Scrap heap challenged by annoyed residents

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At the Borough Police Court before Mr G Rowntree (in the chair), Alderman Rowntree and Mr AJ Tugwell, Robert McLorriman, marine store dealer, 30, William Street, was summoned for laying down certain iron or other material in Wrea Street to the annoyance of residents between 25th April and 25th July, 1918. He was also summoned for obstructing the free passage of Wrea Street between same dates.

Mr J Whitfield represented the defendant and he pleaded guilty to the first case.

The Chief Constable (Mr H Windsor) said the offence complained of was that the defendant had taken possession of Wrea Street, which was a cul-de-sac at the blind end where it terminates. The defendant had apparently some ground on which he stored old metal and he admitted he had no right to use the footpaths and roadway as he had done. He had taken possession of a five-foot footpath on the north side of the street at the far end, just above where the houses terminated and where his ground began, for a distance of 36ft, and piled up old metal of all descriptions. On the opposite side of the street, not only had he taken possession of the footpath for a distance of 36ft, and for a width of 5ft, but he had also taken possession of the roadway for another 12ft - a total obstruction on that side of the street of 36ft by 17ft. In addition there was at the present time a heavy bogey taking up another 8ft. This matter had been going on for some considerable time, and he took the matter up more or less actively on the 1st of May. He ordered PC Firth to keep frequent observation of the heap, to see whether it increased or diminished. On the 1st of May Firth saw defendant about the deposit of the metal, and he replied, “I can assure you I am sorry it is there. I am unable to obtain the labour to remove it. If I could have done it I should have done. I would rather have the money in my pocket than all that stuff lying there.” There was no reduction, but rather an increase. On the 4th of June a further effort was made to reason with defendant, and he was seen by Sergeant Stockdale and PC Firth, and defendant said he had been asked by the Government to secure every scrap of metal and it was coming faster than he could deal with it.

Observation was again continued and during the week ending July 20th, when there was a thunderstorm. Apart from the annoyance, there was a vile smell in consequence of the wet and heat upon old beef cans. When Sergeant Hicks saw defendant on July 25th, he said “We will not deposit any more in the street,” and he added that as soon as labour was available it would be removed. McLorriman said he knew it was an annoyance to the poor people living there.

Mr Windsor said ten residents were in court to speak to the annoyance from the noise which the tins, etc created when any wind was blowing. The noise kept people awake at nights, and illness had been caused through the annoyance. It was the most serious case of the kind he had ever brought to court. It was inconceivable that people should have to live under these conditions.

With regards to defendant’s defence, the metal ought never to have been placed there at all. As for the plea of patriotism, it was a case of a man wanting to put money into his own pocket. That was no reason why these people should take possession of a public road.

Mr Whitfield said defendant had admitted the charge. He pointed out that Mr McLorriamn owned land on either side of the road at the bottom end of the street and that no one else owned or occupied property where the metal was placed. Before the war defendant had ten men working for him, but now he had only one - a discharged soldier. The Railway Company would not allow their horses and vehicles to be used for the removal of it. In the ordinary way Messrs Newham had done the carting, but they could not find the labour and the vehicles.

Labour of this kind had been absolutely skinned. They did not claim the right to put it there. Quite recently they approached the Corporation with the suggestion that they should remove it, Mr McLorriman to pay the expenses, but that offer was not accepted. In conclusion, Mr Whitfield suggested that the case should be adjourned for a fortnight, so that defendant could clear the roadway of the metal.

Defendant, replying to the Bench, promised to have the metal removed within fourteen days.

The Chairman: The case will be adjourned for fourteen days in order that you may carry out your promise, and it will be necessary to have it done completely. The question will then be considered what penalty shall be imposed.

Eventually, after further remarks, both cases were adjourned for fourteen days,