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THE DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTIONS.…

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THE DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTIONS. 40-- CAERPHILLY. ..—. + COUNCILLOR WILLIAM THOMAS' CANDIDATURE. On Monday evening a well-attended public rueeting w-is held at the Board School in sup- port of tiie candidature of Councillor William Thomas. Amongst those present were Messrs John Morgan. M. P. Williams, Thomas Rees, Johr. Puttison, J. R. George, D. T. Salabhiel, Henry Coggins, Arthur Coggins, Thomas Jcnes, John Gibbon, Phillip Re-es, Thomas Weston, Thomas Howell, J. Hargreaves, Alf. Herbert, Thomas Davies, Hopkin Enoch, Wil. liam Davies (R.R.), W. A. Phillips, J. H. Phil- lips, flari-v James, J. D. Hughes, Harry Lloyd, Mrs Waters, Mrs T. Rees, Mrs J. Tay- lor, and Mrs A. R. Nicholas. On the proposition of Mr John Morgan. Mr I William Davies, sculptor, was unanimously voted to the chair. The Chairman, in his opening remarks, eulogistically referred to Councillor William Thomas' public career, and also to the sound judgment which he had dis- played in connection with various affairs per- taining to the district generally. Although it might be said by many ratepayers that Mr Thomas might have "done this and done that," still he believed from the reports of the Coun- cil's proceedings which appeared in the "Gla- morgan Free Press," that Mr Thomas had been a faithful servant, and fully deserved to be re- elected. He called upon Mr Thomas to give them an account of his stewardship during fit- last three years. Councillor William Thomas, on rising to ad- dress th.3 meeting, wa3 vociferously cheered. He said: There is an old saying which is very often true, "He who is good at excuses is good for little else." Perhaps there is a possibility that what I have ventured to dignify as ex- planations may be dismissed as excuses by per- sons prone to prejudice, and that the pro- verb may be applied to my disadvantage. (Cries of "No. no.") The task I have set my- self will, I fear, prove long and dry. So I can only assure you of my sympathy with you ;n your present hour of affliction. By the bye, 1 will do my best to reduce it to about half an liour. Just a word or two by way of com- mencement upon the question of ALLOTMENTS. TiP Council have endeavoured to obtain land for allotments in the Town Ward, TafFs Well, amd Nelson Wards. We succeeded rather easily in Taff's Well, but only after many dis- appointments in Nelson. The attempts for the Caier*phi!Iy Ward were absolutely resultless. For this I don't admit the Council were to blame. There was the sirne desire on the part of the Council to meet the wishes of the Caer- philly applicants as those of other Wards. The causes of failure were—in the case of the Rhos, unsuitability of the soil and the unreasonable rent asked for it. In the case of the land on the Van road, let us now call it a misunder- standing between the then Clerk of the Coun- cil and the owner, anyhow the final result was absolute refusal. But you will say: Why net u", your compulsory powers? Now, gentle- men, I wish to be honest, and, therefore, I have to say that after long and painstaking study of the provisions of the Act, I was forced to the conclusion that for the purpose of ac. quiring tlia land on reasonable terms and suffi- ciently near to a developing place like this,the t,o-calle: compulsory powers are not worth the paper iIv:-» are printed on. Perhaps you will sav But what do you know about the law? W ait ° bit. At. a meeting of the Council a few months ago, when this point was under discussion, Mr Spickett (ilnd those who know Mr Spickett best will respect his opinion) ex- pressed the opinion that the so-caller1 compul. st ry powers were of little use. So you see "ùat my views proved practically the same a-1 those ci a solicitor, who, as you must admit, has had a pretty fair experience in Local Government affsirs. But please do not sup- pc -:e that I wish to discourage further applica- tion for Allotments. I repeat an offer, an un- accepted offer, which I made here three years years ago. to attend, if re-elected and invited, a meeting of allotment applicants to discuss the matte: and see what can be done. ROADS. I i/.ave heird a considerable amount of (h-ere criticism on the maintenance of the loads here Opinions have been freely expressed that on nmny parts of them ther-i is too little work, and too ready a recourse to fresh metalling. My opinion, for what it is worth, in the main agrees with those criticisms, and it is one f the questions which should be dealt with. Some time ago, there were loud complaints of delay in metalling where it was wanted, with the re- sult that v.-e hed loose stones rJitlyfully rolling about under the wheels even in summer. j took the matter iip, and claim to have brought about considerable improvement, but not yet perfection. The question of the use of Clee Hill or other hard stone on certain heavily worked portions of the Council's Roads has been raised. Inquiries and investigations will be duly made, but unless there should be con- siderable difference in favour of those outside stones apparent I should vote against de- priving our limestone ratepayers of even a portion of the contracts now shared amongst them, and upon the execution of which local labour is employed. (Loud cheers). PRACTICAL MEN. Much has been said about the need of having "practical" men upon the Council. Some of this talk has been to my disparagement. The desirability of practical knowledge and exper- ience-the wider the better for the Council— -will be admitted by none more readily than myself; but what I claim to be of at least of equal importance, is a determination to fulfil the duties of the position, and a preparedness to sacrifice a good deal of time in doing so. (Hear, hear). As it is election time I will ver. tun- to say in self defence that, !f you ask 1.1Y colleagues, they will readily admit that f tac kle every important matter that comes be- fere U. and soon make myself practically ac- quainted with it. At the last annual meeting, when the Chairman and vice-chairman were •elected, one of the principal reasons pressed upon me. even after I had declined to take the vice-chair, (for the second consecutive year, was that. as one of the members put it, "I had all the business at my fingers' ends." Again I have appointed en, I think I may say, every special commi: tee, other than local ones, I for the last two years or more. Thesa facts are sufficient indication of the opinion of my colleagues, and I leave you to consider who are best qualified to judge, my fellow-members or the irresponsible critics of the streets and corners. (Loud cheers). STREET IMPROVEMENTS. It will perhaps appear strange to some of you that after over four years on the Council, I am not able to point out any substantial improve- ment in the condition of our streets, which frequently shew more than the genesis of mud, but unfortunately not yet the e.od. Of pro- gress in another Council-the great Council of the Nation—it was said, "Ireland blocks. the way." So with regard to Caerphilly improve- ments. I had until very lately to say, "Cardiff Road blocks the way." One reason for the statement that it blocked the way was because the surface of the future Cardiff Road will regulate the levels of the side or cross streets running into it. It is true that the Clifton street improvement plans, and those of Wind- sor street, have been ready for a long time, but I did not care to push those two on until the others could be brought into line, else there would be plausible grounds for complaints against me of interested partiality—my house and shop being in Clifton street; and as a club member and a director. I am interested in Windsor street. Another reason why "Car- diff Road blocked the way" is that I did not think it wise to imperil the rather delicate na- ture of the question of Cardiff Road improve- ment by overloading my ship while its fate was uncertain. I think I may claim at last that the improvement of Cardiff Road is now a practical certainty, and in an electioneering way I may also claim that, with the co-opera- tion of the late Mr Henry Anthony. and with the generous assistance of Mr Corbett, my perseverance, taot, and the appreciation by my fellow-members of my fair-mindedness n what may be termed district matters, have been mainly the cause of the ultimate success. Now it will, I hope, be only a question of a comparatively short time, to bring about other much needed improvements, and there will now be this important difference, that there will be three local members to watch over,, and push on, those improvements. GAS. I learn that the Council are being blamed for not purchasing the gas undertaking. Now I personally claim immunity from attack upon this point. You see, that however favourable Mr Anthony, Mr D. Lewis, and myself, who were all shareholders, may have been towards entertaining proposals from the Gas Company, we were outvoted and overborne by the mem- bers from the other Wards, who naturally looked with suspicion upon anything we might say as being tainted by self-interest. Therefore it any want to tatack the Council for not purchasing the Gas Works, in common fair- ness, go and do so in Ystrad Mynach, Nelson. and TafFs Well Wards, and do not visit the sins of others upon me. DRAINAGE. With reference to the Drainage Scheme, I hardly know at what point to commence. I have already told most of you that the Gwain- ybara scheme was adopted in the time of the Local Board here before my official time, and then adopted upon the best obtainable advice of that time. I have more than once told you that several different schemes and sug- gestions have been carefully considered. I have also told you that in 1896, the Septic Tank system of sewage treatment came under my notice, and that I commenced to study the possibility of lessening the enormous estimated total of P.56,000, by adopting the Septic, or some such system, for the sept rate treatment of Nelson. I put myself to a great deal of ex- penditure, of time, trouble. and my own money, in studying this matter, with the final result of reducing the estimates by £ 16,000; that is, E36,000 for the lower porticn of the Ward, and E4,000 for Nelson, as against £ 56,000 for the whole original scheme. I am frequently falsely and unfairly accused of having caused the loss of zE3,700, but none of the accusers, so far as I know, acknowledge the part I took in the saving cf the £ 16.000. I presume you all know about the sewer fiom the end of the present Senghenydd sewer to the farm is to be laid as soon as possible. No one who knows the deplorably insanitary state of things in the Aber Valley-a state which be- comes positively disgusting and dangerous in some parts in summer-will question the ab- solute necessity for hurrying on this portion of the work. This state of things affects us also as t.he Aber brook flows in this direction. During winter the volume of water therein is sufficient, not only for solution and carrying clean water away, but also for effecting a ger- micidal chemical change, practically equivalent to an annihilation of dangerous presences. But when. as inevitably they will, the proportions change as the water decreases and the sewage increases, then will come the danger to ns. Last summer I had repeated complaints from farmers and others bordering on the polluted stream. Many cattle, whose milk we drink, have access to this stream. Some of us have dene our utmost to pmh forward this drainage provision, but I fear we shall have one more dangerous summer before the reiief can be effected. WATER. It has been a, common charge against nol Council, and against myself more particularly, that th- expenditure of the £3,700 upon rhe water struggle was absolute waste, and was unnecessary.I deny point blank both these charges. You all know that in the summer of 1S96. as well as before and after, there was an alarming scarcity of water here. I gave the mos' unstinted attention to the important mat- ter of an increased water supply, and con- side-red the possibility of utilising the springs or streams of the immediate neighbourhood, and also meditated upon everything I could see myself, and what countless advisers brought under my notice. We actually tried to acquire some of them, but from one cause and another, we abandoned the hope of -in- quiring and using any of them with Parliamen- tarv powers. It was in lie autumn cf 1896 we learnt that the Rhymney and Aber Valley Company was being formed to promote a scheme to impound water on the borders of Breconshire for supply the whole valley. We prepared a scheme of our own, and at the same time tried to obtain satisfactory terms from the Company, but their offers were not what we could consider as safeguarding the district. Meanwhile several visits were paid to the site of their proposed reservoir, and I soon saw their scheme was a bad one. This statement is a bold one, but its correctness has since been practically proved by the action of the promoters in substituting the present scheme, which is totally different from the original one, and in my opinion a much better one. Now. let me ask you to carefully con- sider the then position. Here was our district indisputably in want of a better water supply, and a company attempting to get seven years Parliamentary powers over the district with a scheme which I, who of all the Conucil, knew most about, felt certain would never be carried i out. Now, suppose we had done nothing in way of a scheme ef our own. I ask you what chance of success would we have had in attempting to fprevent theSr encroachments. The answer must be, none whatever. Parlia- ment would certainly have granted them their Act, and what would be the result. They would be under no compulsory need of spend- ing a penny on the actual carrying out of a scheme. They would only have to wait until the ifrcreasing demands for waetr. and the in- creasing pressure of the superior authorities, would compel this district to buy them out. I have more rfeasons than my own opinion for saying that that would mean paying at least £ 10,000 for absolutely nothing, except the free dom to begin again a scheme of our own. (Shame). Why, it was absolutely necessary to I prepare tho CWYn Ceffyl scheme in order to save the district. We lost our own Bill it is true, but I have papers here which would go a leng way to support my contention, that it was a blundering misunderstanding between our principal expert witness and our leading coun- sel that chiefly wrecked it. But we won the other fight, and saved the district from uncon- trolled monopoly. The water struggle-not the water Bill only-but the whole water struggle cost. as you know only too well, about £ 3,700. But if my advice had been taken, there would have been a possibility—I think a probability—of a different result with some- thing like half the cost. (Hear, hear). At a certain stage in the proceedings we were strongly advised by our Parliamentary agents, and by the engineer, to oppose the Rhymney and Aber Valley Bill on Standing Orders. I moved that we should do so, but did not even get seconder. Someone proposed waiting upon the company to ascertain their best offers, etc., etc., But waiting meant losing this golden opportunity. By the time the following meeting was held, it was too late. At that meeting, which was decisive, I gave my views very fully, and after doing so, said, "Well, gentlemen, I have placed my views be- fore you, but remembering the isolated posi- tion I was in at the last meeting, I cannot take upon myself the further responsibility of pro- posing the proceeding with the Bill." It was then proposed and seconded by two members from another Ward that the Council proceed with their scheme. So you see that, although I did nearly all the work, it is absolutely un- fair to saddle me with so much of the blame. (Hear, hear). The candidate here handed the Chairman a copy of the minutes relating to these meetings, as a proof to the correctness of his statementt. Mr Thomas, proceeding, said: With your permission, Mr Chairman, I will read out the agreement we entered into with the Rhymney and Aber Valley Company last year, and ex- plain the circumstances, which led to that agreement. Here the speaker read some clauses, and continuing, said: The first endeavour, after the Parliamen- tary fight was to bring the different Rhymney Valley authorities, ourselves inclu- ded, to undertake a joint scheme. But even at the first meeting at Hengoed, there was so great a divergence of opinion, and so much cross-pulling, that the first meeting was also th? last. (Cries of "Shame.") We entered into negotiations with Merthyr, which exten- ded over a considerable time. Their offers were carefully considered, more especially by M" Corbett and myself. I spent many a long hour pondering the probabilities, and so I pre- sume did Mr Corbett. We made our calcula- tions separately, and arrived at much the same conclusion, viz., that the Merthyr arrangement would entail, besides the highest prices of the present scheme, a 6d rate m aid. This would probably be necessary for some time, and then perhaps gradually decrease. In the meantime the Rhymney and Aber Valley Company were preparing their scheme which, as I said before, is materially improved from the former. They gradually effected agreements with nearly eiver £ affected company, and every district authority from RJfymney downward. The ym Caerphilly position was a critical one. We had no scheme of our own, and the Merthyr arrangement would be too burdensome, so in oner to prevent the company from having un- controlled powers over the district, we made the agreement I have just read. I claim from every considerate, fair-minded elector, the ad- mission that we did the best that could be reasonably be expected under the circum- stances. If the company carry out their scheme we shall have a good and efficient water supply. If they do not meet the stipulations of the agreement, their powers in this district cease. (Hear, hear). Well. Mr Chairman and gentlemen, I have endetvoured to tell you a plain, unvarnished tale, to put matters as clearly as I could in a short address, and I now invite any pertinent questions. (Loud and prolonged cheers). Mr J. Gregory asked whether the water rate would be increased or diminished by the water scheme the candidate just referred to. Councillor Thomas: Oh, increase it. Mr Gregory: Under the agreement you have just read, I think the price of gas is quoted at 48 6d. Councillor Thomas: For public lighting. Mr Gregory: But is there no limit in tnb price for householders? Councillor Thomas: Yes. 5s 6d per thousand cubic feet. Mr Gregory: Do you not consider that a ridiculous price for gas? In many towns in the North of England and elsewhere, where th° expense of the carriage of coal and cost of other materials are much heavier than they are at Caerphilly, the price is from Is 10s to 2s with 20 per cent. discount if the account is paid within 15 days. Councillor Thomas: I am afraid Mr Gre- gory has overlooked my remarks, about the gas company. The Council have no control what- ever over gas people who can do just as they please with their own property. The only question I have to answer is that of the non- purchase of the Gas Works by the Council, and that I have already dealt with in my statement. The responsibility for that must be laid at the door of the members from the other Wards, to whom any complaints of this nature should be referrd. Had the Caerphilly members the power to buy, and the terms of purchase 'reasonable, the Gas Works would probably have long ere this been the property of the district. Mr Gregory again emphasised his objection to the exorbitant price of gas, etc., and with whom Councillor Thomas expressed his sym- pathy. Mr D. T. Salathiel wished to know whether the candidate would oppose the acquiring of the Water Works by the Rhymney and Aber Valley Company until they showed practical proofs of carrying out their scheme. Councillor Thomas Yes, certainly; I shall spire no effort to do so. Th? Chairman congratulated the candidate upon the excellent account he had just given of his stewardship during the last three years. He was more than satisfied with it, and be- lieved all those present felt similarly. Mr John Evans (one of the candidates) said there was a rumour that some antagonistic feeling existed between him and Mr Thomas, and he attended that night to make it known that there was no feeling of that kind. (Hear, I-ear). The paragraph in his address, which had been misconstrued, really applied to the Council as a body. He knew Mr Thomas would be returned, and hoped he (the speaker) would be successful in his candidature, so that Mr Thomas and himself might be able to work shoulder to shoulder in the interests of the Caerphilly ratepayers. (Hear, hear). He trusted the weapon would supply the cure after all. (Cheers). On the motion of Mr John Morgan, seconded by Mr D. T. Salathiel (who also thanked Mr Evans for his explanatory remarks), a vote of confidence )in Councillor Thomas was unani- mously passed. Councillor Thomas, responding, said: I have to thank you most heartily for your kind re- ception and for the encouraging response you have given to the proposition of a vote of con. fidence in me. I hope I shall so conduct my- se!f as to retain that confience. I frankly accept Mr Evans' explanation, but I did not, at any time, look upon the attack as indicating any personal feeling, but only as a kind of thing that one must expect at election time. (Hear, hear). I am, however, relieved to find that after all I was too "greedy" in appro- priating all the blame to myself. (Loud laugh- ter). In conclusion, I have only to add the same promise that I made here three years ago, viz., to do my best, with, however, this important difference—that it will now be my "experienced" best. (Loud cheers). A hearty vote of thanks to the Chairman closed a most successful meeting. ABER WARD. (From our Special Correspondent). The five candidates, Messrs David Thomas, Edmund Evans, -Eleazar Lewis, John Lewis, and Robert Lougher, are earnestly but quietly at work. It appears that at a public meeting held at N ocldfa Vestry on Thursday all the candidates except Mr John Lewis attended. Mr David Thomas held a meeting at Senghen- ydd on Wednesday ana at Aber to-night. It is almost a foregone conclusion that the follow ing three will be elected: -Messrs David Thomas (retiring member), Edmund Evans,and Eileazar Lewis. An -unfounded rumour pre- vailed at Sengihenydd last week ,and matters looked as if they were coming to a serious climax. Wise counsels, it appears, have pre- vailed, and everything is apparently calm.

. Aber Ward Election

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