The Wanganui Chronicle. "Nulla Dies Sine Linea." FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 1907. THE L.C.C. ELECTION.
Qt'txs the most important news of the week, si» far as the Motherland is -joncerned, is that regarding- the London County Cfmncil elections,' 'and the consequent defeat of the Progressive Party. The 'London County Council consists of 118 members, and at the first election in 1889, the Progressives obtained a majority of 23. In 1892 this majority had risen tn. 48 s; but a temporary reaction in 1895 left the two ■ parties evenly balanced. Tn 3898 the Progressive majority had again lisen | to 22, and since 1901 the majority of i the municipal Socialists has varied from 50 to 53. After the election of 19l»4. , the Council consisted of 84 Progressives and 34 Moderates; and in spite of the vehement criticism to •■which the " wass trel " party had been subjected, the Progressives appeal to have believed that they would at least hold their own in this last contest. But their expectations have been woefully disap- , pointed/ Apparently 80 Reformers . '-have been elected against 34 Progressives; the'balance, of the Council'being made up of three Labour members and ,ono Independent. s Considering the ..fact that 109 Progressive ■candidates atobd for election,.and that among the rejected are 21 ex-Councillors," it can ; hardly be denied that popular opinion has spoken with no uncertain voice "in condemnation of the Progressive policy. The cabled details of the polling re-^ J su>ts show thht'for the first tjme since I tho -esta^ishmoixt <oV the" LtC."C. the \ Moderate 11 party is in a majority; and [ to-day tho Reformers stand in an" even , ' stronger position than that Tvhich' the [ Progressives have maintained through . eighteen years of lalmost unbroken suci cess. The Council which It has ruled is1 ; now tho administrative body of a I county covering 117 square" miles, containing a population of four and threequarter millions, with a total ratcablo value of forty-three and a-half millions sterling. Its duties are almost innumerable. Within its boundaries- it has control of education, public health, tramwaysp asylums, - historic buildings, inebriates, music-halls, and midvvives. It looks'after such varied matters, as diseases of animals,' the prevention of Thames floods, seats ior shop assistants, and the protection of iviki birds j the fire brigade is part of its charge, and 6O is the regulation of motor-cars, to say nothing of drainage, the employment of children, the naming of .streets, and the running of penny steamers and workmen's'trains. The Progressives went down before an indictment charging them- with reckless and impVovident extravagance, and the emphatic rejection of their policy is claimed by .their opponents to have sounded .the death-knell of municipal socialism in England. On the- other hand, their supporters claim that the defeat was brought labout by the enormous "influence wielded by huge „vested interests. To quote jMrv .Burns, the - Progressives had " alHhe interests and some of the immoralities" arrayed ■against them, and the combination, pliif,; the force of, alleged scandalous land unscrupulous misrepresentation, proved overwhelming. Whatever theii-.. • sins,-, It must in fairness be admitted that London to-day is a better place to live in than it.was before the Progressives came into office, or, in ether words, before the London County I Council jwas created. «The " squalid I village," as*-Grant Allen used to call it', /has 'become a well-ordered, and, in many parts,' a stately city. The man who wants to realise at a glance whiat ; the London County Council has done should put an old and a new map -side by side, noticing where broad thorougnl fares, have displaced tangled networks ■of " slum" streets, and marking the I growth in many different quarters of v the green patches which stand for.' pleasure gardens and breathing spaces. ' ' If he has a taste, on the other hand^. for statistics, he should note the growth s of population.^ Since -the County Council dame into existence the-population i*1 , : of a huge.city £650,000) has been added 1 • to' London. .He should try and realise what' it means to provide., for the . health and comfort of such \n increase. London is larger than it was^ but,----7 thanks in no small measure to the County Council, the larger -London'- is ajso a healthier and a brighter-London* There has been, a decrease 0f,,44. per' cent., said (Mr. Burns, in a speech
.which hodelivered a few weeks ago, in' epidemic diseases; a decrease of from 14 to 19 per cent-, hrinfant* mortality ; a decrease of 2.5 per cent: in^he deathrate j a diminution 1 of; 12^,000 in the. number of, those" " eoul-destroying, one roomed, hoipes which 7 are ;ho-hom"es,' thetenements." the" Progressives ,4^pear to have overstepped thj^-mark.;, One huge scheme was' followed by- another, the Council embarked on,experiments in municipal trading'"which in-volved-huge expenditure, and the debt and the rates have steadily increased until the overburdened ratepayers, alarmed at the wild schemes of some of tho mo^t socialistic members, have abruptly called sa halt. The~~-Moderate, pledged to a policy of enonomy and efficiency, have been placed in power, and it certainly cannot be regarded as other than significant that the most striking feature of their programme is the " limitation of municipal trading I to such undertakings as are necessary ' to the whole community and which can- | not be effectively carried out by private enterprise."