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THE MUCH VEXED QUESTION, Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 625, 2 May 1882
THE MUCH VEXED QUESTION
At last night’s meeting of the Borough Council the much vexed question of the Library site cropped up again, and an animated discussion ensued thereon.
Messrs Ivess, Orr, and Harrison (the sub-committee appointed to interview the Library Committee re site), submitted their report, which was read as follows :
That, having taken public opinion by every means possible, it is found that five out of every six persons consumed are in favor of utilising Baring square east, it being the most central site, and especially adapted to the purpose ; it is of little use at the pres" it time, and as but the one building is proposed to be erected, it would not interefere with the square as an open public place ; but, on tire contrary, would render it useful, anil a great boon to the public generally. Your Committee, therefore, earnestly request that you will cause the public vote to be properly taken ; and, if favorable, that the Government be. asked to introduce a short Bill whereby Baring square east may be made the Library Reserve. That the >'eserve behind Baring square west is the only other available space at all available, a portion of which, facing Havelock street west, your Committee recommend in the evetit of the Council not proceeding to obtain Baring square east. — Alfred Harrison, Chairman ot Committee.
Or Ivess repudiated the report altogether. He had, although a member of the sub-committee, not seen it, and knew nothing whatever about it. Perhaps Or Orr had been let into the secret ? Or Harrison remarked that he had called repeatedly at Or Ivess’s office, but could not find him in. Ho had left a note for him with directions that it should be given to him immediately he returned. He might say that coming home from the interview with the Library Committee, Cr Ivess had certainly expressed himself in favor of a central site, and had said that the site suggested at the back of Baring square west was but very little better than the former site. Cr Ivess had spoken of the section between the Town Hall and the Courthouse as being a suitable position for the Library to occupy, and had said k that a central site must be, secured by hook or by crook. Cr Ivess had distinctly indicated his approval of a central site. As to his not being consulted respecting the drawing up of the report, why if a Committee of three was appointed, and one of the three was not to be found, then the other two must act. Ho really thought he had embodied the remarks of both his fellow-committeemen with reference to the site desirable in the report just read. Ci Orr had not seen the report, but he must say he thought it a very fair one. Cr Harrison had taken much interest in this question of site, and he (Cr Orr) thought that when the renort said five out of six people were in favor of a central site, the slateraent was perfectly correct. From conversations with people generally, ho was satisfied that a central site was generally desired. Personally, he thought that Baring square east was a first-rate position for the Library. Cr St. Hill did not think the sub-com-mittee was appointed to find out that five out of six of the inhabitants were in favor of a central site. They had been deputed to confer with the Library Committee. What right, he would like to know, had the Council to take one of the public squares and rob the people of 100 years hence of it? He was disgusted with what he had read in an evening publication that night, in which a respected inhabitant had been insulted by n scoimdrell who deserved to be horsewhipped. The letter written by the latter was in keeping with the scurrilous and disgraceful publication in question. The evening
“ luminary ” wished them to follow what it said, and predicted all sorts of things if the advice was not taken. Cr Ivess deprecated any interference with the functions of the Library Committee. He was somewhat surprised to find in the report that five out of six of the residents advocated a central site. He i know nothing of this. In fact, there had been much apathy on the part of the subscribers in the matter of the Library. He had had no opportunity of gauging public I opinion on the question of site. No petition had been got up, and there .was no
public indication of feeling in the matter. It was strange that Cr Harrison had not
found him at his office, as he had been there constantly lately. He thought, however, that Cr Harrison might have shown the report to Cr Orr at least, and that his not doing so was a failure of common courtesy on his part. Cr Harrison had also been discourteous to Mr Ward
when the deputation waited upon the Library Commit tee. Cr Samson's manner had been very overbearing towards Mr Ward, so much so that he (Cr Ivess) , had retired in disgust. Cr Harrison replied that Cr Ivess ap- ' ; peared to be accusing him of either lying j or prevaricating. He had called as ha ' ? had stated at Or Ivess’ place, and had i failed to find him in. With regard to his alleged insulting language to Mr Ward, he must disclaim the charge. The proprietor of the “highly scurrilous paper” was present and would be able to say. They had gone to Mr Ward’s office to discuss the question of site, and he (Or Harrison) had done his best to come to an understanding with the Committee. As to , behaviour, he believed he could hold his own with anyone—according to those with whom he came in contact. Perhaps it “ would be the best plan to call a general ’ c meeting of subscribers to settle the mat- ’ ter at issue. Cr St. Hill maintained the Library was
vested in the hands of the subscribers and the subscribers only, and because they (the opponents of the central site, presumably) objected to certain proposals they were called “pig-headed” and “ royal stand backs.” The Mayor thought that to allow the Library to go upon Baring square east would be allowing the admission of the thin end of the wedge. Once grant this and they would have the whole of the square taken up. They might not require the square an a breathing place themselves but they should think of the next generation. Now there was a vacant site next the Post Office which was a very central one. tie didn’t know whether it was obtainable, but thought it might be tried for with advantage at anyrate—but to interfere with the squares he did not like. Or Parkin said that from the remarks which had fallen from a former speaker it would appear that the Library was not a public institution at all. He remembered; the building of the Library, and knew that half the money was found by the Provincial Council, and seeing that he thought the subscribers hid not an exclusive right to it. The public had lost interest in the affairs of the Library in consequence of the way in which they: were mismanaged, and the place had gone to the dogs. Or Ivess said the Library was in the hands of the Committee and and had nothing to do with the Council. .They ought to wait to be approached and not take action of themselves. It might be well if the Library Committee were to sell their present site and purchase a more central one. He thoroughly endorsed the Mayor’s remarks relative to the purchase of a private site. He would move—“ That no report having been received from the Library Committee, the further consideration of tin report framed by Or Harrison be held in abeyance unt’l an expression of public opinion can be taken on the matter.” Seconded by Cr Bird. C>‘ Parkin urged the establishment of a public library, one for the use of all, to be vested in the hands ol the people. Cr Orr remarked that the Library Com-, mit,tee had asked for a certain site, and he could not see why they should not have it. The subscribers represented the people, for anyone could become a subscriber by the pavmens of a nominal sum, and if the people wanted a particular site to build on, why let them have it—it would be only giving them their own. Cr Ivess found that they had the power to take over the Library, but he-would not advocate such r|J course, seeing the, low state of their finances: But the Council had power to grant a lease for 21 years, and long before that the Library would in all probability be possessed of a permanent sue. Cr Ivess consented to withdraw his resolution on Cr Orr moving-—“ That the Council grant the lease of the section requested by the .Library Committee at a nominal rent until the fee simple thereof is obtainable for the Committee.” Cr Harrison moved as an amendment —“ That his Worship die Mayor call a, public meeting to discuss the Library site, and other questions that may arise.” The amendment was carried by five to, three.
THE MUCH VEXED QUESTION, Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 625, 2 May 1882
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