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Harbour Authority were not prepared to avail themselves of the grant on these terms, and preferred to carry out a curtailed scheme at their own expense without assistance from the Government funds.
In February, 1927, application was made for a further advance of £5,070 in order that the work on the repair scheme which had been going on during the five previous years might be continued and completed in 1927. The amount applied for exceeded the balance of the estimate made in 1924 for the completion of the repair scheme by £2,770. This excess over the estimate was stated to be due to unforeseen circumstances and to further damage by severe storms. The Commissioners have already in previous reports expressed their opinion as to the importance of these special works which were regarded as essential for the preservation of the harbour, and, although the amount applied for considerably exceeds the original estimate, they were satisfied that in view of the Engineer's report it would not be safe to curtail or delay the expenditure indicated as necessary for the completion of the work. Any reduction or interruption might endanger the stability of the work which had spread over several years. They accordingly recommended that a loan not exceeding £5,070 be made upon the same security and condition as the previous loans for this purpose.
Maintenance of the Dredging Department of the Fishery Board for Scotland, 1927-28.
The amount applied for in respect of 1927-28 was £4,935 as compared with £5,555 for the previous year, the diminution being chiefly under the heading of "Repairs and Renewals." services of the dredger maintained by the Fishery Board are offered upon terms of repayment of one-half of the cost of the dredging scheme as a loan, deferred for five years and not bearing interest until the end of that period, when the interest is accumulated and added to the principal sum: with regard to the other half, the Fishery Board consult the Commissioners in each case as to whether a condition of repayment should be made, and if so, on what terms. As a general rule, some cash payment is expected to be made by a harbour authority in respect of this half.
In recommending the grant for 1926 the Commissioners noted that the dredger had been recently used to a very small extent in Scotland, and they suggested that it might be made available for harbours in the North of En gland when there were no applications from the Scottish harbours. Your Lordships intimated that the question of the dredger's retention would be reconsidered on the 1927 Estimates. Owing to harbour authorities being unable to provide the funds for dredging purposes, the dredger was laid up from December, 1925, and expenditure on its maintenance for the six months to 30th September only amounted to £396. The Fishery Board, having received a suggestion from
Your Lordships that the dredger should no longer be retained, urged that it was essential in the interests of the fisheries to maintain, and, if possible, to increase the present depth of harbours, and they considered it therefore very desirable that the dredging facilities afforded by their Department should still be available if harbours could afford to pay for the service. No definite application has been received from an English harbour for the use of the dredger.
The Board offered to make a contribution from their own funds towards the cost of the dredger during any period that it might be unemployed. The Commissioners recommended an advance for the amount applied for, but on condition that it should only be paid in respect of the first six months of the financial year, and if at the end of that period the dredger was not in employment, they would review the situation on the question of discontinuance of the grant. During periods of unemployment of the dredger one-half of the cost of the Department should be defrayed by the Fishery Board. Your Lordships, on the assumption that the dredger would be laid up for three months at least of the financial year, reduced the maximum amount of the grant to £3,825.
COMPULSORY ORDERS FOR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS.
The number of compulsory orders made under Section 11 (5) of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909, was 19 in 1926-27, as compared with 25 in the previous year. In numerous other cases the publication of draft orders led to cases being settled.
The following is a summary of the cases for 1926-27 :
Axbridge Rural District Council.
The Council applied for compulsory powers for the acquisition of land in the parish of Banwell for the improvement of two miles of road leading from the village of Locking to the village of Banwell, on which there were several dangerous corners which it was proposed to improve by making two diversions. The road carries a heavy summer traffic, and the carriage-way, which was about 14 feet wide with no foot-ways, was to be widened to 27 feet wide, with a 10 feet foot-way on each side. Most of the objections to the proposed order were upon the question of compensation. In one instance the land to be acquired formed part of an orchard at the back of a cottage, and the owner asked that the line of the road should be diverted so as to avoid this orchard; but the additional cost would have been out of proportion.
The owner of another piece of land involved asked that a footpath running through his property, parallel to the line of the new road, should be extinguished, and the right of way transferred to the footpath at the side of the road. This, however, was a condition which could not be properly attached to a compulsory order. On the question of compensation for the piece of
orchard proposed to be taken, the District Council were prepared to give a larger sum than the District Valuer allowed, and this amount the owner was prepared to accept. In making the order this piece of land was excepted, as, in view of the attitude of the District Council, the Commissioners were of opinion that it was not impossible for them to acquire land by agreement on reasonable terms, and eventually this piece of land was acquired by agreement.
After a public inquiry had been held, the order was made as applied for with regard to the rest of the land.
Brighton County Borough Council.
The Council applied for an order for the acquisition of land in connection with the widening of West Street, Brighton, an important street in the centre of the town. It was proposed .to widen the street from 28 feet to 55 feet. Certain properties in Cranbourne Street, which runs into West Street at right angles, were included in the application, as the widening in West Street necessitated the altering of the level in Cranbourne Street. The result would be to diminish the value of the shops affected in Cranbourne Street, by making access difficult; and the Council desired to acquire the property and rebuild it on the level of the pavement. Objections on the ground of the amount of compensation offered were lodged in certain cases; and in one instance the tenant of part of the property objected on the ground of inability to obtain suitable alternative accommodation. The Council, however, were able to offer reasonably equivalent alternative accommodation, which was not accepted. The Commissioners considered that, in the circumstances, that objection was a matter which could be properly met by compensation, as was the case with the other objections, and the order was made accordingly.
Buckinghamshire County Council.
Application was made for an order for the compulsory acquisition of land for the improvement of so much of the main London and Oxford road as passes through the County of Bucks, a distance of about 20 miles. In the draft order as originally submitted, there were over 144 different plots of land involved, but as a result of negotiations about 40 of the plots were acquired by agreement. The general scheme of improvement was considered by the Ministry of Transport to be highly desirable, the whole cost being met from the Road Fund. It was proposed ultimately to provide a 60 feet roadway, with a 30 feet carriageway in the neighbourhood of populous centres; and a 20 feet carriage-way in districts further removed from the population: the surplus land on each side would be available for footpaths and future enlargements. On publication of the draft order five objections were raised, of which one was solely on the amount of compensation, and another was settled on terms. Two of the objections related to nine cottages at Loudwater, proposed to be
demolished, and the remaining objection was from the owner of property proposed to be taken near Gerrard's Cross, including forecourts and gardens of private houses. At this point it was proposed to make a diversion of the road, in order to avoid a bad curve, and the owner desired to make certain stipulations with regard to preservation of the trees. A local inquiry was held into the objections. As a result the Commissioners accepted the view of the County Council that, in order to secure a proper alignment of the road, it was necessary to cut through the line of cottages at Loudwater, as proposed. The County Council undertook to deal with the tenants of the cottages in the most sympathetic manner possible on the question of re-housing. There was room to rebuild most of the cottages a little further back on the same site. As regards the land in Gerrard's Cross, the Commissioners directed that further negotiations should take place as to sparing some of the trees, possibly by moving the road slightly further north. It subsequently appeared, however, that this would involve a disproportionate cost, and accordingly the order was made in the form applied for, all the other objections being on the ground of compensation.
Denton Urban District Council.
Application was made by the Denton Urban District Council for a compulsory order to acquire land consisting of forecourts and narrow front-gardens for the purpose of widening the public pavement in Ashton Road, Denton. The carriage-way had already been widened, and it was proposed to make the footpaths 10 feet 6 inches wide. Objections were received from the owners of four of the properties concerned. In three cases the objections turned on the amount of compensation to be received; and in the other case the owners were unwilling to sell the land required, unless the Council were prepared to purchase other land belonging to them. The Council objected on the ground that this other property might reasonably be severed without material detriment, and that they should not be required to purchase it. After an inquiry had been held the Commissioners decided that an order should be made as applied for.
Essex County Council.
The Council applied for an order for the compulsory acquisition of certain pieces of land for the widening of the main London and Yarmouth road, in the Urban District of Ilford, for approximately a distance of 780 feet. It was proposed to widen the carriage-way from an average of 25 feet to an average of 25 to 40 feet with foot-ways of 10 feet. The land to be acquired consisted of fore-courts, and in three instances portions of houses. No objection was raised from owners or occupiers on publication of the draft order, but the Council had been unable to come to terms with them as to compensation. As regards one of the properties it was impossible to negotiate, as the property was in settlement and there were no trustees for the purpose of the
Settled Land Acts. There seemed to be no reason to question the desirability of the widening in this important exit from London, and the order was made as applied for.
Wakefield County Borough Council.
This was an application in respect of two road improvements in different parts of the City of Wakefield.
(i) The widening of Wellington Street, involving acquisition of a part of a cottage, and part of a yard used in common by tenants of cottages abutting thereon. The Council were prepared to find alternative accommodation for the cottage tenant who would be dispossessed. No objections were received on publication, and the order was made as applied for.
(ii) An improvement at the junction of Denby Dale Road and Ings Road, by setting back the boundary walls at the four-cross roads so as to give extended visibility. The Council had acquired the necessary land at three of the four corners involved. At the fourth corner a dwelling-house was involved with regard to which prolonged negotiations had taken place. A visit was paid to the site by a representative of the Commissioners, who discussed the situation with the Council and the owners, with the result that the necessary land was acquired by negotiation.
In the following further cases orders were made as applied for, no objection to the acquisition being made except on matters of compensation. These matters are dealt with by the arbitrator under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919.