Mexborough and Swinton Times, 13 July 1907
Conisborough Parish Council.
An Amusing Discussion.
The Chairman and the Ratepayers Association.
Although the agenda at the monthly meeting of the Conisborough Parish Council contained no subject of great importance, there was plenty of discussion on a matter that could have been settled in a few minutes. Mr H. Baker presided, and the other members present were; Messrs A. Moody, W. Appleyard, G. Kilner, J. Greathead , G. Clarkson, E. Keys, Urch, Hulme, Hirst, and Brooke; with the Clerk (Mr J. Hawksworth), and the cemetery caretaker (Mr A. Hodgson)
The Clerk read a circular from the County Council with respect to the Small Holdings Act, and asking several questions as to whether such smallholdings would be likely to be adopted in Conisbrough. – It was decided to adjourn the matter until the next meeting to allow the members to obtain the feeling of the ratepayers.
Smoking At Meetings.
The next business was a reading of a letter from the Conisborough Education Subcommittee, which was as follows. –
“Education officers, Mexborough, June 7, 1907.
Conisborough Parish Council.
Smoking at meetings.
The head teacher of the Station Road infants School (Mrs Ramskill) recently complained about the state of the school after Parish Council meetings, owing to the smoking, etc indulged in thereat. The committee unanimously decided, and the motion of Messrs, Urch and Brooke, that in future there must be no smoking in the schools at Parish Council and parish meetings.
Kindly bring this under the notice of your council
Yours sincerely, W. R. Hudson. – Mr J. Hawksworth, Conisborough.”
The chairman said he was very sorry Mr Norwood was not present. He should have very much like to have heard his opinion on the matter. He was also very sorry that the matter had been brought up in the way it had been, as in his opinion it showed a very bad spirit. Even in the late School Board the chairman and the clerk had indulged in smoking, and anyone else had taken the pattern. Again, the chairman of the Education Committee, who, by the way, was the chairman of the late Parish Council, had been present many times when smoking had taken place. It was indulged in then, and very much at times, although the late chairman did not smell, nor did the speaker. This is a dastardly thing,” continued Mr Baker, “to bring forward, seeing that Mr Brocklesby had allowed the custom to go on without saying a word.” He was also very sorry that the name of Mrs Ramskill had been brought forward in the matter. “Why,” he asked, “could not Mrs Ramskill, bring this up before?
Because,” answered the speaker, “the chairman of the Education Committee was also the chairman of the Parish Council.” He was however, very much against putting smoking down, seeing that it had been a “time-honoured custom” ever since the old school board was formed. He could almost understand Mr Urch and Mr Brooke, being drawn into the matter. He felt sure they did not wish to do away with the “time-honoured custom.” The education committee could only recommend, and it was for the County Council to say whether smoking should be allowed. He for one, should not be a party to stop the favourite weed round the table, and if the County Council did stop them he would remedy the matter, how, he would mention later.
Mr Clarkson pointed out that it was the expectation that was objected to more than anything. But so far as he knew, the gentlemen who had attended the meetings had behaved themselves, and the public who had attended had done nothing more than what the members round the table had done.
Mr Brooke said it was pointed out at the education committee meeting that it was disastrous to the children and teachers, and if that was so he for one could do without his pipe while the deliberation of the council were taking place.
Mr Urch said the Labour cause always advocated that children in schools should have more breathing space and they had at present.
The Chairman: Do you wish to do away with the “time-honoured custom”
Mr Urch: My resolution was that we request the council not to smoke and not that we should stop them.
The Chairman repeated his former question several times, and Mr Urch replied that he had given his answer.
Mr Moody said, as a non-smoker, he could not see what could make the air more sure than a little tobacco. Of course, I don’t mean smoke the strong Irish roll. (Laughter)
The Chairman: Any of you that wish to smoke you can do so by all means tonight.
Mr Moody (with emphasis): this is a mean, paltry question. There is a bit of spleen about it. I want this wiping out.
Mr Appleyard said he was opposed to smoking in the room if it annoyed the children and teachers.
The chairman again made another lengthy statement on the question. He said at one of their previous meetings at which a large number of ratepayers were present, he was told that there was a gentleman connected with the schools, sat amongst the ratepayers, and the man next to him was only too glad to light his pipe on account of the smell of the gentleman’s breath. He took it that this was going to him being among his scholars the whole of the day. Had there been some tobacco smoke about previously this might not have been so. Tobacco smoke was a good disinfectant. The school was put in order for the next morning, and if the windows were open and he could not see where the nuisance came in. If there was any smell it would not do harm, but good. Continuing, he said he could not think that Mrs Ramskill had brought this on her own account. She never brought it forward when Mr Brocklesby was chairman. Directly Mr Brocklesby was out of office he began to find fault.
It was proposed by Mr Urch, seconded by Mr Brooke, that’s smoking be prohibited at the future meetings of the parish council.
Mr Moody: Is the gallery included?
The Chairman: No, certainly not.
Mr Moody: I mean, are the ratepayers to be stopped smoking?
The Chairman: Oh, I thought you meant will they be allowed to vote on the question.
Mr Moody: As a non-smoker, I shall move an amendment that’s smoking be allowed, and I hope to find a seconder to meet the opposition.
The Chairman: is there no gentleman here who wishes to second Mr Moody’s amendment? Yes, I will second it.
Mr Moody: I will withdraw mine; they seem to be stupid.
The Chairman: Oh no, you must not .
The vote being taken, Messrs, Kilner, Moody, Baker, and Keys voted for the amendment and Messrs, Hirst, Urch, Brookes, Clarkson and Appleyard for the resolution. Messrs Hulme and Greathead remained neutral.
The Chairman then remarked dramatically, “I certainly think it is lowering the dignity of the gentleman who are here. I am very sorry indeed it has been carried. It is a time-honoured custom.”
A letter was read from the Conisborough Ratepayers Association, drawing the attention of the parish council to the bad state of the footpath across Northcliffe Hills, beginning at the point where the new footpaths join the old one.
The Chairman: This is rather a surprise packet. I thought we had done all that was necessary.
Mr Moody said there were certain people in the Ratepayers Association who profited greatly by bringing these matters forward, they were looking after their own tenants. He could point out many of the footpaths that needed attention, which were far worse than the Northcliffe Hills footpath. For instance, there were cobbles sticking up at Wellgate 8 inches high. (Laughter)
The chairman said he thought the parish council could do their own work without the assistance of the ratepayers Association.
“The ratepayers associations can bring matters forward as well as anyone else.” Retorted Mr Clarkson.
The Chairman: Yes, but we are not going to be dictated to in that way.
Mr Brooke; Other people bring these matters forward, and the Ratepayers Association have a right to do the same.
Mr Clarkson pointed out that several members of the Parish Council were also members of the Ratepayers Association.
The Chairman said he could not see why those members should not bring the questions up at the Parish Council meeting, instead of allowing letters to come in such a manner.
Mr Moody: They all smoke there. (Laughter)
Several other members suggested footpaths for inspection, and it was ultimately decided that the committee already appointed to inspect a previous case should view the whole and report at the next meeting.