MAGISTRATE'S COURT LITTLE RIVER.
WAIREWA COUNTY COUNCIL v. MOTOR CAR OWNERS.
A sitting - of the Magistrate's Court was held at Little River on Tuesday last, before T. A. B. Bailey, Esq., S.M..
The Wairewa County Council (Mr E. T. Harper) proceeded against G. W. Pilkington and Joseph Phillips, both of Akaroa (Mr J. H. Williams) and -a of Little River, for the non payment of motor license fees of £5 per car, under the Wairewa County Council vehicle by-law, No. 2, 1915. Jos. Phillips did not appear. Mr Harper said the informations were laid under Section 107 of \ Motor Regulations Act and under the Wairewa County Bylaw, 1915.
The case, against Coates was withdrawn.
Thomas Quealy, County Clerk of the Wairewa County Council gave evidence that the By-laws were confirmed and the Governor's approval had been obtained
A sealed copy was handed into court-
Witness gave evidence that that none of the defendants had | paid the license fee, though they, had plied for hire in the county.! This was admitted. To Mr Williams. Is not the Tee of £5 charged for the license excessive ?
Witness—No not for the damage done to the roads. It was his opinion that the cars did a great deal of damage to the roads.
Mr Williams :—lf you consider that motor cars do so much damage, why are two horse vehicles charged the same as motors under the by-law. Witness : I would not like to answer that.
Mr Williams : What was your object in charging- this license. Witness : 'To compensate the Council for the damage dono to the roads.
Mr Williams : Mr Pilking ton runs for 61 miles in the County Witness: Yes about that distance.
Mr Williams : Are you aware! what license fee he pays the Akaroa County ? .Witness : Yes I heard he paid £1* per car. Mr Williams: Have you ever, made enquiries as to what fees are paid in other counties ? Witness: No. Mr Williams: Was there considerable discussion about the fees to be charged when the bylaw was made by the< County Council ? Witness: No. Mr Williams: Were the bylaws made to get something out of Mr Pilkington ? Witness: Yes, the Council wanted some compensation for the damage done to the roads. Mr Williams: Will you tell me how much had been spent on the 61 miles of road for the four years" which Mr Pilkington has been running ? Witness: In two years £637 had been spent on the road from Little River to the Hill Top. Witness also gave particulars of this amount. ■ i To Mr Williams: He did not , think so much should have been I spent on the road if the cars had not been on the xoad. He knew from his thirty years experience that the cars did more damage to the road than coaches or any other wheeled traffic. To Mr Harper : The matter of making the By-law was thrashed out by the Council, and he only gave his personal opinion and not that of the Council. Mr Harper: Does Mr Pilkington do £5 damage to the road ? Witness: I would not like to repair the road for that amount. Akaroa got the benefit of the traffic through the Wairewa County and therefore the Akaroa County could make a light tax. Mr Harper: The Counties Act gives you power to tax motors. Witness: Yes I look upon it as a fee for compensating the Council for the damage done tc the road. Mr Harper: Did Mr Pilkington or any of the defendants object to the by-law before it was confirmed ? Witness: No. . Mr Harper: The by-law doe£ not tax any cars that rur through the County? Witness : No, it does not! Mi Pilkington had five or seven cart on the road. This closed the case for the Council. G. W. Pilkington gave evidence that he did not personally own the cars, but was a director foi the company of Pilkington's Motors Ltd, Akaroa.. He would take out the license for the company. To Mr Williams : You did not pay the licenses because you thought them unreasonable and you paid in the Akaroa County. Witness: No. Mr Harper said he would like his objection noted that he considered in proving the confirmation of the by-law he had proved his case because defendant admitted he had not paid the .license fees. Witness said he had seven cars, but the average would be between 3 to 3-J- cars in the 300 clays during the year. It was necessary to have the seven cars on account of breakages, cleaning, etc., and at a busy time they had had as many as seven cars on the road at one time. The license" fees .to be paid to the Wairewa County Council would amount to £35. He did not think that the cars did mere damage to the roads than a coach and five horses. He paid £1 each for car license to the Akaroa County Council. He was a ratepayer in the Akaroa Borough. To' Mr Harper : He never made any protest against the bylaw before it was passed. He intended to make the objection when he was asked to pay the icense fee. Herbert Mclntosh, motor inspector for the Christchurch City Council gave evidence that he iad had considerable experience vith motor car traffic all over
the world. The license fees' charged for motors plying" ;for | hire in the different centres j was :—Christchurch City, .20/- j for motor cab, 20/- for motor omnibuses ; Wellington City, 30/----for motor cabs and omnibuses; Auckland City 20/- motor cabs, 40/- for omnibuses; Sydney, motor cabs 20/-, omnibuses 40/-; Adelaide, motor cabs 30/-, omnibuses 30/- per year. Mr Williams: Have you ever heard of £5 being , charg-ed for a license fee 1 Witness : It is not my idea of a fee. He understood the fee was for the purpose of having control over the vehicle and driver for the protection of the public and not for the upkeep of the roads. Mr Williams: Do you think the fee is reasonable ? Witness : It seems to be above the ordinary. It is not sufficient for the road maintenance and too much for the control of the vehicles. Mr Williams: When you license a car you measure up a car and find out if it is in good repair and sound. Witness: Yes. Mr Williams: Supposing a man came for a license how longwould it take you to get- the license through. Witness: It would take not more' than, ten minutes. Mr Harper: You are a motor and traffic inspector for the Christchurch City Council and you only gave your opinion as to the purpose for which the fees were levied. Witness: Yes. Mr Harper: In Auckland and Sydney the fees were 40/-. Don't i you think it a high fee ? Witness: No, I don't think it is out of the way as it is a 'hilly country and the inspection lof the brakes is necessary. j Mr Harper: "Assuming that it jwas a toll for the upkeep of the road, if 40/- was charged in Auckland is £5 out of the way here ? Witness : Yes, in comparison the car should be charged less. He did not think the £5 would nearly cover the upkeep of the road. Mr Harper: Supposing the cars started in opposition with the train, would the fee be enough for the upkeep of the road. Witness: No. To Mr Harper: He would grant a license to an omnibus if it was quite safe as far as engine and brakes were concerned. He thought the fees were to pay the office expenses as 'well as the inspector, G. 11. O'Callaghan, clerk of the Akaroa County Council and the Akaroa and -Wainui Eoad Board inspector of vehicles under the Akaroa County By-law gave evidence that the license fee under the Akaroa County Council bylaw was 10/- for vehicles seating one passenger and £1 for more than one passenger. The fees jwere sufficient to cover the costs of administering the by-law as far as the by-law was concerned. He had been clerk of the old Selwyn County Council and while there he had considerable experience in licensing traction .engines. The purpose of the fee he considered was to cover the cost of administering the by-law. He thought £5 was more than sufficient to administer the bylaw. He did not look on the fee as a road tax and he understood the purpose of the by-law was to control motor traffic in the interests of the public. The distance the cars ran on the main Akaroa County road was about 13 miles. During the five years he had been in the county he had noticed the cars had worn the roads. The tyres lifted the binding and the metal came up. A heavy waggon would cut up a road more than a car. To the Magistrate : He did not think milk carts damaged the road much. To Mr Williams: It was difficult to say whether the maintenance of, the road was heavier since the cars came, but the Council employed the same staff. He got £5 a year for the inspection of vehicles and in the course of his duties he had to go .to different parts .of the district. That was sufficient remuneration Mr Harper: Is there any plying for hire in the Akaroa County Witness: Yes. The county issued 12 licenses for plying for hire, five owners having cars. He would not say whether £5 was reasonable compensation for the damage done to the road or not. F. W. Williams, of Robinson's Bay, farmer and member of the Akaroa County Council gave evidence that he thought cars had done a good deal of damage round corners and although in the Akaroa County the cost of maintenance of the road was a little heavier, the roads were in a much better state than when the coaches were travelling over them.
Mr Williams : Mr Quealy said the cost on the portion of the road in the Wairewa County .had been heavy. Do you think this was the cause of the cars beinjr on the road ? Witness: No. He thought £.1 license fee for the Akaroa County Council was .sufficient. He thought £5 license fee was unreasonable. It was unworkable to! impose a road tax for a car., ! To Mr Harper: Tf the road
was neglected for want of metal the cars would do a lot of damage. A heavy horse vehicle when putting 'on the bi'ake cut up the roads. He did not think a car would do £4 extra damage supposing it was running everyday on the road.
This closed the.case for the defence.
Mr Harper said he held that defendant's were liable for the fees as the confirmation of the by-law had been proved.
The Magistrate said the question of whether the £5 fee covered the damage or not was beside the question. The point was what the license was; whether a road tax or for the administration of the by-law for inspecting and licensing the vehicles. He did not think £5 would be • unreasonable if the damage of the road was concerned.
The case was adjourned to Christchurch for legal argument.
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MAGISTRATE'S COURT LITTLE RIVER., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXXV, Issue 3536, 14 April 1916