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I OutliNes or Local Government

Detailed Lists, Results and Guides

I OutliNes or Local Government Further Powers and Duties of Urban Councils (compiled Jrom Atkinson). Electric Lighting Acts (1882 to 1909). Any Borough or District Council may undertake an electricity department on obtain- ing powers under these Acts, but the matter is usually assumed by large companies. Before any company, body, or person can supply electric light to others, they must obtain a licence or Provisional Order from the Board of Trade. The licence requires the consent of the District or Borough Council, if the latter are not the applicants. The licence lasts for seven years, and, on its ter- mination, can only be renewed with the same consents. The licensees are called the undertakers." But licences are very rarely granted, the common procedure being by Pro- visiona l Order, whether the applicants are a Council or a company. The principal differ- ence between a Provisional Order and a licence for this purpose is that the former does not absolutely require the consent of the Council for the area to be supplied (though, of course, that Council can oppose the con- firmation of the Order in Parliament). But the Council's consent has ultimately to be given, unless the Board of Trade certify, for special reasons, that it may be dispensed with. The parties applying for the Order must give notice to the Council, not later than 1st July in the year when the application is to be made. No monopoly is created by a licence or Provisional Order for electric light- ing, as in the case of gas and water. The licence or Order itself defines the con- ditions imposed upon the" undertakers" as to regular and efficient supply of electricity, as to the safety of the public from personal injury or fire, limits of charges, the inspection and supervision by the Board of Trade and the Council, and the enforcement of duties by revocation of licence, penalties, &c. The charges are subject to revision by the Board gvery five years. The undertakers (whether Council, company, or private per- sons) must prepare an annual statement of accounts (up to 31st December) not later than 25th March, must publish it, ajrequired by the Board of Trade, and must supply copies to all applicants at Is. each. The electric wires may not be placed above ground, over any street, without the Council's consent, and, even after such consent, the magistrates may order such wires to be re- moved, if they are satisfied that there is danger. The Council have limited powers of buying up the concerns of any undertakers at Order. The price is to be a fair valuation of the intervals specified in the Provisional land, works, plant, lines, &c., without any- thing for goodwill, compulsory selling, or profits of business. If no intervals are speci- fied, the period is forty-two years from date of Order. The Council may obtain power to purchase at an earlier date by obtaining a fresh Provisional Order. Gas. An Urban Council may make and sell gas, if there is no authorised company in their dis- trict, after obtaining a Provisional Order. If there is a company, they may purchase the undertaking compulsorily, by the same pro- cess, at intervals fixed by the Companies Act, if no voluntary purchase can be arranged for. A gas company may decide voluntarily to sell to a Council by a majority of three-fourths, or, if it is a limited company, under the Joint Stock Acts by special resolution." The Council must obtain the sanction of the Local Government Board before purchasing. A gas company has very extensive powers, and its monopoly may not be interfered with by any other company or authority without a Provisional Order; they possess just the same powers as a company, and are under the same obligations. Ratepayers' Meetings. These were once required for a number of matters, but the parish meeting ha; taken their place in rural districts. In urban districts and boroughs they are only necessary when the Council propose to promote or oppose a Bill in Parliament, or (in urban districts only) to establish a market, though they may be called For any public matters. Twenty resident owners, or ratepayers, may demand the call- ing of a meeting. The summoning officer is the Mayor, or Chairman of the Council. The parties to the requisition must give security for the expenses. Notice of the meeting must be posted at the church doors, and advertised in one local paper. The summoning officer, if able and willing to preside, is chairman. The chairman is to propose to the meeting the resolution for which it has been called, and take a vote for or against. Any owner, or ratepayer, may at once (but not later) demand a poll. Dedication oj a Road. If a freeholder makes a new road and invites the public to use it, he is said to dedicate it expressly to the use of the public. But what more frequently happens is that the freeholdeer tacitly allows the public to walk or drive across his land for such a length of time that the law presumes that he must have intended to dedicate the way to the public, although he has never expressly said so. The steps which are necessary before a road is taken over are:— (a) Three months' notice must be given to the District Council; (b) The District Council must be satisfied that the road is properly made and is not unnecessary: (c) A certificate must be obtained to that effect from the justices; (d) The public must use the road for 12 months, and during that time the dedi- cator must repair it himself. when an owner intentionally and expressly dedicates a way, he may impose any restric- tions which he likes, and the public merely accept the read on his terms or refuse it. But if an OWner has permitted public use, or public repair, for a considerable time, he is presumed to have dedicated the road. Twenty years would be sufficient as a rule. In one case, six were enough. Improvements. Any District or Borough Council may im- prove a highway by converting an unstoned road into a stoned road, by widening or level- ling roads, cutting off corners or making new roads, and may borrow for permanent works of this kind. An Urban Council may buy land or buildings for improving a street, or, with the sanction of the Local Government Board, for making a new street. If the terms cannot be agreed upon they have compulsory powers, which, however, are very costly. The Private Street Works Act, 1892. Every Urban Council may adopt this Act by certain notices and resolutions. The pro- cedure under this Act requires all questions in dispute to be settled before the work is done, so that the Council run no risk of find- ing that, after doing the work, part of the cost is irrecoverable. The Council must first resolve that the street works are to be done, anJ then the surveyor must submit for their approval a specification of the work required, with plans and sections, an estimate of the probable expense," and a provisional apportion- ment among the adjoining owners. When approved, these are advertised and notices are served on the owners. Any owner men-* tioned in such apportionment may object within one month on any of the following grounds:—( 1) That the place is not a street at all; (2) that it is already repairable by the public; (3) that there is some informality in the resolutions, notices, plans, sections, or estimate; (4) that the work is insufficient 81 unreasonable, or the cost excessive; (5) that his property is not liable; (6) that the appor- tionment is wrong. All objections are to be decided by a special sitting of the magistrates, who nave full discretion as to ordering either side to pay costs, and may quash or amend any part of the scheme, or adjourn the hearing and dirtct fresh notices to be given. i