Clay Cross and the Local Goverment Act 1972 (Rent Act)

Clay Cross was an urban district council (local run council) until 1974, it was then merged into a district, the district of North East Derbyshire under the Local Government Act 1972.

In the early 1970s the council achieved national fame due to its refusal to implement the Housing Finance Act 1972. The Act involved increasing the rents of council housing, by law the rents should have increased by £1 a week from October 1972. Clay Cross refused and the rents continued to stay at around half the price (£1.69) compared of the rest of the country

The council was one of several to show defiance against the Act and one of three councils to be ordered to comply by the Department of the Environment in November 1972 (the others being Eccles and Halstead). Clay Cross Urban District Council was threatened with an audit in December 1972. 

After the audit the Labour party barred the eleven defiant councillors (ten men and one woman) from its list of approved candidates. The District Auditor ordered the eleven councillors to pay a surcharge of £635 each in January 1973, finding them “guilty of negligence and misconduct”. Conisbrough Urban District Council faced a similar audit on 19 January 1973. The Urban District Council made an appeal in the case to the High Court. Clydebank and Cumber auld abandoned similar actions in March 1973. The surcharge was upheld by the High Court on 30 July 1973, which also added a further £2,000 legal costs to their bill, as well as barring them from public office for five years.

The Eleven

Eileen Wholey
David Skinner
Graham Smith
Roy Booker
David Percival
Arthur Wellon
George Goodfellow
Terry Asher
Charles Bunting
Graham Skinner
David Nuttall

The council further defied authority (the Pay Board) in August, when they decided to increase council workers’ earnings by 33%. This provoked a further dispute with NALGO (National and Local Government Officers Association). Ultimately, the dispute became moot with the replacement of Clay Cross Urban District Council with the North East Derbyshire District Council from 1 April 1974. The councillors were made bankrupt in 1975

Also, milk in schools that had been given to children since 1906 had been stopped by the Conservative Goverment (Thatcher the milk snatcher) she was then the education secretary, she and the government delighted in taking milk from the mouths of young innocent children. However, Clay Cross children continued to get free milk in a statement to deify the tory government, Clay Cross council found a way around the cut.

A book on the dispute between the council and the government, The Story of Clay Cross, was written by one of the councillors, David Skinner, and the journalist Julia Langdon. The book was published by Spokesman Books in Clay Cross.