No local question has such permanent hold on the attention of Prescot people as that of how to procure better approaches to the railway station.
But notwithstanding that it is discussed in every company there appears to be wanting that unity of idea so the part of the ratepayers which would justify and even compel the Local Board to the only course of action likely to prove successful.
Each one person can tell the others what the Railway Company should do, what the Land Company should do,and what King's College should do. But when we enquire what the ratepayers of Prescot ought to do, and they are by far the most interested parties, we are at once told that it is not their business to make roads through land belonging to other people.
But if a new approach to the railway station is, as is generally admitted, of vital importance to the town, and a necessity to its development, then it ought to be the business of the ratepayers of the town to offer to join in the cost of the construction of the new road required.
The proposed new road from Kemble Street would doubtless be a benefit to the owners of the land through which it would be made, but generally speaking people in Prescot overestimate the benefit which would accrue to the landowners and underestimate the benefit which would come to the town, in the shape of a reduction of the rates by the amount contributed by the new property which would be built, and also by the convenience which would be derived from having a good approach to the railway station.
We would suggest to the ratepayers that the Local Board should be requested to enter into negotiations with the Railway Company and the landowners, with a view to ascertaining what each would contribute towards the new road.
The landowners would in all probability give the land required and a sum of money. more or less,towards the construction of the road. The Railway Company, if the facts were properly laid before them, might be relied upon for a decent contribution, and the sum required to be furnished by the town would, instead of permanently increasing the rates, have the direct effect in less than two years, of materially reducing them.
In these few words we have sketched out the course which the ratepayers and Local Board of the town will take in this matter of the road if they can discern their own interests. Already it has been spoken of, and it is quite within the bounds of possibility that the site of the railway station may be changed. Should this happen and the railway station be rebuilt near to the bridge on the turnpike road, the ratepayers
of Prescot will have lost their only chance of relieving the town of the present high rates.
The Railway Company will then make an approach to the station from the commencement of the turnpike road just outside the boundary of Prescot. The station itself will be within the township of Whiston. And in the matter of any help from the Railway Company for a new road in the town, we may then save the paper on which the application would have to be written.
Nor would this be the worst of the troubles which would come to the ratepayers of Prescot. A new town would most assuredly arise outside our boundaries and free from our heavy local burdens. The wedge-shaped piece of land which is bounded by Scotch Lane, the turnpike road, and Delph Lane, would present more eligible building land than any to be found within the township of Prescot. The low rates in Whiston would, to a decided certainty, tempt builders to begin their operations just over the Prescot township boundary.
The Whiston poor rate, which includes the cost of the repairs of the highways is less than the Prescot poor rate, and in Whiston there are no Local Board rates. We may here remark that it is often said that if it had not been for the Reporter there would have been no Local Board, and if there had been no Local Board we should not have had the present high rates.
It is not, however, so generally known that if the advice given by the editor of this paper had been followed, as it was promised at the time of the adoption of the Local Government Act it would be a considerable portion of the township of Whiston would have formed part of the Local Board district.
We pointed out then the the district line ought to be taken, from the West end of Shaw Lane to the Dragon Lane. From there across the turnpike road by Delph Lane to the farm now occupied by Mr William Lyon. Thence by the lane in the direction of Eccleston Lane Ends, and embracing the locality known by the latter name. This we were promised should be the easterly portion of the Local Board district, and it was not until looking over the shoulder of Mr Arnold Taylor at the map which was before him, when he was holding the enquiry in the Town Hall, that we had any suspicion that the promise made would not be fulfilled.
Before the gentleman who had made the promise we asked Mr Taylor whether there would have been any objection to extending the boundary in an easterly direction, when he replied that there would have been no objection whatever taken to it, and that the boundary of the proposed district was too circumscribed.
The mischief, however, was done then. It was too late to take in another foot of land, and those who live through the next decade will see a very great portion of this land in Whiston built upon, which we desired to see included within the Local Board district.
It was a most deplorable mistake and one which cannot now be rectified except at the expense of a special act of parliament.
On the matter of the new approach to the railway station the ratepayers of Prescot have the opportunity of perpetrating as great a blunder as that which led to the exclusion of a portion of Whiston township from the Local Board district.
Only let them go on talking like wise simpletons of what the Prescot Land Company should do, of what the College should do, and of what the Railway Company should do, until the latter company have resolved to remove the station, and the last chance of improving the town will have been lost, and the overburdened ratepayers of Prescot will sigh over the new town springing up outside their boundary, where the rate collector for the Local Board will have no power to make calls.