First Garden City, Letchworth
Mr Martin Maddan (Hitchin)
Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a Petition from the leading citizens of Letchworth First Garden City Limited. This Petition is in the same sense as that signed by 8,356 Letchworth people which I presented to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government before Christmas.
The Petition which I now present arises from the concern felt in Letchworth with regard to the changes in ownership of shares of the First Garden City Limited, and this fear arises as much from regard to the future as to the present. The crux of the matter is whether the increase in value of the freehold of Letchworth which will accrue as the town is further developed shall be used for the benefit of the shareholders of the company or of the town and its residents as envisaged by its founders.
The Petitioners seek the establishment of a trust to acquire and manage under the Garden City tradition the Letchworth estate of First Garden City Limited.
The twenty Petitioners are the Chairmen of the Urban District Council, the Local Conservative, Labour and Liberal Parties, the Chamber of Trade, the Trades Council, the Co-operative, the Standing Conference of Women's Organisations, the Residents and Lessees Association and of the Civic Trust, the Secretary of the Manufacturers Association, the Presidents of the Rotary Club, Round Table and Women's Luncheon Club, the Church of England Rector, the Roman Catholic Priest and the senior Nonconformist Minister, the Headmaster of the Grammar School, the Convener of the "Save Letchworth" Public Meeting, and the Organiser of the Petition which I presented to my right hon. Friend the Minister.
I will, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, now ask the learned Clerk to read the Petition to the House.
The Clerk of the House:
That whereas First Garden City Limited, which owns the freehold of an estate of 4,710 acres in Letchworth. that is, approximately 90 per cent, of the developed and developable land there, was incorporated in 1903 to develop it on the principle of a new town planned and controlled under unified site ownership on the leasehold system,
And whereas provision was made to limit dividends and use remaining profits in the interests of the town, and to transfer the freehold when the town was substantially completed to a public body or trust for the benefit of the town, which latter provision was reaffirmed at a meeting of shareholders on 7th October, 1960,
And whereas residents and businesses have been attracted on the basis of the above considerations to Letchworth, the population of which has now grown to 23,000.
The maintenance of the garden city principle and the ultimate transfer of the freehold to a public body for the benefit of the town are now endangered due to the ownership of the shares of First Garden City Limited changing hands.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that this House will empower the Minister of Housing and Local Government to appoint a trust to acquire and manage the Letchworth estate of First Garden City Limited.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc.
Mr James Callaghan (Cardiff South East)
On a point of order. In view of the public interest in the matter, is there any way, Mr. Speaker, in which the Committee on Petitions can make known to the House the result of its consideration of this matter?