[September 21, 1927 – Auckland Star] Apathy in regard to their local affairs is a charge that could not be levelled on the ratepayers of Mount Albert Borough, there being a record attendance at the Jubilee Hall, King’s Lane, last evening, when the second of a series of indignation meetings was held as a protest against the action of the Mount Albert Borough Council in dismissing the borough engineer (Mr. W. H. Cook) without making any charge against him.
A queue of a size that would have gladdened the heart of a picture-show proprietor was formed outside the building half an hour before the time of commencement of the meeting, and when the doors were opened the hall was filled to capacity, hundreds being unable to obtain admission.
Mr. M. O’Callaghan presided, and at the outset announced that it was proposed to have a short meeting, and then adjourn to Mount Albert Borough Council chamber, where a council meeting was being held. (Applause.) The speaker took it that the councillors would at least have the courtesy of coming out to say a few words to the meeting.
A voice: By the back door. (Laughter)
The chairman said that he wished to contradict a rumour that was being circulated. He wanted to say that Mr. Cook was a member of the Anglican faith. He would say no more; that would be sufficient. (Applause.)
The chairman said that the meeting was not called for the purpose of throwing mud at the council, but to ask for an explanation of the council’s attitude towards Mr. Cook.
A voice: British fair play.
The chairman said that that was the position exactly. The members of the council who had voted for Mr. Cook’s dismissal reminded the speaker of little worms in the garden—they got into committee, and there was no chance of getting them out of it. Mr. Cook was entitled to know what the trouble was and should be given a chance to defend himself. (Applause.)
A man at the back suggested that an advance guard should be sent to the council chamber to see if the ratepayers could get in.
The chairman suggested that they should send a hundred down to tell them that the rest were coming later. (Laughter.)
A voice: You will scare them. (More laughter.)
“Is it true that a number of men who were dismissed and later reinstated were paid for the time that they were off?” was a question asked.
“Yes,” replied the engineer. “The men were paid for the week or ten days that they were off.”
A voice: The Mayor and councillors ought to pay it out of their own pockets.
Explain or Resign.
After carrying a resolution asking the council to either give a reason for the dismissal of the engineer or resign, Messrs. J. Purtell, J. Nixon, E. Stephenson and M. O’Callaghan were appointed as a deputation to wait upon the Borough Council.
When the chairman adjourned the meeting, the big crowd filed out and started in the form of a loose procession for the council chamber, about half a mile away.
On reaching the building, the staircase was soon packed, and the gathering, which was estimated to comprise a thousand odd people, overflowed across the main road and into a side street,
“The council will receive one spokesman only.” This was the message brought to the door of the council chamber by the Town Clerk.
Groans greeted the intimation as it was passed on to the crowd outside.
At this stage there were cries of “come outside!” and “Force the door.”
The next intimation from the council chamber was that a deputation could only be received after due notification had been given.
“Dirty dogs!” said one lady, exploding into wrath. “What about pushing the door in. We paid for it.”
Mr. J. Purtell addressed the gathering and said that the council had refused to receive the deputation.
“One-two-three!” began the crowd, counting in unison.
Amid cheers, a proposal that the Mayor should be invited to speak from the balcony was adopted.
“The council has given its decision and will not budge,” was the reply received from the “inside” after a long wait.
The next proposal conveyed to the council was that it should receive a spokesman, accompanied by a reporter.
This proposal on being presented was likewise declined.
Mr. O’Callaghan suggested that the deputation should approach the council in the ordinary way at the next meeting.
Voices: Too late!
A lady: We’re standing here like a lot of goats. (“Hear, hear,” and applause.)
Collection Taken Up.
The gathering was not making headway but it was enjoying itself immensely.
“What about a collection?” was the next suggestion. A couple of hats began to circulate amongst the crowd, and a few on the outskirts began to hive off.
An announcement that the collection realised £5 6/1 was greeted with enthusiasm.
A lady began a speech from the front steps, and amid laughter said that the ratepayers had only got what they voted for. Her address was so prolonged and covered such a multiplicity of subjects that the crowd got restless. When interjections began to flow, she made a sporting offer that if they would let her speak for another five minutes she would stop, and, carrying her point, she went on, her address being enlivened by clever repartee.
“We want the councillors,” began insistent calls from the crowd
At this stage the gathering was informed that the council chamber was under police protection.
Mr. O’Callaghan appealed to the crowd to disperse in a dignified way, otherwise they might have to retire in an undignified way,
Cheers were given for Mr. Cook, groans for the Mayor and councillors, and then the gathering broke up into small bunches to discuss borough affairs of interest.