Proposed Incorporation of Huddersfield.
(From our Correspondent.)
A preliminary meeting of gentlemen — "representing all shades of opinion as far as can be ascertained" — was convened by Mr. Wm. Moore, late postmaster of Huddersfield, for the purpose of consulting on the best course to pursue to secure the incorporation of Huddersfield, and held in the board-room of the Huddersfield Poor Law Guardians, on Saturday afternoon.
Amongst those present were Mr. Wm. Keighley, the Constable, Major Crosland, Mr. Bentley Shaw, Mr. W. Moore, Mr. Edwd. Clayton, Mr. T.W. Clough, Mr. Joseph Turner, Mr. Jere Kaye, Mr. N. Learoyd, Mr. Joseph Boothroyd, Mr. Batley, Mr. John Brook, Mr. J. Hobson, Mr. E. Sykes, Mr. Josh. Hopkinson, Mr. Thornton, and Mr. Prince.
Mr. Moore having been elected chairman, informed the meeting that it was from no feeling of vanity that he had taken the step he had in calling the meeting, but because he deemed that the interests of the town demanded its incorporation. 'The subject was not new to him. He and others had thought of it for fourteen years. It might be paid, then, why did they not go, for a Charter of Incorporation instead of an Improvement Act? Well, they did, but were upset through a change in the Government. He hoped they would try again, and that the town of Huddersfield would be placed in that position before the West Riding and the world that its importance demanded. Of course they would not seek to obtain a charter to cover the present limits of the Improvement Act, but which would incorporate with Huddersfield the villages that were adjacent and immediately surrounded the town. The feeling at Huddersfield be thought would be pretty unanimous, but the chief difficulty would rest with the adjacent villages, the in which frequently took a very partial view of things. What then they had. to consider was whether they were favourable to the incorporation of Huddersfield and its vicinity, and to discuss before any public meeting was. called what would be the proper radius of which Huddersfield should be the grand centre, if they were favourable to such incorporation.
Mr. Keighley, on being called upon to express his views, thought his position should excuse him from making many observations at that stage of the proceedings; but he must say that Huddersfield, did not occupy the position which her rank, wealth; and importance entitled her to, when compared with other towns of similar magnitude and influence.
Mr. Joseph Hopkinson, Lockwood, said the value of property in his township was deteriorating in consequence of their having neither water, gas, nor drainage. He was owner of some little property there, but, under present circumstances, he should not think of increasing it; in fact, he should leave the place if something were not done to improve it. If, however, the Huddersfield gentlemen went for a Charter of Incorporation he for one would be in favour of the scheme which should include Lockwood.
Mr. T.W. Clough said that was the third preliminary meeting he had attended which had for its ultimate object the incorporation of Huddersfield. The first was in 1840, when he took the place of secretary to the movement on his father's removing to Pontefract. Then the trustees of Sir John William Ramsden were favourable to the scheme, all of them declaring that it would be a good thing for Huddersfield. He did not know the feeling of Sir John William Ramsden, but he feared he was not so favourable as were the late trustees. The second meeting was held at the George Hotel, when the new Reform Bill was spoken of, and it was then concluded that they had better postpone the matter until they saw whether the bill would pass, and the borough be extended beyond its present limits. That bill did not seem likely to pass just yet, and they had better not wait for Government to form a new Parliamentary borough for them, but form a municipal borough which could be the basis of a new Parliamentary borough when a Reform Bill giving them additional representation should be passed. That meeting was the "third time of asking," and ought to pay for all. He thought it was advisable to have a Charter of Incorporation — if they could get it carried with unanimity — for this reason: the Government legislated largely for corporations, and powers were thus conferred upon then which could only be obtained with great difficulty by Improvement Commissioners and Local Government Boards. Te gave as an illustration the reply of Lord Redesdale when they went for their Gas Bill, which was to the effect that if they wanted corporate. privileges they must be incorporated, as their Lordships could not be always legislating for special cases. As to the expense, suppose it was greater than under the present system, they would have £200 to £300 a year towards it by the saving which would be effected in not having to pay for the County as well as the Borough police. Then again Huddersfield suffered in comparison with other towns when the tables of population were referred to, as the population of Huddersfield was reckoned, not from the township, but from the limits of the Improvement Act, and thus the return was far less in numbers than it otherwise would be.
The Chairman having referred to the anomalous position occupied by the Constable of Huddersfield, as experienced by himself when in office,
Mr. Joshua Hobson urged the advisability of preparing a scheme previous to going before a public meeting with the question, and observed that they should decide two things in the outset, 1st, what should be the limits or extent of the district to be incorporated; and 2nd, whether they should proceed with or without the consent of the ratepayers of the out-districts. He thought they should include the following hamlets — Marsh-with-Paddock, Fartown, Bradley, Deighton, and Huddersfield proper; besides which there was Lockwood next door and Mold Green near at hand. All these places would require to have a say in the matter, and he suggested that a committee should be formed by whom plans could be laid before the ratepayers in the different hamlets, and with whom they could consult as to the probable share of responsibility and representation which would fall to each hamlet when the borough was formed and divided into wards for municipal purposes.
Major Crosland quite agreed with what had been said about Huddersfield not occupying its proper position in relation to other West Riding towns; and observed that although the Improvement Commission answered all that was expected from it, there were other advantages which might be secured by a charter of incorporation which could not be obtained under the Improvement Act. If he thought the incorporation would result in nothing more than a change in the name of the governing body of the town, he would advise them to hesitate before taking such a step. To carry out their design they must have unanimity, and to obtain that, conciliation; for the out-town districts would have to be shown what they would get for the apparently increased rates they would have to pay; for instance, that they would get lighting, watching, paving, and drainage, in addition to mere road mending, and if they could show Lockwood and Mold Green that besides these advantages they would secure an ample supply of water, it would be some inducement for them to join. If the out districts opposed the scheme, the application would be a costly and unprofitable one. He would therefore urge the appointment of a committee well versed in town matters as far preferable to, in the first instance, calling a public meeting.
Mr. Joseph Boothroyd approved of the proposition that they should apply for a Charter of Incorporation if the limits were extended to include the places mentioned, and if unanimity could be secured in the application. There were many, however, who could not attend that meeting, and he thought it would be much better to adjourn it, and at a future meeting elect a committee as suggested.
Mr. Keighley expressed his pleasure at seeing the matter assuming some form and shape; also that every opportunity was to be given to the out-districts to express their views upon the subject, and that there did not appear to be any disposition to take advantage of them in any shape. If the town were incorporated, and the adjacent places named taken into the borough, Huddersfield would then be the fourth town in importance in the West Riding; but if he thought the change contemplated would be one in name only he should not be prepared to support it.
Mr. Hopkinson described the filthy and disagreeable state of Rashcliffe and Lockwood, observing that for a 10d. rate they got nothing but dirt,
Mr. Bentley Shaw concurred in the remarks, barring the exaggeration of Mr. Hopkinson, respecting the bad state of Rashcliffe, which be had endeavoured to alter, but unsuccessfully. He would be glad to see Huddersfield incorporated, and so far as Rashcliffe was concerned, he expressed his willingness to take his share in the outlay necessary for the reparation of the roads.
Mr. Hobson explained that there was no reason why government by a corporation should not he as cheap as that by Improvement Commissioners. If they had efficiency the cost would be the same under both systems, and the rate-payers would have the same control over the Aldermen and Common Councilmen as they now had over their Commissioners.
Mr. Batley then moved a formal resolution approving of the proposal to incorporate the town of Huddersfield, and adjourning that meeting until Monday (this day) week.