Urban Powers Inquiry – 6. The Case for the Parish Council

February 1901

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 08 February 1901

Conisborough Urban Powers Inquiry

The Case for the Parish Council

Mr Waugh then proceeded with his address. He submitted that it was for the appellants to show cause why the order should not be confirmed, unless they succeeded in showing that the order was one that ought not to have been made, they had failed in their appeal.

There had been two County Council inquiries, and the first two rival schemes were put forward. He desired to point out emphatically that at that time the whole of the parties who were substantially interested in the district were one opinion, and that was that the time had arisen there should be set up in the district a new form of local self-government; and the whole point then at issue, apart from the view of the Doncaster Rural District Council, who did not want to lose a portion of their area, was to be the extent of the new urban district – a large district as proposed by Conisborough, on a very much small district as proposed by Denaby.

In petitions then presented by the colliery company and the Denaby Parish Council, it was alleged that Denaby Main and Cadeby had developed into an important industrial centre of a progressive character, and that it would be just to constitute Denaby Main, New Conisborough and Cadeby an urban district, for the welfare and best interests of the inhabitants and a proper local government of the district. The whole objection on the part of Denaby to the scheme proposed by Conisborough was to contain such a very large area of agricultural land. A County Council order was made in favour of the Conisborough scheme, but the order was disallowed by the local Government Board.

Then came the letter of 15 June 1899, from the Local Government Board to the County Council in which it was stated, “The board do not consider that in general large rural areas should be included in an urban district where their inclusion is opposed. The Board, moreover, do not consider they are empowered to alter the areas which are included in an order of the County Council under section 57 of the Local Government, Act 1888, and the only course open to them was, therefore, to disallow the order in question.”

The Local Government Board did not send that letter for the purpose of entrapping the County Council, but for their guidance in order that they might know on future occasions what was the view of the Local Government Board. It had been suggested that Denaby and Cadeby people were to be handed over to the Conisborough Parish Council against their wishes. It was nothing of the kind. All these places were under the same form of parochial government as a present time, namely the Doncaster Rural District Council, and the order only carved out a portion of the existing government, and made it separate.

There was more community of interest between Conisborough, New Conisborough and Denaby than there was between Denaby and the rest of the 46 townships that were under the control of the Rural District Council. From time to time, as rural parishes in the Doncaster district had become urban they had been formed into urban district, have been allowed to have their own form of local self-government. It could not be doubted that the district in respect to which the order be made was essentially urban. In 1862, when the colliery was started at Denaby, it was a purely rural district with rural rates. The effect of the colliery coming into the district was that the urban population of Conisborough, both new and old, were paying rates at 6s in the pound.

Mr Chambers in cross examination, admitted that in his view an industry that created a necessity for expensive local government work ought to contribute its fair share towards the cost of those expenses. Mr Chambers admitted that it was a colliery that are created those requirements, and he (Mr Waugh) submitted that the colliery did not pay its fair share towards the cost.

In regard to Cadeby, the colliery company were paying a purely rural rate in respect of an urban industry, although, in consequence of the company sinking and working Cadeby pit, the rates in Conisborough had gone up to 6s in the pound. The rates would not go up but go down when the colliery company’s buildings were accessed and paid a proper share of the cost of running the district which are created by them, because there would be an additional rateable value which, at the present time, was paying very much less rates and escaping its proper and due payment.

In regard to seal disposal expenditure, Mr Waugh contended that Conisborough and Denaby had been united for that purpose, and whichever scheme was accepted they will continue to be united, therefore the control ought to be a unified control.

In regard to the water supply, education and scavenging of Denaby Main, upon which Mr Wedderburn made such strong emphasis, those were all matters which ought to be provided by the community itself, and ought not to be left to the bounty, generosity, or the caprice of a private company.

That appeal against the County Council order was an attack upon local government itself. The object of the Local Government Act was to create areas sufficiently large that in times whether of prosperity of depression of the particular trade in the vicinity, there shall be a sufficient stable population to pay the rates without pressing upon any particular section. The object was also to train the people in governing themselves and not in relying upon the bounty of their employers. It was monstrous that any community should be left for one of the first necessities of life to the whim or to the caprice of trading concerns which was continually altering its shareholders from time to time, and could not bind itself as to what is policy would be in the future. So far as policy was concerned there was no binding contract with regard to Denaby or Conisborough for the supply of water.

If an Urban District Council had these matters under control they would take care that the supply or none supply of water could not be made the whip hand in the event of any collision taking place between the colliery company and their employees.

There were three grounds upon which Mr Wedderburn had said the order should not be confirmed:

One was the reasonable wishes of the people. It had been proved beyond all doubt that the wishes of the people were that the rate should not increase, but if the proper government of the district required that the rate should be increased he ventured to think that the wishes of the people would not be considered by the Local Government Board; therefore it was begging the whole question for people to come there and say “We object because in the future the rate will be increased.” The attitude adopted was that they did not care about local government, if it meant that they would have to put their hands into their pockets. He submitted that those were not the reason wishes of the people.

The second question raised was “What advantages would be gained?” Under the new urban district there will be a better form of government. The people would have their own offices on the spot, particularly their own nuisance inspector. Their own medical officer would not have a large area to look after, such as Dr Wilson and, and that would be of the greatest possible advantage. The state of things described by Dr Wilson is his report and his previous evidence, to any unprejudiced mind drove absolutely home the conviction that a nuisance inspector was required on the spot. In addition, Mr Waugh call the attention of the Inspector to the extraordinary condition of things described by Mr T Weston, landlord of the Reresby Arms hotel Denaby, at the last inquiry, who told how his cellar was repeatedly, and at one period continuously, flooded with sewage. On one occasion he had 160 bucketfuls of sewage taken out of the cellar in one day. Mr Waugh contended that the experience of Mr West proved that the Rural District Council could not look after an urban district; they had too much to do, and the ought to be relieved of the work.

It was all very well for the Rural Council to throw the owners in the Parish Council for the state of things, the Parish Council had been in existence only a very short time, whereas for 15 years, Conisborough and the shot of water, and yet absolutely nothing had been done by the Rural District Council.

Proceeding, Mr Waddell with other similar points, and showed that in the parish of Conisborough the population had increased from 2,706 in 1881 to 4,499 in 1891 and 8,884 at the present time, practically doubling itself over 10 years, whereas in the parish of Denaby in 1881 the population was 1,631, in 1991 it was 1,706, and at the present time 1,846. The population of Denaby had been practically stationary, while it was in the parish of Conisborough that the development had taken place. The appeal was a suggestion that a private company should do that which the Local Government Act intended the people should do for themselves. How was the local government of the district to be carried on if the collieries ceased working, from strikes or any other cause, when for years the people had not been taught to interest themselves in the matter. The people will probably remain, but it was by no means certain that the colliery company will remain, or that its policy will continue.

In conclusion Mr Waugh submitted that the findings of the County Council committee borne out by the evidence that had been put before the Inspector.