Since writing this report, I have attended a meeting of the Association of Stroud District Industries specially convened to afford the local employers an opportunity to submit their views on the questions raised by this enquiry. In addition to the members of the Association, representatives of the Rural and Urban District Councils were present.
The Association comprises 45 firms large and small. It includes the old established firms, as well as the newcomers, and represents practically every industry in the Valley. After discussion, the conclusions arrived at concerning the post-war situation may be summed up as follows:-
Labour Supply - this will depend upon the following factors -
(a) return of evacuees to their own districts
(b) evacuation of the Admiralty Stores and RAF Accounts Department, and
(c) evacuation of war industries
It is generally accepted that evacuees will not raise any serious difficutly, a substantial number have already gone from the district. In reference to (b) the following is a copy of a resolution passed at the end of the meeting.
"This Committee wishes to make a strong recommendation that the Admiralty, MAP and other Government Stores in mills in former active production, should be removed immediately on the cessation of hostilities, to enable owners to put into effect post-war planning which will be dependent on the immediate use of such premises.
Only by these means can labour be absorbed, the export markets taken advantage of, and the civil home population receive supplies of necessary goods in short supply or even non-existent."
There is no doubt that this is the question that arouses most concern in the minds of local industrialists. As regards (c), it is believe that Hoffman's Ltd will remain in the district, but that Sperry's and the Gloucester Aircraft Co, will leave at the end of the war. If this should prove to be correct, and Government Departments also move out, no difficulty should arise. This conclusion agrees with my report.
On the question of Public Utilities, the consensus of opinion may be summed up as follows:-
Drainage - present facilities are bad, but the local authorities have prepared a scheme involving the expenditure of £200,000, which would have been put into operation but for the war. The representativies of the Rural and Urban Districts present, stated that it was their intention to proceed with the this scheme as soon as conditions made it possible.
Water Supply - this had been inadequate at the outbreak of hostilities, but additions to the supply have been made since, and the position is now satisfactory.
Gas - present supplies considered adequate
Electricity - it appears that the rural mains are in first class order, but in the Urban area (town of Stroud) improvements are urgently needed.
Transport - bad train faciliites has resulted in a shift of passenger traffic to the roads. It was stated that an improved train service would help to distribute the burden more evenly between the two, and ease the problem of road upkeep. This was urgently demanded.
Housing - it was maintained that the position before the war was satisfactory. The stoppage of building during the war would, in the opinion of the local authorities representatives, necessitate building 500 new houses to make up leeway. An additional 500 would be needed to subsitute existing houses which should be condemned. Whilst anxious to preseve the old Cotswold houses, their equipment was crude and in some cases, insanitary, and could only be put right by substituting new houses. There was unanimous agreement with this estimate of the housing position.
At the close of the meeting I had an opportunity of meeting the local Trade Union official of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. The only two questions on which he differed with the general opinions expressed were Gas Supply and the future of Sperry's.
He maintained that with two weeks of severe weather the present supply of domestic gas would be inadequate to meet the demand.
He also asserted that Sperry's would remain in the district, and held the view that their departure would b a serious loss. Their influence has proved a real factor in forcing up local wage standards. In reply to the statement that the local manager had definely stated they would not remain, he contended tthat his opinion did not necessarily represent the policy of the firm which was decided at Headquarters.
Since this is a matter which will seriously affect the whole post-war situation, steps should be taken to discover the real intention ofthis concern
Link to Appendix 1