Urban Powers – 1 The Day’s Proceedings

April 1900

Mexborough and Swinton Times, April 6.

Conisbrough Urban Powers Application.
County Council Enquiry Yesterday.
Strong Opposition.
Interesting Evidence
Amusing. Incidents

The local enquiry into the application of the Conisbrough Parish Council to have urban powers conferred upon them was not so dull as some people might suppose it would be.

Most of the learned legal gentleman who appeared in opposition were in a jovial humour, and many good jokes and some miserably weak ones were cracked during the preceding.

The enquiry was before a Commission appointed by the West Riding County Council, and consisting of all Alderman J.W.Smithies, who presided, and county councillors J.Barker and T.Townsend.

The commission was accompanied by Mr W.Vibart the solicitor to the West Riding County Council.

This is the second application that has been made by Conisbrough for an order conferring urban powers upon the parish council. On the first occasion the proposals met with a very strong opposition, but the County Council granted the Order. On an appeal to the Local Government Board another enquiry was held by one of the boards Inspectors, with the result that the County Council Order was not confirmed.

The promoters now came forward with a modified scheme, which was fully explained by their able advocate, Mr Waugh, in his opening statement, and notwithstanding the fact that they are to meet an opposition quite as formidable as on the last occasion they are hoping for success.

The enquiry was held in the Church schoolroom and was well attended will stop the legal gentleman engaged on both sides were the same; with one or two exceptions, as argued the subject out at the previous enquiries.

For the opposition. Mr Wedderburn, Q.C., was in fine form, and at intervals enlivened proceedings with smart sayings and clever retorts.

One cannot help feeling a little sympathy with the witnesses who gave evidence in support of the application. Immediately there evidence in chief had been tended they had to submit to a raking fire of cross examination from no less than five lawyers, one of whom is a QC and three are barristers.

Some amusing incidents occurred during the sitting, which lasted nearly 5 hours. The commissioners occupied a place on a raised platform, and the forces of the promoters and of the opposition were raised that table below, on opposite side of the room.

Early on. Mr Wedderburn began, in his questioning, to extol the “exceptional generosity,” of the Denaby and Cadeby Collieries Ltd, and praise all their works. Upon the chairman of the Conisbrough Parish Council, who is an old opponent, Mr Wedderburn tried to pass an old joke, but Mr Holmes objected to be made fun of in that manner. He did not care for the learned Council to suggest that the wanted to be the chairman of the new urban Council when it is formed, whereupon Mr Wedderburn remarked,” you need not be afraid of that; it will never happen,” thus early commencing to play the role of prophet.

Mr Holmes could not answer some questions with reference to a new cemetery which the Colliery Company are causing to be laid out at Denaby, and Mr Wedderburn seized the opportunity to inform the commissioners that “the kindness of the company does not end in death, but passes into the tomb,”

Still pursuing this somewhat grim to get, and witness had to admit that at the Conisbrough cemetery. There were no separate lots laid out for boreal of people of different religious denomination, but, he added.” They seem to divide themselves, the church on one side, and the chapel on the other.”

Once Mr Wedderburn’s wit missed fire. On a point as to the repair of the roads in the district, the eminent Q.C. remarked “there is nothing in roads Mr Waugh admitted there was not much. I’m not referring to South African affairs,” said Mr Wedderburn, and he looks a private surprise when nobody laughed. It was a very good joke in its way, but perhaps a little too subtle for a Conisbrough audience.

Then, a large dog came walking into the room during the cross-examination of Mr J Hawksworth. Here Mr Wedderburn had a chance. “Is that one of your supporters, Mr Waugh?” He asked in the blandest possible manner, and all the people laughed loudly, whereat the animals slumped under a form evidently thoroughly ashamed of himself.

The best form of the day was got out of the cross-examination of Mr F.Ogley. Mr Norwood had come out of the ordeal with credit; Mr Ogley was far from being a match for his legal adversities. They twisted his replies in all directions and showed him the large variety of meanings that may be attached to the most genuine and straightforward answers.

Mr Ogley was ill at ease in as advocate after advocate rose to attack him, he met each with a smile, but it was not the smile of a confident man. The iron had entered his soul. He realised that giving evidence, even in a good cause, was a rather unthankful task. Mr Ogley had suffered the torture from four well qualified legal questioners. The audience had realised his discomfort, and as audiences will, had heartlessly joined in the laugh against him stop the last lawyer to come was Mr Parker Rhodes. In cross-examination, Mr Parker Rhodes is a man to be dreaded. He rose slowly from his seat when his turn came, and caught Mr Ogley eye. The latter braced himself to meet the attack.” At any rate,” he appeared to thing, “this is the last of them, and I shall soon be out of it” so he was; Mr Parker Rhodes in a more solemn man, addressing the witness, said I’m going to let you off will stop” then the audience roars, and Mr Ogley glided quickly from the inquisitorial chair.

The curtain will be rung up again this morning. Those who are interested in the struggle of Conisbrough people for increased powers of local self-government finding the detail report law much information concerning the district

Speech for the Promoters.

Mr Waugh, open the case for the promoters. The commissioners were probably aware that that was not the first occasion. The matter had been before the County Council. He saw an array of gentlemen on the other side, whom he had had the pleasure of seeing in their capacities which they represented that day, more and less representing the same interest as upon former occasion. In 1898 application was made to the county council for the formation of a district Council, including the Hall of the township of Denaby, the Hall of the township of Conisbrough, and a larger portion of the township of Cadeby than was thought to be included now will stop the county council committee reported in favour of such a district, but upon appeal to the Local Government Board the Order was not confirmed.

He did not know what the reasons were, but a strong point was made at the enquiry before the local government Board Inspector, that the area was to why, and that there was far too much agricultural land included within the district.

Of course, that might be the ground upon which the Local Government Board came to the conclusion that the scheme was not a proper one. He certainly ventured to think it could not be on the grounds of sanitation, nor upon the grounds that some other form of government was not essential for the good government of the district.

In 1898 such was the altered condition of things in Conisbrough, in consequence of the workings of the two collieries, Denaby Main and Cadeby, and also in consequence of the growth of various industries, including glass bottle manufactory, in Conisbrough. Such was the two that the district, which former was entirely rural, and become essentially urban. It formed part of the Doncaster Rural District Area.

It was only necessary to recollect the wide agricultural area the Rural district, covered to set at once that there could be nothing in common between Conisbrough and Denaby, and the rest of the district which formed part of the Rural District.

That manifests itself in the minds of everyone because in 1898, Denaby, Denaby Main and the Hall of the residents and occupies in Denaby petition the county council they will be pleased to form them, and part of Conisbrough into a district Council. They said it would conduce to the better government of the district. It was then proposed to leave out the village of Conisbrough, upon what ground. It was never thoroughly explained. It was proposed, taking Cadeby, at least a portion of Cadeby that was the property of the Colliery Company.

But it was said if Conisbrough, was in, all those lessons that were anticipated will become curses, and that it was absolutely impossible for them to be well governed is the village of Conisbrough, was included. At that time the village of Conisbrough were also petitioned, and they said “do not exclude us from the great benefits which you suggest, will take place, and which we believe will take place.” The Doncaster Rural Council at that time said they did not suggest that the time had not arrived when some new form of government might be introduced, but they ought not to take Cadeby. What the Rural Council said was” Leave us Cadeby, and we are satisfied that you should have a new form of government in this district.”

Mr Bairstow said he thought that was hardly accurate.

Mr Waugh repeated that in 1890 it was the opinion of the Denaby Parish Council, the Conisbrough Parish Council, the County Council, and more or less of the Doncaster Rural district Council, that some new form of government ought to be settled in the district. The sole question at issue throughout the enquiry was what was the extent and what was the area was to be included in the new district. Upon that point, having regard to the wishes of the agricultural portion of the district that was then, the scheme which was now brought before the commission was very much curtailed in extent.

The commissioners would see if they referred to the map, that the whole of the agricultural portion of Denaby was excluded. That portion was only included before because at a former enquiry before the County Council. The ratepayers and inhabitants of that portion of the district came forward and asked to be included in the Denaby scheme, but when the Denaby scheme was not sanctioned and the Conisbrough scheme was sanctioned, those people then said they did not want to be in the scheme.

There was also considerable discussion at the previous enquiry as to the inclusion of Conisbrough Park. It was purely an agricultural portion, and there were many considerations both for and against. She tenants themselves individually came forward, and Lord Yarbrough, the owner of a large portion of the property, was represented, and he objected to Conisbrough Park being included. The wishes of those people have had your attention paid to the, and they had been excluded from the proposed area.

Under the surface, the scheme proposes district in which there was a purely urban population that had increased by leaps and bounds. She rates had correspondingly increased. Formally a very small rate of descent. Now, owing to the working of the collieries in the district. The rate had increased in Conisbrough to some 5/4 in the pound – 1/8 or sanitary purposes and 3/8 for poor purposes.

In the proposed district there was an area of 1630 acres, with a rateable value of £50,303 and an assessable value of £55,567.

The population of the district was 10,450 and the present number of houses 2191. The length of the Main road was 3 miles, 7 furlongs, 30 yards, and of other roads 7 miles, 6 furlongs, 121 yards.

The population of the different parish is in 1881 was Conisbrough 2706, Denaby 1631, Cadeby 167; in 1891. The figures were Conisbrough 4499, Denaby 1708 and Cadeby 169

the present estimated population in those parts of the three parishes this that were proposed to be included was Conisbrough 8709, Denaby 1731, Cadeby 10, making a total of 10,450, it would appear out that each 10 years. So far as Conisbrough, was concern the population had been doubled. It was 2706 in 1881, 4499 in 1891, at the present time 8709. In Denaby there was a very slight increase between 1881 and 1891 and the estimated population now was very little more than the population in 1891, according to the centre, so that the extent of the growth had been in the parish of Conisbrough.

What were the advantages of a new district being formed? Of course, one Main question was sanitation. The two districts of Conisbrough and Denaby were already united for one of the Main purposes of local government; they had a joint sewage scheme, the outfall works being in Conisbrough will stop his witnesses will tell them that is the seat of government was in Conisbrough, instead of at Doncaster. The sewage works could be made very much more efficient. He did not know what the condition of things was at the present time. Certainly a year since there were numerous houses that had not been connected with the drains, which were not in connection with the sewage works at Denaby that condition of things require to be remedied. In the village of Conisbrough, there was no regular supply water, the people were dependent on spring, and they had to carry water very often for considerable distances – a quarter of a mile or even more. In summer, being dependent upon the flow of springs, there was very often a great scarcity of water.

With regard to that part of Conisbrough, which was under the wing of the Colliery Company there was a supply of water there. That water was pumped that portion of Cadeby, which was proposed to include in the district, it was stored in Conisbrough, and distributed partially in Conisbrough and the whole of that portion of Denaby sought to be included under the circumstances, it seemed to him. There was a community of interest between the two districts, which was overwhelming. Although the water was stored in Conisbrough, Conisbrough people were not in a position to have any of that water. He was told there was an ample supply, sufficient for the purpose, and the reservoir was at such a height as the by gravitation to supply the whole of the district.

Quoting from the report of documents, the medical officer of health for the rural district, he pointed out that Dr Wilson said:

“55 infants died in the parish of Conisbrough, from three zymotic diseases, diarrhoea 45, measles 8 and whooping cough 2. If the excessive mortality in this parishes compared with that in other colliery district. The result is far from satisfactory. Out of every hundred birds registered in Conisbrough last year 11 infants died from diarrhoea stop involved in place of the said he was only 1.5 and in Thurnscoe less than 1%. The facts plainly show a very serious waste of life in Conisbrough.”

The medical officer further said that scavenging was done by contract in the parishes of Bolton, Conisbrough, and Thurnscoe, and the work requires supervision to see that it is done thoroughly, as complaints were made of neglect, especially in Conisbrough parish. The disposal of the refuse becomes an increasingly difficult question continuing. Mr Waugh said that with such a water supply as you describe, in Conisbrough, how it could be wondered at that they had a condition of things such as that told of in the medical report. It has now become a crying evil that the district, which have become urban, to be governed merely by a rural authority, who themselves are not a community of interest with that if the district lying as it did on the outskirts of the area.

After dwelling upon the great necessity for a different form of government, he said, still the question seemed to be as to the area. The promoters suggested that the district should be divided into four wards.

In the North Ward the area will be 270 acres, number of houses 540, population 2700; West Ward, 360 acres, 532 houses, population 2155; Central 400 acres, houses 548, population 2740; South 600 acres, houses 571, population 2855.

It was all that there should be three representatives the school, taking 12 in all. It would be for the opposition to show that the scheme is modified form should not be confirmed.