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Applications by Rural District Councils under the Act.-Under this Act the powers as to the following matters can be put in force in a Rural District only by Order of the Minister :

Sections 17-19: Naming of streets.

Section 21: Prevention of water flowing on footpath.

Section 22 For preventing soil, etc., from being washed into

streets.

Section 24

Section 35

Projections in streets.

Power to vary width of carriageway and footway

upon making up private street.

Section 39: Notice of intention to reconstruct or alter drains.
Section 44 Offensive trades or businesses.

Sections 51-55 Provisions as to watercourses, streams, etc.

Section 82 Declaration of streets as highways repairable by inhabitants.

Section 84 List of repairable streets.

This

The Act requires notice of an intended application by a Rural Authority for these powers to be published in the local Press. requirement is new.

Since the passing of the Act, many applications have been received from Rural District Councils for the powers of one or more of the above-mentioned sections. In all 53 Orders have been made, of which 49 were issued in the year under review.

In dealing with these applications the Department adopt the policy of putting the powers in force in Rural Districts only where the conditions approximate to those of Urban Districts, or where a special need for the powers can be shown. In particular, in the case of sections 22 and 39, and of sections 51 to 55, the Department require clear evidence as to the need for the powers before acceding to any application.

The Land Drainage Act, 1926, which confers upon County Councils wide general powers with regard to streams and the drainage of agricultural land, enables the County Council to deal with many cases which otherwise might have to be considered under sections 51 to 55 of the Public Health Act, 1925. The Department, before considering applications for the powers provided in these sections, now require the applying Authority in the first instance to consult the County Council and to ascertain whether the difficulties which have given rise to the application could not be satisfactorily dealt with by the County Council under the new powers conferred upon them.

Private Bill Legislation,
REPORTS.

The Minister made reports to Parliament on 37 out of a total of 80 Private Bills deposited during the year, of which one was promoted by a County Council and 28 by other Local Authorities, 3 by Joint Boards of Local Authorities, and 5 by Companies, etc.

Reference is made below to some of the Bills which presented features of interest from the point of view of the Department.

BOROUGH EXTENSION BILLS.

As stated in last year's Report, the embargo which had been placed upon contentious proposals for the extension of Boroughs in 1922 was removed after the publication of the First Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government, and Bills including extension

proposals were promoted in the Session of 1926 by the County Boroughs of Bristol, Eastbourne, Oldham and Wolverhampton. Fifteen further Bills of this character have been promoted for the Session of 1927.

Reference may be made to the following matters of interest arising out of the Extension Bills of 1926 :

(1) The Wolverhampton Bill contained a provision to the effect that on application by the Local Authority of any added area, the Minister might order a differential rate in favour of that area. The normal practice in the past has been for differential rates to be specified in the Act, but the Minister did not think it necessary to raise objection to the arrangement proposed by the Wolverhampton Corporation. Indeed it appeared to him to have some advantage as permitting the arguments for and against the proposed extension to be presented to Parliament on their own merits and apart from the disturbing factor of differential rating.

It may be mentioned that the precedent created by Wolverhampton has been followed in a number of the Extension Bills of the Session of 1927.

(2) Oldham applied for an extension of the Borough to include the Urban District of Chadderton, and provision was made for a differential rate in the added area of 2s. in the £for 10 years. The Committee of the First House reduced both the amount and the period of the differential rate, and in consequence the Chadderton Council petitioned against the Bill in the Second House on the ground that the decision of the First House had destroyed the basis of the agreement which they had made with the Town Council. The Bill was rejected by the Second House.

CONSOLIDATION OF RATES.

For some years past it has been common for Urban Authorities to seek power in their Local Bills to levy one consolidated rate in place of the several rates leviable under the existing general law. General effect was given to this principle by the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, which provided for the consolidation of rates in urban areas throughout the country. This provision does not, however, take effect until the date of the first new valuation (either the 1st April, 1928, or the 1st April, 1929), and a number of Local Bills of last year contained clauses on the lines already familiar in local legislation providing for the levying of a consolidated rate as from the 31st March, 1927.

The Minister came to the conclusion that no objection need be raised to anticipating the operation of the general law in this way, but steps were taken to ensure that the Local Acts did not contain provisions which would be inconsistent with those of the general law, or prevent its full operation in due course.

BETHLEM HOSPITAL BILL.

This was a Bill promoted by the Governors of the Bethlem Hospital enabling them to remove the hospital to a site on the borders of Kent and Surrey and to dispose of the existing site in Southwark without restriction as to user.

There was general agreement as to the desirability, in the interests of the patients and the staff, of moving the hospital from London to

the country, but the proposals in the Bill which would have the effect of allowing the Governors of the hospital to dispose of the whole of their Southwark estate for building development provoked opposition from several quarters. Both the London County Council and the Southwark Borough Council contended that the site should be reserved as an open space or for other public purposes, while the Governors of the hospital felt that financial considerations made it necessary for them to dispose of the site for the highest price that could be obtained.

It appeared to the Minister that there were merits in both points of view. On the one hand, it would have been a matter for regret if any obstacle had been imposed on the removal of the hospital from London to the country, while, on the other, it was felt that no opportunity should be lost of preserving an open space in a seriously congested district of London. Conferences were held with the endeavour to arrange a compromise on the basis that the Governors would make a gift of part of the site to the London County Council to be maintained by them as an open space. The negotiations between the various parties were, however, happily interrupted by the intervention of Lord Rothermere, who generously offered to purchase the whole site from the Governors and to dedicate it as a memorial park for the benefit of the public. This offer was gladly accepted by all parties concerned, and the Governors experienced no further difficulty in securing statutory authority for the removal of the hospital.

SAFEGUARDS FOR AMENITIES.

Several instances occurred during the session of the growth of municipal anxiety to safeguard the amenities of their districts and neighbourhood. The power to control the elevations of buildings, to which reference was made in last year's Report, was extended this year to Bristol, Chorley, Halifax, and Margate. The Corporations of Margate and Southend were empowered to require the person responsible for any stall or other erection on a forecourt which was injurious to the amenities of the street to make such alterations as they should specify. The Eastbourne Corporation were authorized to acquire downs and downlands in and near the Borough for the express purpose of preserving the amenities of the Borough and its neighbourhood; it was provided that, failing agreement with the owners, application could be made for a Provisional Order empowering compulsory purchase under the Public Health Act, 1875.

HOUSING.

The London County Council (General Powers) Act contained a provision enabling the County Council to provide and maintain, in connexion with housing accommodation provided by them, buildings adapted for use for commercial purposes. Under the general law Local Authorities have power to provide shops and other buildings in connexion with housing accommodation, but that power is limited to such shops and other buildings as in the opinion of the Minister will serve a beneficial purpose in connexion with the requirements of the persons for whom the housing accommodation is provided. The object of the London County Council in seeking the extended power was to enable them to recoup some part of the heavy expenditure on housing sites by developing for commercial purposes frontages which have a value for those purposes.

TOWN PLANNING.

Part II of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Act contains town planning provisions for built-up lands; the provisions of the general law broadly speaking authorize the preparation of town planning schemes only for land in course of development or likely to be developed. This subject is more fully dealt with in this Report under the head of Town Planning.

PRIVATE STREET WORKS.

The Eastbourne Corporation were authorized to apportion expenses incurred by them in executing private street works under the Public Health Act, 1875, on the basis either of frontage or of benefit received, at their option. The clause in the Bill was based on the Private Street Works Act, 1892; it was provided that a refusal of the Corporation to apportion according to benefit should not be questioned in any proceedings.

FINANCE.

Provisions designed to simplify and assist the operations of local finance continue to form an important part of the Bills of Local Authorities. Among them may be mentioned the following:

(a) Provisions for the establishment of a consolidated loans fund ;
(b) Provisions for the use of a common form of mortagage;
(c) Provisions, consequent upon the consolidation of rates effected
by the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, for the payment
into the rate funds of moneys received on account of the
revenue of trading undertakings, and for the payment out
of the rate funds of the expenses of such undertakings;
(d) Provisions for the keeping of accounts of trading undertakings;
(e) Provisions governing the formation and management of sinking
funds.

The Department are in general sympathy with the desire of Local Authorities to obtain the advantage of modern and simplified financial provisions. There is, however, a risk of difficulties arising from the enactment of new provisions, which, though unobjectionable in themselves, are inappropriate in relation to, or are inconsistent with, existing provisions in earlier local Acts of the same Authority, or even with other clauses of the same Bill. The Department endeavour, in their reports to Parliament, to detect and call attention to such inconsistencies affecting the details of the clauses. It is a matter for consideration whether some further measure of standardization in this branch of local legislation is not desirable.

the

Provisional Orders,

AMENDMENT OF LOCAL ACTS.

Twenty-two Provisional Orders were issued and confirmed during year for the repeal, alteration, or amendment of Local Acts. Among the matters of interest dealt with were the following:

(1) The Leyton Order contained a provision enabling the Minister, if the District were created a Municipal Borough, to issue an Order providing for the accounts of the Borough to be subject to district audit. The district received a Charter of Incorporation in August, 1926, and an Order was subsequently applied for, and issued, on the lines authorized by the Provisional Order.

(2) Five of the Orders issued during the year repealed various sections in previous Local Acts to make way for new byelaws on streets and buildings, and eight applications have been received for similar

Orders, which are being submitted to Parliament for confirmation during the Session of 1927. Only three Orders in 1925 and one in each of the years 1922 to 1924 contained similar provisions; the steady rise in numbers since 1924 is a corollary to the progress which is recorded immediately below in the work of bringing such byelaws up to date, so as to remove unnecessary restrictions upon building. There are now apparently not more than six areas in which provisions of Local Acts have been kept in force which are likely to interfere with modern methods of building or the making of byelaws of a modern type.

In consequence of the passing of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, applications for Provisional Orders to consolidate rates have ceased.

Byelaws.

NEW STREETS AND BUILDINGS.

Last year's Report reviewed the progress made in each year from 1912 to 1925 in bringing up to date byelaws of old, restrictive type, and expressed the hope that this Report would record that few, if any, districts remained where modern methods of constructing buildings and laying out streets were penalized by byelaws. This hope has been fulfilled. The number of series of new byelaws confirmed (almost all in place of more restrictive byelaws) was 380 in the calendar year 1926, and 66 in the first quarter of 1927. There were on the 31st March, 1927, 48 series known to be in the printers' hands, or on deposit for public inspection, leaving but 27 Local Authorities still to complete the work; of those 27 most had proposals in an advanced though not final stage. Proportionate progress, as has already been remarked, has been made in regard to Local Acts of Parliament affecting building, and a careful review of the whole position shows that, at the 31st March, 1927, there were not more than seven districts outside London where either byelaws or Local Acts likely to cause serious impediment to modern methods of building and development were not at least being actively brought up to date.

No doubt there will be some points where byelaws confirmed between the date of the Local Government Board's circular of 1912 and that of the circular issued by the Minister in 1922 (see the Annual Report for 1922-23), should be modified in the light of more recent experience, since more than 1,100 Local Authorities have brought their byelaws up to date in response to the last-named circular.

It is hoped in the course of the coming year to examine the series made between 1912 and 1922, and to communicate with the Local Authorities who made them where definite improvements are desirable.

Loans for Public Works.

LOANS SANCTIONED.

The Department sanctioned the borrowing by Local Authorities in England and Wales, during the financial year under review, of sums amounting to £27,338,720 for public works, exclusive of Poor Law and housing works and loans for providing temporarily for current

expenses.

Of this total £2,438,752 was for works certified by the Department (under section 6 (1) of the Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act, 1921, as continued in force by the Local Authorities (Emergency Provisions) Acts, 1923 to 1926), to have been undertaken for the provision of employment for unemployed persons.

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