The Local Act obtained in 1815 (sic should read 1825) was for the purpose of paving lighting, watching, cleansing, regulating and improving the town. The cost of the Act was 970l.
The want of an efficient water supply was one of the chief causes of complaint in the town; the present supply being partly that which is furnished by the existing works, and amounting to 22,000 gallons per day, or upon the number of houses reported as supplied at the rate of 17 gallons per house per day in lieu of 100 gallons. That in several cases the supply is derived from private wells, some of which are reported as being polluted by sewage whilst others of the inhabitants fetch water from the spring, which is perennial, called Hemlock's Well
That no general system of sewerage has been laid down in the town, and but few sewers of any kind. The expenditure of the commissioners for works of sewerage commenced in 1826 up to the present time amounts to £397l 4s 5d; but there is a plan showing the depths of the sewers which have been made as compared with the levels of the cellar floors of the houses.
The Local Act does not enable the commissioners to make such sewers as are necessary for the effectual sewerage of the district, so as not to be a nuisance, and with a due regard to economy
There is no provision in the Local Act for preventing the pollution of the water in the canal, streams, or watercourses by sewage or other offensive matter.
The commissioners have no power to cause proper drains to be constructed at the owners expense for any house which shall be without any drain, and where there is a sewer within one hundred feet of any such house.
There is no provision whereby a house should not be built or rebuilt without a proper covered drain for effectual drainage of the premises
There is no provision for drains, water-closets, privies, cesspools, and ashpits being so constructed and kept as not to be a nuisance or injurious to health.
It does not enable the commissioners to cover or fill up, at the owners expense, places used for the collection of any drainage, filth, water, matter or thing of an offensive nature, or likely to to be prejudicial to health.
There is not sufficient provision for enabling the commissioners to order the removal within twenty four hours of any nuisance arising from any pigstye being retained so as to be a nuisance to any person.
That in the absence of the necessary legal power, a large number of houses and premises are not maintained in a proper sanitary condition, whilst in some cases persons and even families occupy places which in their present condition are unfit for human habitation.
That considerable injury is done to the health and property of many of the inhabitants for want of proper sewerage and house drains, proper privies, and abolition of all cesspools, with a provision for a speedy removal of garbage, particularly in the upper parts of the town.
That in several courts and places the air is foul, bad and injurious to health, arising from the state of the ground around the houses, and the absence of a free circulation of air through the dwellings
The Act does not enable the commissioners to take proceedings against the owner or occupier of any house which may be in such a filthy or unwholesome condition that the health of any person may be affected or endangered thereby.
The main streets are for the most part macadamised with flagged footways; but the surfaces of yards, passages, courts are nearly in every instance unpaved, whilst the surface water-courses and position of gully-holes require considerable adjustment, so as to secure a proper discharge of storm waters without injury to health of inhabitants residing near the gullies.
That the lighting is a benefit to parties resident close to, not to say within the town, who do not contribute to the expenses thereof, for the circumstances of their dwellings, &c, being in the adjoining parish, part of which actually not only penetrates, but runs through the area circumscribed by the mile radii pursuant to the provisions of the Local Act.
That sections 1-16 inclusive of the Local Act, sections 46-58, and sections 60,61,68 to 76 as well as sections 94,97,98 and 99 are either repugnant to the provisions of the Public Health Act, or from being no longer applicable to the altered circumstances of the town be repealed. The Act does not provide for the distribution of charges attending to the carrying out of works of a permanent nature, over a term of years, in lieu of paying the amount directly out of the rates, nor are there charges confined to those who alone participate in the advantages.
That provision should at once be made for bringing into the town an additional quantity of water, and so that every house may have a daily supply without the aid of cisterns, casks, and tanks, for storing it on their premises, which can alone be accomplished by an extension of the present works, with additional mains so arranged as to be constantly charged. There is no material whereon to found an accurate estimate. I have, however,every confidence that the yield of the springs in the district is not only amply abundant, but sufficiently near the town to admit of the entire works being accomplished, so as not to entail upon the inhabitants a rate exceeding the maximum named in the Public Health Act, in 2d per week per house for water supply upon the constant system.
The contour of the ground on which the town stands is admirably adapted to a cheap and efficient system of sewerage with house drains, &c as well as freeing the canal and water courses from the sewerage matter; the valley naturally indicates the direction of the outfall, whilst the whole of the sewage may be carried off without the aid of engine power, that is by a natural fall.
The works of the main sewerage, together with the branch sewers, including a proper number of gully grates, and man holes and ventilating shafts may I think be carried out for a sum of 6,000l, an outlay that will involve a charge extending over a period of thirty years (when it will terminate) of 1 ½ d per week on each house on the average.
In this calculation I have made an abatement of items of current expenditure, which will be to some extent diminished if remedial measures are applied to the town.
The promoters of the Improvement Act originally fixed the limit to half a mile in every direction form the parish church, and the bill passed the House of Commons in that form; but in the committee of the Lords it was suggested by the late Earl of Shaftesbury that it should be extended to one mile, and this was assented to.
The boundary is in no way regulated by the area of the watershed proper. At the same time I am of the opinion, after going over the district, that the Public Health Act should not be extended to the entire parish; but for the present Local Act 6 Geo 4 Cap vi although parties living within the prescribed distance are not liable to any of the rates from the fact of their being in another parish and derive the benefit of lighting, &c, which is paid for solely by the inhabitants of the town of Stroud.
WHEREUPON I RECOMMEND
I. Tha the Public Health Act 1848 (except section 50 of the said Act) together with the supplemental Act of 1850, be applied to the town of Stroud in the county of Gloucester.
II. That so much of the Local Act as is contained in sections 1 to 16, sections 46 to 58, sections 60,61,68 to 76 as well as sections 94,97,98 and 99 all inclusive be repealed and that the remainder of the sections of the said Act be incorporated with hte Public Health Acts aforesaid.
III. That the local Board of Health do consist of the commissioners for the time being, subject nevertheless to the regulations and provisions of the Public Health Act as regards their going out of office, &c.
IV. That every person at the time of as a member of the Local Board, and so long as he shall continue in office by virtue of such election be resident as by the 16th section of the Public Health Act (1848) is required and be seised or possessed of real or personal estate, or both, to the value of 1000l., or be rated to the relief of the poor of some township, parish or place, of which part is within the said district, upon an annual value of not less than 30l.
I have the honour to remain
My Lords and Gentlemen
Your humble servant
To the General Board of Health