Mexborough &Swinton Times, 7th February 1925
County Council Elections
The Conisborough Contest
Mr. Roberts Opens Out
Mr. Arthur Roberts, the retiring Labour member for the Conisborough Division, who is being opposed by Mr. Frank Ogley, of Hill Top, Conisborough, opened his campaign last night with a meeting in the Station Road Schools, Conisborough. Mr. George Edwards presided.
Mr. Roberts said that he felt his record justified him in again asking for re-election. His opponent, he understood, did not feel justified, in coming forwards as a Conservative, but had consented to stand as an Independent. “My experience of Independent candidates is that their independence is mostly noticeable in their attitude towards working class problems” said Mr. Roberts. He challenged his opponent, if he were successful at the election, to get on any committees at Wakefield.
Members, said that Mr. Roberts, were elected to committees by their parties. If his opponent were elected he would therefore be entitled to attend only the quarterly meetings of the Council. He would be debarred from taking part in the important work done by the committees. Mr. Roberts said that the County Council rate was 4,2 in the £, and the total expenditure from rates for the year* was £1,693,066; from all sources £1,330,100. For every 7 levied in taxes, 1 was levied as rates. Twenty- four per cent, of the total expenditure went in health services, 20 per cent, on education, 19 percent on roads and bridgees, and 11 per cent on poor law relief. Labour advocated economic administration and collective purchase. Rates were a form of social insurance. A healthy, well-educated people cost less than an illiterate, unhealthy population. Civil neglect they had learned, was “unprofitable.”
The County Council controlled 850 elementary schools, 5096 teachers, caretakers and attendance officers, 190,582 scholars, 34 manual training centres, and 86 domestic centres. In 1912-1913 the average salary of the teacher was £181 per year, and today is was £231. The average for other counties was £10 1s.8d., and in London the figure was £11 7s. 8d. Teachers salaries accounted largely for the increase.
The County Council controlled 18 secondary schools, 861 teachers, and 12,597 pupils. The expenditure on secondary education last year was £511,100, and the cost per pupil £26 10s. 6d., against £11 1s. in 1911. Fees had risen from £6 6s. a year to £9 9s. The number of free-paying students, in 1923-24 was 1,303, and in 1921-23 2,877 an increase of 1,426; which meant, said Mr. Roberts, that there were, 1,426 fewer places for scholars from elementary schools who won scholarships. In 1923-24 there were 751childres under 10 years of age at the secondary schools. The Government did not pay the grant for children under
The County Council controlled 18 secondary schools, 861 teachers, and 12,597 pupils. The expenditure on secondary education last year was £511,100, and the cost per pupil £26 10s. 6d., against £11 1s. in 1911. Fees had risen from £6 6s. a year to £9 9s. The number of free-paying students, in 1923-24 was 1,303, and in 1921-23 2,877 an increase of 1,426; which meant, said Mr. Roberts, that there were, 1,426 fewer places for scholars from elementary schools who won scholarships. In 1923-24 there were 751childres under 10 years of age at the secondary schools. The Government did not pay the grant for children under ??? , and the Labour Party believed that children of that age were not ready for secondary education and that it was a foolish charge on the rates. There was a shortage of places, and more scholarships should be given to fill those vacated.
Labour was out for the abolition of fees in secondary schools, holding the views that the broad highway of education should be free from the elementary school to the university, so far as a child was able to take advantage of it; that every child irrespective of creed or class should be able to take advantage of the facilities, whatever the economic position of the parents.
Mr. Roberts dealt next with the tuberculosis problem. The average cost per patient was 35s. per week. The County Council spent £11,729 in 1921-1922, and in 1923-24 £93,233. The reduction was due to economy, not, unfortunately to the diminution in the number of cases. Since September, 1924, 287 adults and 314 children were awaiting admission to the four county sanatoria, the policy of the opposing parties was apparently money before health. They had only 600 beds at that time. Sanatoria were needed where children could be educated at the same time. There were invariably more on the waiting list than they had accommodation for. The County Council were not entirely to blame for this, because they were subject to the dictation of the Ministry of Health.
The West Riding Authority were responsible for the upkeep of 725 miles of main roads, costing £769 per mile; 300 miles of main road were maintained by the rural district Councils, but paid for by the County Council at a cost of £954 per mile. The Labour Party believed in direct control, believed that the County Council, being the larger body, was in a better position to bargain, and therefore to maintain the roads more economically; 800 bridges were maintained, and 1,100 men were employed on roads. The Labour members, said Mr. Roberts, had brought forward a scheme for the purchase of a quarry to enable them to provide their own road materials. The quarry was offered for £12,000, but the proposal was turned down by the opposition parties. A few days afterwards the machinery alone sold for £15,000. Yet it was proved beyond doubt that the County Council could have purchased their material at 1s. 4d. Per ton cheaper than private enterprise could supply them, with a saving to the rates of £28,000 per year.