The following was published by the Windsor Labour Party in the autumn of 1945. Earlier in the year the Labour Party nationally had won the General Election, defeating Winston Churchill. Now the local Labour Party wanted to take control of Windsor Council in the local elections of November 1945. just months after the end of the war. The Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead was some 30 years away at that time.
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SHOULD THERE BE PARTY POLITICS IN THE TOWN COUNCIL?
HOUSING AND PLANNING
Housing. The Past
What the Labour Party would do
Other necessary developments
The need for controls
CIVIC AND SOCIAL CENTRES
The Imperial Service College
The College and a Civic Centre
A Social Centre
Transport, Gas, Electricity
Street lighting, and Refuse Collection, Sewerage, Libraries
Pleasure grounds and Baths
Chaos of Administration
What will the Labour Party do?
A comprehensive Health Service
Are you satisfied with Windsor's Schools?
An Educational Plan for Windsor
BUT WHAT IS IT GOING TO COST?
"Keep the rates down ! " The Facts
What the Conservatives really mean
WHAT DO YOU think of Windsor? Is it all it might and should be? If not, what is wrong? And where is it wrong? And what should be done to put it right? And how can it be put right?
Consider Windsor. Most of it is built in the ugliest style of the Victorian age, when the houses of the rich were too large and fanciful and the houses of the poor too small and dingy. Apart from one or two buildings there is nothing of which anyone can justifiably feel proud.
The war has not improved
things. Repairs have been negligible; and billeting and overcrowding
have made the whole problem of housing in Windsor one which the
sternest measures are needed to solve. If a large part of the
town is to be anything but a disgusting slum, something drastic
has to be done as soon as possible. The Castle is beautiful of
course; but the town which has grown up through the centuries
at its side is by now no fit place for serving men and women
to return to.
But its houses and its lack of houses are not its only disgrace. It has no centre of administration; its public amenities are far from satisfactory; there is no Social Centre; the library facilities are ridiculous; the traffic congestion is scandalous; the health services and schools are shamefully inadequate in numerous respects. If you will read this booklet you will see that these accusations are not unfounded.
This is the first booklet of its kind in Windsor's history. The Conservative Party, which - so far - has been elected to a majority on the Town Council, has never dared to offer to you, the people whom it has been elected to serve, any account of its intentions other than the usual vague 'Election Address.' But the Labour Party not only dares to publish this booklet outlining its plan for Windsor, it is glad and proud to do so. For the Labour Party does not merely talk about the Brave New World: it also makes plans for it.
So please read this booklet right through and see what sort of a Windsor the Labour Party would strive to create. If it meets with your approval, you will know what to do. If you leave Windsor to the Conservatives, you will get only the planless past for ever; but support the Labour Party, and, with your help and in your confidence, it will set about solving the problems created and left untouched by the Conservatives.
BUT before we go into these problems in detail, perhaps we should answer those who will say: "Yes, we agree with your criticisms of Windsor but we don't want any Party politics in the Council. We want to elect the best men and women to do the job irrespective of their political views."
In the first place, it must be realised that there was Party politics in the Council long before the Labour Party had any representatives there. In 1937 the Labour candidates warned the people about the 'Independents' opposed to them and named them as Conservatives in disguise, for the Labour Party has always known the simple fact that the Council has been run for years and years by nominees of the Conservative Association. During the war, when vacancies have been filled on a Party basis in accordance with advice from the Home Office, it has been revealed time and time again that Councillors who were elected as so-called 'Independents' were, in fact, nominated by the Conservative Party and elected with the full backing of its machinery. And as these 'Independents' retired the Conservatives claimed the right to replace them by persons of the same Party - Conservative!
A Council composed of 30 independent members can exist only in the imagination. Sooner or later they would inevitably form groups and combinations to get anything done; and once a group of members on a public body starts working on the basis of some agreed line of policy, what is that but Party politics? But to be sure of getting any plan carried out, its supporters require a considerable organisation behind them, and a not negligible amount of money.
We of the Windsor Local Labour Party make no secret of our position in this matter. We believe not only that it is right for citizens to form a Party to get things done, but also that this is the only practical way in which a town can be governed for the health and happiness of its inhabitants. Years of experience have convinced us that the cry of 'No Party Politics' is merely a propaganda device to induce unsuspecting voters to continue electing Conservatives to the Council, and that, as long as this device is successful, the adoption of a constructive and progressive policy by the Windsor Town Council will be postponed.
The things we propose in this booklet are all practicable. But they will only be carried out if you elect a Council which believes that they ought to be. The Labour Party believes this, the Conservative Party does not. If you do not want anything done, then a Council of 'Independents' will do it very well for you; but you will have only yourselves to blame for the inconvenient, unhealthy and ugly town that will result. It is up to you to choose.
As a direct result of many years of Conservative misrule, Windsor stands in dire need of many things, but most people will agree that the greatest need is for houses. The Labour Party certainly puts the provision of houses first on the list of tasks which have to be performed.
At least 1,500 of Windsor's houses are, judged by modern standards, unfit for people to live in. It has already been decided to pull some of them down, but they are still occupied, and many more are so closely huddled together and so old that it would be wasteful to try and patch them up. Many of them too are overcrowded and the living conditions inside them scandalous. Before the war, when it was possible to build houses quite cheaply, Labour Councillors constantly pressed for the building of more Council houses to relieve these conditions. A few were built on the east side of Kenton's Lane, and they were the best Council houses in Windsor, but the dilatory methods of the Council delayed the building of more in St. Leonard's Road and off Clewer Hill Road near 'The Wolf.' Then, of course, the outbreak of war prevented the completion of the original scheme.
But during the war Labour Councillors have kept the housing needs of Windsor before the Council and have neglected no opportunity of urging the taking over of property to relieve overcrowding.
The position has undoubtedly been made worse by the war, but neither the number nor the quality of the Council houses built since 1918 is anything to be proud of, and the Labour Party believes that Council houses should be such that the town could be proud of them. Only 372 were built in 20 years, many of them lacking such elementary necessities as fences, electric light and a decent hot water system. Only 12 have a second living room or parlour, and the quality of their construction is shown by the huge sums of money spent each year in an apparently hopeless attempt to keep them in a proper state of repair. There is no attempt made to look after the interests of the tenants such as a qualified Housing Manager might be expected to make. A few shops have sprung up near the houses, but the Council has made no effort to provide anything whatever beyond the houses themselves. There is no meeting place, no building for a clinic and no school nearer than that in Clarence Road, which is nearly a mile from most of the Council houses. It is true to say that the Council built as few Council houses as possible, as cheaply as possible, dumped the people in them and tried to forget all about them. It was only through the activities of the tenants themselves - led by the Labour Party - that their grievances about repairs and rents received any attention.
The Labour Party would reverse this policy. It would do its utmost to get as many houses built as possible. Labour Councillors have inspected all the new types of houses put up for demonstration and have carefully studied the many reports which have been printed on housing construction. They will do their best to ensure that the Council houses to be built are really fine houses in which men and women will be glad to live. They know only too well what the term 'Council house' has meant in the past, and they intend that it shall mean something very different in the future.
Nevertheless, they realise their limitations and the place of the expert. They have pressed and will continue to press for the services of a qualified architect to plan and design the new houses. Housewives will be consulted, an innovation which has been made easier by the victory of the Labour Party in securing the co-option of five housewives on the Housing Committee against the opposition of the die-hards of the Council. If the policy of the Labour Party is not followed in these matters there is a grave danger that the whole of Windsor's post-war housing will be planned by an under staffed and under qualified department - with disastrous results.
The houses the Labour Party would build would be of various types, but all would have a large, light, well equipped kitchen designed as the workshop of the housewife. There would be plenty of cupboards, hot and cold running water, a refrigerator, and all the usual adjuncts of a kitchen arranged in the places most convenient to the housewife who would use it. There would be either a separate outbuilding for such work as shoe cleaning and bicycle repairing, or a separate utility room for this sort of thing or for the washing.
In some houses the kitchen would be made big enough to dine in and there would be a living room in addition. In others the living room would be bigger and have a recess in which the dining table could be placed. Some would have a small dining room and a second living room. The aim would be to provide, where possible, a second living room where callers could be received, homework done by children, or some privacy enjoyed by any member of the family. Every opportunity would be taken to build in cupboards with the rest of the house, and, wherever possible, other furniture too. There would be the choice of gas, electricity or other fuel for lighting and heating, and if it were possible to lay on a supply of hot water in conjunction with the re-building of the dust destructor the Labour Party would see that this was considered. Each house too would have storage space for a perambulator, and the doors would be made wide enough to get it in. Accommodation for cars would be provided either next to the house or in a block of garages on each estate.
If private building were permitted in addition to the building of Council houses, the Labour Party would see to it that the bye-laws were carefully observed and prospective purchasers protected from Jerry building by careful inspection at every stage. The Labour Party has already asked for the appointment of a qualified building inspector and has finally persuaded the majority of the Council of the need for one, despite vigorous opposition by some of the Conservatives.
The Labour Party is aware that the housing shortage will last for some time, and that it will not be possible at first to start the clearance of any but the most glaring of the slum properties in the town.
To house quickly the people living in the shocking conditions reported to the Council by Alderman Fuzzens, the Labour Party would press as a matter of urgency the conversion of large buildings like Lawrence House into flats. It is surely a revelation of the Council's short-sightedness that it may now have to pay thousands of pounds for Lawrence House, which it refused some time ago when it was offered free as a home for old persons.
The Labour Party would include in its plans a number of small houses for old persons, and would insist that these should have a second bedroom for visiting sons and daughters or a resident nurse. A quiet reading room or lounge would be provided wherever a group of such old people's houses was built.
Finally, in order to relieve immediate hardship, the Labour Party would accept up to 200 of whatever type or types of temporary house the Government made available. But it wishes to state that for three good reasons it does not favour temporary houses: because they must be sub-standard; because they require materials and labour urgently needed for permanent houses; and because, in view of the fact that they will have to be removed in ten or twelve years, they are unduly expensive.
THE years between the wars have shown that it is not enough to build just houses. The houses must be planned to look pleasant on their estates and the estates too must be planned to allow safe and happy lives to be lived by the residents. Provision must be made for all the things the family needs to be available not too far away. That means planning. So the Labour Party would obtain the services of a skilled town planner to make provision at Dedworth where the bulk of the new Council house building must be, for shops, cinemas, clinics, baths, meeting places, schools, playing fields, libraries and restaurants. It may not be possible to build them at once: houses are the first need. But if space is not reserved for all these things in the right places they will not be built at all, or, if they are built, they will be in the wrong places and long journeys will be necessary to get to them. At present, practically all these necessary services, in so far as they are provided, are a threepenny bus ride from most of our Council houses.
The Labour Party would, then, do its utmost to develop the new Windsor according to a. plan, and simultaneously try to plan the old Windsor so that as clearance becomes possible something like an organised town, easy and pleasant to live in, may result.
For the development of the new Windsor it is important that the best planning advice be sought. The Labour Party has already urged the Council to seek the services of a skilled and experienced town planner, but the Council seems reluctant to do this. Other towns have been more fortunate and have already published their plans. It is time for a new Council in Windsor.
Windsor is at present inconvenient for many people to live in simply because it has not been planned. If you throw down a pack of cards on the table you do not expect them to arrange themselves in tidy, convenient patterns. If you want them arranged in a certain way you set about arranging them yourself. That is planning Nobody ever planned Windsor. That is why the Council houses are a long way from the Home Park, the cinemas and the male shops. That is why its few factories are mixed up with the houses, and why the gas works is right in the middle of the most congested part of the town. Surely it is wise, when much of Windsor's housing is out-of-date and unhealthy and many new houses are to be built, that the best advice should be sought on how these new houses and all the various social amenities which must accompany them should be conveniently and pleasantly arranged. At any rate, the Labour Party thinks so and has a vision of what must be done to make our town a much better place to live in.
For the Labour Party does not want Windsor to be either a museum piece with the Castle as the chief exhibit, or a mock Imperial centre of a rapidly changing Empire with one of the homes of the Royal Family as its only reason for the pretence. Windsor is not the centre of the British Empire, but a place where upwards of 20,000 people live, and the Labour Party would plan it so that those people can be as happy and healthy as possible.
There are roughly two parts to Windsor. There is Windsor proper, centred on the junction of Peascod Street, Clarence Road, Victoria Street and St. Leonard's Road, i.e. Cross's Corner; and there is Dedworth or Clewer Without, centred round the junction of Vale Road and Dedworth Road, at the bottom of the Bell Farm Estate. Of the two, Windsor proper has some of the things it needs not too far away, but Clewer Without is without a great deal of what it needs within easy reach. As we have said, much of Windsor's new housing will have to be in or near Dedworth; and so the Labour Party would use this development to make Dedworth a community of all classes, containing all the services needed for everyday life. Windsor proper should get all the community provision it needs at the Imperial Service College site, the acquisition of which the Labour Party strongly supported.
The Labour Party thinks that work should be made available for the inhabitants of Windsor within a quarter of an hour's travelling distance from their homes, and would urge that an area along the Maidenhead Road near the present Acorn Works should be reserved for light industry. It should be under proper control, and no nuisance to the town should be permitted either by pollution of the atmosphere or by undue noise. The site would reduce any nuisance to a minimum, for the prevailing wind would blow away from the rest of the town.
A road bridge over the
river east or west of the racecourse would be a great convenience
to those people who would still continue to make the daily journey
to and from Slough to work.
It should not be necessary for people, particularly children, to cross busy roads in order to go to school, shops and so on. The Labour Party would direct through-traffic along the outskirts of the town and not through its centre. It would, for instance prefer traffic from Maidenhead to reach Windsor along the Maidenhead Road and not along Dedworth Road. The taking over by the Corporation of the local bus service would enable additional services to be run and at the same time relieve the rates.
For the recreation and relaxation of residents and visitors, the riverfront development should be continued. The present tree-lined promenades should be extended backwards from the river to include the bowling green, Goswell's Meadow and the Alexandra Gardens. Unsightly railings should be removed and the whole site thrown open. The promenades should also be extended westwards to link up with Clewer Park, which should be acquired for the town as an open space. This development would embrace the baths, which should be modernised and provided with filtered and purified water. Ugly buildings should be removed and modern methods used to develop the whole river-front as a recreation ground for the people, with cafes, restaurants and paddling pools for the children. Eastwards the riverfront would merge into the natural beauty of the Home Park, which should be interfered with as little as possible, the only addition being an up-to-date pavilion built to harmonise with the surroundings and equipped with washing facilities for players, catering facilities, and provision for the playing of indoor games such as billiards.
These are the Windsor Local Labour Party's plans for the transformation of our town. But they cannot be considered in isolation. Their materialisation will involve many matters which can only be dealt with on a national scale. For if these, and other plans for other towns, are to be carried out there will have to be control over those who wish to exploit our needs for their own profit. The land sharks will have to be tackled, the jerry builder will have to be supervised, and the whole building industry will have to be reorganised under public control. The manufacture of building materials, and their importing where the home supply is not enough, will have to be planned on a national scale. The Labour Party believes in the nationalisation of the land; but if this is not possible for some time to come, it - and by 'it' is now meant the Government of this country - will insist as a minimum on the nationalisation of development rights, so that landlords shall no longer be able to extract from the land increased values which have been created by the people spending their rates to develop neighbouring land.
Powerful influences in the country have seen handsome pickings to be had out of just those needs of the people which are expressed in this plan for Windsor and similar plans for other towns; but they cannot have them now that we have a Labour Government to subject them to proper control. The Conservative Party, which represents these influences, waged its election campaign for the removal of those very controls which served the nation so well during the war. They wanted-and they still want-to remove the controlled price from a great many things. Do you want that? Do you want profiteers to make the fortunes out of you in peace that they would have liked to make during the war? The country has given its answer by giving the Labour Party an absolute majority in the House of Commons. To win the war against ugly housing, bad planning and squalid and insanitary towns we shall have to continue the methods which have been successful in winning the war against Fascism.
The Windsor Local Labour Party's plan for homes and a hometown for the people who have fought and won the war fits neatly into the British Labour Government's plan for the country as a whole. It may seem a grandiose plan, and we do not believe that t can be accomplished in a short time; but we say that it can be realised and that nothing less - is good enough for our people. This vision we have of a beautiful, happy and healthy Windsor can be made a reality if we want it strongly enough. We are going to try to make it come true. Will you help by voting for the Labour candidates in November?
From the time of William the Conqueror until the 19th century Windsor consisted of a mere handful of houses and shops huddled around the Castle walls. Its centre was High Street, complete with gallows and stocks. But after the coming of the railway it expanded rapidly to the south and west, gradually growing to be what we understand by the word 'town.'
With this growth, however, the civic administration has not kept pace. At the present time the Town Council meets at the Guildhall, the Town Clerk and the Borough Accountant are housed in Park Street in buildings unsuited to their purpose, and the Borough Engineer and the Sanitary Inspector are a mile away in Alma Road in buildings similarly unsatisfactory. The Education Offices in Victoria Street are old and very nearly worn out, and other administrative departments are scattered in odd corners of the town, usually in converted houses.
How much worse are conditions in Windsor now?
WINDSOR'S present health services are by any reasonable standard inadequate; but although many of the developments that the Labour Party would like to see will not be practicable until the Labour Government introduces a National Health Service, there are some which the Town Council has the power to carry through once it has the will to do so. The Labour Party stands for extending the health services of the town to the maximum extent possible. There can be no wiser investment.
This is especially true
of Maternity and Child Welfare. The services are administered
through the local councils Town and County, and are in our hands
to improve. There should be medical attention and advice available
in full measure at every stage, but Windsor mothers know that
this is not so today.
To begin with, there is no adequate ante-natal service. No clinic exists at Clewer, and the one which does exist at the H.R.H. Princess Christian Home, although supported by public funds is operated privately.
At childbirth, the mother has four alternatives. She may be attended by a midwife, who is employed by the County Council. If - and only if - there are complications, she may go to the Windsor Hospital, which is on a voluntary basis. Or, in special circumstances, such as unsuitable conditions in the home, she may - if there is room - go to the Emergency Hospital at Old Windsor, which is under the County. Or, if she can afford it, she may go to the Princess Christian Home, which, though receiving a subsidy of £300 from the Town Council. is private. There is, in fact, no publicly-owned maternity home in Windsor.
Provision for the post-natal care of mothers is another essential service. In Windsor it is almost non-existent, and the result is the ill-health of many young mothers. In Slough there is a Women's Advisory Clinic at the Social Centre, of which some Windsor mothers take advantage, but it is no substitute for one here. The recent Home Helps scheme is a valuable new development, but it is on far too small a scale.
For Child Welfare there is a somewhat better provision, but it too is far from being what it should be. Valuable work is done by the public health staff and voluntary organisations, but the staff is small and the accommodation unsuitable. Mothers who use either of the Welfare Centres know how true this is. Neither building was meant for such a purpose, and there is consequently much inconvenience in the system of queueing to see the doctor or nurse, to have the baby weighed, or to buy food. There is no shelter for prams and nowhere to put the baby down inside, so that the mother must either carry him all the time, or leave him outside when she is getting food.
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE. State entry of George VI to Windsor, 1937, and a winkle stall near the Castle walls. Inadequate provision is made for the thousands of visitors to this historic town.
NATURE'S HANDIWORK AND MAN'S HANDIWORK. A view in the Great Park, and Goswell Lane, Windsor.
To say that the public health staff is too small is no criticism of its present members, who have rendered loyal service to the town. But it is not right that the Health Visitor should have nearly 17600 children on her list, or that in a town with several thousand children the Medical Officer of Health should give only part-time service.
When the baby grows, the provision for his needs is still meagre. The wartime nurseries have been an excellent innovation, but they have come into being for a limited purpose and there is no nursery school in the town. The nursery classes that are attached to some schools are scandalously overcrowded.
The County provides for the older child through the School Medical Services, and there have been considerable advances ill these But it is still true to say that they are too irregular to be of positive value to children of school age.
Nor do the existing services fit in with each other to provide a continuity of care and treatment. Those which are publicly administered are divided between the Town and the County. This has serious drawbacks, for details are seldom passed on from one authority to the other, with the result that continuity of records to which modern science attaches so much importance, is neglected. In other words, our present provision for maternity and child welfare is a hotch-potch of meagre services.
It is true, of course, that thirty years ago most of these services were not available at all. Even the present services, therefore represent an appreciable advance. Infectious diseases such as measles, scarlet fever and whooping cough have become less dangerous; the number of infants who die in their first year has been greatly reduced; and Windsor has at present an excellent record for diphtheria immunisation.
Labour councillors have played a big part in the progress that has been made in recent years. The demand expressed in the Labour Party's last municipal programme for the attendance of a doctor at the Clewer Clinic has been granted. It was a Labour councillor who first suggested that the Clewer Welfare might be open twice a week in order to ease the overcrowding. Labour councillors on the Public Health Committee first raised the question of the Queen's District Nurses and the Home Helps.
In Windsor, however, as elsewhere, medical attention still largely depends on the means of the patient. It is to this state of affairs that the Labour Party is opposed, for it believes that in matters of life and death and the easing of pain and suffering class distinction should not exist, and that the same opportunities for medical attention, preventive as well as curative, should be available to the poor as to the rich.
The Labour Party will make every endeavour to provide better accommodation for Infant Welfare at the earliest possible opportunity. The only adequate accommodation would be in a specially built Health Centre, which would include Infant Welfare Clinics, but in the meantime one of the buildings of the Imperial Service College could be adapted to provide a great advance on the present facilities. There it would be possible for the doctor and each nurse to have a separate room so that overcrowding could be avoided. The clinics could also be open more often. There could be a shelter for prams, proper lavatories, and somewhere for other young children who accompany their mothers to play under supervision.
To enable the full benefit to be obtained even from the present services, however, it is essential that a full-time Medical Officer of Health and at least one additional Health Visitor should be appointed.
A Maternity Home must
be provided by the Town itself. Its wards should be small and
the cost low enough to enable all mothers who so desire to take
advantage of it.
The Home Helps scheme must be expanded so that its services can be made more widely and readily available to mothers after their confinements, to the aged and infirm, and in homes where illness exists.
The Labour Party takes a particular interest in the tuberculosis service, which is at present administered by the County Council. Labour policy would include the complete modernisation of all the sanatorium provisions, buildings and treatment at Peppard; the withdrawal of all charges or payments for treatment; and the provision of a special clinic in Windsor.
These are some of the more urgent developments to which the Labour Party pledges its attention in Windsor. Other more comprehensive developments will have to take place within the framework of national policy and cannot be discussed in detail here. In general, however, it can be said that we want locally the kind of facilities proposed in the Labour Party's plan for a National Health Service. We want to see the health services unified, so that the present chaotic divisions are abolished. Unity of control is essential for efficiency. We should like to see the Windsor Hospital publicly owned, and equipped and maintained at a standard unattainable so long as it is on its voluntary basis. We want provision for isolation cases in Windsor. We want hospital treatment taken away from Public Assistance. We want the panel system, with its humiliating stigma of class distinction, swept away. And we look forward to the provision in Windsor of a Health Centre.
Such a Centre would be ideally combined with the Social Centre of the future, so that where men and women gather to swim or dance, to listen to music or debate, they also go for medical examination and advice while they are well. By such a positive health service accepted as a normal function of community and family life, the present burden of illness and minor ailments would be lifted and men and women enabled to enjoy that sense of well-being which good health makes possible.
Finally, the Labour Party is well aware that good health depends not only on doctors and nurses but also on the whole environment. That is why the Party believes in good houses, wise planning, a clean water supply, facilities for recreation, up-to-date systems of sewerage and refuse disposal, and the provision of slipper baths and children's playgrounds.
The development of Windsor's
health services along these lines is an attractive prospect.
By voting Labour in November you can make it a practical possibility.
The following quotation is taken from a description accompanying plans for the rebuilding of Windsor drawn up in 1847 by David Kyle and Henry Kerl and submitted to the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods, the Provost or Eton College and the Mayor and Corporation of Windsor:
"The neglect of a century or two ago is written in the irregular streets, the more irregular houses - alike destitute of design as of convenience - of which the older portion consists, without a stone for the antiquary to admire, whilst the modern portion, regardless of beauty or order, is more faulty still. Leading streets of this character - without public buildings to ornament them, and without drainage to render them salubrious - stand in front of back streets and courts, the description of which will best be avoided."
Too much of this is true of Windsor in 1945; it will still be true in 2045 if the Conservatives retain control.
HAVE you seen the boys and girls of Clewer St. Stephen's at play on that small, ugly stretch of asphalt hemmed in: by dingy buildings? Have you seen the boys of the Royal Free using Bachelors' Acre for their games because they have no playing field? Have you seen the cramped buildings at Clewer Green or St. Edward's, erected, like most of Windsor's schools, in the bad old days when cheapness was the first consideration and nobody paid much attention to light and air? Do you know that even the more recent Clarence Road Schools were built. with class rooms to hold fifty or more children?
In contrast with these stands the Junior Imperial Service College in its own spacious grounds. No overcrowded class rooms or match box playgrounds for the comparatively few boys educated there! And in still greater contrast is Eton College, where the sons of the so-called aristocracy are given the most expensive education in the country.
Why this contrast? Why this difference? The answer is simple: our system of education is based on class distinction. It is true that the new Education Act has brought all State education into one system and ended the 'elementary' schools, but as long as it is possible - as it is still possible - to buy a better, or at any rate a different, education, having a higher social status - especially when, for instance, it comes to looking for jobs - then there is no real equality of opportunity for all English children.
The Labour Party does not believe in two systems of education, one for the rich and another for the poor. It wants the best for all children and means to work for it, both nationally and locally.
What, then, can the Party do locally? As a result of the new Act, the Windsor Town Council no longer has any direct responsibility for Windsor's schools. The Windsor Education Committee no longer exists. All the schools now come under the County Education Committee, which does, however, delegate some of its administrative tasks to what are known as Divisional Executives. One of these will be for East Berks, and the Windsor Town Council will appoint six of the eleven members representing local councils; this means that Windsor people can still play a considerable part in local education. For there can be, and there must be, influence brought to bear on the County authority to improve our local education. This can be done partly through the Divisional Executive, and the Labour Party intends to make full use of this channel. But it is also important that the Labour Party shall speak with a direct voice in the County Council itself now that this has so much more authority. If you want an organised and just educational system in Windsor, therefore, put the Labour Party on the County Council as well as on the Town Council.
For it is essential that the Party be well represented on these various bodies if the full benefits of the new Act are to be realised. We know from our experience of the Windsor Education Committee that if the members of such committees are Conservatives the education service is not administered primarily in the interests of the children but in the interests of 'economy.' Many members of the Windsor Education Committee felt that it was a matter for congratulation that the expenditure on education in Windsor was one of the lowest per head for boroughs throughout the country. The Labour Party believes that the burden of increased expenditure on education should be borne by the Treasury rather than by the local ratepayers, but nevertheless it takes its stand on the principle that money spent on education is money well spent.
The Labour Party in Windsor, then, will do everything to see that the new Act is carried out as generously as possible. A few administrative changes are not enough. We want an educational plan for Windsor which can be pressed on the County Education Committee and the local Divisional Executive in every way open.
There must be new schools in place of the old in the town itself and at Spital, Clewer Green and Dedworth, all provided with the best facilities for an intelligent, civilised education of our children. The classes must be reduced in size, and there must be proper playgrounds and playing fields. If some technical education is required in Windsor, it must be made available; and there must be the fullest provision of nursery education, whether in separate nursery schools or in the form of special departments of primary schools. And now that education for all children over eleven is '; secondary ", everything must be done to ensure that there is no inequality in social status, staffing and equipment between the different types of secondary school. As a means of achieving this, the Labour Party would like to see at least one multilateral school in Windsor able to provide various forms of education for children over eleven within the same group of buildings. It might be possible to adapt the present County Boys' School for this purpose.
You can see that the Labour Party means business in education as in everything else. Progress has been made in English education during the last fifty years; but only at the slowest Conservative pace; it is time now for the Conservatives to be relieved of all responsibility so that the education of our children can be put into the hands of people with plans, clear ideas and the interests of the children at heart. Those people are in the Labour Party.
If you will look up the election addresses of the present Conservative members of the Council, you will find very little in them which gives the slightest clue to what their policy is or was. Most of the important matters dealt with in this booklet are not even mentioned. On one point, however, the Conservatives are always insistent. Their aim, they say, is 'to keep the rates down', to practice what one successful candidate in the 1938 elections called 'strict economy,' 'to curtail expenditure' as another put it, and, to quote a third, 'to oppose wasteful expenditure.'
Yet the rates in Windsor have increased since the last Municipal elections by 1s. 11d in the £, and they are still on the increase, in spite of the fact that the rateable value of the town has risen so that a 1d rate now brings in £735 as against only £657 in 1938.
We do not criticise the Conservatives for this increase of rates, but we do criticise them for having made promises that there would be no such increase, promises which any intelligent councillor must have known could not be fulfilled. And we suggest that when voters are greeted in November with the same old parrot-cry of 'Keep The Rates Down!' by Conservative councillors desperately anxious to save their seats, it should be made clear that no candidate for the Council can make an honest promise to keep the rates down and that any such promise must be worthless.
Now let us have a closer look at this matter of the rates. Nobody in his senses wants to make people pay rates just for the fun of it; but everybody who really thinks about the subject agrees that money has to be found to pay for all the vital and necessary public services which it is a Council's responsibility to provide and maintain. If, for example, the services of the Corporation in the simple business of refuse collection were stopped' the saving in rates would amount to something less than £1 per annum for the average small household in Windsor; but the subsequent cost of the individual arrangements for refuse disposal which would then become necessary would be far in excess of the present rate. The rates, therefore, are, in any case, an economic measure. They are simply payments which you make for services rendered. Naturally you do not want to pay more than is essential, but surely the most important consideration is not just to 'keep the rates down' but to make certain that you get your money's worth.
The Town Council spends about a quarter of a million pounds a year, of which £106,000 are obtained from rates (£36,000 being paid to the County Council) and the remainder is got from Government grants, various revenues (such as housing rents), and grants from the County Council
Rates are charged on buildings, that is, houses, shops, factories, cinemas, etc., and paid by the occupiers of those buildings, either directly, or indirectly as part of the rent. In Windsor, there are 5,470 buildings on which rates are paid, 4,652 of them private houses and the remaining 818 business premises. The private houses pay rather more than a half of the total rates (55%), the business premises rather less than half (45%).
Of the 4,652 houses, 3,750 have rateable values of less than £25. That is to say, 4 out of every 5 families live in small houses. The average rateable value of these houses is £15, which means that the working or middle class household pays about £9 a year, or 3s. 6d. a week, in rates. For this payment their children are educated free, a police force is maintained to protect life and property, the roads are kept in repair, household refuse is collected, sanitation is provided, and many other services too numerous to detail are supplied. Even as things now are under a Conservative Council this is not a bad bargain; yet, with a Council composed of men and women determined to provide the best services for the people, a far better bargain could be secured.
But it must be realised that only about one-third of the rates is paid by working and middle class folk. The remaining two thirds are paid by wealthy people who live in expensive houses and by the business firms in the town. The Conservative councillors are drawn very largely from these two classes, and their desire to "keep the rates down'' is not altogether an unselfish one. If, for example, the rates were to go up by 1s. in the £, it would cost the average small household about 15s. a year, or 3 1/2d. a week, but it would cost the average 'better class' household £2 10s. a year and the average business £5 a year. These are still not large sums to pay, particularly for people who can easily afford them in most cases, but it is quite clear that there is a small, rich class of people in Windsor who have a much greater interest in 'keeping the rates down' than the ordinary working people have.
To sum up, then, the following facts are obvious. First, that Conservative promises to 'keep the rates down' are worth nothing and mean nothing except the desire of the well-to-do supporters of the Conservative Party to avoid paying any more than they can help towards the municipal services. Secondly, that the great majority of citizens in Windsor have a larger interest in developing the Council's services in order to get real value for their rates than in any policy of merely restricting or reducing the Council's expenditure. And, thirdly, that even if the rates do go up, the amount to be paid by working and middle class people is quite a small sum, so that what in fact matters is that the Council should provide the best services for the community at the lowest possible cost consistent with the efficient provision of those services.
There is one final conclusion to be drawn which is more important than any other. Everyone reading this booklet contributes directly or indirectly to the rates, the average household paying £9 a year. This is your money, and it does not cease to be your money when you have paid it. The Council receives it to spend on your behalf. If you spend £9 in a shop, you take good care to see that what you pay for is up to the quality you desire. You should take the same care to see that the £9 or whatever it is you pay as rates is as equally well spent. In November you will be able to decide who are to be the people to whom you will entrust the spending of your money. Give it proper attention, study what the various candidates and parties have to say, and give your vote to those who you believe will give you the best value for your money.
If you will do this, we of the Labour Party have nothing to fear. We are a body of people who understand the needs of the community' and we are determined that the Council shall be run by those who consider those needs first, second and all the time.
You alone, the people of Windsor, can give the Labour Party the power necessary to carry out this great plan. In the local government elections to be held in November (by which time a new register will have been compiled) everyone over 21 will have the vote. The Labour Party has always fought for this elementary democratic right, but the Conservatives of Windsor have always fought against it, voting against it as recently as last year.
Surely, therefore, you should use your vote to give power to those who have thus demonstrated their faith in democracy and will govern your town honestly and intelligently. Indeed, it is your most important duty as a citizen to ensure that such men and women do govern your town. Now that you have read this booklet you know where these men and women are and why they ask for your support.
You have been able to read in these pages something of the record of the present Labour group on the Council. Its six members are happy that you have had this opportunity, for, although so small in number, they have worked together for years tirelessly striving for all the local improvements which are so badly needed and which a Labour Council would make. By voting for the Labour candidates in November you can give them the power to start making these improvements.
Make no mistake about these candidates. They exist, trained for the responsible job of councillorship. They are eager to work together as a majority on the Council, if necessary as the whole Council. Elsewhere in England - in London, for example - Labour Councils have done fine work and justified the people's confidence in them. What a Labour Council has done for London a Labour Council can do for Windsor; what the people of London have done, you can do.
Finally, the Labour Party wishes to make the solemn pledge that those who are elected in its name as councillors will be seen and heard by the people between elections. They will welcome every opportunity to consider suggestions and complaints; they will hold public meetings to report and to listen, as they have done in the past. The Conservatives have never done this, because they do not believe that the administration of our town is something in which every citizen should have a say But the Labour Party does believe just that. For years it has fought against the Conservatives for the right of admission to the Council Chamber of the general public. On the 13th of March, 1939, Councillor Hogg, speaking for the Labour Group, moved that the public be admitted to the monthly meetings of the Council, but apart from the Labour councillors only the Rev. Payne Cook supported the motion; the rest of the Council present, with the single exception of Capt. Copland Griffiths, voted against it. Most other Town Councils in the country do admit the public to their meetings, and you may rest assured that once Windsor has a Labour Council its meetings will be held in public. For the Labour Party has nothing to hide. It is the Party of the people and has no other reason for existence than to serve them.
The people of Britain have now given the Labour Party power to govern our country; the time has come for you, for us, the people of Windsor, to follow this great lead and give the Labour Party power to govern our town.
This view has been rotated from the original for clarity.
The copyright was originally acknowledged as © Mr F Burgess
who we have been unable to locate.
The Labour Party in Windsor published a second booklet in 1946 which will appear here shortly.