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LOCAL INTELLIGENCE

BAD BREATH.

In and Out of the Merthyr…

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In and Out of the Merthyr County Borough Council. [By COUNCILLOR DAN THOMAS.] Our Stipendiary is righteously indignant at the action of certain of his inexperienced col- leagues. Sir Marchant has metaphorically wrapped our Mayor and a fellow magistrate over the knuckles for being over generous be- fore being just and judicial. Sir Marchant is always outspoken, very commendably so, and generally d-xilaims at tha right moment- His latest outburst was justifiable, for if there be not some sort of uniformity in the fines im- posed, the administration of the law is made* to appear ridiculous. Of course, allowance; have to be made on the scOre of inexperience, but our local and untrained J.P.'s should be more careful in their actions and utterances, and in the absence of the Stipendiary. i-houkf look for guidance' to their patient and learned ci-rkv Wè i netfly .f oreated justices are a,, very mixed lot-level headed business men undoubtedly, but lacking legal knowlpdgs and the intricittB ways of our police-court. They require to closely study that t.Jme of legal knowledge, "Stone's Just- es' Manual"; so without, I hope, giving oft'?nce. I sugge-t the formation of a class, composed of our new magistrates and ambitious would-be's for a course of lesions in the elementary prin- ciples of judicial procedure and adhuniscation. Perhaps the valiant Sir Marchant miht. in the interests of justice, be induced to resume the role of tutor and conduct the cla. s. Tlif Mayor's reply and explanation do not improve matters. He should recollect that silence i golden. Merthyr Guardians apparently are tenacious of office. They display a reluctance to yidd up a position which affords opportunities of being generous at the public expense, and frequently of bestowini favours in the way of lucrative appointment- They prote.-t", but happily too against being shorn of these honours. This is th" conclusion to be arrived at from the Mer- thvr Board of Guardians' action on Saturday last. when the Rector of Dowlais sought to stem the tide of progress and reform by a dis- approving resolution of the Govreriment s inten- tion to abolish Boards of Guardians. It i .amusing to not,o th^ tone of the remon -tranoe— itrau m-i-ft there was none, so far as can be gathered. Why cannot members- of County Councils in the future, coming thev do from the very identical districts as the- Guardians thf^y yupplaru, be a- human and ta3cii the same interest in their unfortunate neighbours as is done now. I know this, that Councillors can b^ as sympathetic and as kind to the poor as Cleric-, of the orthodox and unorthodox order. Ministers do not possess a monopoly of the virtues requisite in those who have to look after the poor. The Rector of Dowlais must know that a Bill is now before Parliament to remove the disqualification o: a clergyman being a council- lor. We may predict that soon the rev. gentle- man will be a councillor, or perhaps a fully-fledged alderman, and then things would be O.K. It is too late in the day to argue that no change is demanded in poor law administration. Ha. the rev. gentleman so soon forgotten the ex- posures of West Ham. Poplar, Mile End. and other places? Speaking generally, our Boarcl, of Guard ans are not composed of busi n°ss men. and ratepayers suffer through exces- sive generosity. The Rector himself S'èems to b? finding fault with the Board for its extraya gance, especially in the matter of appo ntins. new official., Only lately the Government Auditor brought the Guardians and its officers to book for a too liberal dispensation of relief to undeserving applicants and to others who should be properly maintained by r-elatives. Last week I pointed out that for the current half- year, relief had gone up from £ 8.847 to £ 10,480 -an increased rate of slightl-y over lid. in the £ A radical change is imperative, especially in Merthyr Councillor William Lewis, of Penydarren, figures just now as the champion of licensed victuallers—a strange position for such a pro nounc^d advocate of temperance, of Good Tem- pi.mm. and all the other "isms" of the irrecon- cilable opponents of the Trade. The ocra ion wa, the discussion following, the application for an unrestricted theatrical lie nee for our local Temnle of Theseus. Councilor Lewis, in;in cerely I am sure, contended,. that no licence should b? granted in fairnes to publicans, who must, lie argued, be* prejudicially affected bv the opening of the Theatre bars. What wm Councillor Lewis's trends think of his cham- pioning of publicans' interests? My colleague ad mi-ted he was lacking in words to enforce his meaning and contention. He also lacked sen- sible argument, with the result tholt the appli- cation was granted-bv a large majority. W,hat is famijiar'y known .is the "no rate-aid policy" has possibly in^h? p&st met with some encouragement, but now that the truth snd the whole truth is being' pnblicly proclaïmfXl. the sacerdotal oppression of.the non-provided schools becomes lesi effective; For acting ecju-.tabiy in the spending of public. moneys for educa- tional purposes, Councillor Griffiths, of P?ny- darren, has been h?!d up as a, traitor to N r, conformist his --hort-sighi -aye, unreasona-ble> colleague of "the gvoup" ttctullllv had- the audacity ,to; cut, hira outt and cast turn adrift.Councillor /jrifhtlw does net seem to be-aftything for .being' pre- 'vented from taking ptrt-. in the conclaves of ,.thegronp,and I observe, that, he is still active in promoting the best ittre-rests of hiv ward. By his sturdy independence and advocacy of fatr play and right, the junior member for the Penydarren Ward has also given umbrage tc certain cliques, and by hook or by crock, some of the unreasonable ones thought to hae Coun cillor Isaac Edwards' scalp also.. They have been thwarted and repulsed. If these individu- als would realise the position, they wouid ad- mit this to be trite but I am asking for too great a sacrifice. On Tuesday night. at Eliza- 5 beth-etreet Chapel, Dowlais—-o I am informed I by a. veracious correspondent of that place- there was a mi-eting of the Fre9 Church Coun- cil or party-I am not certain which. The agenda provided for a discussion on the policy of the Free Churches in relation to the action of the Merthyr County Borough Council. To the observant, one. it was apparent that such a discussion afforded the opportunity for an at- tack upon Councillor Edwards for his recent itrzt treatment of the Roman Catholic Schooh at the Council. Whether invited or not, 1 i cannot say, but Councillor Edwards wap pre- j sent, and, more, was equahto the occasion. He showed that the Catholic friends had been and -were being unfairly treated: and that to far back as 1906-7, to quote the words of the Government Auditor, "the Authority do not appear to have expended upon the non-provid'- ed schools the income derived from Govern- PIlent grants and endowments due to these j schools, for there was an apparent surplus of £ 204 on the year's working A serious indict- menr. and an unjustifiable diversion of moneys. Similar tales can be told for the years 1907-8 and 1908 9. and stall we shall hear the parrot cry of no rate-aid for denominational schools, Councillor Edwards' explanation brought forth a deserved vote of congdgnce., Th9 Government Auditors report, which I truc-t will be published in the "Express" in extenso, makes very entertaining reading. Mr. Propert ckarly explains the position of the recipients of public irioneys- in connection with th9 grant of Incorporation, besides elucidating other problems which were put forward at the recent audit. His observations on educational matters generally, and on the financial aspect of that question, are, however, the most >nter- esting. The report deserves most careful con- sideratioa. and I would especially emphasise one paragraph which indicates how the Educa- tion Authority can existence, and do some good work in curtailing expenses by not over-staffing our schpel.Si • ,ai)d; in; more carefully scrutinising the general .expenditure. Auditor Propert very cogently .say^: "If some of the schools can be t.maintajpad ..without recourse to the rates there is -gtfcd ground for alleging j that considerable economies, couid. be effected in other khcools. maintained, by the- Council which appear to requijre Substantial subventions f- the rites, year bV y^r." Such .a consum- mation as selP^upportHlgi, Spools would make ratepayers truly happy. Alderman Bsrr-y, in explaining his connec- j tion with the 'Incorporation payments, made an attempt to be witty by suggesting that he was providing a paragraph for these notes. No prompting of that kind 'was re- quired. Alderman Berry, flaunting a letter from Councillor Simons stating that he was en- titled to the fees allowed on taxation, de. dared tha he would make no such restitu- tion as the Auditor suggests, viz., repayment of 24 Is. 4d. But in this connection I cannot help calling to mind the indignation aroused during the exposures at the bare implication that witnesses had been paid too much. Even II in your "Gossip" column, there appeared on January 30th last the following. "As Alderman Berry was not paid anything in excess of the sum to which he was entitled, there was ob- viously no occasion for him to refund any money, neither wa the suggestion ever made that he should." Auditor Propert holds a con- trary opinion, and says- that it would remove all grounds of oomplAintiCthe £ 4 Is 4d. were refunded. Other witnesses are in the same boat and should have regard to the Auditor's frankly expressed opinion. The Auditor's ^uncharge of; £ 50 paid by the autocratic Overseers for 1907-3 to their Assist- ant. Mr. Gilbert Evans, gave rise to a lively -if short—discussion on Monday last. The Council were invitsd by the Local Government Board to express an opinion upon the sur- charge, and the majority of Councillors pre- sent did "0 most unequivocally by declaring that Mr. Gilbert Evans was not entitled to the £ 50, and that the Auditor acted properly and legally in disallowing the amount. I may b, cxcuaed for again .placing this question plainly before your readers, and the,facts adduced are duly recorded in -the official. minutes of the Council. Mr. Evans was appointed Assist- j ant Overreer oti the 4th December, 1896, at a salary of £ 200 a. year, his'stipulated duties in- eluding the performance, of "all duties imposed by law upon overseers or assistant overseers." The most important of these duties is the mak ing of valuation lists. In November, 1900, Mr. Evans w granted an increase of J650 per annum, and on the 1st January, 1904, a further increase of 2,30, making the present salary £ 230 per annum. During January. 1908, a committee was spec- jally appointed to investigate the terms of the appointments of. assistant .overseers, and "for the purpose of appertaining whether the work in Question—preparing valuation lists—was not | included in their duties." The Committee, in due course, reported as follows:— The Committee consider the original ap- pointment of Mr. Evan8 as assistant over- seer includes the preparation of all valua- tion lists, this duty being one of those imposed upon overseers and assistant over- seers by Statute, and they are of opinion thai neither Mr. Evans nor the other assist- ant overseers are entitled to any extra re- muneration therefor The Committee are also of opinion that the work in question is part. of the ordinary duty of the clerical etalf in the Rates Department. Nothing, I imagine, cou!d be more definite thilu this expression of opinion. It is very significant that at the Council meeting on the 16th March. when the Committee's report came up for adoption, two of thp overseers sought its rejection or further reference to the Commit- tee. After a warm d;scusion.-an-. amendment, moved by Councillor Houison, seconded -by .iCOunciltor Danie^-rtwq 01 the- oversetetj^-was. .re-jjectod bv 17 votes'to 7.- There couTd' be"no' dblilH. after sudr C'an Emphatic decision, thM the Council did not intend giving any gratuity either to Mr. Gilbert Evans or his assistant-. The overseers' subsequent actions must hav-2 been with full cognisance that payment for pre- paring valuation lists were illegal, and over- seers who signed the cheque must, therefore, bear the consequence of their far too generous dealings with a well-paid official. Now the General Purposes CommittM have further con- firmed this view of Mr. Evans's relations with the Council and of the duties he and his col- leagues have to perform. The overseers or who signed the cheque have got them selves into a difficulty, and they must extricate themselves as be>t as they can. The Councn is not going to assist them. How very imaginative and susceptible school- master, are now-a-days. Ev-H tho mjluost of friendly criticism they regard with fears of apprehension that their friends will have upon perusal of such comments a wrong impression of the subject matter di-cussed. La"t week re- farence was made in this column to that praise- worthy notice of mot-on. standing in the name of Councillor John Davies, of Cvfar-thfa. "That all head teachers in charge of a school wher,= .1 school house is provided, be required to pay the annual value of such house. Its sweet rea.onah;enos, must have comm>n<i"d the motion, and doubtless the principle enunciated, would- have b-.en anproved. for there may be 'some slight difficulties so far as existing agree- ments are concerned. Whv Mr. Davies withdrew is no secret. Mr. William Jones. the master of the Georgetown '•School, writes:—"Your notes have given the impression to some people that I. had a nana .—flocretly, of course—in the motion. Why "of course?" The motion was a proper one, a commendable one. and some years ago Mr. .10n,<>o8 admits that he endeavoured to remove the anomaly of -some masters having residences free wbile 'Dth,-r-, had to pay rent. Mr. Jones declares he had absolutely nothing to do with the motion, and, I presume, its withdrawal. Having made this statement.. I trust Mr Jones'? position has been made clear, ana tha"- he will be satisfied.

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