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of the roads, that the practice has every where been found to be at variance with the supposed efficiency of so large a number of irresponsible managers; and that the inevitable consequences of a continuance of this defective system will be to involve the different trusts deeper in debt, and leave the roads without funds to preserve them in proper order.”--(Report, p. 9.)
But besides diminishing the number of trustees, another step should be taken in order to secure a uniform and efficient system of managing the executive business of maintaining a road.
Each body of trustees should be obliged to elect by ballot a committee of seven trustees, in whose hands every thing relating to the business of managing the road should be vested. What belongs to the management of the revenue and general affairs of the road might be transacted by the body at large. But all the funds, after paying the officers, and interest on loans, should be at the disposal of the committee. The committee should be required to lay half-yearly accounts before the body at large, with reports of their proceedings.
To enable such a committee to act with effect, they should have full power to appoint and dis
This plan is not altogether new in road legislation. In Ireland, an act was passed in the year 1798 (5 Geo. III. c. 41.) for the Malahide Roads, in which there are the following provisions : By clause eight, “the trustees of said roads shall, as soon after the passing of the act as conveniently may be, meet, and, at such meeting, elect by ballot, from among the trustees, three persons for each line of road, to be directors for managing the several lines of the said roads, for which they shall be respectively elected directors, and for transacting all business relative to the same." By the fourteenth clause, the directors are to have all powers necessary to carry the act into execution ; and it is expressly provided, that the consent or direction of the said trustees shall not be necessary to authorise, nor shall restrain or prohibit the directors to do any act towards carrying the said acts into execution.
By the fifteenth clause, quarterly accounts are to be laid by the directors before the trustees.
Another great evil of the existing system, which a new law should correct, is that of placing a line of road under the management of too many separate Boards of trustees. With respect to cross-country roads, it may be difficult to apply a remedy to the evil; but as to all the
great main roads of the kingdom, a law should be passed to consolidate the existing trusts, so as to have at least fifty miles in each trust. All the mail-coach roads in each county should be placed under the management of one trust. *
* Extract from Mr. Telford's First Annual Report on the Holyhead Road, dated May 4th, 1824, p. 25. –“ Perfect management must be guided by rules and regulations; and these must be carried into effect by the unceasing attention of a judicious and faithful surveyor, who has, by actual experience and attention, acquired a thorough knowledge of all that is required and applicable to the general and local state of particular districts, as regards soil, materials, and climate; likewise the sort of wear to which the surface is liable. A person possessed of all these requisites, and otherwise properly qualified to level and set out new lines, &c. where necessary, must receive the remuneration such a character merits, and may always obtain, in this active and industrious country. But however convinced and well disposed trustees may be to give this remuneration, the tolls of five or six miles do not afford the means of giving it. The consequence is, that the Shifnal Trust (four miles) has hitherto been under the management of a person so little acquainted with proper road business, that it becomes a serious consideration, whether it will be prudent to suffer the extensive improvement at Priors Leigh to be entrusted to his care. Until the Parliamentary Commissioners interfered, and showed a practical example, the Wellington Trust (seven miles) was managed almost wholly by the clerk: he had a sort of foreman, who appeared to be only partly employed on the road. And on the Shrewsbury Trust (seven miles), as has already been stated, the surveyor and contractor were united in the same person. All these managers proceeded without regard to any rules and regulations whatever ; receiving only occasional directions
There remains to be noticed another very great defect in our legislation on roads, namely, the want of some power to control the trustees of turnpike roads, to prevent neglect and corrupt practices. No other trustees are free to do whatever they please with perfect impunity; and no reason can be given for not making every one who takes upon himself the office of a road trustee accountable before a proper tribunal for his conduct in the discharge of the duties of it. Dr. Adam Smith has remarked this great defect in the turnpike laws of not providing such a control. If a Board of trustees suffer the road under their care to get into a bad condition, the only remedy now is to indict the parish through which the road passes ; but nothing can be more contrary to every principle of justice than such a state of law. In all
from some of the most active of the trustees, whose varying opinions served more to distract than benefit the practical operations of the workmen. I must beg leave to add, that these observations are applicable to all trusts of similar extent; and are evidence of the propriety of establishing districts of a magnitude to justify a more perfect arrangement, and the employing of a properly qualified surveyor, whose sole occupation should be the road under his care, and who should also be enabled to keep constantly employed a set of workmen thoroughly conversant with road operations, and working chiefly by contract.
cases where trustees have the management of landed property applicable to the maintaining of buildings, bridges, and roads, proceedings may be taken against them in the court of King's Bench, if they abuse the trust reposed in them. In the case of roads, the circumstance of the funds for maintaining them being derived from tolls should make no difference, and they should be equally liable with the trustees of estates to be brought before this court. But this remedy would not be sufficiently easy and efficacious. A more direct and easy course of proceeding would be to allow complaints against trustees to be brought by petition before the Judges at assizes. The Judges should be empowered to try, with a jury, the allegations contained in the petitions; and in case of a verdict in favour of the petitioners, they should be enabled to set aside the trustees, and name commissioners to take charge of the road for as long a period as they might think advisable.
In order further to afford protection to the public against themisconduct of turnpike trustees, the House of Commons ought not to allow Turnpike Bills to be passed as a matter of course. A particular set of standing orders should be framed for the purpose of keeping road trustees in check. No Bill should be allowed to be read a first time in the House of Commons, for renew