Urban Powers – 01 Mr Neal M.P. – Opening Remarks

November 1919

Mexborough and Swinton Times, November 29, 1919

Conisborough Urban Powers Application

The County Council enquiry was held in the Church Hall, Conisborough, on Friday and Saturday, into an application by the Conisborough Parish Council for an order constituting the Parish of Conisborough and parts of the parishes of Denaby Main and Cadeby, at present within the administrative area of the Doncaster Rural District Council, an urban district. The application was made in 1914, and a primer facie case found by the County Council, but further action in the matter has been in abeyance owing to the war.

A Formidable Array

The commissioners were: Ald Philip H Booth (Chairman), Ald A.Hartley, and Cllr W.Ormerod, with Mr W. Vibart Dixon(secretary).

Mr Arthur Neal, M.P., appeared for the application and Mr Spencer Baker appeared in support of it, on behalf of the Conisborough and Denaby Labour Party and kindred organisations.

For the opposition, there appeared Mr G.J.Talbot, K.C., for the Denaby Parish Council, and with him Mr J.W.Jardine, who was also briefed for the Denaby and Cadeby Collieries Ltd; Mr N.G.Flawn and Mr J.Oldham for the Great Central Railway Company; Mr Meredith Hardy, of Johnson, Weatherall, Sturton and Hardy, solicitors, for the South Yorkshire Junction Railway Co. (Also instructing Mr Tolbert, and Mr Jardine); Mr H.M.Marshall for the Doncaster Rural District Council; Mr A.Willey, for the Denaby Main Industrial Cooperative society; Mr Frank Allen, for a number of Conisborough property owners, and for Mr F.J.O. Montagu; Mr H.Butterly, representing Sir Joseph Hewitt, for Col J.S.H.Fullerton.

A Third Attempt.

Mr Arthur Neal, M.P., opening the case for the application, said that a similar application was made by the Conisboro´ parish Council in 1898 and again in 1900. On both occasions the County Council made the order, and it was revoked on appeal to the Local Government Board. For 20 years there had been a strong feeling amongst the industrial population of the district that the existing system of Administration was not conducive to the health and the happiness of the people. He did not know whether the commissioners were familiar with the district, but if not he invited them to view it, and he would be well content to let his case rests on the result of their observation.

A Cause Of Unrest.

“I can call,” he said, “no witness who could speak so eloquently as the condition of this district can speak. If you compare this mining villages amenities with those which exist in the new mining villages which have sprung up on the other side of Doncaster, I think that no gentleman taking an interest in public life, as members of the county council do, could hesitate for a moment in coming to the conclusion that there was a state of things here which wasn´t a natural and the righteous cause of a good deal of the unrest and unhappiness which manifests itself, to the public danger, in districts like this.”

The Rural District Council.

He did not want to say anything which would have the colour of an attack on the Doncaster Rural District Council. They administered an area of roughly 16 8 square miles, which was originally a rural districtstop they had found it necessary to obtain urban powers for this industrial portion of the district and to delegate powers to a Parochial Committee, but this Committee was nothing more than an advisory board, whose decisions could be flouted by the general body. The Rural Council admitted that the district was one for which urban powers were necessary. There were 42 members of the Rural Council, and only five represented this district. The rest represented rural parishes remote from Conisbrough and Denaby, and having no interest in the management of the affairs of a rural district. The position was well illustrated by the fact that at the last election 900 rural electives returned six members and this district with a population of 17,500 returned five.

A “Scandal”

One of the crying disgraces, one of the scandal of the district, was it sanitary condition. Here the privy midden system was found in its worst form, and he did not like to come and say what our life could be under the shadow of these abominations. The Parochial Committee wanted to wipe out the middens, but the Rural Council, said no. Infant mortality was high. From the last return it was 185, against a national average of 105. Yet the district ought to be particularly healthy, for the air was not seriously polluted. The typhoid rate was much too high, and there were other signs that the health conditions were not what they ought to be.

The Cadeby Colliery.

They would hear a good deal during the enquiry about the promoters effort to include the Cadeby colliery in their scheme. He was not sure that they would have had the opposition of the Colliery Company but for that, and saw the ad. The interesting proposition in local government as to whether it was permissible for the owners of a large undertaking like this, which depended for its success on the labour which it could attract to it of the work people in the immediate neighbourhood – whether it was open to them to object to bear a proper share of the rating of the district.

Amalgamation With Mexborough

In 1913, suggestions were made by Mr Chambers, managing director of the Colliery Company, that the district ought to be linked up with Mexborough. But the current rate of Mexborough, were 9/4 for the full financial year 15/10. He did not think Mr Chambers will get a crowded an enthusiastic audience in support of linking up with the town rated like that. He only knew of one case where the rates were as I, and that an Irish one, the case of Dublin. He did not think anyone would be found to say now, “Link us up with Mexborough,” if they did, very likely at the next election there would be some vacant places and some new faces.

Heavy Artillery.

At previous enquiries they were told, “The Rural District Council will get urban powers for your district. What more do you want?”

They got urban powers, and the fact that for 19 years. Nothing was done to improve the state of the district was the best evidence they could have that some change in the method of government was imperative. “I do not propose to labour this matter in opening. I prefer to wait and see what is this attack is going to be developed against me. I quite realise that we have got heavy artillery against is, but I hope it may be found that the shells they fire failed to explode.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.