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Fire at Merthyr Vale.

In and Out of the Merthyr…


In and Out of the Merthyr County Council. [By COUNCILLOR DAN THOMAS.] Cefn for years ha.s suffered grievously by rea- son of its sanitary condition. Fevers have been always existent, occasionally in an epidemic form, and of a. serious nature, attributable, no doubt, to the absence of a good working system of drainage. The local sanitary authority, it must in fairness be conceded, have long acknow- ledeged the want of perfect sewerage, and sought to remedy the existing deplorable state of things. Several schemes have been submitted to the Local Government Board, and as many forma! official inquiries, prior to sanctioning the required loan for the work, have been held, bin always by a different inspector. What onc genius from the Circumlocution Office approv- cd of the next considered unsuitable, and poor Cefn is still without its sewerage system though the parish has had to pay for plans and in- quiries In a few days another inquiry is to be IJCid, let us hope with more, success than pre- vious ones. The inexplicable part of the busi- ness is that one of tile propounded schemes was approved of, and actually carried out in Hir- wain, and, therefore, why not a like one for Cefn? The order of the day—a la Board of Guardians—is,.if you disagree with London offi- cials, call upon Members of Parliament to move a reduction of salary as a sort of revenge. Here is a legitimate case in which our two Par- liamentary representatives and all the groups in the House might take up and sec if that, em- porium of red-tapism—the Local Government Board—will explain its devious ways. The taking phrase—back to the land—was quoted several times at our last monthly Coun- cil meeting, and created some mirth amongst members, as well as amongst the spectators seated in the gallery. I,ike many other well- worn platitudes which grace the utterances of Councillor D. J. Lewis, Chairman of the Libraries Committee—to set forth his full dis- tinctive position at the Town Hail—it did not seemingly carry much weight. There wp-re cal. lous listeners, who interjected with the ready advice thftt those who wanted to could go bad to the land whenever they No one would stop them they need not hesitate on the order of going, but go instanter. But where, do we discover such well-meaning and self-sacrificing individuals?. Once a taste of tho "sponclolucks" of a thriving colliery dis- trict,, and these hitherto innocent yokels have no disposition to retrace their steps for agri- cultural pursuits. Unfortunately this is all so much ,the worse for Welshmen. The Cousin Johnnies, the moonrakers, the Dumplings, the <1targ.å.zers; the white-faced ones, the Radnor boys, and the demonstrative North Walians, once in our midst, find their El Dorado, and pitch their tents. All the Pecksniffian de- crees of Councillor D. J. Lewis will not alter the JX>Sition. Ratepayers will shortly realise with, I fear, painful emotions, that their local burdens are not decreasing, and some restraint must be placed on Councillors and officials, otherwise our rates will become still heavier. They are now at such a figure that we should exclaim with the Shakesperian player's ardour, "Hold, enough." For the ensuing six months our rates will be at tho rate of 4s. 4d. in the It is well to re- member that when rates are spoken of, pay- ments in respect of water supply are not in- cluded. In Merthyr there is no such claim as a water rate. The payments for water are properly and legally designated water charges. Private companies, such as the gas and electric traction, flourish in our midst. but we do not speak of a gas or an clectric light rate. Tbe water charge must be calculated in addition to the 4s. 4d. which comprises money required for general purposes, for borough fund require- ments, education and poor. Why the increase, I am unable just now to explain. It is inexplicable, but the details are available for public consumption. It is to be hoped that some of your far-seeing readers will be able to unravel the mystery. When Coun- cillor F. T. Jame3, Clerk to the Guardians, submitted his demand to that Board, he made the cheerful announcement that the poor rate would be less, as there was an appreciable diminution in the amount of the Guardians' precept. This is how the matter stands. For relief of the poor and other expenses of the Guardians, there was demanded for the last half-year £8,347, and for county contributions £ 3,927—a total of £12,774. The Guardians this half-year require £10,430 for relief of poor only. and nothing for county contributions; so really less money is required. The former county contribution is now included in the bor- ough fund, but last half-year the overseers in- cluded for this fund £4,200, In the estimates of receipts and expenditure for the coming half-year, presented to the Over- seers, this borough fund demand is £7,850, an increase of £3,650. as a set-off against the coun- ty contribution of £3,927. This is a decrease of £277. The expenses of the Education Com- mittee are estimated at £12,500, as against £13,000 for the last half-year, and the like amount for the corresponding half of 1908. This decrease of £ 500—nearly a Ad. rate—is however swallowed up by the Overseers' esti- mated increase under (he heading of "Com- pounding with owners, allowances and appeals" of £ 3,5(j0, as against for the last half- year. I hope to discover the reason for this. I trust we are not preparing for costly appeals for costs of appeal are charges upon the Union. What is meant, I gather, is loss to tho rates following appeals 'to the Assessment Commit- tee. Is this a sort of tacit admission that cer- tain assessments are too high. I know of many that are too low. The other expenses of Over- seers are insignificant, if we leave out the demand of the Cemeteries Committee for £625, and the Libraries Committee for £1,137. These items, however, have nought to do with the Overseers as such; they have only to be regard- ed as details in the Council's precept. For two days the Council, by its various Committees, considered the coming tweleve months' requirements, and, after careful exami- nation of comparative statements, kept down the estimates for the yea.r to a total figure which worked out at the same rate as was lev- ied last year. In this total I wish to repeat and emphasise, is included the amount that was formally called for by the Guardians for county contributions, and if the Council, with a decreased assessable value and the inclusion in their estimates of the amount previously de- manded by the Guardians, are able to can for the same rates as last year, it .is obvious that that body have made an effort tÛ retrenchment, and succeeded to the extent of /providing for the requirements which hitherto shown a.s county contributions Seeing, therefore, that the Council's demand? would:not call for an increased rate, it was only reasonable to hope that the total rates for the year would be less than last year's, but on the amount demanded for the first half there is no decrease. It is said that the reduction in the assessment of the Cyfarthfa. Works, con- sequent on the stoppage of the mills and furn- aces there, means an increase of 2d. on Last year's rates so as to obtain the same revenue, but the unfortunate position of Cyfarthfa Works also applies to the Council's revenue, FO if the Council, by a little care, can s&ve their share of the twopence, the Guardians should also make an effort to do the same. I have no de- make this theme of rates wea.rÏJ3ome, so enough for the present. Your readers may re- ly upon my a-gain dealing with the subject in future notes when, perhaps, I shaJl have learnt what will certainly be to me a satisfactory rea- son for continuing to levy the abnormally high rates of last year. Finance in local affairs has a fascination for inquisitive ones especially if they are able to find out where the rates go to. A return which I quoted in my last, week's notes was a most interesting one, and. with permission, I will again refer thereto. Our expenditure on mat- ters educational is appalling, the amount esti- mated for the next year being £53,937 6., the amount required to be raised by rates being os. 6d. for elementary and £838 for sec- ondary education, a total of £24,065 8s. 6d. The Council thought there should be a margin, and put down the a.mount at £ 21\Q00, as com- pared with £26,000 for the yea" ending 31st March. 1909. It will be instructive if I quote the other principal sources of income. Annual ¡z-rants. £13,417; fee grants, £6.680; aid grant, Education Act, section 10, £6,848: and special grant, say £3,050. On the expenditure side of the sheet we find in respect of elementary edu- ratipn that salaries of teachers alone amount to £37,000 out of the total expenditure of £53,937 6s., which also includes the following large sums:—Books and stationery, £1,700; fuel, light and cleaning, £2,900; salaries of officers and attendance officers, £1,330; and in re- spect of loans, £3,445; a.nd for repayment,, £3,200. These figures indicate the way the money goes, and afford unlimited matter for reflection. Amateur exponents of the histrionic art in our town have latelv been devoting a good deal of time and study to ma.king themselves proficient in stage sketches. They appeared at the Tem- perance Hall on Tuesday last, and their lauda- tory efforts to assist a local good cause and at the same time afford some enjoyment to their admiring friends and relatives were crown- ed with success It would be invidious to sin- gle out a.ny single performer when all did so well, especially the lady performers. There was a happy selection of pieces for present- ment, which did not unduly tax the capabilities of the amateur artistes. Joy, mirth, and frivol- itv had worthy exponents, and the responsive audience marked their approval with unstinted applause, which was thoroughly deserved. The costumier executed his part well, the scenery was appropriate, and the music by the Hall Band was excellent. It is to be hoped that a good round sum has been netted for the worthy object in view. Twelve experienced and skilled artizans ap- plied for the post of clerk of works for the new Council houses to be erected at Danyderi, and after the weeding out process the selection was left between two good local men—one from Merthyr. and the other from Dowlais. I am not calfiatr ixito question the selection, hut rather i he Town Clerk's dictum and the Mayor's action ih finally making the lI.ppöintment. The Mayor voted for the successful candidate, and upon finding the vot equal—12 for eachvave his casting vote for tho Dowlais man. The right of his Worship to exercise the casting vote at committee meetings was questioned, but the Town Clerk, with strange inconsistency, upheld the right, though he immediately afterwards doubted its legality. Such are the peculiar ways followed in the Town Hall. On Wednesday afternoon there was a meet- in? of the School Management Committee, when & eqmDiMOicatioa aasnt the forthcoming I National Pageant of Wales from the Lord Mayor of Cardiff was read. It suggested that d facilities should be given school children from 1 our district to witness the representation of < imaginative scenes connected with the past his- tory of Wales. Object lessons such as pageants J supply should be welcomed and encouraged by 1 lovers of their country, especially those who 15 have the educational destinies of the people more or less at heart. The Chairman of our i Libraries Committee, without question, ought > to be included within this category, but Coun. J D. J. Lewis, of Troedyrhiw, failed to grasp the t, position, and actually opposed the request of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff. He moved that > the letter lay upon the table, considering that J the encouragement of the proposal would be attendant with no little cost and no corres- ponding benefit. Happily this was not the view taken by Ald. D. W. Jones, Coun. Simons, and others. They argued, and very properly, that 1 money spent in the suggested direction would < be well SP(tif;" and that cur children would in < one day learn iribre of Welsh history in viewing the pageant than ail the Cymric lessons given in day schools for twelve months would do. Î Common sense prevailed, and children are to be encouraged and assisted, I hope. Three months ago, after much heated con- troversy, the question of the Town Clerk's sal- ary and emoluments was settled. The Audi- tor's forcible recommendation that extra earn- ings and fees received by the SLIRDLUNNU ings and fees receivable by whole time officials must be paid into the Corporation coffers in j the absence of a special resolution authorising such official to be the recipient, of the fees, compelled the Town Clerk to make an applica- tion to a commit tee of the Council. Mr. Rees has been desired to give evidence next week in favour of the Taff-Bute fusion, and he very naturally applied to be allowed to retrain what- 4 ever charges were allowed him. Members in- stantly became extremely generous, apparently forgetful of what took place ft the beginning of the year. Coun. H. M. Lloyd, whose previ- ous activity in dealing with the Town Clerk's j salary and emoluments was at the time much I commended, now sought to destroy the compact I then arrived at, and proposed that Mr. Rees should not only have permission to leave his Town .1-lati duties, but to receive the liberal al- lowances which a wealthy and generous com- pany, like the Taff Vale Railway Company, usually allofs to its favourable witnesses. The t thin .-end of the wedge of "extras" has been inserted, and an awkward precedent established. I Though there was a request when a division 1 was taken for names to be recorded, the Mayor unheeded it, methaphoricaily standing on his strict right that the required number of mem- bers did not support tho application. This was not my fault, but the Labour members apathy, I to use a mild term. The division was an inter- esting one. At the time there appears to have bean 17 councillors present, 11 voted for grant- ing the Town Clerk's application, 5 against, and one neutral. Those were the figures as an- nounced. I regret being unable to give the namo of tho Councillor who was the solitary neutral. The members who voted against the II concession can be supplied, and were Couns. Peglar and Davies (Cyfarthfa), D. Thomas (Town), D. J. Lewis (Plymouth), and D. Jones (Merthyr Vale). Ratepayers kindly take note.





Merthyr Horse Dealing Case