Back in January of this year, the young David Evans started talking to the Proffitt family about Councillor William Henry Proffitt, who was a highly respected member of Brownhills Urban District Council for many years. William was part of the Hyla John Holland era of the authority, believing in good social housing, health, sanitation, slum clearance and open spaces for all.
The Proffitt family have offered some stunning material, like the 1956 news clipping below which dealt with Councillor Proffitt being elected as chairman of Brownhills Urban District Council. 1956 was a time of great change for councils across Britain, who were poor in the austere, postwar years, but faced huge challenges on housing quality and provision amongst the other issues of building the social state.
I didn’t know much about Councillor Proffitt, and the article is an interesting insight into the man as a councillor and socialist. There are some other interesting questions raised, too. Who were the Civil Defence Committee, and what did they do? I never realised Councillors Bradbury and Deakin were female. Were there many female politicians in Brownhills history? Can’t recall the mention of many, if I’m honest.
There are certainly a few politicians mentioned here who gave their names to roads locally.
I’d like to thank David and the Proffitt family for their generosity and hard work that has enabled some remarkable history to be uncovered. Please stay tuned for more.
SOCIALIST CHAIRMAN ALSO GOT INDEPENDENT BACKING
THE election of Labour Councillor W. H. Proffitt as chair¬man of Brownhills Urban District Council last night received almost 100 per cent support from Independent members on the ground that ward rotation of the chairmanship should be maintained.
Councillor Proffitt, who received 11 votes to one for Councillor F. S. Harrison, an Independent member for Shelfield and High Heath, has had 34 years active associa¬tion with the Socialist move¬ment. A Nor¬ton Canes rep-resentative on the council since 1946, he has also, since 1949, been a Staffordshire county councillor for Brownhills division. He has also been a member of Cannock Chase divisional education executive and a manager of six schools in the executive’s area. He has been a county magistrate since June, 1952.
Formerly employed in Walsall and District Co-operative Society’s Cannock bakery department, he is now a salesman in the service of another prominent ‘Chase’ public man and fellow county magistrate. Councillor Albert Bailey, of Hednesford.
TURN NEXT YEAR
After Councillor Proffitt had been nominated by Councillor C. Wat¬son, and Councillor Harrison by Councillor Miss M. A. Durkin, Councillor S. T. Breeze, Labour, pointed out that on the basis of ward rotation it would be Shelfield’s turn for the chairmanship next year. It would be better if the chairmanship could be settled by ‘an understanding.’
Miss Deakin replied that Norton Canes, Central ward and Walsall Wood had successively held the chairmanship in the past three years. It would be ‘more in keep¬ing’ for Shelfield and High Heath to have it for the ensuing year.
Two other Independents, Councillors G. A. Jones and J. Deakin thought that Shelfield and High Heath ward, created only a year ago, should wait because of its junior status.
TEN YEARS PROGRESS
Councillor Proffitt, acknowledg¬ing his election, claimed that in the past ten years, Brownhills had made remarkable progress in housing, in¬dustrial development and the pro¬vision of public amenities.
He appealed to electors and local organisations to take more interest in civic affairs.
Thanked for his past year’s chairmanship. Councillor H. V. Fereday referred to the ‘smashing’ attendance records for the past year.
Nine of the 14 councillors made 100 per cent attendances at council meetings and two – Councillors Fereday and Breeze – made 100 per cent attendances at committee meetings as well. Committee attendances of seven other members exceeded 90 per cent.
Councillor Fereday had an unopposed election as vice-chairman.
C.D. POST DECLINED
Declining nomination for re-election as chairman of the local civil defence committee, Councillor Mrs. N. Bradbury said women were doing most of civil defence work in in Brownhills.
‘If a man becomes chairman we might get men doing some of the work,’ she said.
Councillor Joseph Atkinson was I appointed chairman.