great leakage somewhere, or because the pipes were corroded, it had been discovered that the water was never allowed to come; that, judging from the reports of the proceedings at the last meeting of the Cowlyd Board, the Chairman (the Rev W. Venables-Williams) did not support in any way the demands of the Colwyn Bay repre- sentatives; that he (Mr Blud) had moved that a copy of all documents relating to contracts, etc., in connexion with the Scheme, should be supplied to the District Council, which request had never been complied with; that the Chairman of the Cowlyd Water Board had never consulted the Colwyn Bay people at all in this matter; that, had he done so, the Colwyn Bay people would have demanded an independent supply that he (Mr Blud) need not go into the working of the scheme, inasmuch as the Chair- man of the Council had laid it bare, before a town's meeting, in all its ugly nakedness, and showed how the ratepayers' money had been recklessly squandered that the scheme was corruptly conceived, born in sin and shapen in iniquity and that he (Mr Blud) believed that, in moving that vote of censure, he was voicing the opinion of the people. Now we don't believe that. Mr Blud may think he was voicing the opinion of the people," but we think he was merely voicing the opinion (however unwittingly) of a small but loud-mouthed clique of men, whose. ignorance of the details of the Scheme is only equalled by the relentless acrimony with which they have per- sistently condemned it and its author. However, it was on the series of statements we have just summarised, that Mr Blud based his demand for the resignation, by the Rev. W. Venables- Williams, of his seat on the Cowlyd Joint Water Board We refrain from expressing our own opinion of Mr Blud's demand, but we may say that it is not surprising that the Council promptly rejected it, by 5 votes to 2. In the whole of Mr Blud's carefully prepared indictment, there is not one single count on which an impartial jury would dream of convicting and, though it may savour of rudeness, it is none the less correct to describe it as balderdash," pure and simple. We do not consider it worth dealing with phrase by phrase, being confident that our readers have seen through its shallow pretence of solidity, its hackneyed trickery of phrase, and its bombastic peroration. We do not say of it, as Mr Blud said of the Cowlyd Water Scheme, that it was cor- ruptly conceived, born in sin, and shapen in iniquity," but we do say that there was never a more pointed illustration of the saying mons. parturiens nascitur ridiculus tnus. We need not offer any remarks in defence of the Cowlyd Water Board or of its .Chairman. Messrs John Roberts and George Bevan defended the absent Chairman with a manly vigor and straightforwardness which is refreshing to read. It is to be regretted that Mr Thomas Parry did not take an equally definite position in the controversy. Mr Parry has all along been one of the most bitter and outspoken assailants of the conduct of the Cowlyd Water Board. Yet here, when there was a grand opportunity of clinching his arguments against the mismanagement .of which lie has so long and so loudly complained, he feebly stands neutral, and declares that, being an interested party, he will not vote one way or the other If Mr Parry believed that the conduct of the Cowlyd Board deserved censure, the manly part would have been to have shown the courage of his convictions (as, we are bound to admit, Mr Blud did), and vote for Mr Blud's motion. If he did not believe in them, he should have voted against Mr Blud's motion. The course he actually took, was most unsatisfactory under all the cir- cumstances, and does not tend to the enhance- ment of his reputation for courage.

Prudential Assurance Company,…

Conway Rural District Council.

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