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Lively Time at Newport Statutory…

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Lively Time at Newport Statutory Meeting. Labourites Defeat Water Committee on Merthyr Scheme. Housing and Other Reforms or No Bill. The Labour forces in Newport are awake and militant, and the otlwr side" discovered it 011 ■Monday night. Newport is in need of a new water supply. J nst what her requirements for generation to come are it is impossible to say because the figures arc as stable as a barometer in changeable weather. The Water Committee there have evolved a scheme for a Talybont re- servoir which will cost about £ 1,050,000, and for that they will have a pipe-line that on an en- gineer's estimate cannot carry more than 4,000,000 gallons a day, and on the Committee estimate, 5,000,000 a day—and a stone round their neck which will mean an end to progressive municipal enterprise for years to come. Merthyr is in the same boat that Newport looked like get- ting into. She has a three-quarter million scheme already saddled on her—to the death of needed reforms in the town. The Merthyr Trades Council has taken an active interest in the matter and has forced the Merthyr Corpora- tion—who claim to have a surplus 4,000,000 and a reserve possibility of at least another 2,000,000, making 6,000,000 in all, which can be placed at the disposal of Newport. TheMerthyr Trades Council scheme of a, co-partnery in the Merthyr water-shed is now the town's scheme, and is well-known to and supported by the Newport Trades and Labour Council. On Monday the sta- tutory meeting for the promotion of the neces- sary Bill was called in the Newport Town Hall, and Labour turned up and turned down the reso- lution. The meeting was a lively one, and the vote at the close overwhelming. The Mayor (Mr. H. C. Parfitt) moved the re- olution-a long one, the important provision in which was "that this meeting of the electors of the County Borough of New port convened in pur- suance of the provisions of the Borough Funds Act, 1903, approves of the promotion by the Council of the said Borough in the next session •of Parliament of a bill for the purpose of con- ferring powers upon the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the County Borough of Newport to "onstruct all impounding reservoir in the Glyn t-'ollwn, together with the road diversions, the railway, aqueducts and other works in the Coun- ties of Brecknock and Monmouth to prepare the waters of the Caerfarell stream and its tribu- taries and other waters, to acquire lands and casements compulsorily and by agreements, and take the other steps necessary for the completion of the scheme. The Mayor in proposing the resolution was so intent upon his desire "to act impar- tially between you and the Corporation of New- port" in this moment-nous question" that he "ontented himself with associating himself with the desire to advertise Newport. "But if we are advertising Newport; if we are anxious to invite manufacturers and shipbuilders we must business men be prepared io offer them an -efficient- and ample water supply." After a pas- sage in praise of Aid. Parry he again impartially approached the question by observing T be- lieve alter Mr. Parry's speech and explanation of the scheme you will be persuaded that the scheme which is put before you to-night is the best thing possible for the town of Newport." THE EXPLANATION. Aid. Parry (Chairman of the Water Works Committee, whose explanation was tarried out with the assistance of a large-scale engineers' rirawing of the Talybont watershed, went on to "tell how the question of a new water-supply had occupied the anxious and careful thought" of ,tl o Waterworks Committee since 1910." It was in 1910 that we discovered that the time was fast approaching when we should have to look fur- ther afield for further supplies of water. We ?bave devoted those years—very carefully indeed —first of all to looking around to see whether there was any water in Monmouthshire which we could utilise for the purpose of supplying Newport. Having scoured the county we were satisfied there was no water in the County avail- able, then we had to look further afield, and after many and anxious thoughts we came to the I that the only scheme we could recom- mend to you was the scheme proposed." He went on to tell how they had first considered the Severn Tunnel, and related the history of its consideration Bristol. Cardiff and the County of Monmouth. THE MERTHYR APPROACH. .r.-11 Tiieii, lie, we were appiu;«eueu by Merthyr. And I am very anxious to deal with Merthyr, because you have received to- night a pamphlet which says we have neglected yn opportunity offered by Mretliyr. I want to be frank with you. After having dealt with her own commitments the Merthyr authority has only 1,900,000 gallons a day to supply to any authority. Merthyr with their present commit- ments, according to the evidence given when thev obtained t-FTeir Act of Parliament have only 1,900,000 gallons per day to offer to any authority; and, further, supposing that any authority entered into an agreement with Mer- tlivr to take that 1,900,000 per day Pontypridd •can sav to Merthvr whenever they want to in- crease their supplv over 1,000,000 gallons per dav 'You must cut off that authority which < t av Y ou must eut on vou ao-reed to supplv. We refuse you the right to supply them.' Is that the position you would like to be in? You are our shareholders and we are your Board of Directors and we hesitated before we came boldly before vou, hut we felt there was nothing other to do than to come for- ward boldly with the scheme. Supposing Mer- thvr had 4,000,000 gallons a day which they said was the maximum they could supply you with, you would ask your directors How long would that carry us on in Newport? and ) say that in another 20 years time you would have to look further afield for further water supplies again In the meantime you are tied to Merthyr in perpetuity to take 4,000,000 gal- lons a day, which would mean t24,33,3, and in addition to that you would have to pay for 60 years £ 11,000 charges, interest and sinking fund on the estimated cost of your pipeline and sub- siding reservoir. I want to be emphatic and straight as man to man and tell you frankly that Merthyr has not got the water to offer us. It is all very well to say that their water-shed has proved to be more than their estimate when they went to Parliament, but they have not had a dry sea- son since. We must take the figures they gave to Parliament and we can't go behind it." THE SHADY CUSTOMERS. m,' .1 Mr. Parry went on to tell ot tne 1 alybont I scheme, describing its prospects glowingly as I capable of aupp?ving a population of from 100,000 to 500,000. Before the Bill was de- 1 [ posited in Parliament t-liev (the Waterworks Committee) set to work to see the owners of the various lands in the valley, because, you know, there is a certain number of professional gen- tlemen who live by scrutinising bills deposited in Parliament to see if they can help people to get a bigger price for their lands from Corpora- tions. But your Committee was determined that should not happen here. "That have they diHw? Your Committee has secured 1,450 acres of freehold land—the whole of the land with the exception of 108 acres—required for your water scheme—for £25,400--Iess than £ 18 an acre. No municipality in the Kingdom has ever been able to lay such information before its rate- payers. Mr. Hill, the engineer, was astounded. He aid lie had had many years experience, but lie had never known a Corporation to secure an option—for we have only got a option on this land. If the Bill becomes law we take posses- sion. But supposing you reject this measure to- night, then you don't. suffer. The land is re- turned to the various owners. I say that your Committee has by the acquisition of this land saved the town many thousands of pounds. I know that the idea of the cost is always in your minds, but what is the alternative? There is no alternative. We must have water. "TO shall be short of water even within the next four years, and therefore we must set. to work to secure water to fulfil the obligations we have already entered into." QUESTIONS. Upon questions being called for it was from the body of the hall when the Merthyr authorities inserted the figure of 1,900,000 gal- lons a day of a surplus, and what opportunities had since occurred of forming another opinion. 1 f Merthyr had stated the lowest had Nature been more benevolent than their own opinion? Mr. Parry: The Merthyr Act of 1911. 1911, Sir. (Cries from the audience "That's no Si t-. (0-1es fron-i the aii(l icil(.e riiit,s no Mr. Parry: I have answered the question. (Cries of You ha.ven't.") I can say nothing further than what I said in my speech. Mer- thyr went to Parliament in 1911 and gave the figures of the watershed and drainage area, and according to that expert evidence it is inserted in the Bill that after giving compensation water they had 14,500,000 gallons to spare. Of that 14,500,000 gallons they had disposed of the whole except 1,900,000 gallons. A series of w ritten questions had been sent up by Mrs. Meggitt, and these were next dealt with by Mr. Parry. The first one declared that though Messrs. Hill (engineers to the Talybont Scheme) had declared that Merthyr could not supply 4,000,000 gallons a day, Messrs. Binnie had said the opposite, and asking Mr. Parry why he opposed the independent opinion of Messrs. Einnie given on arbitration. In reply Mr. Parry said "There has been and can be no arbitration on that point. There is the evidence of Messrs. Binnie in the Merthyr Bill, also that of Messrs. Hill, and in 1913 those figures were further approved of when the Pontypridd Bill became law. Should Pontypridd require any further supply than the million gallons a day. Pontypridd can give notice to Merthyr, and Merthyr would have to cut off any other cus- tomers they had entered into agreement to supply subsequent to the Pontypridd Bill." The second question was: Why was not the letter of the Town Clerk of Merthyr discussed at the November meeting?" There was nothing to discuss in the letter," '.1 1 ley had not ), i veii us replied Mr. Parry. They had not given us the information until we had settled our plans." Third question: "The Chamber of Trade was informed on Friday night that the town was un- der contract to supply 1,500,000 gallons daily. Will the chairman state to whom this was to be supplied and at what price? What are we pay- ing in the £ for ra,tes at present, and what will they be in the near future? SOFT SOAP." Answer: Oh.' It is lilY friend, Mrs. Megifct. ] have had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Megitt on three occasions, and I have given her so much information that I thought I had won her over altogether. ("Soft soap!") Oh, no it is not. ] hav e fouud her anything but soft soap. (" Bal^! and laughter.) The water at present is not costing the town a farthing. You are paying 5 per cent, (A voice: "Plus what?") All I can say in answer to the last question is that our rates are 8/1 in the £ and Merthyr's 15/6 in the..c (" Question! ") Mrs. Megitt: I was going to say in reference to the rates that Newport is very highly as- sessed—almost to our limit. (Cheers.) Perhaps Merthyr is not so highly assessed. In refer- ence to the commitments of Newport I am sim- ply stating what T saw in the local press—that Mr. Councillor Lawless stated to the Chamber of Trade on Friday that there were commit- ments, and f should like to know to whom those commitments have been made and what they are to pay? Mr. Parry: "Mr. Lawless did not say com- mitments. He said 'the extra increases dur- ing the next two years' to the present com- panies, C.W.R., the Docks and others. THE LIE DIRECT? Mrs. Megitt: You have always stated, Aid. Parry, that Merthyr could not supply the water because of Pontypridd, but the Town Clerk of Merthyr states that after supplying Pontypridd they have 000.000 gallons to supply to New- port. and they can with their enlarged reservoir supply 6,000,000 gallons a day to NeiN-poi-t quite easily. (Cheers.) Mr. Parry: It is absolutely untrue! (Dis- order.) Mrs. Megitt has no right to come here with statements from Merthyr un less they are prepared to prove them, and I say without he- sitation that such statements are erroneous and untrue. (Uproar.) A questioner: "Would Ald. Parry give the To" II Clerk of Merthyr the lie direct. T have a letter here, which t cut from the Argus," in which the statements just repeated hy Mrs. Megitt are set forth in detail?" (Loud cheers.) Mr. Parry: You ask me a straight question, 1 will give you a straight answer. The Town Clerk of Merthyr must have known when he wrote that letter that the reserve after com- mitments had been arranged before they got the Bill of 1911. During the passage of their own Bill in 1911 they gave the figures of 14.500,000. There Is their Act of Parliament. (Shouts of Answer the question!") I say without hesi- tation that the language of the Town Clerk of Merthvr is erroneous. (A voice: "Answer in President Wilson's language.") Another questioner: "We are not here to heckle tiie Water Committee in a captious fashion, but as good citizens, and I would ask Mr. Parry if lie is satisfied that the whole ne- gotiations for a Joint Board has gone so far as possible, or is he satisfied that our scheme is the scheme? Cheers.) Mr. Parry Merthvr have not up to the pre- sent said that they are prepared to have a Joint Board, but even if they were Ave could not join them, for if we did join them we should want a scheme of our own in a few years' time. We have thrashed this thing out thoroughly, and if we thought there was a better scheme to bring water to Newport with safety and security we should not hesitate to place it before you. HOUSINC OR WATER. I A questioner. The Mayor spoke of the im- provement of Newport. Does he think that it is more desirable then to provide water for poster- ity than to attend to the housing of the poor in the present? (Cheers.) The Mayor: f had no idea that the question of housing was going to arise. But if we are to have houses we must have pure water (uproar) and not only pure water but abundance of water. (Uproar.) I thought that the Housing question was hardly relative, but the Town Clerk tells me it is. But [ do not want you to discuss the housing question or anvthing else outside of the point at issue. (Uproar.) Mr. Denliam: J want to ask Aid. Parry if he can hold those options lie savs he has for another twelve months, because we in the Labour Move- ment a.re determined that we shall go on with the housing question before we will touch this question of water. (Loud cheers.) We are de- termined to see the housing question started be- fore you go to Parliament with it. (Renewed cheers.) We will stump every street if need be. (Cheers.) Mr. Denham went on to demand the extension of the tramway system to the Dry Docks, which he declared had been held up bv the dilatory methods of the Tramways Commit- tee—for which he was loudly cheered—and again carried the meeting with him in his demand for conveniences for female tram-workers. I want to tell your Tramways Committee that they are ruining potential mothers in this town." (Loud cheers.) We have been before the Tramways Committee, we have put the case before them, but nothing can be done. We want these things done before we proceed with this Bill." (Loud cheers. ) Mr. Parry replied that the options could not ho held for twelve months. Another questioner: Have the Merthyr authorities exhausted their whole powers? I Mr. Parry: The full rainfall of their area is included in their Bill. LABOUR'S ATTITUDE. Mr. Clark: I am going to appeal to you to oppose the resolution. (Cheers.) We of the Labour Movement are not entirely opposed to the Talybont scheme, hut we feel that a matter like this involving such huge expenditure—and on which such v arying figures have been given as £ 773,000 and over a "million—(Mr. Parry That is for the whole scheme)—has not been given the time that it otl(,Ilt to have. There is much to be said for the joint control which is the latest proposal from Merthyr, and which [ do not think that the Newport Corporation has given due attention to. Matters such as tram- way extension, education and housing are mat- ters which vitally affect Newport, and I ask what effect will this scheme have upon these things.. I appeal to the people present to vote for the holding up of this scheme for at least another twelve months." (Cheers.) A lady present said: I believe that the housing scheme comes long before the water scheme. We do not live in big houses like Aid. Parry and the rest of the Couucil. (Chers.) There are 11 and 12 of us in small houses, and I as It householder am going to be up against this Bill until we have houses. (Cheers.) Another member: Aid. Parry says we have only water for four years. Yet the late Aid. Thomas (Joldsworthy, when the Wentworth Scheme was completed, told the ratepayers that Newport, would not have to spend another penny for fifty years. Mr. Parry: Newport has progressed to such an extent that it is necessary- In answer to the lady let me say that Newport has already en- tered into arrangements to purchase the 'land for building houses. The lady: Then you will stop people getting married. A DISCHARCED SOLDIER'S VIEWS. A discharged soldier said: Being a dis- charged soldier i thought in 1914 that I was going to fight for better conditions, but I find on coming home that we have to live in pig- styes. I find that 1 have to live in a house where two or three more families have to live. I think the housing question in Newport is a great deal more important than the water scheme. (Cheers.) Councillor Charles, who met with a hostile re- ception at the outset for declaring that the "Council consists mostly of fools," which he said was a quotation from Solomon, got the audience with him when he opposed the scheme on the ground that the water was not needed for domestic purposes, but for the works, and to supply them pure drinking-water was^iot needed. He believed that the possibility of com- mercial supplies from the river Usk had not been gone into by the Council, and he asked the meeting to defeat the resolution and demand a ballot. (Cheers.) Mr. Moxon, O.B.E., replying to Councillor Charles turned his statement upside down by declaring that it was the first time he had heard it seriously argued that water which was not fit for boilers should be supplied for bodies. (Cries of "Ho did not say that.") He then de- clared that it was impossible to > have two sources of supply, as suggested, for different purposes, but on being asked why by the meet- ing only replied that no one else had done it, which called back the retort Let's be pi oneers then." He deprecated the levity that had cliar- acterised the meeting—that was not the spirit in which the Council had conducted its half- dozen meetings on this scripns question. "I ask you not to saddle this town with one penny piece more than is necessary," he continued. Why r oppose the Merthyr scheme is this, that we know it will not serve Newport's needs for a reasonable number of years. It wont serve them for a generation. if it wont serve them for a generation, then long before that period is up Newport has got to set to work to fiml anothpr supply. The town is going to be saddled with the cost of a pipe-line from Merthyr which has to bo paid for out of the rates, and if you get expensive rates you will have expensive rents to your houses. Tf you put vour money on the Merthyr supply and it is not suiffcient—as I venture to suggest it is not sufficient-for a rea- sonable period of years you are spending the town's money in laying pipes from Merthyr to New port, which will become valueless in a short number of years. T do say this to all who favour the Merthyr scheme; Merthyr has inserted in its own Act of Parliament a clause which com- pels the Merthyr Corporation to cut off the sup- plies of any of those with whom she agrees to give a supply subsequent to the Pontypridd Council, if the Pontypridd Qowicil srive* ihttn n certain notice on t-aking a certain amount of water from them. I say it is beneath the dig- nity of a town like Newport to be at the mercy of Pontypridd and to be statute-barred from getting water from another place." He dealt with the trapiway extension and housing and was frequently interrupted in doillg so. Other speakers rose, but the call of Vote" became insistent, and the Mayor agreed to the taking of the vote. A cry then went up for tellers, but show of hands was insisted upon, and upon the vote being taken the resolution was thrown out by so overwhelming a majority that the Mayor observed: "Did you need tellers?" The defeat of the resolution was declared to loud cheering.

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I I Merthyr's Answer.