Local Government Board Inquiry
At the Public Offices, Egremont, yesterday, Major-General C.Phipps Carey, R.E., held an inquiry on behalf of the Local Government Board into the application of the Wallasey Local Board to borrow £25,000 for the purchase of land to be used as a public, and £350 for works of sewerage. Besides a very large attendance of the public, the following members of the Wallasey Local Board were also present :- Messrs T. Dean, G.H. Peers, R. McGeoch, J. Davies and W. Evans. Mr. Danger (solicitor to the local board) supported the application on behalf of the local board, and Mr. A.T. Wright appeared on behalf of owners of land and for the New Brighton Ratepayers' Association. opposing the application.
Mr. Danger said that the estate which the board wished to convert into a public park consisted of 50 acres. upon which the Liscard Hall, with washhouses, cottages. stables, and vineries, with two entrance lodges, stood. About 22 acres was arable and meadow land, and it had a long frontage along the Liscard Road and on the north end of the Mill Lane. On the west side, and behind the Liscard Hall, there existed what was now termed the recreation ground, which was presented to the parish by a gentleman, well known in the district about four or five years ago. These grounds were, however, not freely used, in consequence of the difficulty of access. The proposed park could be purchased for £23,000, at the rate £460 per acre. The contract had been entered into, subject to the Local Government Board, giving their sanction to the borrowing of £25,000 for the purchase and other expenses. The board had taken the feeling of the ratepayers on this matter by means of a vote in answer to the question which was addressed by circular to every ratepayer, "Are you in favour or not of the acquisition by the Wallasey Local Board of the Liscard Hall estate for the recreation and games". The result of this inquiry was 2799 votes in favour of the proposed scheme and 575 against.
Mr. Vickess (clerk to the board) having explained the financial position of the board, Mr. Heap (chairman of the board) said that he considered the board should acquire the park, as its financial position quite justified the expenditure necessary to do so. (Hear, hear).
Major Chambres, Messrs. James Smith, Henry Wall, F.Johnson, W.G.Holland, G.H.Peers. R.McGeoch all spoke in favour of the scheme, and remarked on the advantage which the poor of the district would derive from the park, and the benefit the inhabitants generally would receive from it.
Mr.G.H.Ball opposed the application. In doing so he said that the scheme itself of constructing a park was most desirable for public health and improvements if all kinds were, no doubt, of great advantage to the district; but what they had to consider was whether they could afford to expend on this park. So far as the scheme itself was concerned, it was feasible and reasonable of they would limit the park to something like 23 acres; but 50 acres made it too large to sustain. (Cries of "no, no"). He referred to the park at Stanley, which he said, was over 100 acres in extent; but a portion was sold off for building purposes. so that it was limited to an acre of something like 90 acres. To maintain that 90 acres an expenditure of something like £1100 or £1200 per annum was necessary, and yet the park was in a deplorable condition (A voice : "More shame to the Liverpool Corporation"). It had been stated that the annual charge for the purpose of the proposed park would not exceed 1⅞d. in the pound, but that was the cost of the land only, and nothing whatever was charged for maintenance. The £2000 which had recently been borrowed was calculated to provide something like £100 a year towards the expenses of >>>
maintaining the park. As to the canvass among the ratepayers, no reliance whatever could be placed upon it. A large proportion of the persons who had signed were not ratepayers, and the ratepayers themselves had been derived as to the actual cost. It was not true that the whole of the opposition had come from New Brighton - it had come from Wallasey. (A voice : "It has come from yourself alone." Laughter).
Mr.W.Colbourne also opposed the movement, remarking that the park would not be an advantage to the whole of the district (Hear, hear).
The Rev. J.H.D.Cochran, on behalf of the working people, strongly advocated the utility of the proposed park. He had worked in a crowded parish of Liverpool, but in no part of Liverpool were the poor people so densely crowded together as in the village of Liscard. He thought, like the rich, the poor people should have a garden and recreation ground wherein they could enjoy their leisure, and to be any use that park or garden must be within half a mile of the people. (Hear, hear).
Mr. M.T.Graveson maintained that a park would develop the property in the neighbourhood. If the land fell into the hands of the builders, as most assuredly it would do, there would be a large wilderness of streets and the rural character of the district would be completely changed, and the property which would be built on the site would almost ruin the good property in the neighbourhood. He contended that the park would prove one of the greatest blessings to the district. (Hear, hear).
Mr. J.M. Hawkins spoke of the depreciation in the value of property as having now stopped, and that the board had acquired the park at a reasonable rate when the value of property was greatly depreciated. Mr. Ball did not represent the feeling of the board - (Hear, hear) - and he doubted whether any scheme had come before the Local Government Board with a greater preponderance in its favour, both in the board and amongst the outside ratepayers. (Hear, hear). He referred to the great increase in the ferry receipts - over £4000. This would entirely cover the cost without an increase in the rates, and in a few years they would have cleared off a debt for which 6d. in the pound was now being paid by the ratepayers. The policy of the board was to acquire the park when it could be acquired, but to leave the laying out until the time when more funds were available. The proposal of the board was not to spend a large amount in maintenance, but to acquire the park and leave any larger expenditure in laying it out until a further period. (Hear, hear).
Mr. Brooks, a ratepayer in Liscard, said that out of 1600 people he had visited between Seacombe and New Brighton, only 25 were directly in opposition to the proposal.
Mr. Peers also supported the scheme.
Mr. Wright then called a number of ratepayers and property owners, who gave their views in opposition to the scheme. The feeling expressed by these witnesses was that the park was totally unnecessary for the welfare of the neighbourhood, and that the financial condition of the board was not such as to justify so large an expenditure simply for the purpose of amusement and recreation. Some of them were in favour of a modified scheme.
At the conclusion of the evidence Mr. Wright, in reviewing the various arguments addressed in opposition, remarked that the board was in debt to such an extent that they ought not to be allowed to increase it. Already it amounted to about £16 per head of the population as compared with £6 in Liverpool. The site was not central for the whole district, although it was central for Seacombe and Liscard, but these townships were not alone going to pay for the park.
Mr. Danger having addressed the meeting, the commissioner signified his intention of reporting the results of the inquiry to the Local Government Board.