[November 15, 1921 – New Zealand Herald] The question of the Morningside rubbish dump and the recent strictures thereon figured largely in the business dealt with by the Mount Albert Borough Council at its meeting last evening.
The Mayor, Mr. A. F. Bennett, reported that he had had gangs of men at work for the past five days, covering the dump with clay to a depth of about nine inches. He had also had a man on duty for two hours in the evenings trapping rats. A total catch of 58 rodents was the result.
Mr. A. M. Wilson said he thought that besides trapping operations, poisoning should be carried on rigidly. Otherwise the rats would only be frightened out into private residences.
A letter was read from the Hon, Geo. Fowlds conveying the resolution passed at the public meeting held on Friday evening in King George’s Hall. The letter was received.
Medical Officer’s Advice.
The medical officer of health, Dr. T. J. Hughes, wrote stating he had visited the tip. He recommended that the areas on which dumping had taken place be inspected and covered with earth where necessary. This would apply especially to the small dump across from the hole which is being filled up at present. As much burning as possible should be done to put down the food supply of the rats, and to prevent obnoxious effluvia. There was plenty of stone on the ground to build a “camp” incinerator, and as the day’s supply of material was not great it should be possible in fine weather to incinerate all of it. In the future, dumping should be restricted to the one spot. The hole on the right of the track, which apparently was now being used, was eminently suitable, and should serve for a long while yet. As regards rats, as traps seemingly had “wings,” Dr. Hughes recommended the use of poison on tempting baits.
The Mayor stated that he had been previously informed that some sort of attack was to be made on the council in connection with the dump. He had visited the spot, expecting to find very undesirable conditions. The number of rats was certainly disappointing—certainly rats were there, as they were in all dumps, but not to the extent mentioned, certainly not in “nations” or in “myriads.” It was possible to count rats twice. What struck him was the freedom of the tip from obnoxious smell. He was surprised to find it so. The dump was fairly well covered with clay. Whatever smell there had been had ceased to exist. Some burning had been done, the tip had been on fire, and that probably accounted for a bad odour.
District Unfairly Branded.
There was nothing to find fault with in ratepayers making complaints in the proper quarter in a proper way, said Mr. Bennett, but in the present case neither had been done. He felt very hurt that the matter had been taken up in the way it had. The council should have been approached, some complaint should have been made, not that there was a dump, but as to how the dump was kept. A violent attack had been made on the council, which had branded Mount Albert as a district with reprehensible conditions, something to beware of. The matter had been bruited throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand; it had been mentioned in the House before any official intimation about the matter had been made to the council. As a matter of fact, the letter from Mr. Fowlds read that evening was the first intimation the council had had. No official complaint had ever been made to it.
Mr. Bennett went on to say that the dump was in a 29-acre reserve, well away from houses. It seemed to him that when the prime mover in the recent agitation had resided for such a length of time— a year, he believed—adjacent to the tip, that no better enconium of the tip could be found. “Quite a testimonial to the dump,” interjected one councillor.
The Mayor said he did not consider the tip a menace to the public health. Rats might be troublesome, but they would get them all over, dump or no dump. The talk about rats with sores coming from the dump seemed to him to be rather farfetched. The question was whether they should at once end the system of dumping. He was not in favour of shifting from the present site. He questioned whether the ratepayers would sanction a loan for the construction of a destructor. Certain aspersions had been cast on him and on the council, continued Mr. Bennett; and if it were proved to him that the dump was a menace to health he would not hide his head in the sand and shirk his responsibility, but would rather resign his office.
Committee to Consider Matter.
Mr. Bennett then moved that the Legal and Finance Committee be asked to consider the dump question in general, and whether the time has arrived for the construction of a destructor, either by Mount Albert itself or in conjunction with other boroughs; also, to consider if it is feasible and desirable to shift the location of the dump. Mr. Wilson moved as an amendment that the sanitary inspector, when appointed, be instructed to give the consideration of a new site for a tip his urgent attention with a view to giving effect to the wishes of the council as per the resolution of July last; that when the new site is secured a rough incinerator be constructed and the refuse sorted, and all possible be burned. The amendment was lost by five votes to two, and on being put the motion was carried.