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MR. FO WLER AND THE HARBOUR BOARD- THE RESIDENT ENGINEER ON HIS DEFENCE. "AN ENTIRELY SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION." A meeting of the Llanelly Harbour Commission- ers was held on Monday last at the Town Hall, Mr. John Griffiths presiding, when Mr. Fowler, the resident harbour engineer, embodied in his report a reply to the animadversions made at the previous meeting when be was absent. Mr. Fowler stated "It was necessary for me to be absent from the last meeting of the Commission in consequence of the preparation of the opposition to the Burry Port Bill consequently I was unable to offer any explanation of matters upon which there appeared to be some mis- understanding, to refute certain statements which, as published in the local newspapers, were absolutely untrue. I venture to ask your indulgence for the following explanation of these matters. The estimation of quantities by an independent surveyor was re- commended by Sir Alexander Rendel as your responsible engineer, it being a custom in his office, and not because he or I were incompetent, or had no time, or required any additional assistance for the same; we have got the quantities out over and over again for this work. At the same time I do not understand that I am to pay for recommendations made by Sir Alexander, but for assistance in such work as I am unable to do myself. I submit a letter from Sir Alexander on the subject. It was said at the last meeting that 1 bad not engaged a clerk, and that I had not kept my agreement with the Commissioners. I understood that the arrangement you were good enough to make, was that J. should engage such additional assistance as I required for the dock work. I engaged a clerk on the 23rd November, 1896, and that is all the assistance that I require at present. It was conveyed that because I had not got a clerk (which was untrue) that the independent surveyor's services were necessary, and that my reports were seven months in arrear, which was also an inaccurate statement, and which Mr. Guest was good enough to correct in the earliest issue of the press. Sinee coming to Llanelly my reports have been sent to the Town Hall on the Thursday preceding the meeting, and if they have not been printed in time the onus rests on someone else. The February report was late, as on on Thursday I received instructions from the Docks Improvement Committee at 11 o'clock to proceed to London at 1 o'clock. I was, consequently, unable to write my report until the Saturday. The March re- port was delivered at the Town Hall by my clerk on the Thursday preceding the meeting. With regard to the progress of the dock plans, I gave you to under- stand that they would take three months to prepare after the completion of the borings. I have Sir Alex- ander's letter of December 6th, 1896, in which he writes as follows I have yours of the 3rd with plans shewing site and result of borings. I think we cau now go on with the plans.' I consider that as the plans were completed in February, they would have been unreliable had they been prepared by any- one, however expeditious, in a shorter space of time. My report on pilotage was considered incomprehensive. In this respect I believe I have acted strictly in accord- ance with your instructions. And I beg to inform you that you have already received a report in considerable detail on this subject, extending over three-and-a-half pages of foolscap, and I naturally understood that that report would be considered as read, as.1 am still of the same opinion on the matter. With regard to the additional remuneration which you were good enough to give me for the undoubted additional work in connection with the Dock, I had less time to consider my position than the Commission- ers, as I did not know what your intentions were until the morning of the meeting, and when the matter was mentioned, to me I suggested that my remuneration should be independent of additional assistance as I did not know what assistance I should require, but the decision of the Commissioners was as it stands in the Minute Book and was considered the best and probably the most economical. If there is any misunderstanding it requires no formality so far as I am personally con- cerned to reconsider your decision, as I do not wish it to be considered that I am being remunerated under false representations. I do not consider that the additional work has been in any way exaggerated." The Chairman said be objected to the Com- missioners paying a surveyor of estimates, because Mr. Fowler hadn't carried out his supposed agree- ment with the Commissioners, Mr. Trubshaw had moved that Mr. Fowler should engage a qualified assistant. Mr. Trubshaw No, I didn't. The Chairman: It was put down to you. I say that jE600 per annum is too much for Llanelly to give to Mr. Fowler and a boy. We can't afford it, and I am sorry Mr. Fowler was not present at the last meeting. As you haven't carried out your arrangement with the Commissioners, I think you should pay for the surveyor. I shall give notice of that for the next meeting. Mr. Guest: Who seconded the motion sanctioning the arrangement? I understood that it was Mr. Griffiths. I ask that question because at one of the election meetings Mr. Griffiths allowed Mr. Hughes to get all the blame although he was present at the meeting. The Chairman I don't believe I seconded it. The Clerk: The names of the mover and seconder are not recorded. Mr. Trubshaw said he was sorry to hear of the threatened motion by the chairman. He believed the chairman had lost sight of the reasons why the extra remuneration was given to Mr. Fowler. It was not that he was to spend it all in engaging assistants but as a personal reward while the new work was being carried out. The extra £300 was part of a commission clue to the engineer. It was not really part of his salary, though it appeared as such. It was a division of commission on the work between Sir Alexander Rendel and Mr. Fowler. It was an arrangement, indeed, guaranteeing a distinct saving to the Commissioners. The Chairman I am very glad to have it ex- plained. The rumour outside is different. Mr. Trubshaw: 'Rumours outside are insub- stantial. Mr. Brodie then moved that the Commissioners express themselves fully satisfied with the explana- tion of Mr. Fowler. Mr. Thompson seconded, and it was unanimously carried.