Mexborough and Swinton Times, February 17, 1928
Conisboro’ Urban Council.
The Future of the ” Welfare” Baths
Relief from Rates.
A special meeting of the Conisbrough Urban Council was held on Tuesday (Mr. W. L. Worsley presiding) to meet a deputation from the Denahy and Cadeby Miners. Welfare Institute, who asked the Council for exemption from rating on the Welfare Baths. The deputation consisted of Messrs. T. Hill, W. Still, G. Marshall, J. Dunk, E. T. Hardy, and J. Banks.
Liabilities and Losses.
Mr. Hill said the Welfare trustees were working the baths at a price which came within the pocket of the miner and his family. Their charge was very low, a maximum of 3d., and a minimum of 2d. At other places they would not get the same thing for 1s. 6d.
“Every- year,” he continued, “we are losing from £250 to £280 on these baths. We don’t mind the money so much as the principle. We would rather be of service to this township and maintain an institution that in other towns is carried on by the local authority. The trustees are unwilling to allow the baths to pass beyond their control. We set ourselves out to bring as much social benefit to the district as we can. We have bowls, tennis, cricket, football, and the baths, and these cost us £900 annually. Football costs us £400, cricket £250, and the baths £250. The Welfare has to find this £900 from the revenue of the Institute. The rates on the Welfare Institute are £19 in excess of those of all the other clubs in the neighbourhood put together. The Institute is rated at £400, and in addition there is £40 each on the cricket and football fields.
Whilst the baths were closed for eight months in the year they still had to pay rates on them. They had nothing official, but they understood that the County Council were to make the Institute an allowance of £80 for children attending the baths as part of the school curriculum. The Welfare trustees were pleased to know that the County Council contemplated this step, but while the County Council proposed paying to the Welfare £80 for the use of the baths, the Welfare were paying to the County Council £160 for having had the pleasure of opening the Institute. They did not think they were having a fair chance of proving what they could do for the people under the Miners’ Welfare scheme.
They came, not to ask the Urban Council to take on the baths, but to exempt them, as far as they were able, from payment of district rate. Even if that happened they stood to lose £100 on the baths next year. If the Council would exempt them they would carry on, but he could not see how they could stand any further financial strain.
The Chairman: This local authority has no authority to take rates off. The Assessment Committee or Quarter Sessions are the authorities concerned.
Mr. A. Roberts: The function of the Assessment Committee is to consider the assessments and see whether the basis is fair or unfair, and the amount of the rate does not concern them.
The Clerk (Mr. Spencer Baker) said the Council had no power to excuse payment of district rate except on the ground of poverty.
£5,000 IN DEBT.
Mr. Hill: We are gradually losing. Every week we are losing. We are now indebted to other people to more than £5,000, and if we go on at this rate and lose £250 this year it is probable that sooner or later the whole of the valuation on the Welfare will be eaten up, and we shall have to close down. When we get to that position the rates on the Welfare will be lost.
The Surveyor (Mr. H. Thirlwall) said they could use their influence with the Assessment Committee to get the assessment reduced. He was sure there was a solution, and he must remind the deputation that the best they could do was to go into the pros and cons of the matter and try and see a way out. Whether it should come to the Council taking control of the baths and thus relieving the Welfare of the responsibility was a matter they could discuss later.
Mr. Roberts said he would like to know whether the deputation was prepared to consider assistance or transference.
Mr. Hill said the architect had valued the baths at £2,000. He pointed out that the school children would come first, and the baths would be closed the public for half the week, which would mean that they would lose from the public 50 per cent. of their takings.
The Chairman asked if the-purchase of the Baths and thus relieving the Welfare of the responsibility was a matter they could discuss. Mr. Roberts said he would like to know whether the deputation was prepared to consider assistance or transference.
Mr. Hill said the architect had valued the baths at £2,000. He pointed out that the school children would come first, and the baths would be closed to the public for half the week, which would mean that tLey would lose from the public 50 per cent. of their takings.
The Chairman asked if the deputation were prepared to hand over the baths to the local authority.
Mr. Hill said that Denaby’s was the first Welfare Institute to obtain a licence for intoxicating liquor, which they were granted in view of the fact that they had the baths. It was to help them in that heavy responsibility. It did not seem quite fair for the Welfare to give away the losing part and keep the paying part. That was only taking a fair view of matters.
The Chairman: I can only say that every member of the Council will be willing to do their best to bring about some solution to this problem.
The Surveyor said there were three avenues open to them. One was to seek relief in rates, which was a difficult proposition to work up at present as they did not know the legal position nor how the baths could be separated from the rest of the Welfare buildings, and what the ratable proportion would be. If there was relief in rates it might not be commensurate with the difficulties. Another alternative was for the Council to take control of the baths under the Baths and Washhouses Act of 1646 and thus relieve the Welfare of the responsibility of financial loss. There was no doubt that baths were a public necessity. The question was who should bear the loss, the Welfare or the Council.
Mr. Roberts contended that they were too highly assessed.
Mr. J. Maxfield thought they would have extreme difficulty in proving poverty and they can afford to pay £250 for cricket
Miss Ardagh said the depredation consider the possibility of shutting part of the baths, and come with structural alterations, making a rating of the baths out of the question.
Ultimately the following subcommittee was appointed to go further into the matter and to report to the council: Messrs Robbins, Gomersall, Maxfield and I Webster.