Urban Powers – 4. A Rural Councillor’s Evidence

April 1900

Mexborough and Swinton Times April 6, 1900

A Rural Councillors Evidence.

Mr W.W.Norwood said he was a veterinary surgeon, practising at Conisborough. He was well acquainted with the district, him being a member of the Rural District Council for five years.

Before he became a member the present sewage system of Denaby and Conisborough, was instituted. The system cost between £10,000 and £11,000. In his opinion the system had not been fully developed or completed as it ought to be. If they obtained urban powers he thought they would be able to deal more efficiently with the sewage disposal than it had been dealt with. The outfall works wording Conisborough parish. He believed all the houses and not be connected with the system. It was desirable that someone in the district should have charge of the sewage works. At present there was a foreman  in charge and not an engineer.

If there was an Urban Council they will be able to exercise control of the sewage works which it was impossible for the Rural Council to exercise. There were many points in connection with the management of the sewage system that required to be amended. At the present time Surface water was allowed to get into the works, which were never intended to deal with surface water. Surface water drainage and be connected with the sewage mains in New Conisborough, but not in Old Conisborough.

Mr Parker Rhodes raised an objection here to evidence of the construction of the sewers be given by Mr Norwood. He asked if the promoters were going to call the engineer of the sewage scheme.

Mr Wedderburn: of course we assume that.

Mr Waugh: don’t assume anything.

Mr Parker said that, if learning Council (Mr Waugh) was going into evidence as to the construction of the sewage works. The person to give the evidence was engineer who was responsible for their construction.

Mr Waugh said he was not going to call Mr White.

Mr Wedderburn said the promoters dare not call Mr White. The sewers were not constructed in accordance with the plans approved by the local Government Board.

Mr Waugh said that in attacking the sewage scheme. Mr Wedderburn was attacking the Rural District Council were responsible for it. It was alleged that the sewage works were not constructed in accordance with plans. Mr Wedderburn, in making that attack on the Rural Council, had put the best point forward that the promoters could have for trying to bring an end to the government of that body in that district.

Mr Wedderburn said the Rural District Council might have made the error of selecting the wrong man. The sewers were put down upon estimates supply to the Local Government Board by Mr White. The rural District Council trusted Mr White carry out the plans, and he did not do so. He would prove that. Mr White did not do so, and the result of that was that the sewage scheme, from the very first impossible was now altogether inadequate.

Mr Waugh replied that when Mr Wedderburn said the scheme was utterly impossible from the first. He was attacking the Local Government Board, who sanctioned it. He was not going to ask the witness another question as the construction of the works.

Mr Norwood, continuing his evidence, said that about 12 months ago the sewers were cleaned out, and they were found to be filled with 10 inches of solid silt, mainly composed of ashes. The rows Denaby Main were chiefly composed of ashes and red shale. He believed the sewers were becoming blocked up again. The cleaning out cost £120. The effect of the proximity of the Denaby Colliery was that the roads in Conisbrough were used by people who carted coal from Denaby pit to Tickhill, Maltby, and other outside places.

The railway station for Denaby was in Conisborough parish. In his opinion the roads of the district required local attention. There were about 45 parishes in the Doncaster Road District. Conisborough was represented by two members and the others, by one each. Two or three parishes formerly belonged to the Rural District had obtained urban powers, and had left the district. As a member of the Rural Council, he knew that a retainer been prepared, showing the amount of money raised and expended in the Rural District.

Mr Bairstow raised an objection to the witness given evidence as to the nature of the return. If such evidence were given it should be by the person who prepared the return, slutty could be cross-examined upon it.

Mr Parker Rhodes also objected, and said if there was any value in the figures the proper person ought to give them in evidence.

The witness said at a meeting of the Rural Council in return was asked for such earlier referred to, and the next meeting the return was presented by the Clerk, Mr F.E.Nicholson. He took a copy of the figures at the time, and had them yet.

Mr Waugh said that as the Clerk to the Rural Council prepared the return, he would give notice to produce it at the next is hearing.

Witness added that he did not know if they Rural Council bylaws be strictly enforced in Conisborough. The scavenging of the district was done by contract, and it was not satisfactory.

Mr Baddiley, as representing the Conisborough School Boards desired to ask Mr Norwood some questions.

Mr Wedderburn raised an objection, on the ground that it was contrary to custom for two persons to be more one Order.

The chairman overall the objection, and said the Commission were prepared to listen to anybody who could give them information upon the matters before them.

In reply to Mr Baddiley, Mr Norwood said he was a Chairman of the Conisbrough School Board. The present schools were built in 1873 at a cost of £3500. In 1893 extra accommodation was provided at a cost of £850 and owing to the influx of population further plans were submitted to the Education Department in 1896. A petition was sent to the Education Department in connection with the matter from the people of New Conisbrough. The plans would not sanction but he did not know whether or not that was the effect of the New Conisbrough petition. In consequence of the increasing population the School Border submitted further plans for a new school, which were now under the consideration of the Department. It was proposed to build a new school on the site near the Station Hotel. He knew that there were a number of children from New Conisbrough attending the Conisbrough board schools, as there was not room for them in the Colliery Company´s school at Denaby. The parents of some of those children were not employed by the colliery company.

Mr Wedderburn proceeded to cross-examine Mr Norwood as to the action of the Rural Council in connection with the sewage scheme proposals.

The witness said the tender of Mr White was accepted.

Mr Waugh, at this stage, in reply to zoom observations by Mr Wedderburn, said the name of Mr White was not on his brief, and he did not intend to call him.

Mr Wedderburn said they would have evidence as to the sewage scheme, as he intended to call Messrs Balfour before the committee. He asked the witness if he knew rule connected the surface roads and drainage with the sewers.

The witness replied that he did not. He thought it would be someone connected with the colliery company.

In reply to Mr Bairstow, the witness said he was in favour of the Cadeby water supply been utilised, as he had always been. He had introduced a question of the water supply many times at the meeting of the Rural Council, but he could never get the members to definitely discuss it.

Cross-examined by Mr Ellison he believed the colliery company spent £7000 in getting the Cadeby water. He did not know the costs of the maintenance of the supply. He had no idea at all. Supposing there was an urban Council for what some the Cadeby supply could be purchased. If the urban Council could not get a supply from the Cadeby borehole they would have to get water from Sheffield, through the Doncaster Corporation at 10d per thousand gallons.

Re-examining Mr Norwood said the Parish Council refuse the offer of 6d per thousand gallons. There was a diversity of opinion among the members as to the quality of the Cadeby water. Some of the members thought they would rather pay 10d per thousand gallons for water, which was absolutely pure, than sixpence for water which people, said, was not pure.

Mr Francis Oxley, of Hill top, Conisbrough, said he had been one of the representatives of the parish on the Rural District Council for two years. In his opinion the needs of the districts were not met by having two representatives on the Rural Council. It was time a new authority should be set up for having urban powers on the spot. The scavenging was carried out in an unsatisfactory manner. There ought to be more constant supervision.

Mr Wedderburn, in cross-examination, elicited a statement that the Parish council members were divided as to the question of the best supply water, whether from the Cadeby borehole from the Doncaster Corporation mains, which run close by the parish of Conisbrough. The witness would not say what his own private opinion on the question was. He admitted that so far as he was concerned, he had a private supply. He would be prepared to pay his share of the initial cost of providing a proper supply water for the district, in the form of rates, but if he did not have the water laid on to his house he would not expect to pay for it.

Mr Bairstow: is it not a fact that the only reason you have not a proper supply water now is that you can’t agree among yourselves?

That is one part.

Pressed as to whether it was only reason the witness would not say. He took it. He would have to pay proportion of the first cost of the water scheme, but not for the water itself you if he does not use it.

Mr Edmundson also pursued the witness to say which scheme of water supply, he personally favoured.

This Edmundson asked: you represent the district. Why do not decide upon a scheme? Which scheme have you favoured, the Doncaster scheme, the Sheffield scheme or the Cadeby screen?

I do not think I have favoured a particular scheme, because this scheme is are under consideration.

Which scheme do you now favour?

The Denaby scheme.

And while your favourite?

Because it is good water and the cheapest.

Mr Waugh (in re-examination). Supposing you had an urban district council your own, you don’t expect the members will always be unanimous?


The majority will decide this question?


At this stage the enquiry was adjourned