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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 27th January, 1950, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Electricity Cables 1950

Inspector Hears Cable Case

Rushden Council Object to Overhead Wires

A Ministry of Fuel and Power inquiry into the case of the erection of overhead electricity cables in two roads in Rushden, proposed by the East Midlands Electricity Board, and objected to by Rushden U.D.C., opened on Friday in the Council Chamber at Rushden.

The Inspector was Mr. H. W. Grimmitt, Deputy Chief Engineering Inspector of the Ministry.

Opening the case for the applicants, the East Midlands Electricity Board, Mr. A. J. D. Langford, solicitor and deputy secretary of the Electricity Board, gave a brief outline of the objections of Rushden Urban Council.

He told the Inspector that applications were being made by the Electricity Board for the Ministry of Fuel and Power’s consent to overhead electricity cables in Bedford Road and Kimbolton Road.

The applications had originally been referred to the county authority, and Rushden Urban Council. The county authority did not desire to be heard, as they had no objections to the applications. Rushden Urban Council wished to be heard on each.

Board Case

Mr. Langford made several points on which the Electricity Board based their case.

He said : “The existing supply, from which the Area Board propose to take the supply, is already an overhead supply.

“The proposed lines will cause no obstruction to existing overhead lines belonging to the G.P.O.

“The Board refutes the suggestion by the Rushden Council that lines would affect materially the amenities of the roads concerned.”

Mr. Langford pointed out that a water tower, which could be seen for many miles, and was not a thing of beauty, had been erected, whereas the Board’s poles would be of wood, largely screened by trees.

He pointed out that the county authority, as planning authority, had no objection to the Board’s proposals.

Mr. Langford’s final point was with regard to cost. “You will be aware that the Area Board is severely restricted by Parliament in our capital expenditure programme. If we are to place lines underground at great cost, then as a result schemes elsewhere will be restricted. There is also the question of additional labour and materials.

“As an Area Board,” continued Mr. Langford, “it is our desire to work in close co-operation with local authorities. We consider we are doing so.”

Mr. Langford declared that the Board would be unable to extend their supplies if they were compelled to do so every-where at high cost.

“The demand is as great in the rest of Northants as it is in Rushden,” he said.

It was stated in reply to a question by Mr. A. G. Crowdy, Clerk to the Council, that the cost for putting in underground electric cables would be twice as much as that for overhead cables.

Underground cables for the two Bedford Road applications would cost a total of £2,085, and the Kimbolton Road application would cost £435.

However, if overhead cables were erected, the cost in Bedford Road would only be a total of £723, and Kimbolton Road £194.

Underground cables would cost approximately £1,500 more than overhead cables.

Mr. A. G. Crowdy, who was presenting the case for the Council, called Coun. A. A. Allebone, chairman of the Highways Committee to give evidence to the Inspector.

Mr. Allebone said that his committee treated every such application on its merits. They preferred underground cables, as they did not wish to see either road criss-crossed with wires.

They wished to preserve the appearance as well as possible. The Board Committee decided it was not unreasonable to turn down the applications which they had considered very carefully.

In reply to Mr. Langford, Coun. Allebone said that the Bedford Road application was turned down principally on the grounds of amenity.

Eye Level

Mr. A. Millar, the Council’s Engineer and Surveyor, was also called upon by Mr. Crowdy. He told the Inspector that he considered Rushden to be quite attractive for a small industrial town, and was above the average in its amenities. “It is especially in need of protecting, to prevent it deteriorating into an ordinary industrial town,” he added.

Mr. Millar pointed out that coming into Rushden from Bedford, motorists reached a dip in the road, and gained a view of Rushden. Because of this dip, if the wires went across the road, they would be just about at a motorist’s eye level.

“I consider it would be most objectionable,” he said.

Mr. Crowdy summarising the evidence told the Inspector that the Council had no pre-decided policy with regard to overhead cables. Though the Council did not like overhead wires, they did not refuse the applications “willy nilly.” They wished to preserve the amenities as far as possible. “We must admit that Rushden has few natural amenities but for a small industrial town Rushden is not unattractive,” he said.

He added that the Council were always careful in protecting the main approaches to the town. “They are not at present unattractive” he said.

With regard to the question of delays which was causing discussion in the town, Mr. Crowdy said that the Council dealt with the applications promptly, and it was not their fault that these applications which were first made in May, were still under discussion.

Dealing with the application in Bedford Road, Mr. Crowdy said there was a wide grass verge which was adequate for putting in underground cables. If the Electricity Board had satisfied the Inspector that the cost was too great for this, it would be possible for overhead cables to be put behind the houses in the road.

Mr. Crowdy commented with regard to the agreement of the County Council, that the Committee concerned had a large number of applications and they dealt with them as a matter of general policy rather than individually.

A visit to the sites concerned concluded Mr. Grimmitt’s inspection of the case. The decision will be given by the Minister of Fuel and Power in a fortnight or three weeks.

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