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Shop Closing Inquiryi at Pontardawe.…

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Shop Closing Inquiry at Pontardawe. I The much talked of inquiry in regard to the application by Pontardawe tradesmen for a separate order under the Shmop Hours Act was held at the Council Chamber, Pontardawe, on Thursday, before Mr Huws Davies, Commissioner of London Those in fav- our of the proposal were Messrs. L. W. Francis, J. R. Williams, Gwilym Lewis, D. J. Harries, Matt Harries, W A Thomas, D. Davies, Messrs. J. G. Harries, John M. Da vies, Morgan Davies, Wyndham Lewis (clerk) W. L Bevans (Shop Inspector), Revs. Evan Davies and William Griffiths were also present. There was a good deal of opposition to the Pontardawe proposal. Ystaly- fera tradesmen turned up strong, and they included of Messrs H J. Powell, j J.P., W. H. Blakeway (secretary). J. T Owen, J Hunt, T. R. Arnold, Wm. Hughes, R I Hughes, David Lloyd and Griffith Griffiths (the Bank). Cwmllynfell was represented by CoCunciilor D. T. Jones and Mr Wm. Jones. The Shop Assistants Union was represented by Mr E J Hughes (organiser), and Mr W R Davies (local secretary). Mr Edmund Harries {clerk to the Swansea District Council), was also present for the Pontardawe trades- men. At the outset the Commissioner ex- pressed the hope that no time would be wasted with long speeches. He hoped the speakers would confine them- selves to the points at issue in order to try and come to a settlement. of the dispute. Mr Wyndham Lewis in stating the case for the Council said the District was composed of four populous centres, namely, Pontardawe, Ystalyfera, Clyd- ach, and Gwauncaegurwen. The dis- fcrict was a fairly compact one. Pro- ceeding Mr Lewis said that early in 1914 the Council commenced to make inquiries in regard to the Act and as to what order should be applied for the District. In the Swansea Rural Dis- trict there was one order for the whole area which was bv far larger than Pontardawe District. Mr Lewis de- tailed the results of the conferences held some time ago between tradesmen from the populous centres and he gave frhe times of closing in adjoining dis- tricts. Touching upon the time of closing on Saturday nights, which was in dispute, Mr Lewis said that by having one order it would prevent unfair trading. Mr Edward Harries said that one minute which was passed at one con- ference was directly contrary to the wish of the Pontardawe tradesmen. Mr. H. J. Powell interposing, said that he was not at that conference other- wife his name would also be included with the minute. Mr. Edwaird liaxris- said that Mr. Powell had done his whack in regard to the matter under discussion as every minute passed seemed to include Mr. Powell's name. (Laughter.) As far as he could see the only reason advanced by Mr. Lewis for the Council was that by a separate order there would be the chance of unfair trading. Personally, he failed to see how that could be so in view of the fact that the other popu- lous centres were three, four and five rniks away, and it would be impossible for people to come from those places to trade in the extra half hour. The Commissioner asked what they would gain by having a separate order for each populous centre. Mr. Harris said that having a separate order for Pontardawe it may be that at some future time they would want to shorten the hours or change the half holiday and then they could apply to the L.G.B. for a new order. He also ex- plained that Pontardawe was quite dif- ferent to the other districts inasmuch as the industries were different. They had collieries, tinplate works, chemical works and a large steelworks. The next place which was nearest Pontardawe in way of industries was Clydach, where they had the Mond Nickel Works. Mr. Har- ries next dtrew attention to Pontardawe as a centre for motor buses to Neath, Brynajnmaa and Ystalyfera. The Commissioner said he understood that the only point he had to consider was whether they should clo-Se at 10 p.m. or 10.30 p. m. on Saturdays. H:¡1Iis said he pressed for 10.30, and after hRt was granted a separate order would have to be issued. The Commissioner said he had come down ther; .w» a pacifist. (Laughter.) Mr. Harris said they coud not pacify the Pontardawe Council. Mr. Wyndham Lewis said he thought that statement sholud be withdrawn as It was the Swansea District Council which figured mostly in the public eye. Mr. Harris No, no! The Swansea Borough. «5t* -.whu Harris mid it would be to the best interests of the district to close the Pontardawe shops at 10.30 p. nl., as t wüuld not be fair to tie the tradesmen down for all times hereafter. The Commissioner referred to the question of unfair trading, and asked whether it would not be possble for Pontardawe to appear before the Cou ru cil in a couple of months' time, and ask for extra hours if they were granted a separate order. (Hear, hear). Mr Edward Harris objected to the cliorus of appeals, and made use of a remark which was inaudible at the Press table. Mr Wyndham Lewis appealed to Mr I Harries to withdraw the statement. Mr J. M. Davies thought Mr Harries ishould emulate the example set down by Mr Wyndham Lewis. Mr H. J. Powell} chairman of the Guardians, was the next speaker. He criticised at length and in a most stinging manner the state- ments of Mr Harries. He said that they as outside councillors had done their best to bring the matter to an amicable settlement, but the Pontar- dawe Councillors absolutely declined to do anything to meet them. He also mentioned that the question had been discussed over and over again before the Council, and his friends from Pont- ardawe had been hopelessly beaten on each occasion. The three other popul- ous centres had agroed to close on Friday at 9.30 to meet Pontardawe, and they thought that the Pontardawe people would close at 10 p.m. to meet them, but they would not give way on anything. In regard to the extra half- hour which seemed to be the only point at issue lie could not understand how the Pontardawe tradesmen were going to contend with the business they pro- posed doing in that time. It had been stated that Pontardawe was an active and a busy centre. What about Ystaly- fera? He maintained that Ystalyfera was the natural basis for the villages of Cwmtwrch, Cwmllynfell, Rhiwfawr, Ystradgynlais, and Abercrave, where was a big population. Touching upon the question of trains on Saturday, Mr Powell mentioned that on Saturdays there was a special train reaching Pontardawe at 8.15, and that would give people time to buy suits, costumes or even bicycles if they wished (laugh- ter). There was also a later train reaching Pontardawe at 9.40, and that train did not reach Ystalyfera until 10 o'clock, when the shops were closed. Commissioner: Even the Midland trains are late sometimes (laughter). Proceeding, Mr Powell referred to Harrod's in London, where they closed at 5 o'clock, and he ventured to say that Harrod's place was even a little bigger than any shop in Pontardawe. (Hear, hear). The Rev. Evan Davies spoke on be- half of Gwauncaegurwen in favour of the order as it stood. He pointed out that the Co-operative Stores in Pontar- dawe had been trying to educate the people in Pontardawe to shop early for the sake of the shop assistants. Mr E. G. Hughes, organiser for the shop assistants, supported the order as it stood. He pointed out that the hours in Pontardawe were rather long compared with other places, and there was nothing worse than long hours to bring about physical disabilities. This had been proved by the number of shop assistants, who had been rejected under Lord Derby's Scheme through flat feet, varicose veins, weak chests, etc. Messrs. D. T. Jones and L. W. Fran- cis aJso spoke. The letter referred to the fact that there would shortly be exten- sive developments in the Pontardawe dis- trict. They had a virgin coalfield of about four milfcs towards Gwauncaegurwen. Rev. Evan Davies That's our coal. (Laughter.) There is nothing under- ground in Pontardawe. (More laughter.) Mr. Francis in conclusion said that all they wanted was freedom. The inquiry olo6ed with a. vote of thanks to the Commissioner for the genial and imperative way he had con- ducted the inquiry. Mr. J. M. Davies moved the vote of thanks.

CWMTWRCH.I

-'-I PONTARDAWE.I

I _YSTRADGYNLAIS NOTES. _I

A MINER'S ASTHMA. I

No Council Meeting at Ystradgynlais-

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MINERS AND THE WAR. I

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