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PUBLIC MEETING

A public meeting was held last evening in the Town Hall, in compliance with the resolution passed at the meeting .nl the Borough Council on the IBth subject under consideration being, the proposed extension of the railway «ngine shed. About seventy persons.* were present, and the chair was occupied by his Worship the Mayor, who was .supported on the platform by Messrs Bullock, Harrison, Ivess, and Dr Stewart. i'i

His Worship briefly stated to those present that the object of the meeting was to consider the action of the GOVteriiment in regard to the memorial which was forwarded from this town on the matter of the engine shed extension, and which pointed out the inconveniences the burgesses would suffer if such proposed extension were carried out. Possibly many of those present were wdU acquainted with the contents of that memorial, having placed their signatures thereto. The engine shed, in their opinion, was an unsightly object, and it was its removal from its present site that was sought for by the petitioners at the hands of the Government. Since the memorial was forwarded, the Government had accepted a tender for the extension of the shed, and had taken nb notice of the petition, not even as in courtesy might have been expected, replying thereto. He was in favor of its removal outside the Town Belt. 1 Mr Ivess said the resolution he had to propose did not possess a very large amount of interest; it was merely one of remonstrance regarding the Government’s action in the matter of the engine shed. 1 hat that shed was a nuisance which it was most desirable to get rid of, all were of opinion, but it must be borne in mind that in its removal the interests of others must be considered. They must not get it removed to a place where it would only be a nuisance to others, and the fixing on a place suitable to all would be a task of no little difficulty. It was a peculiar fact that the Government had paid no attention to the petition forwarded to them-on this matter. It was an act of great discourtesy, but he did not think this was intentional on the part of the Minister of Public Works, but arose from carelessness in some direction. At the time' the engine shed was erected, the town was one of no importance, and it was clear the man who selected the site for the building little dreamt that it .would ever be the centre of the town, therefore no consideration was mad«( in such direction. The time, had arrived for its removal, for the ides of such a building occupying a position in the principal thorough! are of the borough was out of all reason, and if this were represented to the proper authorities, no doubt they would take steps, to remedy it. By a roundabout way they had. learnt that the petition they had sent reached Wellington too late to permit of the alteration of the Government plans as affecting the matter. It was time for the burgesses to be up and doing, and to ask" for the removal of the shed before, additions were made thereto, rendering the building a permanency. Bearing in memory the old adage of “A stitch in time saving nine,” it would be well to point out to the Government the incon- 1 venience the burgesses would suffer if the " proposed additions were effected. If private individuals created a nuisance'' they were promptly indicted, therefore why should the Government be permitted greater license. It should be shown to them that this extension was being proceeded with in direct opposition to the wishes of the townspeople, and he . felt sure the wishes of the public would" meet with compliance. He could riot for a moment conceive that the Government would force a nuisance on the town ; and of the fact of the shed being a nuisance, no doubt could be entertained. It shut but | the view, and by its smoky and dirty' appearance, detracted to the beauty of the borough. It was an eyesore. No doubt some of those present would be unwilling to vote in the matter until the site to which it was to be removed were stated, but he did not consider this a subject within their province to discuss. It would, no doubt, be desirable to remove it beyond the precincts of the borough, for it was clear that by transferring it _ from one place to another along the line; either north or south, they would not be remedying the evil. He would move—- “ That the meeting regrets that the Minister of Public Works should not have . seen fit to comply with the reasonable wish expressed in the memorial sent to ' him by the inhabitants of the town of Ashburton and its suburbs, protesting against the contemplated enlargement of the present railway engine shed, and asking that the shed should be removed to a , more convenient site, and with the other t remonstrances addressed to him on the same subject.” He hoped they would back up the resolution, and would also like to see the resolution passed at this meeting, forwarded to the Minister of ; , Public Works in a little different style to the sterotyped custom of enclosing the same in an envelope, and there letting the matter rest. He thought there were plenty of Members in Wellington at the present moment, whose hearty co-opera-tion in the matter could be secured, and possibly this could be effected by Mr Wright, the member for the district. . Mr Bullock said he experienced much pleasure in seconding the resolution proposed by the last speaker. He thought one great reason in favor of the removal urged was the difficulty the railway authorities would experience in working the railway station did the shed remain where it now stood. At the time, or shortly after, the goods shed was erected, the railway authorities found that it was - impossible to work the station with it in its then position, and, therefore, they had to remove it, and he was quite bare if they enlarged the engine shed they would have to remove that. Many were of > opinion that the engine shed should be removed outside the Belt beyond the gas works, but the question of a site was, be thought, a matter of consideration for an engineer. For his part he should like to see it removed there. He thought the Government were treating the town unfairly considering the large amount of revenue accruing from the goods traffic pf the place. They were entitled to a better station, and he thought they should ask the member for the district to see what he could do at the next session of Parliament in the matter of a new‘railway station (applause). He had been told by an engineer that it was practically an impossibility for them to have larger station accommodation without the removal of the engine shed. Another matter deserving of consideration was the fencing of the railway _ throughout the town. That this was desirable they were all of opinion, but as thp meeting had been convened for the purpose of considering the engine shed difficulty solely, and he, y therefore, would confine his remarks thereto. The money voted, they were told, was insufficient to allow of further improvements than the extension ef the shed, but why should they not get Go- . vernment to delay the work until next session and see if they could net -get a larger grant for the work. He would

suggest that Mr Blair, the E:; 0 ... the Middle Island should be written to the chairman, and invited to visit Ashburton for the purpose of selecting a sn.iable site. He thought this couM be dime. He hoped their action in the matter won id be unanimous. ■ Mr Quill thought another matter for consideration, and which had been omitted by pxevious speakers, was the removal of other unsightly scenes along the line of railway, such as as the stacking of coal and timber. It was quite as r ecessary thattheseevilsshouldberemovedasthatthe shed should be. (Hear, hear). The discovery that the shed was unsightly had only been made when its proposed extension became known. He was in favor of its removal beyond the Belt, but regarded the removal of the other unsightly erections to a similar place. Whilst these remained the position of the engine shed Would not greatly matter. One of the audience present here remarked that the occurrence rcu"i ded him of a picture representing a drunken man, having on the one side a skeleton and on the other his infernal majesty. The narration Created some amusement, although many apprtr ed somewhat fogged regarding the point iu the gentleman’s remarks. His Worship said that it was not ■ customary fpr the Chairman to participate in the debate; hut, in the present instance, he hoped some excuse would be made for him if ho departed therefrom, so far ad to make a few remarks in reply to Mr Quill. In extenuation of his offence, he must p l ead the deep interest he took in the subject. In reference te Mr Quill’s remarks, he begged to express an opinion that these stacks of ooal and timber would tend to improve the opinion of al stranger regarding the business done in the town. Possibly they were unsightly, but still they gave a business-like ajr.to the place. (Laughter.) Any one coming into the town would say, “ There’s something doing in Ashburton, although they have got such a bad name outside. ” Besides, these stacks were a source of revenue to the Government, and therefore he would say let them remain for a few years, for they could be easily removed. What he did urge, however, was that- the engine shed extension, if proceeded with, would prevent that building ev«a?being removed, and would cost some L7OO or LBOO, which would be a pure waste if the place had to be pulled down in about 18 months. Mr Leggatt asked the speaker where he would propose that the shed should be removed to ? The Chairman replied that that was a subject for after consideration. The resolution was then put and carried. Dr. Stewart said the resolution he had to bring before the meeting was one which might pe regarded as the principal one of the evening ; the gist thereof was to get the Government to remove the engine idled. He quite agreed with the remarks which had fallen from previous speakers, for it was essential that in the case of: a young township the inhabitants should be considerative of their rights. If they allowed the Government, or even lie Town Council, to encroach thereon, they would commit a grave mistake. The square had been set aside for public purposes; but it was a well known and recognised fact that public bodies were always only too willing to encroach Gradually they extended their encroachments, until at last it became a question with the primary holders of these rights whether they ever existed. Baring square was a place of recreation, and tie engine shed encroched thereon. Not only this, it interfered with a public thoroughfare. The Government ought to shift the shed outsidp the township, for it mattered little to them whether they placed it half a mile distant from the station or only half a yard, so to speak. Not only should they ask the Government to remove the shed, Rut also to remove the line of rails from the centre of the town, as it interfered with the thoroughfare and beauty of the place. No doubt if it were fenced and planted, it would be greatly imp-o ed in appearance. He quite agreed with Mr Quill’s' remarks ; but in the case of a new township such grievances must exist, and they should overlook this, at least for the iime being. One thing, however, upon which he wished to remark was the mghtfiil noises proceeding from the shed. night time. These were at times of quite ah alarming character, and on one or two occasions he had thought murder was being committed, and had had hopes of the necessity which would consequently - exist for the services of a doctor raised high in his breast. He hoped some of the Officials present—and he saw one who held i a responsible position in that department —would take note of his remarks, and do their heat to remedy the evil as far as lay in their power. Only that evening a , sick: patient had complained in this direction to him. When the place got built bn, and; a large town formed, they would * requirehreathing lungs iu the shape of recreation grpunds. Baring Square would be such, but not if they permitted it to be encroached on by the engine shed and the freshness of its beauty spoilt by the smoke of the engines. He had to move —“ That in the opinion of this meeting, the engine shed should be removed from Baring Square altogether, it being iucon- ’ sisteht with the objects of a square intended for the recreation and preservation of the health of the citizens, and also the beautification of the town. ” Tbat/ts area should be blocked by unsightly buildjngs used in connection with railway locomotives, and more particularly so when the square istbe central, and principalone in . the town, and may hereafter, if its area he left unincumbered, be made one of its jehief ornaments. If the Government Would pot comply with their demands, wby timy might copy Ireland in the matter, and go in for a little Boycotting, on their own account, and then if they did not succeed they might “ pot ” one or two of the Commissioners. (Laughter and applause). Mr Harrison was proceeding to address the meeting, when he was interrupted by a member of the audience enquiring what commission he charged on potatoes ? After silencing the inquisitive individual, he proceeded to point out the unsuitability of the present site of the engine shed. He advocated it removal beyond the Belt, and pointed out that its existence iq the . present position stultified the efforts of the Council in the direction of beautifying Baring Square. He had much pleasure in seconding the resolution. This was put and carried. On the motion of Mr Boyle, seconded by Mr St. Hill, it was resolved—“ That the Chairman be requested to forward copies of the foregoing resolution to the Hon. the Minister for Public Works. ” A vote of thanks terminated the pro•codings.

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Bibliographic details

PUBLIC MEETING, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 331, 29 April 1881

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2,426

PUBLIC MEETING Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 331, 29 April 1881

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