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Stroud's First Council Housing

 

The agitation for council housing to be built in Stroud started in 1913. Whilst one of the most vocal campaigners on the Council was a Labour man the first recorded meeting to discuss the “housing problem” was the Conservative Workingmen's Debating Society which considered a paper on building council housing. The Urban District Council, after some reluctance and prevarication considered a number of sites on the edge of the town for “workmen's dwellings”. Eventually in June 1914 they decided upon the purchase of land at Folly Lane, Uplands. By the time the purchase was finalised, in September 1914, the country had descended into the chaos of the Great War and the Surveyor was advising the Council that lead, timber and iron had increased by between 25% and 30% and bricks were expected to follow; as a consequence the project should be deferred until after the war.


Four years on, at the end of the war, the Council again turned its mind to building housing and began to develop a good working relationship with the Bristol based Regional Housing Commissioner. It was he who was responsible for rubber stamping more or less every decision they were to make on their early housing schemes. There then followed a series of disputes with the intransigent commissioner who knew far better than the members what was needed in Stroud. One dispute was over the level of rents with the Government man insisting on the maximum possible rents. This upset many councillors because they were of the opinion that “many people could not afford to pay these rents”.


For reasons which are unclear the Housing Committee was a committee of the whole Council and the first tenants had the joy of being interviewed by all 18 members. The practice of Council members allocating tenancies continued until the Housing Allocations Panel was abolished in May 1990. The first rent collector was a Mr Larner, who was paid the princely sum of 1 shilling in the £1 for the rent he collected. He was also one of the first tenants of the houses. Fortunately the original unimaginative names of the roads as No. 1, No 2 and No 3 were replaced by The Circle, Grove Park Road and The Square.

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