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Low Road Rates and Increased Rateable Value : Expenditure on Main Roads should be £120,000 a Year to Equal that of 1889-1890.
By the Editor, We are now in a position to set out in tabular form additional data. concerning the position of the County of Middlesex in relation to main-road expenditure. These details supplement our brief references of last week to the plaint of the County Surveyor in regard to the increasing cost of road maintenance. We then drew attention to the necessity for both sides of the case to be stated, in order that a fair comprehension of the situation . might be possible for all concerned.
The County Surveyor of Middlesex, Mr. H. T. Wakelam, in his annual report, whilst dwelling at. length and with insistence upon damage to roads in the county by heavy motor traffic, and particularly by motorbus traffic, and whilst imt failitig to include the first of the three tables which we now give, appears to have thought it unnecessary to show that. the increases in question have been less than proportionate to the increases in the county's resources. We contend that regard for all -these figures is Of the very greatest importance, in any county which protests that the provision of extta. money for its main roads is altogether a hardship, and in publishing the first two tables, one from Mr. Wakelam's report, and one from the official proceedings of the Middlesex County Council now in our possession, we do so, side by side, for the information of our readers, and in the firm belief that Middlesex will be in the wrong if it continue to pretend that the income. figures are not to be taken into account.
It is a pity that this tendency to deal with increasing cost, and that alone, to the exclusion of increasing income and resources, is not by any means limited to the County of Middlesex, although we. take that instance as a bad one. The partial nature of such one-sided statement is greatly aggravated in the case of Middlesex, by reason of the undoubted benefits which it derives financially front the growth of population ; this has been, and is still, very largely brought into its administrative area by means of better transit facilities, of which motorbuses are the latest development We admit that particular eases of special or extraordinary damage along particular roads may call for corresponding consideration and treatment, but we do wish to put on record our grave objection. to the course of crying " poor man " when facts and figures, once they are made, available, do not support it.
As a summary or the state of Middlesex in regard to the alleged burden of its main roads, we have run out, from the official records, the calculations which appear in column iii. This proof of a more-favourable incidence of expenditure does not take into account the considerable votes in reli..71 of local ta;xation that have been made .annually over the whole term of years with which we deal.
Does Middlesex ask that it shall benefit. in rateable value from its proximity to London and yet not give a fair return tor that benefit. to the inhabitants and traders of the great Metropolis from which it derives that original advantage l Why should it not willingly spend 1120,000 per annum on its main roads, which sum is below the present yield of the gross rate that was necessary. in the year 1889-1890, instead of grumbling by the mouth and pen of its county surveyor that it has to spend, perhaps, 280,000 --90,000 less grants-from its own coffers?
We have not yet abstracted corresponding figures for other Home Counties-for Essex, Kent and Surrey, but we entertain no doubt that such grievances (if any) as those counties may nurse are similarly capable of dissipation.