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Extracts from the book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018
Blantyre Parochial Board – a predecessor of Blantyre Parish Council. The Board formed on 1st August 1848 and existed until 13th April 1895 after which it became Blantyre Parish Council. It was responsible for much reform in Blantyre including the arrival of gas, better education and water supplies.
Blantyre Parish Council – formed in 1895. Blantyre Parish Council succeeded a much earlier form of the organisation, in Blantyre Parochial Board. Both the Parochial Board and the Parish Council were to be involved in all matters of Blantyre, most notably in its educational, social, infrastructure and housing reforms. Important matters such as installing Blantyre’s Gas, Water and the building of schools were taken and made by the Board. It was therefore perhaps one of the most important organisations Blantyre has ever seen.
Meetings took place every month. The following paragraph is a typical example of matters discussed. On the first Thursday in February 1900, a statutory meeting of the Parish Council took place in High Blantyre. There were several topics. First up was a discussion about the Poor Law Act. Mr Neil Douglas presided. Also present were Messrs J Reid, Loudon, W Reid, Hastie, Batters, McQuarrie, Davidson, Paterson, McMillan, McInulty, Jackson and Nimmo, with Mr. AB Maxwell, inspector of the poor. The roll of the poor was adjusted and the number of applications for relief was considered. Second on the agenda was a reporting of finances. The Law and Finance committee reported that accounts amounting to £1,224 2s 6d including £1,000 paid to School Board were examined and recommended for payment. The inspectors account amounted to £136 1s 11d for the past month. Rates collected amounted to £4,162 15s (this was the equivalent of modern council tax) as compared with £4,642 6s 9d the previous year in 1899.
Amongst members of the Parish Council was Justice of the Peace, Mr. John Welsh, who was also headmaster of Calder Street School. He attended Blantyre Parish Council for 8 years, 3 of which he was chairperson.
The decision of Blantyre Parish Council was carried out on Tuesday 18th October 1927 to stop the relief payment of those unemployed men who the previous week had refused to accept work offered by the Parish CounciL Those who had been refused relief were asked to meet at the Council Chambers at two o ‘ clock in the afternoon, and the wives were asked to demand relief for themselves and their children. A crowd of about four hundred people, many of them women, assembled and were addressed by the local Communists. Three men went into the Chambers io ask for relief for the wives and children, but Mr John Welsh, ihe inspector told them he was only carrying out the decision of ihe Council. A vote was taken on the question of going to work or refusing by those unemployed and resulted in 31 voting for refusing to work and 24 for accepting the terms offered by the Council. Three men at once went into the Chambers asked for work, were employed and straightaway went to work on the new public park (at Stonefield). It was learned ihat nine men were working yesterday and that others had signalled their intention of starting this morning.
Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929, the Parish Council disappeared and from 16th April 1930 became part of the 5th District Council of the County of Lanark (a predecessor to South Lanarkshire Council). As the newly formed 5th District Council took ownership of similar buildings across Lanarkshire, it is likely around this time that they renovated and upgraded their Council Offices building in Cemetery Road. The Council then changed to the 8th District Council in April 1964 and again from 16th May 1975 under the reorganisation of Local Government when it came under Hamilton District of the newly formed Strathclyde Region. Today the most modern development is the currently named South Lanarkshire Council.