The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1889. WHO'S TO BLAME?
The administration of county affairs m Ashburton has generally been so excellent that our Council and its offioers I have been complaoently regarded as patterns to similar bodies and officials m other parts of the colony, but that blunders— and costly oneß too—are possible, even here, is made plainly manifest by the report of the Committee on the subject cf damage by storm water published m our issue of Wednesday. It appears that something like eight years ago a storm water channel was constructed, which passed through the respective properties of Mr John Holmes and Mr Gordon Holmeß. That channel as originally constructed was about 9 feet wide and 18 inches deep, but has since been cut out by the action of the water to a depth of from 3ft to Bft where it passes through Mr Gordon Holmes' property, while a large quantity of the shingle scoured out from the upper portion of the ohannel has been washed down and accumulated on the property of Mr John Holmes. In consequence of the damage done to their properties the gentlemen named have sent m a claim for compensation to the amount of £70, and it would appear from the report referred to, which is that of a Committee appointed to investigate the matter that, they have proved the damages complained of, though the report is silent as to whether the amount of compensation demanded is a fair one or m excess of the equities of the case. Whether the Council intends to j pay the claim or not doW not appear, but the report appears to establish (1) that there has been considerable mischief done, (2) that there has been great laxity somewhere and on the part of somebody, and (3) that considerable expenditure will be required to prevent further and more extensive harm being wrought. Taking the last point first it appears that m order to arrest the scouring tbe construction of a number of concrete falls will be necessary, entailing, says the Committee, («vith much indefi niteness) "considerable outlay," while these falls would themselves be liable to " l>e undermined during some exception ally heavy flood." As an alternative, we presume, to the construction of such works, the Committee prefers to let the scouring go on, but to acquire plenty of laud by taking a strip of l£ chain m width under the Publio Works Act, and planting willows on either side of the channel so as to prevent the scouring-out process encroaching upon the adjoining lands. All tois means considerable expenditure m addition to any compensation whioh the County may have to pay for the damage done hitherto, and ne should like to know exactly what the amount will be. Will aJ2OO cover the whole ? Possibly not. This iB a matter upon whioh the ratepayers are entitled to be informed. But as to the second point— the laxity which has occurred, there is even more need for informatics* For it seems that before the construction 01 ! h o channel was entered upon, the Council directed lb at steps be taken to acquire the land required for the purpose, but that this instruction was never carried ont, and that the work was constructed on private property. Why was this, and who is to blame for it? That is a question which should also be answered. Further it seems to us that information is wanted as to why m the first instance the Engineer overlooked the danger of possible scouring, and took no precautions to prevent it. There has evidently been a peries of blunders, for which the blame should lie somewhere, because evidently the ratepayers will have to pay the piper. We admit at once that " one swallow does not make a summer," and that one mistake m tbe course of eight years administration is not; very much to complain of, but we think that the Council will do well to be more careful m future that its instructions are carried out, and also to make sure that the present iB the only instance m which its own laxity or the laxity of its officers, or both, has entailed costly consequences, 1