THE MOUNT SOMERS RAILWAY.
Owing to e misunderstanding the report of a meeting, which, had our arrangements not miscarried, should have reached us on Monday at least, did not arrive at our office till Tuesday evening, and we are therefore only able to publish it now. It was held in the Mount Somers schoolroom, on Saturday evening, and was called by advertisement to express the indignation of the inhabitants of the district through which the proposed Mount Somers railway line ought to pass, at the conduct of Government in altering the course of the line.
There was not a very large attendance at the meeting, but considering the district, the meeting may be said to have been a fairly representative one. The Chairman of the County Council sent a letter of apology for his absence on account of having to attend pressing business, and Mr. Isaac Taylor also sent an apology. Mr. B. A. Peache was Chairman, and read the advertisement calling the meeting, as also the address, on the subject of the lino and this meeting in connection with its alteration, of Mr. E. G. Wright, which appeared in the papers of that morning. Mr. Wright’s address ran as follows :— £tr Do Residents of Mount Somers. —The section of Railway now advertised does not extend beyond the neutral point at which the Railway may be turned across the Ashburton to the North Bank and through the Mount Somers Township. This is the route which was advocated when the line was first marked off by the County Council, and I shall endeavor to see it carried out. The deviation you desire can be made in the next section, whereas any agitation on the question now will greatly retard the entire work,.—• Edward G. Wright.” The Chairman further stated that the Road Board felt deeply interested in the question of the railway, and had been moving in the matter, and it was felt by those calling the meeting that an expression of the residents’ minds on the subject would afford the Board material support in any proceedings they might take. Regarding Mr. Wright’s address as published, he wished those present to compare it with a letter sent by the Resident Engineer to the Road Board in reply to one they had written to him. The letter ran as follows :—“ It is not intended that the extension of the Mount Somers line shall cross the Ashburton Rivex-. The last two or three miles of Mr. Triphook’s survey has been abandoned, and the line pegged out for contract is a little to the south of his line.—(Signed) A. D. Austin, Resident Engineer.” The Chairman said that the desire of the residents was to have the original line adhered to, and the railway carried out in accordance with it. Mr. Wright’s address did not throw any light whatever on the question of why the line had been altered from the line of Mr. Triphook’s survey, and it was the line as he surveyed it that was wanted by the people most interested in the railway’s construction. Mr. Triphook’s line was far less costly than that proposed by the altered route. Ho was not aware whether any recommendation on the subject of the deviation had been made by the Railway Commission, and when the first inkling of the change had been obtained the Road Board wrote to Mr. Austin, asking for information.
Mr. McFarlane went hack to Mr. Wright’s first solicitation of the suffrages of Mount Somers electors, and jsaid that on that occasion Mr. Wright had expressed himself as favorable to the Triphook line, and had pledged his support to it. Now, here he was, a member of the Railway Commission, and he must know that the alteration is meditated, and that to carry out the altered line will be adverse to the interests of both Alford Forest and Mount Somers. The coui’se for that meeting to follow now ought to be to at once memorialise Government not to deviate from the line originally surveyed by Mr. Triphook. Mr. Edson counselled the preparation of a requisition bearing the signatures of as many ratepayers as possible, to be forwarded to the member for tlxe district, asking him to adhere to the promises he had made to them to look after their interests in this matter, and see that they obtained what they desired. If he refused, and played fast and loose with them, he should be asked to vacate the seat he held as their representative. Without any reason being given for the deviation, they found that the line was to be altered from the course they all understood it was to take when they bought their land, and the value of that land would be seriously affected by the change. Mr. Daniel Henderson said the proposed alteration would just bring the railway to the land of Mr. E. G. Wright, and it would go no further, but he (Mr. Henderson) and many others had bought their land in the assurance that the line
would be taken on to Mount Somers, Mr, Wright had made much of the bridge difficulty with the Oxford and Tepiuka line, remarking that if the taken along the other side of the ,rjver the same bridge would do for both lifies, whereas if the original line were followed it would be necessary to build two bridges —one for each line, and that would entail an extra cost of perhaps LIO,OOO. But it was the common belief that before the Oxford and Temuka line was constructed the bridge required for the Mount Somers line would be worn out. The Chairman said that for Government to alter the railway to a line to the Anama Downs was to take a liberty with a vote of Parliament, who had set aside a large sum for a line to be constructed on Mr. Triphook’s survey. Mr. Henderson urged the preparation, and signature of a petition to the Public Works Minister asking him, from the injustice of the alteration,"to revert to the original course in the line’s construction. A copy of the petition should also be sent to Mr. Wright, asking him to support it, as he had promised to do when ho sought their votes. Mr. M‘Par lane then moved a resolution to the effect that a petition protesting against the alteration because of its injustice to Alford Forest and Mount Somers should bo prepared, signed by the ratepayers, and forwarded to the Minister for Public Works ; and a copy also sent to Mr. E. G. Wright, along with an urgent request to him to use his influence to carry out the line as surveyed by Mr. Triphook, in fulfilment of the premise Mr. Wright had made to the electors at his meeting in Mount Somers schoolroom. The motion was seconded and unanimously carried. A petition was then prepared by the Chairman, which all those present signed. The petition ran ; —“We, the undersigned residents and landowners of the Mount Somers District, representing acres, beg to protest against the proposed alteration in the line from Tinwald to Mount Somers and Alford Forest, whereby very great injustice will be done to us.” A resolution to forward a copy of the petition bo the County Council was also carried.
On the suggestion of Mr. McFarlane Mr. Oookson, Clerk to the Road Board, was requested to fill in after each signature the number of acres the name represented, so that the power of those memorialising the Government would be at once and accurately shown. The proceedings then terminated.
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