The Lighting Question – Ratepayers Meeting -Lively Proceedings

September 1892

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 30 September 1892

The Lighting Question at Conisborough.

Ratayers Meeting : Lively Proceedings

 A Poll Demanded

On Tuesday evening a meeting of the parishioners of Conisborough was held in the Parish school.

The meeting had been called at the requisition of Messrs. W. Chambers, J. Kilner, and J. Blyth, to consider the lighting question. There was only a moderate attendance.

On the proposition of Mr. R. H. Sharp, Mr. G. Walker was voted to the chair. There were also present Messrs. J. Blyth, W. H. Chambers. C. Kilner, F. H. J. Sharp, B. Dufton, S. Whitfield, H. Booth, G. Appleyard, Hawksworth (assistant overseer), and others.

The Chairman stated that the meeting had been called on the requisition of three ratepayers, Meyers. Chambers, Blyth, and Kilner, for the purpose of determining whether the Lighting and Watching Act, Wm. IV., cap. 80. so far as it relates to the lighting of the parish. In his opinion the time hail arrived when Conisborough should be lighted with gas. (Hear, hear.) Perhaps some of them would think as he thought that it was a disgrace to the parish that it had not been lighted before. (Hear, hear.) The Local Committee were not to blame. They had many times considered the matter, and they decided at their last meeting but one to form an area, and to apply to the Local Government Board for a loan.

The scheme of the Committee was thrown over by the Local Government Board who referred them to the Lighting and Watching Act, and asked to be informed whether there was any company or person with whom the authority contract for lighting the parish. The question arose as to what was to be done, and it was decided that this meeting should be called to ascertain whether the parish were in favour of adopting the bighting and Watching Act so far as the lighting of the parish was concerned. That was how this meeting came to be called. It was quite true that if this Act was adopted the whole of the parish would have to be rated.

Mr. Whitfield: I beg your pardon.

The Chairman, continuing, said he considered the Act had been wisely framed, for it said that those who lived in the outlying districts, such as Clifton, in the parish of Conisborough, should only pay one fourth the rate paid by the district which was lighted. He  did not think that any gentle man living in the outlying districts could complain of that arrangement. (Hear, hear.) They came to the parish for the transaction of business and for public worship, and would, therefore, derive some benefit from the lighting of the parish. A majority of two thirds of the ratepayers was necessary for the adoption of the Act. The committee had been in negotiation with the Conisborough Gas Company, and they had intimated that it would cost 2d. in the £ for the lighting of the town; that was 2d. in the £ on household property, and ½ d. in the £ for land.

Mr Sharp proposed the adoption of the Act. He thought that the lighting of the place was very desirable for the safety, pleasure, and well-being of the inhabitants. (Hear, hear, and applause.)

Mr. Dalton seconded the proposition. He thought that if the town was lighted the inhabitants would derive much benefit. He believed that he paid for all the comforts he derived, both indoors and out of doors. He wanted gas; but he did not want anybody to pay for him ; he was willing to pay his share. (Hear, hear.) He contended that lighting the village would be an advantage to people outside the village as well as those who lived in it.

The Chairman intimated that it was only i intended to light a certain area. The Local Government Board would not allow them to do that, so that they would be obliged, if they wanted to light the area, to adopt the Lighting and Watching Act.

Mr. Appleyard remarked that they all wanted gas; but those who got no benefit from it did not want to pay for it. (Hear, hear.)

The Chairman said the Act gave them power to define the area they intended to light. They could define it as they liked.

Mr. Whitfield : What area ? (Cries of The lighting area.”) Addressing his interrupters, Mr. Whitfield indignantly remarked, I was not asking you; I was asking the chairman.” (Laughter.)

The Chairman said the area he alluded to was the lighting area. According to his reading of the Act, the parish would be rated, if an area was lighted.

Mr. Appleyard: If you can rate me by that Act, I can compel you to bring gas to my house at Clifton.

The Chairman : Of course if we adopt this Act, we have inspectors to appoint, and they will define the area.

A lot of extraneous discussion was here Introduced, and the chairman reminded the various speakers that the question before the meeting was whether they were going to adopt the Act or not. (Hear, hear.) He asked for an amendment, and after about a minute’s silence, Mr. Whitfield rose and said if no one would move an amendment he would. Thereupon he proposed that the Act be not adopted. They had three gentlemen who had signed a requisition calling a meeting to considered the gas question and do certain things, and yet they had not told them what those things were, nor how the Act was to be adopted.

The chairman said they were to have commissioners and inspectors. The ratepayers wanted to know who those commissioners were to be, and what powers would they have before they adopted the Act. He thought it was desirable to know those things. What is the use of them adopting things of which they knew nothing about. (Laughter.)

Mr. Chambers explained the area which it had been proposed to light. It extended from the end of Don View to Mount Pleasant on the one aide, and on the other side as far as Birchgrove ; also past the station, including Messrs. Kilner’s glass works, and as far as Denaby. Then from Station Road to Back Lane, etc., etc. Within that area they proposed to put lamps at a distance of about 80 yards. Of course the number of lamps would be about 100; but that number could be reduced by having the lamps further apart if it was thought desirable. It was for that meeting to say whether they have the town lighted or not, if they wanted it lighting they would have to adopt the Act; if they did not care about having it lighted, then there was an end of the matter. It was a very difficult matter to define an area, so that it was thought better to take the Act and let It go as it was. He admitted that it might press a little hard on those on the extreme boundaries of the parish.

Mr. Appleyard rose to speak, but Mr. Whitfield shouted indignantly “Sit down you’ve had three or four tries.” (Laughter.)

Continuing, Mr. Whitfield asked for an explanation as to the appointment of inspector and commissioners.

Mr Kilner said he did not think they had come there for a definition of the Act. What they now met together for, was to know whether they were going to have the town lighted or not.

Mr. Whitfield: Why don’t the requisitioners, tell us about these things?

Mr. Kilner continuing, said that it was not the duty of the requisitioners to know who were going to be appointed inspectors and commissioners. Their part was to call that meeting, and take the feeling of the parish on the matter. (Hear, hear, and applause.) .

Mr. Whitfield said that if the requisitioners were to call a meeting, and ask the people to vote for something they knew nothing about, they must be very great simpletons. (Laughter.) They must be thickheads. (Renewed laughter.)

Mr. Kilner : Everybody must be simpletons only you. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. Whitfield (humorously) : I am one of the members of that honourable body called the Parochial Committee. (Loud laughter.) So long as you would give me gas, I will pay for it, and if you will not give it to me then I will object to pay for it. You want us to believe that we are bound to go back centuries, to the days of William III and IV, to light Conisborough, whereas you can do it under the Public Health Act of to-day. If the Rural Authority have not the power, you can apply to the Local Government Board and they will give you power, and I will give you chapter and verse for every statement. If we are parishioners we have the rights of parishioners and should be treated as such.

The Chairman: You are not here to make charge against us. We are come here to discuss whether we are going to have gas or not. (Hear, hear.)

Mr Whitfield: I am not using personalities. Mr Dufton said he paid for all he got – – –

The Chairman: If we are going to have personal remarks I shall vacate the chair. (Hear, hear and applause.)

Mr Whitfield continuing said he was willing to have gas; but it was very unjust to charge people they had nothing for. He reminded the meeting that section 163 of the Public Health Act said that they could take any portion of this area rating purposes. He contended that that Act superseded the Lighting and Watching Act of George III and IV.

The Chairman: Then it is very curious that the Local Government Board did not know of that.

Further extraneous route discussion ensued and Mr Sharp rose to point of order, reminding them that there was a proposition before the meeting.

Mr Appleyard (to Mr Sharp): You want to go a bit too fast.

The Chairman informed the meeting that the local government Board will not let them light the parish unless they rated it.

Mr Appleyard seconded the amendment, that the Lighting and Watching Act be not adopted.

The Chairman then put the men. About five hands were, forthwith, shown in its favour, perceiving this, Mr Whitfield encouragingly remarked – “Now, gentlemen, show your courage; don’t act two-faced” – laughter – whereupon up went three more hands, making the total eight. 14 voted for the original resolution.

The Chairman expressed regret that there was not a large meeting. He thought there must have been some understanding. The resolution although it was supported by a majority, the majority was not two thirds, therefore it was lost. He did not see how they could adopt the Act, now, without a poll.

Mr Sharp handed in the following recognition:

“We, the undersigned, hereby demand a poll, on resolution just voted upon, for the adoption of the Lighting and Washing Act.” – Signed, R.H. Sharp, C. Kilner, P.G. Dufton, Harold Booth, W. Wilson, H.J. Sharp.

The Chairman having read requisition, Mr Whitfield said he thought it was the duty of the chairman to take charge of the names of the requisition is. If the requisition did not succeed they would have to defray the cost.

The Chairman: It is the law that when there is a poll there must be a deposit.

Mr Sharp: I shall stand by what he said in the Act. The Act says that we can demand a poll. I simply demand one. If the law says that those who demand a poll must pay a certain deposit – (humorously) – if the deposit is not very, very large, and I have 10 minutes to find it – I may perhaps find it. (Hear, hear.)

The Chairman: There is nothing said in the act about the deposit. I remember I was at one meeting 90 manager Paul, and I had to pay a sovereign before I left the meeting. I do not remember when I got it back again. (Laughter.)

Mr Kilner (the chairman): Do you require any deposit from the requisitioners?

Mr Sharp (interrupting, and addressing Mr Kilner): If the chairman wants a deposit I will pay.

The matter then dropped, and Mr Kilner proposed a vote of thanks to the chairman for presiding, which was seconded by Mr Sharp and carried. The Chairman briefly responded, and the meeting terminated.