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SYNOPSIS OF PREVIOUS CHAPTERS.

A CAMBRIAN RAILWAYS ARBITRATION.

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,---"-POOR RATES IX THE PARISH…

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THE DEATH ROLL.

REVIEWS.

LOCAL PATENT.

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,---"-POOR RATES IX THE PARISH…

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Workhouse amounts to about a third of its value, that is, when Pennal is added to Towyn as our rateable value with Pennal would amount to £ 22,343 whereas the rateable value of the remaining parishes put together only amounts to £ 36,152. Again it may be put forward that to form two different bodies would entail unnecessary expense, as it would require two staffs of officers. I maintain that this is entirely a different, case to that of separating the sub-districts of the Urban Council. With the Towyn and Aber- dovey case two clerks, two surveyors, two sanitary inspectors, two rate collectors, and two sets of books would be necessary, and a great many other matters which would make it very undesirable. But with the question under consideration there is only one officer required which we do not already possess and whose sphere of work is entirely in our district or parish. The only extra officer which we would require would be the clerk. The present Clerk to the Guardians receives a salary of L72 per annum. This parish and Pennal contributes cHse on JE30 towards this E72, and I believe that if this change was brought about, that we would not be called upon to pay much more than the 930 which we already do pay, when we take into consideration that the work would be reduced to more than ha.lf I what it is at present, and much less complicated. We j have our own relieving officer and medical officer [ whose duties would not be altered to a great extent. If anything the former would be reduced, and it may be that the latter would be increased, so that it could not make any material increase or decrease in their salaries. The four parishes 1 have already quoted, viz., Llanbrynmair, Machynlleth, Penegoes. and Cemmes have each a medical officer, who f\! e paid as follows:—Machynlleth district £ 30, Mach- ynlleth outlying districts £ 20, Penegoes £21, Llall- brynmair C31, Cemmes £43, a total of £ 145. These live districts have a rateable value of onlv X20,798, against Towyn parish with a rateable value of £ 19,144. Towyn is therefore only £ 1,654 short of being equal in rateable value to five dis- tricts in which their medical officers' salaries amount to X145, against £ 36 which is paid to our medical officer. By the way, it sounds rather un- fair that our medical officer, although he practises in the most lucrative parish in the Union, should be paid at a much lower rate than other medical officers. But it is not with that question tnar, I am dealing to-night, but rather with the glaring inconsistency of the various departments of the Machynlleth Board of Guardians. To return to the question of the relieving officer he would still receive a similar amount of salary as he now receives, and his work would be practically the same, but with this improvement that we should be able to deal with our own poor fairer than they are at present dealt with. The figures I have quoted prove that the poor of other parishes benefit more from our parish than our own poor do, or the paupers of our parish are not so ready to run after relief as the others are. And if this is the case who but this parish should reap the benefit of this. The more deserving cases would be better known to each member of the new Union and they would take more interest in them. There is no denying the fact that the Guardians at present are mostly farmers, and as such have more sympathy with the rural districts- no better proof of this need be put forth than their own report (or perhaps to be more correct the Assessment Committee) have during- recent veare added enormously to the rateable value of a large number of houses in the two places. It would be wrong to say that they were not justified in doing this in some cases, but I think I can safelv say that there was no system adopted except that at of trying to spy out what were the rents, and the poor householder who was already paving an un- reasonable high rent, had to pay an unreasonable amount of rates, and vice-versa if it was a low rent. hile this increase has been going on in the urban districts, I find that if anything the assess- ruent of the rural districts is decreasing. This is one of the natural results of rural districts being represented by gentlemen who cannot be expected to have the same sympathy for towns as they would have for the country. I am not against a fair valuation, but can we reasonably expect a body of farmers living chieflj in the remote parts of Mont- gomeryshire, and some of them it is but fair to j surmise have not visited Towyn many times heir life-time, much less making an inspeotion, which would justify them in arriving at a fair valuation of a certain house or houses. Can we, J ask, fairly blame them if they have by instinct adopted the idea that their best policy is to out down the rates in their own country districts and put them on small struggling towns, which in their opinion have no difficulty in meeting any financial emergercv, but rather let us blame ourselves for being parties to the existence of such a state of affairs. There is another view of the question which makes it still more unresonable. The overseers are supposed to supply the Assessment Committee with a list of all new property put up in their district, and this they do, and, in passing I may say that our overseers at Towyn are all practical men, and they, it is my belief, study the welfare of the town. These gentlemen have every facility for getting at the true value of t.he property put up in the town, as they live close by, and apart from the structural value of any new property they have a very good idea of the value ol the positions these properties occupy, and therefore I maintain that the valua- tions arrived at by the overseers should be some- where very near t,he mark. To give an instance of how the Towyn overseers are treated by the Assess- ment Committee of the Machynlleth Board of Guardians, I may say that, their work is deemed useless by people the bulk of whom know practically I nothing about the properties they have to deal with and who by all appearance have no method at all except that of piling enormously and unreason- ably on to what the overseers have eabmitted to them. To support my statement I will quote you a few cases submitted to one of the last meetings of the Assessment Com nittee, and also the increase made in those cases ny the Assessment Committee No 1 house assessed hy overseers at C25, raised by Assessment Ccmmitee to £ 32; No 2 assessed at zEI8 raised to £ 25; No 3 assessed at £27, Hised to £ 35. Some residential houses with fine grounds and in good positions will perhaps be assessed very moderately other houses haif their value will be assessed unreasonably. I am told that property in Towyn and Aberdovey is assessed on a scale much I higher than at MichynHeth. This I cannot say without having access to the valuations of proper- ties at Machynlleth. I have done all I could to get a few examples of how houses are assessed at Machynlleth and other parishes, but for obvious reasons this has not been my luck. I will ask you, is it fair that valuations arrived at after a long and careful calculation by our over- should be ignored by the Assessment Com- mittee ? The overseers do everything they can for the welfare of the town, and they would be quite as careful not to under-estimate. as that would be against the benefit of the town as they would be in over-estimating, as this would tend to dishearten any person to improve the town. It is no wonder that Towyn parish figures so conspicuously in the column where parishes are shewn to be paying more than they receive when this sort of thing has been going on for vears. It is only fair that I should point ont that the Assessment Committee was made up of twelve gentlemen. We have oulyfwnr out of these twelve gentlemen that we can fairly expect to be repre- sen ted by, and three out of these four are farmers, and withont casting the least reflection on these gentlemen, for there is nothing further from mv mind, can we reasonably expect that they are the proper persons to sit on a committee to assess pro-, perty situated chiefly in an urban district, and are we as Urban ratepayers who are in the large majority doing our duty in returning these gentlemen from -he rural district ? I think not. My contention is that the first and most important step to be taken for the improvement of Towyn is to re-organise that department which has the control of the finances of the parish, and by doing this I think I have made it sufficientlv clear that such lartre sums as X291 168 Od in 1899, C244 6s 2d in 1898, X190 in 1897, &c, as representing what we have paid over to other parishes outside our own countv and for which we have bad no return, would very soon if they were applied to the improvement of the town, bring Towyn and Aberdovey to the front rank of the North Wales seaside towns. Other towns are taxed considerably more tnan we are, and even then they have to go in for enormous loans to enable them to carry out improvements which are essential for health resorts. There would be no question as to J the future of Tow\n, if with a total J8 of. 'ess than 7i in trie £ as we now stund we (.son;d with the re-(>rg»nidation of our financ.-s go on im- proving the town to the extent of our share of the £ 300 paid over to other parishes, and with what is already done every year from the g"n* ra; o:s- tn'ct rate, so that if we had the full benefit of the rater- we pay, we could hare the whole of r.i e n provided with new footpaths in a very shori, time equal to those found in the most fashionable lesor.s. ;in(i with what we would also receive from the County Council, and this all bear ii, LUind with- out contracting any responsibilities in the wav of loans which would always be draw-in* annual pay- ments from us in interest and repayment. I certain that tnose persons who are always asking what is being done with the large sums raised annually in our district, and they have everv ríL:ht to inquirt. should turn attention to this and join hands in making one great effort to put ourselves in a working order to utilise every farthing of the rate,- to a purpose which we can account for as being benefiting and comforting the poor and also improving and raising the valu- of our town. Guardians used to be elected bv ra'-e- payers and owners of property only, but under the Parish Council Act, 1894, they are to be elected by parochial electors, therefore if the suggestion of forming this parish into a contributory Union finds no support, I would point out that the next oppor- tunity of electing guardians for this parish should not be neglected and that this parish should make its utmost by electing- urban members who are capable of defending our rights, and will not be afraid to make themselves heard. Therefore the privilege of improving matters belongs to every eiector and we can hardly expect the Local Government Board or the County Coun- cil to bring about this radical change unless they see that there is a disposition and a strong disposi- tion in the district for a change. If 1 should be allowed to make a suggestion that would set matters moving, I would suggest that if the members of our society who have taken any interest in the figures I have quoted to-night think that such movement should i,e iiiade, it would perhaps be advisable to form a committee of some of our ieading townsmen to go into this matter thoroughly and bring it before the annual vestry in March, or if deemed sufficiently interesting to call a public meeting to I discuss the question.- In conclusion Mr Morgan referred to the progress of Towyn and said that it was the person who speculated here that did the town good. We have some gentlemen, and one in particular, I allude to our great and much respect ed benefactor, Mr John Corbett, who has not left a stone unturned to bring Towyn to the front., but have we as ratepayers and electors appreciated his great efforts as we should have done ? It is true we car.not all present the town with a promen- ade, or be the chief means of bringing the Towyn County School to the front rank of Countv Schools in Wales, but were we inspired with the same con- fidence in the future of Towyn and with such admiration of its natural .and unequalled beauties we would do what we could, but we don't and con- sequently we are not doing our duty in supporting those that have risked both time, money, and thoughts on the development of Towyn.