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DISSATISFIED ELLESMERE PORT RATEPAYERS. DISGRACEFUL ROADS AND HOUSES. For the main purpose of taking into considera- tion the advisability of forming an Urban District Council, a meeting of the Ellesmere Port and Whitby Ratepayers' Association was held in the Flatmen s Room, Church-street, Ellesmere Port, on Tuesday evening. Mr. W. Worsey presided. over a fair attendance of members. The associa- tion, of which Mr. E. L. Cooke is secretary, has been recently formed in order to promote the interests of the ratepayers and property owners at Ellesmere Port, and to afford assistance in remedying and preventing evils by petitions or otherwise; also to assist, if necessary, in nom- inating candidates for election. Mr. T. Rawson, who spoke in favour of urban powers being conferred upon them, said some might feel inclined to ask if an Urban District Council was required at all in Ellesmere Port.. They had a Parish Council, and one might ask if this was not sufficient for present purposes. He would say at once, however, that the Parish Council was not sufficient nor powerful enough to deal with the rapidly increasing demands of the district. But who was it that ruled them? The Wirral District Council, of course, a body composed of men who had perhaps never seen the place, and who in all probability had no desire to. They wanted to get all the money they could and spend it outside Ellesmere Port. Let them look at the disgraceful condition of their roads and at the more disgraceful buildings called houses which had sprung up around them! These build- ings, he felt bound, to say. would never have been allowed to pass in a town. They had passed plans for houses without sewers or even a road for the tenants to get to their homes. In wet weather residents of Ellesmere Port might be. seen wading ankle deep in mud right up to their front door, and the most strange thing about it was that nobody seemed to care if they walked up to their neck in mud. (Laughter and hear, hear.) Was it not time for them to wake up and throw off the yoke? But he heard some one say, Where had the Parish Council been that they had not protested against this state of things." Well, as he said before, their powers were very limited, and of course they should never round on an old "pal." (Laughter.) Perhaps it would be as well if he gave the members some of the powers a parish council enjoyed, and then they would see for themselves if the councillors of Ellesmere Port had done all they could for the interests of the ratepayers. In the first place it had power to put right any ill-smelling pond or ditch and to call the attention of the District Council to any unhealthy cottage or other sanitary fault in the parish. If the District sanitaIr ? f did not take action the County Council might be appealed to and might undertake the work. If the District Council did not repair the highways the local councillors might ask the County Council to do it instead. The Parish Council might also take steps to prevent any stopping of a right of way or enclosure of com- mon or roadside waste. But unless legal pro- ceedings were necessary the District Council must undertake them. The Parish Council had. power by agreement to buy any new right of way that would be of advantage to the people. There. were other powers, such as those with regard to libraries, baths, etc. It had power to acquire- land by purchase or gift for a recreation ground, and also for a parish hall, for allotments, or any other purpose. The expenses of the Parish Council were paid out of the poor rate, but a separate heading must be made to shew how much of the rate was given over for these ex- penses. The Parish Council might not spend beyond the amount of a 3d. rate without the consent of the parish meeting, but with its con- sent the limit wa3 6d. in the E. But the cost of lighting the roads, maintaining a library or baths was not included in this limit. For important undertakings the Parish Council might borrow money without the consent of a parish meeting, the County Council, and the Local Government Board, but not any sum exceeding half the ratable value of the parish. The cost of parish meetings and elections of the Parish Council must be paid out of the 3d. rate. He had dealt with some of the most important powers, but he did not think those powers were sufficient for Ellesmere Port. He thought the time had come when they should spend their own money in their own village. The people living in the place should know better what they wanted than those who resided outside and never came near Elles- mere Port. It had been said that if they had an urban council the rates would go up. As a, matter of faet the rates would be increased whether they had an urban council or not. And if they did go up they should get the benefit at the Port. The rates would not be spent on beautifying roads belonging to gentlemen who lived a distance away, but would' be used for some improvement at home. (Applause.) But of course the most important thing, for the rate- payers to do was to mind at the elections whom they put on the Council. It was the duty of every elector to cast his vote in favour of the candidate whose private interests would not be prejudiced by urging enforcement of the pro- visions of the law concerning insanitary and overcrowded dwellings, and to exclude, if any, all slum owners or jerry builders. For if they should get an Urban District Council the housing question was one of the most important that would come- under its notice; also sanitary reforms. (Hear, hear.) It would have nearly all the powers, and duties of a town council, with the exception of the regulation of the police. It had power, without the restrictions imposed on rural districts, to build artizans' dwellings and private cottages with half an acre of garden whenever there was a demand for them. The. urban council could, also obtain powers by private Acts of Parliament and otherwise to erect or- buy and to manage gasworks, electric light works, tramways and parks. But the most im- portant of all was they would have the handling of their own money-(hear, hear)—and he would: support the movement for an Urban District Council at Ellesmere Port. (Applause.) Even, those who opposed the soheme could not over- look the fact that the past had been most un- satisfactory to those in Whitby parish, and he- felt sure that in trying to get an Urban District Council they were taking a right step. He* hoped that if the proposal was adopted the Rate- payers' Association would flourish and carefully- watch how the money would be spent, and care- fully select and vote for the men best suited to sit on the Council. If they did that he had no fear as to the result. One of the most astonish- ing things to him was the- indifference of the- working classes to their own interest. (Hear, hear.) He hoped that association would be the means of awakening them out of their sleep. (Applause.) Mr. A. Paul, who rose to object to the proposed: scheme, asked how the money could be raised if an urban council was formed. It was the obvious duty of the ratepayers to consider first of all the- heavy expenditure that would be entailed by- such an undertaking. When most of the people- in Ellesmere Port were working-men an mcieasu in the rates would be serious, and he (the speaker), thought the present arrangements would answer their purposes for at least two or three years. Great expenses would be incurred by the forma- tion of an urban council. They would require a. steam roller for instance, at a cost of about L600. and this, together with other necessary additions and improvements, would make a total sum of considerably over £ 2,000. This would include the cost, of course, of new council build- ings, stables, etc. The overseers for the district, in fact, declared that a rate would be levied of about 9s. 4d. in the £ if the scheme was carried into effect, and he failed to see where the money was coming from. Mr. Rawson had stated that the powers of a parish council were very limited. He agreed with him to a certain extent; but had the members of Ellesmere Port Council. made full use of those powers, and spent what money they received for local objects in the most advan- tageous manner? He had little to say against the Parish Council., but they would all. agree with him that the work of the past had been some- what unsatisfactory, in various ways. With regard to the housing question, the Parish Council had failed to exercise all their legal powers in the past, but there was no doubt a bettor state of things would exist in the near future through the government of that local body. laking everything into consideration, the present Parish Council could deal with questions affecting the PQrt for a' few years yet. It would certainly be to, the benefit of the: working classes if they waited, until the population grew still larger. (Applause.) The Chairman said as an old member of the Parish Council at Ellesmere Port he could state with all confidence that the members had done their best for. the welfare of the district generally. He was in favour, however, of an Urban District Council being formed, because it was obvious to all that more and greater improvements would be. effected. If the proposal was adopted better facilities would be given for dealing with the. question-a most important one—of insanitary dwellings, in and around Ellesmere Port. Dr. Cahill also made a few remarks in approval of the scheme, which he thought was a most sensibla one. Mr:. Rawson, in moving that the recommenda- tion of the Ratepayers' Association be passed, said it seemed a great pity that some of the houses in Ellesmere Port should be overcrowd e4 without steps being taJien to remedy the matter. But an Urban District Council would iprevent such a state of things, in future, no doubt. Upon a shew of hands the motion was Qarried, aanid applause, with only one dissentient. A- vott of thanks to Mr. Worsey for presiding concluded; 1he meeting.

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