Local Government in Peebles and Peeblesshire
third of whom retired each year in rotation and the council was required to hold a statutory meeting immediately after each Election, when vacancies in the offices of provost, bailie, Dean of Guild, treasurer and police judge were filled as necessary under the statutory conditions set forth in the Act.
The powers and duties delegated to the town council were multifarious. Housing, health matters, libraries, water, sewage and drainage, maintenance of unclassified roads, building control, licensing, recreation (tennis and golf) while the major functions such as education, planning, trunk and classified roads were controlled by the county council. There existed a close liaison (if not always agreement) between the county council and town council. Peeblesshire County Council comprised twenty-six members and that number included eight appointed by Peebles Town Council from its membership and three from Innerleithen Town Council.
In retrospect then, what can local government claim to have achieved in Peebles and Peeblesshire in the half century spanning the years from 1920 to 1975? The earlier of these years, namely the period up to 1939 were influenced by the aftermath of the First World War. Municipal housing was perhaps the number one priority and a first essay into the provision of housing with government subsidy brought into existence the 1919 scheme at Eliot's Park which was followed by similar developments at Dalatho, North Street, North Place, George Place and George Terrace areas. The rapid expansion in housing made necessary a new sewage-treatment plant and this was erected adjacent to the gasworks, which were at that time a municipal undertaking which lasted until nationalisation of the industry under the Gas Act 1948. On the recreation front, the municipal golf course was reconstructed, a licensed municipal golf club formed and the tennis courts upgraded.
The first municipal swimming baths were built at the foot of Tweed Brae through the largesse of the late Sir Henry Ballantyne.
The advancing prosperity of the burgh was shattered however by the recession of 1929-31 as the textile industry, on which the basic prosperity of the town depended, was badly hit. It was the only industry of any moment and the principal employer of labour and its recovery was slow. Various schemes were promoted with government grant to provide employment such as the formation of Venlaw Quarry Road. As the years passed, the Second World War loomed nearer and in the war years it was very much a question of the 'status-quo',