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RURAL HOUSING IN CHESHIRE + — SCARCITY OF GOOD COTTAGES. At the monthly meeting of the Nantwich Rural District Council, on Saturday, Mr. C. B. Davies in the chair, a report was read from the commit- tee who were appointed to go into the question of rural housing in the Council's district. The report stated: "The committee gave careful con- sideration to the question of existing housing ac- commodation In the area of the rural district, and after hearing the opinion of every member of the committee as to the conditions existing in his neighbourhood, it was agreed that in many part. of the rtffal district there is a. scarcity of good cottages, and especially of cottages with land at- tached to them It was pointed out by the medi- cal officer of health that the Housing of the Work- ing Classes Act, 1903, has cons.derably added to the poweis of sanitary authorities in making pro- vision for the working-classes. Under this Act the period for which loans are granted is extended, so that now money can be borrowed for freehold la.nd for a period of 80 years, and for the erection of cottages for a period of 60 years, instead 01 40 years as under the Act of 1890. The medical officer of health also pointed out that the in mmum accommodation required in an ordinary working- man's cottage consisted ot a good, roomy kitchen (or house place), a scuilery and pantry downstairs, and three bedrooms upstairs. He reported that he was informed that such cottages, if erected in pairs, could be built for £ 150 per cottage. He also reported that he was informed that land for cottages could probably be obtained in most of the townships for £ 50 per acre and that half-an- acre per cottage was ample allowance for the site and garden (though, of course, not for the keeping of a cow). The JS150 required for the building would require to be paid back in 60 years. and the annual instalments of principal and interest would be L5 8s. 4jd. The cost of the land would require to be paid in 80 years, and the annual instalments would be 16s. 8d.. if the land cost L25 p-er cot- tage. The total cost per annum would be as fol- lows:-For land, 16s. 8d for buildings, L5 as. 4d.; total. J36 5s. 0-!d. This would mean a weekly rent of 2s. 5jd.. plus rates. Your com- mittee considered that in places where ootfe-jres are scarce and landowners are not willing to rcalo provision for the working-classes of such a kind will allow of a family being brought up decently and respectably, it might be advisable to enter 011 some scheme of cottage consti uction. Before entering on such a scheme it would be necessary for the District Council to obtain the consent of the County Council to their adopting part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act; but before this is done your committee would recom- mend that a communication, be sent to all the parish councils and parish nic-e-tings in the dis- trict, asking for their opinion as to the needs of their particular area and laying before them the financial aspects of the problem. Your com- mittee also think that in many instances good might be done if the needs of particular places were brought by the District Council before the notice of tha owners of estates. In conclusion, your committee would point out that in their opinion one of the causes, at any rate, of rural depopulation is the scarcity of good cottage-s at a rent within the means of the ordinary labourer; and would earnestly recommend the question to the consideration of the Council, in the hope that some means may be found of properly housing and so retaining in the rural districts that peasant population on which in so great a measure the con- tinued existence of the country depends.' Mr. John M. Emberton moved the adoption cf the report. He said the committee was well and representatively attended, and they had authorita- tive evidence given as to the scarcity of good c-oj- tages in rural distric ts, and of the importance of provision being made in this direction in order to retain labour on the land. It was generally agreed by representatives present that the cot- tages in the various neighbourhoods in which they resided were all occupied, and that when a oot- tage became vacant there was always a number of applicants, shewing that the district was not over supplied with housing accommodation. It was also stated, to which reference was m..dü in the report, that where cottages were provided with land they were more eagerly sought after. It must bo borne in mind that no authority had power to deal with allotments for this particular purpose, that was to say the Act conferring power on ioral authorities to erect houses under certain conditions did not apply to the compulsory pur- chase of land for the purpose. Dr. Turner fur- nished them with some very valuable figures on the question. The chief feature of the report Vi¡¡.>! that the committee invited an expression of opinion from the various local authorities in the area as to the need of cottage accommodation with or without land in their respective areas. Such an expression of opinion would be most valu- able, as it would be one from those vitally inter- ested in the question. Until they had clicked that opinion he did not think the Council would be justified in proceeding further. The fipues furnished by Dr. Turner as to the cost of the erection of cottages and the income from them would be sent to the various local authorities to I assist them in their deliberations 011 the subject. It seemed that the want of additional cottage ac- commodation, though not accounting entirely for the depopulation of the rural district, was a very serious factor in the quest-ion. The comrr.jttee did not absolutely say that the absence. of ample cottage accommodation accounted altogether for I rural depopulation; they said it was a. very great factor, and they believed that if there was more cottage accommodation provided there wouid not be so much migration from the country to the towns, or, to put it another way. they wo,¡ld *€- tain more of the. rural population among them. That one fact elicited by the committee wa valuable. The committee, recognised the good work done by some of the landowners in pro viding cottage accommodation in the rural dis- trict, and they hoped that example would stimu- late other landowners to take the same step. It was pointed out by one of the most infiuer.t al members of the comnaittec, that on one of the largest estates in the Council's area the supply of cottage accommodation was painfully inadequate, and some of those which did exist at the. present time were in a condition unfit for a human to dwell in. They wou!d not like that statement to go forth as an impeachment upon the chai-scter, motives, or sentiments, or the attitude of hld- owners to the question, but merely as a pine fact and the committee of the- Rural Council could not emphasise too strongly the important part which landowners could play in this question :10 retaining the labouring population on the Jand by the provision of proper housing accommoda- tion. (Applause.) Mr. R. W. Cartwright seconded He said at the present time there was veiy much mOle labour employed on the ma;n roads than there way twenty years ago. Many cottages which weie th?n available for the agricultural labourer were now occupied by men who worked on the roacs. They ought to suggest to the County Council that where there was a scarcity of cottages they -.I(i give them the lead by adopting the Act and by 1erecting cottages for their own workmen. (Hear, hear.) Mr. S. Jackson thought that landowners who had a large number of cottages, instead of letting them to railwaymen ought, as their bounden duty, to give their tenant farmers the first chance. Tb::t was not always done. 1 The ¡CJL:t '\y.) ;¿:-0J. j



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