January 26th 1867 – USK PETTY SESSIONS FRIDAY
Before G. R. Greenhow-Relph, Esq., chairman, Major Stretton, S. Churchill, and E, Lister, Esq.
THE GOYTREY GRIEVENCES – THE AGRIEVED WIN THE FIRST BATTLE
On the 5th of the present month we published a full report (the only one which appeared in any newspaper) of a case brought before the Usk bench of Magistrates, by the Usk and Pontypool Highway Board, against Mr Thos. Jeremiah, overseer of the parish of Goytrey, for having neglected to pay to Wm. Davis, Esq., at the Bank of the Provisional Banking Corporation, Usk, the treasurer of the said Board, towards the repairs of the highways of the parish of Goytrey, and such other expenses as are chargeable by the said Board on the said parish, the sums of £140, on the days following, that is to say, the sum of £100 on the 5th day of November, and £40 on the 17th day of December last, in compliance with an order made by the said Board.
On the 22nd of October last, a vestry meeting of ratepayers of the parish of Goytrey was convened for the purpose of considering what steps it was their duty to take in reference to the greatly increasing pressure upon them of road rates, caused by the unprecedented expenditure on the Star road. The ratepayers – who are, generally, small payers – had been called upon to pay, during the last three half-years, in road and poor rates, a sum amounting to a total of not less than £954 17s and that within the last twelvemonths and two days, their road rates had amounted to £322, whilst an order had again been made upon them by the Highway Board to pay, within the ensuing two months, not less than £140, making a total of £462 within the short space of fourteen months!
The rateable value of the parish of Goytrey is £2,955, and the number of ratepayers about 150. Of these about 25 are rated under £20 and over £10; and about 60 are rated under £10 and over £2. Any person possessed of common sense and reason can easily imagine how heavily and sorely such a taxation pressed upon and oppressed a large class of small agriculturalists and agricultural labourers in the parish.
The ratepayers, feeling deeply aggrieved by the unprecedented road-rates laid upon them, and by what they deemed to be a gross mis-application of their rates on the Star hill, resolved at the vestry-meeting previously alluded to, to see in what way they could get redress, be protected, or protect themselves.
A communication embodying the above facts was sent to the Usk Highway Board, but no reply having been received, a vestry meeting was called on the 1st of November, at which it was resolved that the chairman should write to the Board of Waywardens, and offer to have the matter in dispute between the parish and the Board, in reference to the cost of the improvement of the Star Pitch, referred to the decision of the Usk Bench of Magistrates, or to the Pontypool Bench, or to the Chairman of the said Benches, provided the Board would abide by such decision as the referees arrived at; and the parish would agree to such decision as final and conclusive, as to the liability of Goytrey to the expenditure incurred; and the parish agreed that the Magistrates should decide the question in the capacity of private gentlemen, and not judicially, as magistrates, and that they were at liberty to decide the points upon their legal merits, the Waywardens appearing to view the matter in an Act of Parliament light only. The above proposal was made with the object of bring the difficulty to a peaceful solution, but without avail.
At the hearing of the case before the Usk magistrates, Mr Blount appeared for the Highway Board, and Mr Llewellin of Newport, for the overseers, and contended that the Board had no right to call for £140, as an Act stated that no call at any one time should exceed 10d. in the pound, and that calling for £140 was a little over 10d. in the pound.
The Bench reserved their decision in order that the Secretary of State should be obtained respecting the objection raised by Mr Llewellin, and the case was adjourned till, this day (Friday), when a large number of the ratepayers of Goytrey assembled in the Town Hall for the purpose of hearing the decision of the Magistrates.
Mr Blount appeared for the Highway Board, and said the Secretary of State declined giving an opinion, and handed the letter he had received from the Home Office to the Chairman, of which the following is a copy:-
Whitehall, January 11th, 1867
Gentlemen, – I am directed by Mr Secretary Walpole to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th instant, inquiring as to the interpretation of the 33rd Section of the Highway Act, 1864, in reference to a case in which the officer of the parish had been summoned by the Usk Highway Board for non-payment of a sum pursuant to their order, and I am to state in reply the Secretary of State has no authority to decide such a point. The magistrates must act according to their own judgement subject to an appeal subject to the Courts in Westminster Hall.
I am, Gentlemen, your obedient Servant, H. Worthington.
Messrs Blount & Davis, Solicitors to the Usk and Pontypool Highway Board, Usk
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