Urban Powers – 14 Mr G.J.Talbot K.C. – Collieries Companies Record

November 1919

Mexborough and Swinton Times, November 29, 1919

Mr G.J.Talbot, K.C.


Mr G.J.Talbot, K.C., for the Denaby Parish Council, and the bulk of the ratepayers of Denaby, said that nobody could fail to be struck with the fact that the two places proposed to be linked together whereas different in appearance, character, and history as to places well could be.

In Denaby, the preponderance of opinion was against this proposed urban district, and in Conisbrough itself there was a strong difference of opinion. The whole of this movement, with whatever strength it had, came from Conisbrough, with a population of 6000 or 7000, against that of Denaby Main, 10,000 or 11,000. Only one Denaby man, Mr Worsley, had been found to give evidence for the application. They had listened for a day and a half to a variety of complaints about Administration.

The Colliery Companies Record

The majority of them were of the most trumpery description. He did not say improvements were not possible, but substantially the needs of the place had been met, and in overwhelming proportion by the Denaby Colliery Company. It might be said that the Company had done no more than its duty. At any rate, it had been mindful ofits duty, and it was poor encouragement to other employers to do what they ought to do and could do, if they were to receive no more gratitude or recognition than had been met in that room. But there was more gratitude and recognition on the part of Denaby Main and district than had been shown in that room. The feeling showed in there did not at all represent the feeling of the body of the people, who recognised that the Company had spent large sums in providing for the needs of their work people.

They had built a large number of houses, and laid out the streets, and were maintaining them. They had supplied, Denaby with gas and put Denaby and Conisbrough with water. Until this year. They lighted the Street of Denaby Main free. They also supplied gas and water free to all the public institutions of Denaby Main. They provided schools, and for many yearsbore the fullcharge of them. They built and endowed the church, and contributed largely to local religious and philanthropic purposes. All this in addition to their legal obligation. They paid 20% of the rates of Conisbrough, and 64% of the rates of Denaby Main.

“I call that an eminently creditable and honourable record, and it entitles them to be listened to on an application of this kind, which concerns their interests,”

Those Middens.

He wanted to deal with this matter of privvy middens. Nobody defended these things. The sooner they were got rid of the better. Yet there was not a town in the North of England, where the most up-to-date civilisation prevails, where these things did not exist. But as knowledge progressed it was found that these thingshad dangers and inconveniences not previously suspected. He believed that everything had been done to make them a sanitary and convenient as possible, but it was the intention to get rid of them. No one felt more strongly about that the Mr Chambers. It was a matter which he had taken personal pains to press on. It was not until 1915 that, thanks to the public spirited action of the Colliery Company, there was sufficient water to make an attempt at general conversions.

He certainly did not want to make a personal attack on Mr Brocklesby, but it was a startling thing, after they had had this case opened by Mr Neal representing this as an intolerant evil which ought not to be allowed to exist one day longer, to find one of the leading critics of this condition of thingshad on his own property of 50 houses – all the houses he had – this very thing. He did not say that Mr Brocklesby was a bad landlord. It might be that he had done all he reasonably ought, and that he did not feel called upon to go to the expense of substituting any other system, but it was an extraordinary thing that he should not have made the least effort to remove these middens if they were what they were represented to be.

A Terrestrial Paradise

The great proportion of the inhabitants of Denaby Main strongly objected to be being tied up with Conisbrough. There was as little connection between two places as any two places a mile apart could have. There was no community of interest. Conisbroughhad nothing in the way of improved administration to offer. It was probably true that the time was coming when it would not be possible for the Denaby to go on as part of a rural district, though the difference between rural and urban areas was often exaggerated, and the notion that a terrestrial paradise comes into existence the moment your are styled an urban district was not one that was seriously held in that room.

The Mexborough Scheme

But of course, it was right that where you had an urban district, you should, prima facie, have urban powers. “But if you´re to have urban powers, let it be in a form that will do good and be a credit. Don´t let us have a small urban district, with duplication of officials. Let it be on a scale which will really do some good, which will make it possible to employ officials of the first-class, and bring the resources of a large community to bear. No such proposal is before you. Those I represent are quite content to go on under the Rural District Council and the Parochial Committee, by which they believe they get everything they want, practically, unless and until their district is thought to be fitly covered by being brought into a larger district, which no doubt would include the large populations of Mexborough and Swinton. No such proposal is before you. They may be – certainly it is – a good deal to be said for and against it. It would make a change that would really do something for the government of the place. Whether or not that outweighs the disadvantages that my be suggested, I do not now, and would have to be satisfied about that when it comes as a concrete proposal. What I say is that there is nothing in the present proposal, which will give Denaby Main anything worth having.

Indifference to the Cost.

In conclusion, Mr Talbot said it was an astonishing thing that the promoters had never considered the financial factor. It was understood that what was to be taken from the Rural District was about a fifth of its rateable value, and it was also understood that what the Rural District Council spent on this district was, necessarily and naturally, much less than the rateable value represented. The result was that the moment the urban district was constituted the Rural District, would have a serious claim for compensation for loss of rateable value. It would be a very heavy claim, for they would be entitled under the Act to get up to 15 years purchase of the annual sum involved. Yet this liability was lightheartedly incurred by people who, indeed, had not even discussed it. There was no possible justification for incurring it.




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