Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 07 April 1933
“Much Ado About Nothing”
Muddle And Meddle
The question of the alteration of a footpath leading from Darfield Church to the Doncaster Road, and known as Church Banks, was the subject of an animated discussion at a meeting of the Darfield Urban Council on Friday.
Recently the West Riding County Council have lifted the footpath above flood level and it was alleged that in the process they have narrowed the path from six feet to five feet.
Mr. E. Taylor questioned whether the County Council had any right to do this, while on the other band Alderman Foulstone contended that the county authority had effected an improvement and the Darfield Council ought to leave well alone. “It is a storm in a teacup.” he said. “I often think that is what we are doing in this case.”
At a meeting of the Street and Buildings Committee a letter was submitted from the County Council stating that the question of the footpath had been discussed with Canon Sorby, rector of Darfield, who stated that the stone edging to the footpath was laid at his expense, and that the original width was five feet. In committee Mr. Taylor moved that the County Council be informed that the Council dispute the statements contained in the letter, and that the County Council again be requested to restore the footpath to its original width. Two voted for the resolution and two against. Mr Taylor asked the clerk whether anyone had the right to reduce the width of a foot path without the authority of the Council.
The Chairman (Mr. G. Dickinson) said that originally the footpath was on the low side of the banks and the County Council made arrangements with Canon Sorby to fill up the low-lying land with material taken from excavations on the highway at Middlewood. In that way the footpath was raised two or three yards. Also the County Council took up the original edging and replaced it.
The Clerk (Mr. N Goodyear), read a legal interpretation showing that the footpath was a “street ” within the meaning of the Act. Unless there was some dispensation the county authority, strictly speaking, were wrong in taking up the footpath without the consent of the Council. As a matter of strict law no one had any right to interfere, with paving stones, etc., of any highway without the consent of the local authority. He understood that the County Council had merely reduced the width of the metalled part of the pathway. In that case a person might walk on the other foot without being liable for a trespass. Why did the County Council apply to Canon Sorby? Under an Act of 1819 the Church Commissioners could alter the direction or width of paths passing through a churchyard, provided they obtained the consent of two justices as distinct from the local authority. He did not think there was any means of compelling anyone to pave the footpath, but seemd wrong to him that anyone should touch the edging without the consent of the Council.
Mr. Taylor referred to the statements that Canon Softy paid for the edging and that the original width was five feet. He said it was essential that they should rebut those statements. He moved that the County Council be requested to restore the pathway to its original width of six feet.
The Chairman seconded and said the records would prove that the edging was carried out by the Council. Certainly the pathway was wider in its original state. Perhaps the only advantage of having the pathway six feet wide was that such a width would enable them to take a conveyance along it when repairs were necessary.
“Much Ado About Nothing.”
Mr Foulstone said the Council were making much ado about nothing.” What were they going to gain by it? In the first place he questioned the legal right of the Council to do anything in the matter. It was not a street, but simply a footpath across glebe land belonging to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and at present in the right of Canon Sorby. Within the knowledge of everyone the site was something of a morass in winter, and the effect of what the County Council had done in raising the pathway was a decided improvement. They had made the place look clean and attractive. What right had the Council to interfere with anyone else’s property unless permission was given them. The footpath was now five feet. wide; hitherto it was probably five feet in some places and six feet in others. He was not going to talk about who laid the edging. The Council had much to gain by letting the work go on.
By three votes to two Mr. Taylor’s resolution was carried.
On the subject of the Council’s request for a telephone kiosk the accountant ( Mr. Coultas) said the postal authorities had inspected the spot and he understood they were to have written in time for that meeting.
The County Council reported that their assistant veterinary officer (Mr. S. V. Vines) had carried out his periodical inspection of cows and registered premises in the area. He had visited nine farms and inspected ninety-six beasts, taking samples of milk where necessary. It was necessary to order one cow to be slaughtered, but with that exception the health of the cows was good and the cleanliness of the cowsheds was up to a satisfactory standard.
The Clerk reported that the rate required for county purposes for the half year ending 30th September, 1933, was 4s. 6d. in the pound.
Committee On Local Expenditure
There was a circular from the Ministry of Health calling attention to the report of the Committee on Local Expenditure.
Mr. T. Hardman referred to the report as “a very valuable document ” and suggested that each member of the Council should be supplied with a copy.
Mr. T. W. Illsley said the proposals were all relative to the question of spending and the report was valuable to the student of social legislation. The Minister was expressing himself on the question of the Committee’s recommendations, and if they were going to take it lying down they would not be worthy of their position. They ought to make a complete review of the whole position.
“The Minister is pushing it back on us and we should say whether we agree with his suggestions.” Mr. Illsley suggested that two copies of the report would be sufficient. If the full number of copies was obtained probably only half the members would read them.
Mr. Hardman: I think that is rather a reflection on the Council. Whether the members read the report or not they ought to be given the opportunity of doing so. By the casting vote of the Chairman, the Council decided to obtain copies for all the members.
The Medical Officer (Dr. W. F. L. Castle) reported six births and one death during the month.
In Committee a letter was submitted from Colonel Wilson, stating that the owner of Rock Cottage, Middlewood, was prepared to bear half the cost of connecting the drain to the main sewer.
At a meeting of the General Purposes Committee Mr. J. Kay was appointed assistant groundsman at the Welfare Centre for the coming season.
It was decided that particulars of local charges for electricity be supplied to the West Riding District Councils’ Association.
The Clerk was instructed to apply to the Ministry of Health for permission to purchase a wireless set for the Welfare Centre.
Authority was given for the purchase of a dozen sets of woods for the bowling green.
New Street Rovers Football Club are to be informed that the Council have no land available for a football ground.