Support for a return to law and order

Luton courtroom

[Luton Reporter: Tuesday, July 29th, 1919]

The Town Council found themselves in the rather quaint position last Tuesday evening [July 22nd] of meeting in the police court with the Aldermen on the Bench and the body of the court improvised to resemble the stage picture presented on Council nights in the now demolished Council Chamber.

Prior to this there had been three private meetings – one on Sunday and two on Monday – in the magistrates' room which, we are told, the air was cleared to some extent by some pretty free and frank discussion, and the outcome of the private sittings was to give approval to the steps taken by the Town Clerk and Chief Constable to quell the rioting and to the terms of a manifesto to be published broadcast in the town along with letters of support received from the Luton Local Labour Party and Trades Council, Luton and District Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association and the Comrades of the Great War.

The Labour Party and Trades Council condemn the “brutal acts of violence and wanton destruction of property, both municipal and private,” and appeal to all citizens to do the utmost in their power to maintain order and to support those who have been placed in authority, adding: “Mob law is in direct opposition to the policy and principles advocated by the Trade Union and Labour movement.”

The DS&S most strongly support the Council's appeal to the public to preserve law and order and avoid any repetition of the riotous conduct of Saturday and Sunday last, emphatically repudiating any connection whatever with the terrible behaviour which has been followed by such disastrous results, and assure the Council that “anything we can possibly do to further such a cause will be an honour for us to do”.

“All Comrades condemn in the strongest possible manner the riotous behaviour and conduct of the mob,” says Capt Donald Simpson, hon chief organiser. “They do not consider any discharged soldier worthy of the name will approve of such behaviour, and unhesitatingly support your Council in their efforts to maintain public order.”

At the first of the series of private meetings of the Council the Deputy Mayor presided in the Mayor's absence, but subsequently Alderman Arnold was voted to the chair. This position he was also elected to at the public meeting on Tuesday evening by the votes of five Aldermen and seven Councillors, the others abstaining, and in this capacity he made a lengthy statement bearing on Saturday's deplorable and regrettable occurrences.

We understand it was agreed by the Council in committee the previous night that there should be no discussion after Alderman Arnold's statement, but he travelled so far outside the scope of the statement agreed upon in broad outline that Councillor Briggs felt constrained to make his position clear. He disassociated himself from the decision to refuse Wardown and bitterly resented such a decision being taken without his consent and being blamed for something he had n o part or parcel in.

“I deprecate the rash, abominable outrage on our town,” he said. “But there is some cause for it.”

The Council formally approved the calling in of the military and additional police to restore order, and it was reported that Sir Leonard Dunning, H.M. Inspector of Constabulary for the district, had entirely agreed with every step taken.

The heroic work of the police and firemen against heavy odds and the sterling leadership of of their respective chiefs came in for warm and deserved eulogies. Councillor Escott, Chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee, announced his intention of taking steps to secure public recognition of the firemen.