Jottings by Jonathan
February 1928 Stroud Journal
Jonathan refers to a Meeting of the Stroud UDC where the meeting considered a report on the level of rate increase from 1919
City fathers no sooner have they been wished a happy new year by their chairman than they were treated to a sombre homily on the rapidly rising tide of the rates and the urgent need for good new year resolutions. A member of the congregation listing to this serious sermon rather cynically reminded the brethren that an election was drawing nigh , with the implication, one imagines, that the even a civic sermon may be counted for righteousness in the eyes of the nervous ratepayers. Nobody knows better than the writer that rates are not a fit subject for a joke. Indeed I and many other ratepayers recently scanned our demand notes with furrowed brows. But que voulez-vous? Needs must when a despot drives, and after all, you cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of civilisation without paying for them. Moreover, I seem to remember that some few years ago the City Father who now sounds the tocsin of alarm in our ears wooed the ratepayers of Stroud on the desirability of securing a public park and was made a City Father in the hope that he would get us this pleasing addition to our local benefits. To do him credit, he attempted to carry out what was an election pledge but without success.
Just whey he should have chosen the present moment to try and curdle our blood on the rate question it is not easy to discover. It cannot be said that City Fathers have been reckless in undertaking schemes for the public benefit. On the contrary, some of the us would like to have seen them displaying a little more energy, a little more enterprise, and a corresponding lack of timidity and dread of mounting rates. There is little fear, I think that our governing body will commit themselves to rash projects. They are far too cautious for that, and after all the rates of Stroud compare favourably with those of similar towns.
Street improvements, housing accommodation, an improved water supply, these and other public needs cannot be neglected, and the cheap experimental houses to be built in the Leazes is a step in the right direction. It is well known that such houses as have been built by the Council are quite out of the reach of the poorest members of the community. The rent and rates are prohibitive, but if we can at a fair number of respectable tenements at, say, 5/- a week, then something may be done to meet the scandal of over-crowding which still exists, although not to the same extent as years ago. It was pointed out also that although there are congested areas in the upper part of Stroud, the site upon which the experimental houses are to be built is open, and in every way suitable. It is gratifing to know that that there has been enough driving force in the City Fathers to get this work set in motion, and if I am touting for votes in the forthcoming election I would commend this meritorous action to the ratepayers and ask them to ratify it by their support at the polls. One strong argument may be used for building the cheapest type of house on Stroud Hill. The people now living there would firmly decline to live elsewhere. I have known some who after removal have suffered nostalgia which makes men and women pine for the locality where they ran as boys and girls, that in due course they have taken their “traps” up the steep hill again, to regain peace of mind.
Really I see no need for City Fathers to be perturbed by problems requiring immediate solution, or by others which will most assuredly arise. They are attentive to their duties, they look before they leap, they save where they can, and do their utmost to get good value for money. What more can the town desire? They cannot escape criticism for that applies to the governing authority of every town in England. Being ratepayers themselves they have every inducement to walk warily, but for heaven's sake, let them keeping walking and not revert to the unenviable reputation which attached to some of their forefathers. Men who pursued a policy of cheese paring with a view of keeping down the rates, and as a result did incalculable harm to the town. One might easily indicate lost opportunities for which the present generation has to pay the penalty.