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CHELTENHAM IMPROVEMENT ACT.
CONTAINING THE PUBLIC BATHS AND WASH HOUSES AND OTHER
THE PROVISIONS OF WHICH THE CHELTENHAM
COMMISSIONERS, owners, ratepayers, and occupiers in Cheltenham have unanimously agreed that “The Cheltenham Improvement Act, 1852," ought to be printed, with all the sections and parts of other acts incorporated or made applicable, in extenso.
The commissioners have postponed the printing on the score of expense and want of funds, reasons which may probably hold good for a long period s and the labour and expense have hitherto
I deterred private individuals.
It may seem bold to attempt that, which the commissioners have postponed even the consideration of, and private individuals have feared to approach ; but no one will consider an apology necessary for any such attempt.
The Cheltenham Improvement Act contains 136 sections, besides incorporating into it, by reference only, 106 from the two Public Health Acts, 45 from the Commissioners' Clauses Act, 36 from the Towns Improvement Clauses Act, 58 from the Town Police Clauses Act, 23 from the Cemeteries Clauses Act, and 130 from the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act; and empowering (by reference only) the commissioners to exercise the provisions contained in the Public Baths and Wash-houses Acts, which incorporate the whole of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, and contain 49 sections; and making applicable to the purposes of the act the provisions of the Poor Rates Recovery Act (containing 8 sections), the provisions of the Nuisances Removal Act (containing 38 sections), and the provisions in the act for protecting justices on issuing distress warrants for poor rates; thus in effect, incorporating into the Cheltenham Improvement Act the remaining 23 sections of the Lands Clauses Consolidation
Act, and 96 sections from other Acts; making the Cheltenham Improvement Act contain a grand total of about 653 sections, besides the schedules to the act, incorporating portions of the schedules in the other acts mentioned.
This mere reference to its contents will shew the magnitude of the act of parliament under which the inhabitants, &c. of Cheltenham are governed, and how insufficient for any purpose must be the Queen's printer's copy of the act, which only sets out in full 136 out of the 653 sections, leaving the reader to wade through several other acts of parliament, to know what the other 517 sections enact, not even affording an analysis of such sections.
It is natural to suppose that weighty and cogent reasons existed for the necessity of such a monster act, which required numerous and lengthy meetings of a committee of some forty gentlemen of the town, and two succeeding sessions of parliament to elaborate and pass into law.
. Most of the parties promoting the Cheltenham bills of 1851 and 1852, considered that many local peculiarities rendered it highly important that a local act should be obtained in the first place, in preference to a provisional order under the Public Health Act. Under the provisional order it was contended,—that a great part of the parish would still continue unrateable, under the proviso in section 88 of the Public Health Act, which proviso is excepted from the present act, see page 142 (note);—that the rentcharges, somewhat peculiar to Cheltenham, for the repairs, &c. of private roads, sewers, &c. would continue payable, though the roads, sewers, &c. were given up to, and repaired by, the public ; (the present act effects an equitable arrangement of those rent charges, see sections 46, 47, 48, &c.);—that the sewers and water-works companies would still be unable to dispose of their works, &c., which the present act now enables them to do, see section 32 page 47, and section 68 page 93 ;—that the fairs and markets would still be held in our streets, against which the present act has provided, see sections 83, &c. page 120;-that
no public cemetery could be established, or provisions made for closing over crowded burial grounds, for which the present act provides, see the 97th and following sections, page 126 et seq. ;that the turnpike roads would still be beyond the jurisdiction of the governing body, which is arranged in the present Act, see section 57, page 72 ;-that main sewers, tanks, &c. for the proper sewerage of the town, or equivalent to those contemplated by the present act by section 34, &c., page 49, &c., could not be made ;—that the Chelt and other streams could not be cleansed, as provided by the 38th section of the present act, see page 54 ;that nothing which was not contained either in the Public Health Acts or the previous Local Act, could be inserted in the provisional order ;-and last, not least, that under a provisional order the old body of commissioners would still continue with a local board for drainage and sanatory purposes by their side. Other reasons were pressed, but the foregoing were the principal, and to effect these objects, some £4,000 or more was expended, for nearly two years the town was submitted to local excitement, equal in some respects to that arising from political contention, and the present model act passed. Numerous were the supporters of a provisional order, and such supporters had proceeded far towards obtaining the order, but many of them appeared to admit that a provisional order could not effect all the above mentioned objects, and as many and influential parties opposed the order, its supporters considered that if those parties co-operated with them in endeavouring to obtain a new local act, even that expense, and that excitement above referred to, nay, the model act itself, would be a lesser evil than continuing the late self-elected and self-electing body of commissioners holding jurisdiction over various and often detached parts of the town, while the surveyors of the different hamlets and private parties held jurisdiction or quasi jurisdiction over other parts of the town. Thus, the real question whether a provisional order or a new act would be the best for the town was never fairly determined, but by the supporters of a provisional order that question was allowed to be passed by, in order to unite all parties and get