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Local Government

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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Land, Chadwell Heath (Access)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware that permission has been given to use land fronting High Road and Ashton Gardens, Chadwell Heath, as a car sales display site, with the advice that it was desirable that access should not be made directly to the main road; and, since the only other access would be from Ashton Gardens, a purely residential road, whether he will reconsider his action.

Is the Minister aware that there is a good deal of feeling about this matter in the area?

Yes, but it is rather difficult for me to explain the matter by Question and answer—we should need a map of the district. If the hon. Gentleman cares to discuss it with me, I shall be very glad to meet him.

Rating Assessments


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in view of the fact that valuation officers are not to re-assess property for local authorities till 1956, what advice he has given to local authorities as to re-assessing properties for themselves in the meantime.

I have given no advice officially; but I would deprecate any such action by local authorities in advance of the re-valuation.

Would the right hon. Gentleman issue a statement to the Press, or by other means let the local authorities know their duty and the citizens their obligations? Because some of this is going on and causes much dissatisfaction.

Yes, Sir, but I have to tread very carefully because I have no powers except those of advice.

Withdean Sports Stadium, Brighton


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he will be in a position to make a decision concerning the erection at With dean, Brighton, of a stand to hold 1,500 persons and terraces to seat 3,000 people, the laying out of the stadium grounds for a Rugby football pitch, a cinder running track and also the making of facilities for jumping and other athletic events.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that, unless it is done in the next week or two, it may well be impossible to lay the turf which would make it possible to provide Rugby football and other amenities towards the end of this year?

Stanmer Park Nursery, Brighton


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government his de cision concerning the granting of per mission for the development of a new nursery in Stanmer Park for the Parks and Gardens Department of the Brighton Corporation.

I have decided to approve this scheme and am informing the Corporation accordingly.

Does my right hon. Friend realise how pleased the Corporation will be? They will consider that this is a recognition on the part of the Minister of the very great beauty of the gardens at present. Is the Minister aware that this new allowance will make it far easier to make the gardens still more beautiful?

Smokeless Zones


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will prepare a regulation granting permissive powers to local authorities to establish smokeless zones, and thereby replace the present machinery of presenting a Private Bill before such zones can be set up.

Would the Minister look further at this to see if it is not possible to do something on the lines suggested? Is he aware that all local authorities would welcome this? Great interest is now being taken to try to prevent smoke pollution, and it is very necessary that local authorities should have some power in that regard. Is he aware that 3,645 tons of ash, grit, dirt, tarry matter and sulphur dioxide fell on Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1953? That is an average of 214 tons per acre, and it indicates the urgency of the problem. Will the Minister try to make it a little simpler for local authorities to adopt regulations?

Yes, Sir, but the hon. Gentleman knows as well as I that I have no statutory powers, that this requires legislation, that any question of legislation obviously has to await the report of the Beaver Committee, and that legislation has to take its chance with the claims of the many other things which this House is asked to do. I am only too anxious to help, but without legislation I have no power.

Can I take it that by that the Minister indicates his sympathy with this type of proposal, rather than that local authorities should have to promote Private Bills, and that when the opportunity presents itself he will endeavour to embrace this in a blanket formula?

Yes, Sir. I hope that my hon. Friend—if I may call him so in this matter—will try, if I should find it necessary to promote legislation, to facilitate its passage through the relevant Standing Committee.

Improvement Grants (Circular)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will report on the number of local authorities who have resolved to make improvement grants for houses under the provisions of the Housing Act, 1949, with special reference to the response evoked by his Department's Circular 36/54 of 20th April, 1954.

It is early to say what action local authorities have taken in response to the circular, which was sent to them only three weeks ago. But I hope for speedy results in the form of an increasing number of schemes approved.

Does not the Minister consider it unhelpful that, since the issue of the circular, the borough of Southgate and the Middlesex County Council have rejected the opportunity to take advantage of these provisions? Would the Minister consider collating the information and make available some kind of progress report on the number of councils which adopt his suggestions?

I shall consider that last point and shall look for every help from the hon. Gentleman in promoting these schemes.

Land, Beachy Head (Use)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware that a tract of open downland of about 50 acres in extent, situated between Beachy Head and Birling Gap, has been cleared and ploughed up; and, in view of the importance of this open space to Eastbourne and to the amenities of the South Downs generally, and in view of the fact that rights of way may be prejudiced, whether he will consult with the owners of this land, who are primarily Eastbourne Corporation, with a view to stopping further ploughing up.

I understand that this land, which is an Eastbourne Corporation farm, is being brought back into cultivation as it was before 1942, I have no power to intervene.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend knew this area as a child, but has he been there lately and seen how they are turning this land, which is rather useless from the agricultural point of view, into a productive farm, when it is one of the most beautiful amenities on the South Downs?

That may be so, but if this land was useless—growing little but bushes and so forth—and now is turned into valuable productive land, we have to balance that against the disadvantages the hon. Member mentions. I have, unfortunately, no powers to do anything about it.

Is the Minister aware that my constituents in Eastbourne have considerable confidence in the Corporation's ability to run its own affairs? I want to say, however, that the hon. Member did ask my permission to ask the Question.