Rhondda District Council. The Rebate to Workmen House-Owners. Council to Contest Surcharges. Bridges Washed Away at Blaenrhondda. Children Unable to Attend School. I The monthly meeting of the Rhondda, Urban District Council was held on Friday last at the Council Chamber, Pentre, Councillor Thos. Thomas, J.P., presiding. Other members present were Councillors Danl. Evans, D. C. Evanst W. T. Jones, J.P., Dd. Williams, Dr. W. E. Thomas, Tom Harries, E. Jones, J. D. Williams, J.P., W. D. Wight, W. H. Morgan, L. P. Griffiths, Lewis Hopkins, W. T. Davies, Ben Davies (vice-chairman), R. S. Griffiths, J.P., H. E. Maltby, Dr. A. G. Tribe, Tom George. Griffith Evans, Walter Wil- liams, and Wm. Thomas, together with the Clerk (Mr. W. P. Nicholas) the Sur- veyor (Mr. W. J. Jones), and the Medical Officer of Health (Dr. J. D. Jenkins). RATEPAYERS AND FAIRS. A letter was received from the Pentre Ratepayers' Association, stating that that body had interviewed local landowners with reference to refusing grounds to hold the Treorchy Fair, as it was detrimental to the interests of ratepayers, and asking the Council not to grant the use of the Gelli Recreation Ground for the same purpose. The Chairman suggested that the mat- ter should be referred to the Health Committee. Dr. Thomas: I should like to know who are the Pentre Ratepayers' Association. Councillor J. D. Williams: I have no doubt when these fair people come to the district, they take away a lot of money, and it is not fair to the ratepayers of the district. Dr. Thomas said that what he objected to was that two or three people should band themselves together under a certain name and write to the Council under that name. Councillor T. Harries: Is it the object of this Council to keep out innocent amusements given to the children? Councillor R. S. Griffiths said that the best way to answer the letter would be by saying that the Council had no appli- cation before it for the use of the grounds. Dr. Thomas: Are there any local rate- payers running little horses? That is all I see in that field. Dr. Tribe: What is your objection to that? Dr. Thomas: I have no objection to anyone amusing themselves in that way. Councillor W. T. Jones moved that the letter be referred to the Health Com- mittee. Councillor R. S. Griffiths moved an amendment that a reply be sent to the Association stating that the matter would be borne in mind when an application came before the Council. Dr. Thomas seconded, and the amend- ment was carried. BRAKE CHARGES. A letter was received from. the Mid- Rhondda Chamber of Trade stating that at the last meeting of the Qhamber it was resolved to ask the Council to fix fares for the brakes running from Clydach Vale to Penygraig. The Clerk informed the Council that the fares fixed by the Council appeared in the bye-laws relating to hackney car- riages. It was for the police to see that the regulations were carried out. Councillor R. S. Griffiths said he did not think the bye-laws were really applicable in this instance. As far as Mid-Rhondda was concerned, there was not a single brake on the road plying for hire. If anyone ordered a brake from a certain stable and obtained it, he did not suppose in that case that the owner would come under the four corners of the bye-laws. The Council could do nothing. He moved that a reply be sent the Chamber, point- ing out that, as far as the Council were concerned, the rates were fixed, but that, in certain cases the Council could not fix rates. This was agreed to. SEW AGEl IN THE HOUSE. Dr. Joyce, Porth, wrote complaining of river water, accompanied by sewage mat- ter, running into his house, causing serious inconvenience, and asking the Council to give the matter their serious consideration. It was pointed out that as the result of previous complaints, the matter had already received some consideration, and Dr. Thomas asked for the minutes of the Council bearing upon it. It was a very serious matter, he said, and something should have been done years ago. The Clerk said that the last thing they I agreed to do, and did, was to scour the river. Councillor W. T. Davies said he did not think that was quite right. He remem- bered a promise being given that some- thing vt)uld be done. The sewage came up and was deposited in the house, and had been so for years. Dr. Thomas: My memory does not quite coincide with the Clerk's. We agreed to do something, but it was purely experimental. The Clerk: We did consider a certain scheme, but did not recognise any liability in the matter. Still, apart from Dr. Joyce, there is serious inconvenience caused to the general public. Councillor Wight asked whether proper care was taken with regard to tipping refuse in the neighbourhood. Councillor L. P. Griffiths: I am afraid very little. If you go down as far as the Methodist Chapel, you will see large boulders in the river, for the purpose of raising water for the colliery. Dr. Thomas moved that the matter be referred to the same committee that had previously considered the mattes. Councillor J. D. Williams seconded. Councillor R. S. Griffiths moved an amendment that the letter be referred to the Health Committee, and that in the meantime the previous resolutions bear- ing upon this question be looked up and scheduled for the information of the com- mittee, and that the Surveyor take the relative level of the high-water mark of the river and the floor of the house. Councillor Tom Harries seconded. Dr. Thomas withdrew his motion, and Mr. Griffiths' amendment was agreed to as the substantive motion. WHERE CHILDREN CAN'T GO TO SCHOOL. Mr. John Jones, 20, Brook Street, Blaenrhondda, complained that during the recent floods, thousands of tons of water ran through his premises. doing hundreds of pounds damage to his property, and stating that if a similar thing occurred again he would have to claim damages from the Council. The Surveyor said that serious damage was done at Blaenrhondda two bridges had been washed away, and a portion of the roadway. Councillor Wight: Who is responsible for the bed of the river ? I never under- stood that the Council were responsible for that. Councillor Griffith Evans asked who was responsible for the bridge in Caroline Street. The Clerk: We can't be responsible for a private bridge. Councillor Griffith Evans: I am looking at the children. There are 51 houses in this street, and the children cannot go to school. The Clerk said that this bridge was built by a private owner for the develop- ment of his own land, and the Council could not be responsible for it. Councillor J. D. Williams: Inasmuch as the Council is not liable, and that the owner of this bridge is partly liable, would it not be right to call his attention to it so that he could do what is necessary to make it passable? ..Councillor W. H. Morgan said that the colliery company was the responsible party, but they had said they would not do it. Councillor R. S. Griffiths said that if it was worth while to pursue this matter further, it was worth while to get all the "information relating to it before the Council. It was a very important matter and ought to be referred to the proper authority. The Clerk: If the children of 51 houses cannot cross that brook to go to school, it is a very important matter for us. Councillor Wight: Even in that case it does not warrant us in taking over the responsibility in connection with it if we are not liable for it. We have never taken over a private bridge until it has been put in proper order. Dr. Thomas: This is a matter of urgency, and something should be done pending its consideration by the Roads Committee. I move that the local mem- bers, together with the Clerk and Sur- veyor, see whether something can be done to tide over this temporary difficulty. It is not fair to deprive the children of these houses from going to school. :It will be a loss to us in another way. Councillor R. S. Griffiths: What is the good of putting anybody on a fool's errand ift this way? We have been told that the party responsible for this bridge will not do anything to it. Councillor W. T. Jones seconded the motion. Councillor R. S. Griffiths moved an amendment that a special meeting of the Roads Committee he called to meet on the site, and that they be empowered to carry out some temporary arrangement so as to enable the children to go to school. Councillor D. Smith seconded. Councillor Wight: That is undertaking an obligation. Councillor J. D. Williams said that Dr. Thomas' motion would cover Mr. Griffiths' amendment. Councillor R. S. Griffiths: I oppose Dr. Thomas' motion on principle. Jt is not proper to appoint Ward members to go on with this work. The amendment was carried. SKYLARKING IN PORTH STREETS. A further communication was received from the Porth Chamber of Trade on the question of street lighting of Hannah and Station Streets, Porth. The letter said that the light in these streets on Thurs- day and Sunday evenings was notoriously bad; and not only caused great incon- venience, but gave rise to skylarking by gangs of youths. Councillor Ben Davies moved thaiïthe matter be referred to the Roads Com- mittee. Dr. Thomas moved that, unless stronger reasons than those quoted be given as to why these streets should be exceptionally treated, the letter lie on the table. If they were going to treat PortlT in this way, every other district in the Valley would have to be similarly treated. Councillor R. S. Griffiths moved that the Council's reply be that they had nothing to add to their previous reply to the Chamber on this subject. The motion was agreed to. REBATE TO WORKMEN-OWNERS OF PROPERTY. The Clerk reported that he had re- ceived the certificate of disallowances from the District Auditor (Mr. M. D. Propert) in respect of owners who were also occupiers of houses rated at under a £10 rental. The document, said Mr. Nicholas, was a very lengthy, one, in which the Auditor set out his reasons for disallowing the rebate of one-third on such nroperty, and surcharging upon the Council the sum of R2 8s. 2d. in respect of one house taken from each Ward as a test case. The reasons given by the Auditor were as follows: -Because I (1) Where the owner is rated instead of the occupier oh the reduced assessment (ft) of the Public Health Act, 187'5, on the legal construction of the said section, the allowances which may be made to such owner can only be made to owners who are not occupiers of their own premises (vide the Queen v. Barclay and another, 8 Q.B.D. 306, confirmed on appeal 8 Q.B.D. 486). (2) Where the owner is rated com- pulsorily, and especially when he is rated in respect of premises whether occupied or unoccupied, it is clear that the owner qua owner was intended to receive some further benefit if he is to be made liable to pay rates whether he is receiving rent for the property or not. (3) In the case of an owner who occu- pies his own premises, no risk or loss of rent can occur, and qua occupier there can be no valid claim at law or in equity why he should receive the benefit of a reduced assessment or any allowance off the rates. (4) The said section 211 gives a general power to the Urban Authority—at its option-to rate the owner instead of the occupier, and having regard to the corres- ponding provisions contained in the Poor Rate Assessment and Collection Act, 1869, relating to the Poor Rate, the natural conclusion must follow, viz., that there must be a separate owner and occu- pier, or, in other words, that the bene- fits to be derived under the said section from assessments on a reduced estimate can only accrue to the owner who is not at the same time the occupier of his own premises, if any allowance is to be made off the rate. (5) There has been a loss to the rates of E2 8s. 2d, in respect of the ten assess- ments above set forth, the loss on each assessment ranging from 3s. 4fd. to 5s. 6id. (6) There has been in respect of each General District Rate levied in the aggre- gate a considerable loss to the rates in consequence of allowances being made illegally to ratepayers who own and at the same time occupy their premises under £ 10 ratable value. (7) There is no authority at law for making any allowance or abatement off the assessments in question, nor off any assessments in a General District Rate when the owner also occupies the premises. (8) The rates due in respect of the ten assessments above set forth should have been collected upon the full assessable value without any deduction. (9) There is no authority at law enabling the Council or the Collector to write off the said sum of £28s. 2d., or any portion thereof. (10) The Collector, by carrying out the instructions of the Council, has contri- buted, and must be held responsible for, the said loss incurred. In a letter to the Clerk, the Auditor said that the question at issue was one of considerable importance to the district, and as he understood the Council were taking up the matter, he trusted the Clerk would bring the surcharge to the Council's notice at the earliest possible date, and that the appeal would be pro- ceeded with without delay. The Clerk said that the Auditor's reasons were very strong. What the Council had to decide was whether they were prepared to contest the surcharges by bringing them before the King's Bench. It affected not only the working class property owners in this district, but throughout the whole length of Mr. Propert's audit district. Following the decision come to when the matter was first discussed, Mr. Llewellyn, the General Rate Collector, had carried out the in- struction of the Council hv, allowing the one-third rebate in all these cases. It was now for the Council to carry the surcharge to the Higher Court. Councillor R. S. Griffiths moved that the Clerk be instructed to take the neces- sary proceedings to contest the case. Councillor Wight: Is there any reason in contesting this case, when our legal adviser saya. we are certain to lose? It is only throwing money away on law. The Clerk: It is very hard on the working class owner if the law is so, and if it is BO, it ou"ht to be followed up by another action of the Council. It is an anomaly that a workman who lives in his own house has to pay the full rate, whereas if he owns a house and lives in another man's house, he is allowed a rebate. Councillor J. D. Williams: It is rather unfair to those who own their own houses. Councillor Wight: The rebate is given for a special reason-the possibility of vacancies. In this district there never are any vacancies. Councillor J. D. Williams: It is a mat- ter we ought to fight. Dr. Thomas: If the Auditor's decision is upheld, it will mean that owners of small cottages will contribute a far greater proportion to our rates than they have hitherto done. Councillor W. H. Morgan: And if we lose, abolish it altogether. Dr. Thomas: We have decided to con- test this case. It shows what a chicken- hearted lot we are—anticipating defeat before we go to law. The motion to contest the case was agreed to unanimously. PUBLIC FUNCTIONS. The Secretary of +.be Archibald Hood Memorial Fountain Committee wrote ex- tending an invitation to the Council to be present at the unveiling of the foun- tain on the 21st inst. The ceremony of unveiling will be performed by Mr. Wm. Abraham (Mabon), M.P. It was decided to accept the invitation, A deputation from the Mid-Rhondda Free Church Council attended, asking the Council to give an official reception to the Monmouthshire and Eastern Wales Free Church Federation, which holds its autumnal meetings at T'oiiypandy in November next. The request was agreed to. OLYDACH VALE'S REQUEST. The Clerk reported having received a resolution passed at a public meeting of Clydach Vale ratepayers regretting that the Rhondda, Tramway Company were unable to see their way clear to provide the district with a service of tramcars, and asking the Council to consider an alternative scheme of locomotion. Councillor R. S. Griffiths also moved "that it be an instruction to the Roads Committee to consider and report upon the most practicable mode of improving the road to Clydach Vale as to width and gradient from Pandy Square." Mr. Griffiths said that although there were two roads by which Clydach Vale could be reached, the inhabitants generally, pre- ferred the road known as Court Street. For a length of 120 feet from Pandy Square the width of that road was less than 15 feet. There was a very narrow neck, and a long incline with a gradient of 1 in 6t and a very sharp bend, and it was simply marvellous that no serious accident had occurred at this narrow place. The time had come when the Council should move to remedy this danger spot, and whatever scheme might be promoted in regard to locomotion at Clydach Vale, the greater barrier would thus be removed by one stroke. Councillor Dd. Williams said that he agreed with all that had been said by Mr. Griffiths, and had pleasure in second- ing the motion. Councillor J. D. Williams supported, and the motion was carried. EARLY CLOSING FOR PORTH. The Health Committee reported having considered the communication referred to them by the Council f.tom Mr. W. S. Williams, Secretary of the Porth, Cymmer and District Chamber of Trade, enclosing petitions in favour of putting into force the provisions of the Shop Hours Act. 1904, for regulating the hours in the fol- lowing trades, namely: -Butchers, boot and shoe dealers, clothiers, gents' mercers, furniture dealers, ironmongers, grocers, drapers, watchmakers, jewellers, and musical dealers, in the Porth, Cymmer, Ynyshir, and Trehafod districts. The Committee were of opinion that the petitions disclosed a prima facie case in favour of making an Order, and- re- commended that the Council take the prescribed steps towards this end. The report was adopted. "PRINCESS LOUISE BRIDGE." The Roads Committee reported having received a letter from Mr. Rhys Williams, of the Trealaw Estate, suggesting that the main road at Trealaw should be named after the Princess Louise, in commemora- tion of the recent Royal visit, in place of the present name, Cemetery Road." The Committee recommended that a reply be sent informing Mr, Williams that the present name of the road referred to was Brithweunydd Road, and that the Committee did not deem it desirable to change this name; and suggesting that the new bridge at Llwynypia be designated the Princess Louise Bridge." TRAMWAY EXTENSION. With reference to the proposed exten- sions of the Rhondda tramways to Mardy and Blaenrhondda, the Rhondda Tramway Company wrote stating that they did not see their way clear to carry out the undertaking unless the Council agreed to purchase the extensions at the end of 42 years as a going concern. 1 The Clerk remarked that the Council only paid Tramway Act terms for the part completed, whereas the Company now wanted goodwill for the other. Councillor H. E. Maltby pointed out that the Company had agreed that the Mardy extension would prove a paying concern, and he proposed that the Council agree to their first terms. It was decided to again consider the matter at a special meeting of the Council.
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