Conisbrough U.D.C. Budget – Cllr Webster’s Valedictory

April 1939

Mexborough and Swinton times, April 14, 1939

Budget Night at Conisbrough.
How Rate was settled.
Cllr Websters Valedictory
Colleagues Warm Tributes

Cllr J.I.Webster, chairman of the Finance Committee of Conisborough Urban District Council, who was defeated at the recent elections by Mr P.M.Knowles, revealed at his last meeting in office on Wednesday that immediately the poll was declared, Cllr B.Roberts offered to resign inhis favour, and that Cllr H.Gomersall had subsequently offered to stand down to allow him to contest his seat next March.

He had been touched by the spirit, which prompted these offers, but had declined to take advantage of them. “I go out of this Council chamber, not as a moping, disgruntled and annoyed individual, but because I can see useful work in another sphere, which will aid Conisborough.”

Many references to Council Webster´s “Capable Administration” were made, and Councillor J.T.E.Collins, who described himself as “the odd man in,” said “his departure can only be a matter for regret for all of us who are sincere working class representatives.

For the Present.

The Chairman, Councillor G.Sheldon, said this was Council Webster’s last meeting for the present. He said that advisedly, for the wish was, perhaps, father to the thought. He was assured that the whole of the Council would miss him. They ought that he would keep the flag flying, and return to the Council chamber as a public representative with even greater vigour to serve as faithfully as he had tried to do so for the past 12 years.

Cllr Gomersall said the past 12 months had shown Council Webster’s Value. He was now paying the penalty for a change of attitude, but no one could detract from the splendid work he had done.

Cllr Webster said he had seen several departures during the last 12 years. Now, fate, in the guise of the electorate, decreed that he should take his final curtain. If those who exercised the franchise knew as much as those who sat around that table about the intricacies and problems of local government, he did not think they would be throwing overboard experience which had taken him over a decade to accumulate.

“I take consolation that I have been sacked, not because I did not do my duty to the Conisborough urban area. The best judges of that duty of those who sit here, and know my work, particularly that of last year. I have sacrificed my seat for an ideal. I did the correct thing in the interest of Conisborough, and I am happy in that knowledge, despite the price paid for it.”

The New Rate.

Moving adoption of the new rate, Councillor Webster said in spite of an increase of 6d in the County cap call, the Committee unanimously – and here he will point out that the “opposition,” as they might call it, was in complete agreement with the majority – recommended the levying of a rate of 20s 6d (£1.025) in the pound, as compared with 20s 2d (£1.008) last year

This has been made possible by a smaller call for the Councils own purposes, due to reductions in the estimate, the two loans having been paid off, and to the revision of water charges in consequence of the softening scheme, thus reducing the rate in aid, although the new charges for what will shortly be a greatly improved supply, would affect the consumer to some extent. Against that there would be a set-off in the home in the reduced cost of washing materials.

Councillor Webster said everyone must be surprised at the new rate. “I do not think there is anyone, outside that small body which has worked so hard for this result, but who did not expect a much higher rate. Our true rate last year was 20s 9d, but a sum equal to a 7d rate was taken from the balance, making it 20s 2d. This was quite honest dealing, for the ratepayers of the immediate past had accumulated this balance.

“When I was offered the position of chairman of the Finance Committee, I knew that with our true rate at 20s 9d, I was accepting an unthankful responsibility. I did not shirk the task. I visualised it’s vital constructive possibilities, and I’ve devoted much time to it during the past year. I’ve had the loyal support of the staff and of my colleagues, all with a set determination – and I leave it to the ratepayers to say whether or not we have produced the goods.”

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