Monday, 22 May 2017

Worst Street buys new
rose tinted specs

In its on-going efforts to make silk purses from sow’s ears, Boston Borough Council is adopting a good news policy to distract potential visitors and residents from reality.
Despite the fact that the internet is not used by everyone, Worst Street is putting a lot of eggs into the social media basket – which apparently “allows the council to be more transparent so it can showcase the work different departments carry out.”
Quite what that means or how it works is not explained – and so some clarification would be a good first step on the road to transparency.
To further support this tosh, we are told: “We are now sharing events, videos and photos of interest …
“ … This increases our accessibility to users of different platform (sic) so we can inform and encourage stronger relationships.
One example is the Big Boston Clean-Up – and Worst Street says sharing photos of the volunteers’ hard work is a great way to say thank you “and encourage everyone else to engage in the good work.”
Somehow, we feel that this is unlikely – and that the message from the clean-up is and always has been to highlight how untidy Boston becomes in each solar year.
In a different website story – headlined “Give Boston a boost - and let us share it” Worst Street talks of the “great affection shown for the May Fair with many nice memories related on social media, together with some great pictures from this year's event.
“Some have also turned to social media to highlight other positive aspects of Boston - such as the short film posted by Hoppers Jewellers in the Market Place of a busy market day on a sunny day with free entertainment …”
Worst Street’s “communications manager” adds his sixpennorth by claiming: “Positive comments and contributions such as these help enhance the town's reputation."
Possibly  but only until people come here and see for themselves,
This has been a long standing problem with Boston Borough Council.
It displays its inability to deal with Boston’s problems by pretending that they don’t exist.

***

Last Monday’s full council meeting was a busy one for once because it was the annual dog-hanging which saw Councillor Brian Rush become the borough’s 483rd mayor, and the appointment of Councillor Michael Cooper as leader of the council to replace Peter Bedford, who resigned. Deputy Leaders are Councillor Michael Brookes and Councillor Aaron Spencer.
Councillor Cooper runs the Bubblecar Museum at Langrick which probably makes him Boston’s first absentee landlord – as his address is in East Lindsey.  At least it may come in useful when those difficult decisions need to be taken. And as we pointed out in a recent blog, he now shares the distinction with wife Paula, who has become county councillor for Boston South.
The new cabinet remains at six members.
Outgoing mayor Stephen Woodliffe who was portfolio holder for licensing and community safety before his term in office, has not returned – but we note that Councillor Martin Griggs who recently became a county councillor as well – appears as portfolio holder for housing, property and community.
The rest of the cabinet comprises: Councillor Michael Brookes, portfolio holder for waste services; Councillor Aaron Spencer,  finance; Councillor Paul Skinner, town centre; and Councillor Claire Rylott, grounds and open spaces.

***

One other change that we noted was the election of Wyberton Ward Councillor David Brown to become chairman of the Planning Committee to replace Councillor Alison Austin – a move that is quite interesting politically.
Councillor Austin, a so-called “independent.” threw in her lot with the Conservative group as part of moves to stymie UKIP at Worst Street – with the appointment of Chairman of Planning perceived by many as an appropriate compensation.
Councillor Brown – elected as a UKIP representative – ditched the party for the Tories at the beginning of the year, using the well-worn explanation that the Kippers had achieved their aims.
And now he has received what clearly seems to be his prize for defection.
We hadn’t realised that there was a hierarchical award system for political loyalties at Worst Street until now!

***

Monday’s appointment as Mayor was tinged with disappointment for Councillor Brian Rush after a less than sensitive handling of his nomination to serve on one of the many external organisations to which Boston Borough Council sends a representative.
Councillor Rush was nominated as one of eight potential candidates on the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board – when the required number was seven.
A little birdy tweets about what happened after that.
As Councillor Rush was putting in some time planning for the evening ceremony ahead, his concentration was broken by the UKIP group leader asking him to withdraw his nomination.
He declined the invitation – not least we understand because he had previously served on the committee and found it a refreshing change from other council business.
But as Worst Street can always be relied upon to turn a drama into a crisis, things did not stop there – nor apparently were efforts made to resolve a minor problem behind the scenes and with minimal ructions.  
Instead, the matter was left on the table – and only resurrected at the full council meeting not long after Councillor Rush took office.
This time – in public – a volunteer was invited to give up his or her nomination ... but as no one stepped forward the matter was put to a vote.
And guess what?
Councillor Rush got the order of the boot.
A reliable source tells us that not surprisingly his feelings were hurt –  with the vote coming as a rather thoughtless slap in the face so soon after receiving the highest honour that the borough can bestow on a council member.
Worst Street never fails to amaze us.

***

More news from in and around Monday’s council meeting ...
Once it was all over, migration to a local pub followed – and among those present was the newly elected leader Michael Cooper. 

click to enlarge photo
When his appointment was announced a few weeks earlier on the Boston Standard’s Facebook page, the news attracted a comment from one of Worst Street’s most persistent critics   Darron Abbott who remarked on “a leader that does not live in the ward he represents, a leader that does not live in the borough of Boston.”
As we see it there are two things that can be said about that comment – it is innocuous and it is truthful.
Councillor Cooper’s apparent reaction to this emerged in the pub some four weeks later, when he collared a friend of Mr Abbott who had attended the Mayor-making ceremony and reportedly said:

"The next time you see your f*****g mate Darron Abbott tell him that if he puts anything else on Facebook I will punch him in the f*****g face."

Someone who knows Councillor Cooper has described him as being “direct in his dealings with people, which not everyone appreciates.”

To us, this goes far beyond directness, and is completely out of order for a local politician in a senior position who should not only command respect but be able to deliver it as well.
Mr Abbott has made formal complaints both to Boston Borough Council and to Boston Conservative Association.
Early word on the street is that efforts are being made to sweep the whole affair under the rug – where things must be getting a little crowded by now.
Councillor Cooper  was asked for a comment by Boston Eye – but failed to reply.

***

There’s little to report this week by way of election news – even UKIP’s Paul Nuttall seems to have survived unscathed.

The only cloud on the horizon came for Mike Gilbert – a former Boston Borough Councillor who has created his own political party A Blue Revolution.
BBC Radio Lincolnshire  told Mr Gilbert that he will not be included in a candidates’ debate being broadcast from Boston – but can have a pre-recorded statement broadcast instead.
Mr Gilbert told Boston Eye: “I understand that I have been bracketed as largely a political irrelevance with little support and no national profile.
“My view of this is that if local radio won't support local parties then what hope is there of democracy being refreshed.
“Local radio should not be reflecting the ‘national scene’ as there are important pockets of diversity outside in the shires.
“I will be writing to the Board of the BBC making this point to them and seeking clarification of what their policy is – and if there is no policy, making the point that leaving the matter to producers like the producer of BBC Lincolnshire is probably not that democratic.”
We quite agree with the criticism of the policy to exclude localness from local radio – and are also amused by the irony of BBC Radio Lincolnshire appointing itself an arbiter of what it deems “triviality.”
In case you are wondering about the reason why a tumble dryer is in the forground of the photo from a previous debate  it's for  listeners to post their questions to candidates. The radio stattion refers to it as their "spin machine."
Did someone mention triviality?
People who live in glass houses, etc., etc. …

***

Our nomination for election pic of the week was posted on twitter,  purportedly showing a fox coming out in support of two of Lincolnshire's Labour Candidates  – Jim Clarke of Sleaford and North Hykeham and our own Paul Kenny.
Hmmmm ...
If foxes really were like that we can't imagine anyone objecting to hounding them to extinction!

*** 

A few days ago Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones noted his first year in office by tweeting the message below.

In the run-up to his election he highlighted six key plans – among which doing away with an official parking spot was conspicuous by its absence.
Item one on the list was the introduction of new “Parish Constables,” followed by a pledge to put crime prevention at the heart of policing.
Item three was to tackle rural crime to protect wildlife and rural communities, followed by a promise to tackle street drinking and anti-social behaviour.
The penultimate pledge was to treat crime victims as people not just a number, and last but not least  was a promise to cut the “huge waste” in the PCC’s office and spend the savings on more police officers.
As far as we can tell, only item three has made the action list – with £100,000 being spent on fancy off-road vehicles and a drone  to pursue hare coursers across the fields, and numerous photos posted of happy policemen posing with the crushed cubes of scrap that were once the coursers’ cars.
No sign so far of the parish constables, or much that we have noticed on the crime prevention front.
And if you live in Boston, you will know how successful tackling street drinking and anti-social behaviour has been.
We have no idea of any progress on the people versus numbers promise – but cutting the expense of the PCC’s Office does not appear to be getting anywhere.

click to enlarge photo

It’s not easy to find details of the previous PCC, Alan Hardwick’s, office costs – but as far as current spending is concerned a recent report shows that it will be going up.
The office employs nine people – ranging from a £100,000 a year Chief Executive to a couple of apprentices and an intern.
According to Mr Jones’s April 2017 – March 2021 Community Safety, Policing and Criminal Justice Plan for Lincolnshire the base budget of the OPCC in 2016/17 was £721,000 – and is predicted to rise to £732,000 between now and  2019/20.
Until a few short years ago, Chief Constables were responsible for their own accounting and spending, and there was no indication that they were incompetent at it.
Now, not only do we have a  party political PCC as a nominal chief executive for the police force – but he has a chief executive as well.
According to figures provided by the police, the cost of recruiting and training a police officer is about £13,000, and the annual payroll cost is £30,500.  That represents more than a dozen new police officers for Lincolnshire.
But at least the reserved car parking place has been done away with – although we are sure that Mr Jones is never stranded in a tricky slot on the far side of the car park and has to dodge the rain before arriving soaked and breathless in the headquarters foyer.
No doubt the day one gesture was symbolic – but were his outstanding promises just a collection of symbolics as well, we wonder? 

***

A recent visit to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park near Boston had us marvelling at the ingenuity of Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways Department in turning the approach to the largest collection of tigers in the UK along Dickon Hill Road, Friskney, into the Lincolnshire Pothole Museum.
If you think we’re joking, pay a visit – it must be one of the worst roads in the county.
Somehow, we don’t think that an attraction of similar quality in the Lincoln area approached via a similar moonscape would have to wait five minutes before the tarmac repair squad moved in.

***

There's no blog next Monday – enjoy your Spring Bank Holiday.
  

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  
E-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com 

We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston


Monday, 15 May 2017



Harold Wilson was bang on the money when he declared that a week is a long time in politics.
No sooner had UKIP leader Paul Nuttall announced his intention to stand for the Boston and Skegness Westminster seat – thought by many because it would provide the most likely shoo-in given that the constituency produced the highest vote for Brexit in the country – than UKIP councillors in Lincolnshire were wiped from the face of the earth.
Closing day for nominations for the 8th June election was last Thursday – and for once, Boston Borough Council displayed it promptly and with some prominence after almost ignoring the county council elections – and we have a  sextet of candidates to choose from. They are:

  • Mike Gilbert – a former Conservative Boston Borough councillor and cabinet member who has set up his own political party named Blue Revolution which seeks to enable as many people as possible from as wide a variety of backgrounds as possible to stand for elections at every administrative level from Parish to Parliament so long as they endorse the party’s “core values” and five manifesto pledges.
  • Paul Kenny – Labour’s “never say die” candidate, now fighting his fourth consecutive general election.
  • Paul Nuttall – MEP for North West England, and leader of UKIP – although  he stood for the Conservatives in a council election in Sefton in 2004. Despite the rumpus over living in the constituency when he stood for Stoke on Trent in February, his address appears as “in the Congleton constituency.” He has been quoted as saying: "Will I be staying in the constituency? Probably at some point, yeah.”
  • Victoria Percival is standing for the Green Party for the second consecutive election.
  • Phil Smith is the candidate for the Liberal Democrats. He runs a business in Ashfield, Notts and took fourth place in the 2015 general election battle for Ashfield.
  • Last but not least we have Matt Warman, who was elected as Conservative MP in 2015 replacing the not-much-missed Mark Simmonds is seeking re-election.

And before anyone starts moaning about Mr Warman being placed “last” – the list is in alphabetical order. We say that because the local Tories apparently started bitching at the Boston sub-Standard for putting the photo of Blue Revolution’s Mike Gilbert top in a list with Matt Warman second. Again, the parties were listed alphabetically. We note that the final list on the Bs-S draws attention to the fact – presumably to deflect any more whining.
Talking of Mr Warman, students of political funding may be interested to know that at the weekend, his Crowdfunder appeal for £5,000 “to keep Boston Conservative” stood at £710 from eight supporters  ... which must be very disappointing with so little time left to election day. 
Having said that we would have thought that someone who for the past two years has been paid the very thick end of £75,000 a year plus expenses might have planned ahead a little better and put some of his own dosh aside as a war chest for a rainy election day. 
As it is, Mr Warman set the crowdfunding ball rolling on 29th April with a stonking £50 starter ... just 1% of the total needed. There are now less than three weeks to go to meet the target   but who knows ... miracles have been known to happen!

***

Despite a 4,336 majority over UKIP in 2015 Boston and Skegness has more than once been described as marginal in the run up to 8th June – including by Mr Warman’s former masters at the Daily Telegraph.

 

But the closest we came to parting company with the Tories was in 2001, when Mark Simmonds’s victory coincided with the second Labour landslide and he squeaked home with a majority of just 515 over Labour rival Elaine Bird.
Now that’s what we call marginal!

***

At least choice will be easier this time around – with only six candidates to choose from  instead of the horde that threw their chapeaux into the ring two years ago.
The extras last time comprised an Independent, a BNP, an Independence from Europe, and our then local equivalent of the Monster Raving Loonies … the Pilgrim Party.
We were going to say that our MP for more than thirty years between 1966 and 1997 – Sir Richard Body – would be turning in his grave at some of the recent candidates … but for the fact that the old gent  (pictured left) will be 90 years old on Thursday. We wish him many happy returns … but doubt that parliament will be among them!

*** 

Mr Nuttall’s arrival in Wainfleet just after the local elections prompted coverage in the Guardian to declare “Paul Nuttall struggles to galvanise UKIP in former stronghold” and quoted Boston Councillor Brian Rush “the incoming UKIP mayor” as “scathing – not just about Nuttall’s leadership but the direction of the party itself  quoting him thus: “I think there is no connection between the grassroots of the party and its leadership.
“Paul Nuttall, as far as I am concerned, was a bad choice as leader. He already failed to get elected in Stoke-on-Trent. His presence is not good.”
Councillor Rush told Boston Eye: “The call from the Guardian was unexpected, and as I think might be clear from my 'quote', was possibly not exactly what I thought I had stated, but hey ho, I am not going to worry too much about that.
“However the reporter seemed to me to be chasing an opinion on whether or not I thought UKIP had completed its mission, despite the catastrophic showing in Boston and nationally so to speak.
“I believe the first part of the question was partially answered, and the second part will most surely be addressed, by the outcome of the forthcoming General Election ...
“However, no matter what that outcome is, I am not very confident that it will be positive. UKIP must, at the very least, be applauded for getting us all thus far.
There is no doubt in my mind however that Farage was our sacred as well as our 'secret' weapon!
“No-one ever even came close to challenging his audacious performances, and not even battle hardened politicians could match his gift of singlehandedly standing up to the EU.
“No one will have cheered and thumped the air with more vigour than I every time his eloquent, fearless exposé of the expansionist ideals, of what were, and indeed still are, the financial basket cases of France, Italy and many others!
It is not for the likes of me, to pontificate about who or why it was that the election was lost.
“It is beyond question, that this 'election' was earned by, and belonged to, UKIP.
From the moment the result of the referendum was known, UKIP had won.
“But ... if there is a lesson to be learnt here, it is this.
UKIP, under Nigel Farage was an almost lone protesting voice in Europe. It was he who slammed shut the doors of the UK against the closed Euro-politics and flung open our own doors to the rest of the world both locally and nationally.
“It has given the common man, and woman, a tiny taste of democracy in action, and the two former main protagonists will never again dare to be so politically complacent.
“In truth of course, there is little, if anything, for UKIP councillors to do now ... and frankly most were elected because only they offered a way out of Europe.   
“So like it or not, the referendum victory in June may well have rung the final bell for UKIP and its councillors, but Nigel Farage has booked his place in British political history, and in my opinion should be honoured for that at least.”

***

We must agree that Nigel Farage has earned his place in the history books.
But so has councillor Rush.
When he is elected Boston Borough Council Mayor at tonight’s full council meeting, he may well become the first UKIP mayor in the country – and possibly the last!

***

Last week’s Boston Eye coverage of the County Council election results prompted more than one comment.
Regular reader Robin wrote in to say: “Thank you, I now know who my new Boston West councillor is and where to find her if required, at flipping Langrick.
“Out of the five candidates standing only one sent any leaflets and she was not the one.
“How do these buffoons expect us to vote for them without any information to make a choice? Perhaps by telepathy?

***

And former Independent councillor Carol Taylor e-mailed: “As usual NBE, spot on with this week’s blog.
“I understand exactly what you mean by people voting for political parties rather than an independent candidate. When I left the Blueys to become just that, I worked really hard to address my ward issues.
“But it meant nothing when in 2015 I was voted out in favour of two UKIP candidates.
“Whilst I was canvassing, one chap said "I'm going to vote for Neil Farangle" he meant Nigel Farage.
“I told him that this wasn't a general but a local election, and. he then replied: ‘mark my words, Neil will be prime minister this time tomorrow.’’
“In the 2017 elections I was bitterly disappointed to see Paul Skinner elected but I was glad to see Mike Brookes and Aaron Spencer get in – the former because of his experience and the fact he is a really nice bloke and the latter because I think Aaron improves with age and is a potential future parliamentary candidate.
“The sad thing was seeing Peter Bedford only get 300-plus votes.
“Whatever our opinions of him, he deserved more.
“Peter and I never got along, but he gave me many opportunities which I chose to relinquish in favour of independence – not like the Austins who are not Independent and agreed to vote with the blueys to keep chairmanships of committees  … just like Paul Gleeson, whose decision saddened me most of all.
“One thing I did learn as a councillor was just how disingenuous so many councillors were.”

***

Meanwhile, what ought to be a dilemma for our newly-returned Boston county councillors has presented itself at an early stage.
In a victory interview during the wee small hours of the Friday morning after the Lincolnshire County Council elections, leader Martin Hill was asked to identify his key targets for the coming four years in power.
Top of the list were health and social issues – immediately followed by “big ambitions” for new roads  ... specifically a “new coastal highway from Lincoln to Skegness.”
Excuse us?  The present and historic holiday pattern for visiting Skegness has been by holidaymakers coming from Derby, Leicester and Nottingham – using the more direct route via Grantham and Boston.
Whilst there has been congestion in recent times caused by traffic from these East Midlands cities coming through Lincoln, we attribute these to perhaps some strategic re-signposting to send it that way – perhaps with the idea that this will justify a “coastal highway.”
An equivalent highway via Boston would offer not only a more direct route, but would advance the case for a Boston bypass, and perhaps even put it on a priority list.
The County Hall case for not pursuing a bypass is that traffic that enters Boston does not emerge from the other side.
A situation which is seems our Lincoln masters are anxious to maintain.
Will this truly pose a dilemma for our new Boston councillors, when asked to back yet another road enhancement for Lincoln?
Will it hell – they’ll all fall in line and do down the borough they have been elected to represent, we are sure.

***

It was interesting to read that “simpler” parking rules have been introduced in the centre of Boston Market Place “helping motorists avoid an unnecessary ticket.”
Aside from the fact that an “unnecessary” ticket should not be issued, the changes will see enhanced waiting restrictions with a ban on loading between 9am and 4pm which bans parking completely – and wrongly headlined on the Boston off-Target website as “Parking spaces cut for disabled badge holders in Boston Market Place.”
Previously, blue badge holders had been able to park because they were exempt from the restrictions – and that led to other drivers parking nearby and being ticketed.
A parking enforcement person said: "We hope that the new restrictions will be easier for people, making it less likely that drivers find a parking ticket when returning to their cars.
"It will also help keep the centre of the Market Place clear for pedestrians, creating a more attractive space for shoppers and visitors while helping to ensure the town centre remains a vibrant and thriving area.”
Clownty Hall strikes again. The central market place no waiting rules were a bodged attempt further to define areas best used by pedestrians.
It is the latest in a long line of moves designed to paper over the cracks caused by numerous County Hall cock-ups when they carried out their so-called refurbishment and enhancement of the area.
It remains broken.
Will somebody please mend it?

***


At long last, the application to build a new style "Lidl for the future"supermarket near the Tesco and B&Q Store, on Westbridge Road, is to be decided by councillors.
It is on tomorrow’s planning committee agenda – with a recommendation that is approved – inevitably, of course “subject to conditions.”


Whilst it ticks all the right boxes, and is a classic candidate for the go-ahead, it is nonetheless on the agenda because “This application is considered by the Development Control Manager to have such public interest that it should be considered by Committee.”
Last time such a major issue came up for discussion was the Quadrant application – it was even webcast which let us see for ourselves just how hopeless some of the members of the planning committee were. Perhaps that's why they're not doing it again.
Like the Quadrant development, the Lidl site is geographically in Wyberton – and the last time that the company applied to develop site in Tawney Street it was a Wybertonian who tried to put a spanner in the works.
At the time Conservative Independent Councillor Alison Austin – who went on the chair the planning committee  famously declared:  “We do not have to do this. We should say what we would like done to our town as Boston deserves better."
Whilst the appeal was grudgingly approved, Lidl  decided not to press ahead with that particular site and went on to open stores across Lincoln in almost everywhere else other than Boston – the most recent being in North Hykeham, near Lincoln of all unlikely places – a town with a population of around 14,000.
At the time, there was a lot of waffle about maintaining what was laughingly called the ambience of an area dominated by a car showroom and workshop, the derelict Bedworld  store (itself a former car showroom) a view of the back wall of the Boston Shopping Park and Iceland’s delivery van car park and storage bay.

***

Whilst it is hard to imagine any reason to object to a supermarket being built in an area where similar premises abound, and which has lain derelict since its last use around 25 years ago, it might appear to bystanders that Worst Street desperately tried a last hurrah to find reasons to be miserable.
A “retail impact assessment” search was made high and low to determine what effect the new store might have on similar rival retailers in case it might have an adverse impact.
This covered Tesco, ASDA, ALDI, Oldrids, Marks and Spencer, the Co-Op,
Iceland, and The Food Warehouse … and was extended to include any likely effect in Kirton.
We wonder what the outcome might have been had one of these retailers whinged that a new Lidl would put a sizeable dent in its profits.
Would the store have been turned down to protect the profits of a possible rival?
It seems that way – and yet whenever people protest about the approval of yet another off-licence in an area where every other shop sold booze we were told that the only grounds for refusal were on licensing grounds – and that it was not the planners’ job to stand in the way of healthy commercial competition.’

***

Finally we note yet another attempt by the Worst Street propaganda squad to portray the town in a good light is begging for our photos of the recent May Fair – perhaps to spare them the trouble of “borrowing” photos from other websites and trying to obscure the fact! 


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  
E-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com 

We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston



Monday, 8 May 2017

How Lincolnshire County Council summarised the Boston vote
Living proof that voters are a ballot short of a majority has come with the results of the Lincolnshire County Council elections.
We have argued for years that there is no place for voting along national party lines when it comes to running the day to day essential local services of Lincolnshire or Boston.
We have never felt that local elections should be political with a capital ‘P’  – we want our councillors to be people who have the interests of their local area at heart – and not slavishly to follow the diktats of a national party policy.
And it’s no real help to adopt the line “I vass only followink orders…” to excuse such actions.
And yet – despite moaning about the depth and number of cuts of the past four years … including the loss of street lighting, libraries, educational services, adult social care, cuts to the fire service and winter road maintenance, right the way down the list to grass cutting – the irate voters of Lincolnshire turned out, and like Oliver Twist … asked for more of the same unpalatable gruel.
We are sure that they will get it – a big bowlful.
What if candidates had stood on their policies to improve the area in which they live without a political branding, and then fought to deliver those promises? We are sure that anyone – whether Conservative, Labour, UKIP, Lib Dem or Green would want pretty much the same outcome for their district and their county.
And what’s next now that the elections are behind us? Stand by to expect a ballot to turn Lincolnshire from a county into a unitary authority.

***

The face of Lincolnshire County Council changed dramatically after Thursday’s vote – which saw 35 new councillors elected and 35 returned.
  • Conservatives now have 58 compared with 36 before the election.
  • Labour had 12 but have lost six.
  • Liberal Democrats are down from three to one.
  • UKIP had nine - but now have zero.
  • Lincolnshire Independents had seven and now have just one.
  • Independents remain steady with four.
  • Independents from Europe lost all three seats.

***

Having urged people to get out and vote in last week’s blog, we found ourselves in something of a dilemma when county council election day dawned last Thursday.
Of the five candidates for our vote, two didn’t even bother to poke a leaflet through our letterbox – which made decision making a little easier.
So back to the remaining candidates.
Our Tory wannabe, Martin Griggs, was also our Boston Borough councillor – although until the day that his leaflet arrived, we would not have been able to name him.
He felt that he had the skills to deliver his “plan” and would ensure that important services would not be withdrawn.
Having said that, a look at his borough council track record between November last year and the beginning of this month showed nine attendances at meetings out of a possible 13 – which represents 69%. Not even a pass mark.
And there were no declarations of interest noted on his record for the same period. So much for promising “a strong voice.”
Without doubt, Labour’s Paul Kenny showed how to be a mayor during the floods, but since then has given every impression of having passed his sell-by date.  And his policies for a better Boston wish list on his “Let’s keep it local” platform were either already achieved or unachievable.
UKIP’s Sue Ransome told us that when elected four years ago, she promised to keep voters updated – and this leaflet appears to be that update.  Better late than never.
The list of achievements comprised some hedge cutting, a couple of new street signs, and the “mystery” of a “missing” light removed during remedial work but now “reinstated. ”
Despite attending all lessons at County Hall and Boston Borough Council, she also apparently made no declarations of interest in the records.

***

So what to do?
The answer came in the Noble Form of Lord (Gary) Porter of Spalding – Leader of South Holland District Council and Chairman of the Local Government Association – who told a local newspaper that anybody not liking the candidate options in the County Council elections should spoil their ballot paper to register their dissatisfaction.
“This is not an inconsequential election,” he said. “… the council is responsible for delivering life-saving services and other services people care about.
“People need to take responsibility and say ‘I voted for these people’ or ‘I did not vote for them’, but not voting should not be an option.
“If you don’t like what is on offer then you need to express that opinion.
“Get out and spoil the paper. If the largest group at the poll were spoilt papers people who have not yet stood will see there’s a big untapped market place out there.”

***

So we did – and were among 32 voters who felt the same across the borough, where the turnout was 30.85%.

***
  
As we said before, probably the most interesting Boston contest was in the Coastal Division – held by borough councillor Peter Bedford for the past quarter of a century – and which elegantly proves our point about the sheep-like way that people vote.
Although for the past 25 years, Councillor Bedford topped the polls, he was then a Conservative!
But he recently split with his colleagues in blue for reasons unknown and stood as an independent.
In the Coastal Ward this turned out to be the political equivalent of contracting Ebola – and Bedford came third with 318 votes of the 2,583 total.
The winner was – yes, you’ve guessed it – a Tory.
Paul Skinner – despite his lacklustre performance as Boston Borough Council’s Town Centre portfolio holder – received 1,277 votes and 44.8% of the poll ahead of UKIP’s Felicity Ransome.
Independent Barrie Pierpoint was 4th, followed by Labour’s Susan Walsh, whilst – lurking in the basement was “I am Mr Oswald Redvers (Ossy) Snell” a one-time Lib Dem turned independent with 224 votes – or 7.9% of the poll.

***

In our other wards, Aaron Spencer – also Worst Street’s Chancellor of the Exchequer – took the newly named Boston North for the Tories. Fellow Tory Mike Brookes, Worst street’s Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for rubbish held Boston Rural. Despite a bad time for Independents generally, Councillor Alison Austin worked her old black magic in Boston South. Tory Paula Cooper is the new county councillor for Boston West. She is the other half of the Langrick Bubblecar Museum owning duo, and husband Mike Cooper is to be the new leader at Worst Street following Peter Bedford’s departure.
This means that Boston now has two councillors who live outside the district!
Finally Tory Martin Griggs completers the set in the newly named Skirbeck Division.
Among the results there is at least proof of the old adage "they also serve who only stand and watch."

 ***

One thing that tickled us this time round was the Conservative use of mail merging in their leafleting campaign.
Page one of their hand-outs featured the candidate’s name and photo; the centre spread was the general pitch ...whilst on the back an appeal for support by county council leader Martin Hill saw the candidate’s name inserted.
And pursuing the idea that all voters are idiots, the leaflet concluded with a “personal” endorsement by Matt Warman, who is seeking re-election as Boston and Skegness MP.
There he sat – photographed alongside our candidate who was name-checked twice.
Mr Warman was quoted as saying: “…it’s vital to have the best possible team of councillors supporting my work so secure the best Brexit for Lincolnshire.”
At least he didn’t go so far as to say that the candidate alongside was the one he meant.
But pity the poor man – sitting at a desk whilst six wannabes plonk themselves down next to him for this desperate photo call so that he can herald them as the answer to a voter’s prayer.

***

Speaking of Mr Warman we are slightly bemused by his strategy to date.
On Saturday, he invited the Tory faithful to his campaign launch and at the same time to grab a box of leaflets to hand out in their neighbourhood.
It seemed a bit haphazard to us – we would expect a battle plan to include a map of the constituency where canvassed area were checked off once visited so as to ensure the entire patch was covered.
And what was to stop anti-Tories from collecting a box of leaflets and dumping it in a hedge somewhere?  Don’t forget if your name is on a fly-tipped piece of litter then you will be the one who is fined!

***


Still with Mr Warman’s campaign, an additional note directed supporters to his crowd funding appeal – which hopes to raise £5,000 “to help keep Boston and Skegness Conservative in the 2017 General Election.”
By yesterday lunchtime as we were putting this week’s Boston Eye to bed, the total stood at £410 from six supporters, of which we assume he is one  compared with £310 from five the previous day,  just 8% per-cent of the requirement.
Clearly the appeal worked ... just a little bit.

***

We’ll be looking at the general election in more detail next week – the closing date for nominations is 11th May – but after last week’s mention we were not surprised when Paul Kenny was again selected for Labour.
This year the party’s national executive took over the job from the locals because of the imminence of the election, and we were told that the announcement was expected last Tuesday.
That was nearly the case – the announcement was Tweeted by Mr Kenny’s agent Councillor Paul Gleeson, appropriately on May Day at 6-10pm.
What did surprise us though was the appearance of Mr Kenny as a candidate in Wednesday’s Boston sub-Standard which “confirmed” his appointment in its Wednesday morning edition.
We would have thought that the paper’s deadline on a bank holiday week was well past when the news was announced.
So did the paper make a lucky guess – or was the decision already made and perhaps leaked ahead of the expected deadline?
Either way – as we reported last week, there is still unhappiness in the Labour ranks about Mr Kenny as the choice for candidate, and we think that this may soon express itself.

***

We hope that Lincolnshire County Council doesn’t mind us making use of some of the excellent graphics used to illustrate last week’s election.
Whilst it was “their” election, its significance went almost unremarked on the Worst Street website – which apparently still believes it is yet to happen – according to this website entry which was still in place yesterday


Mind you, living in the past seems to be a way of life for the web team in Worst Street.
Election  day saw the appearance of a story headlined: “Tribute planned to Boston's 'lost fishermen'"– a piece about Boston and South Holland Wood Carvers' plan to build an eight-foot high oak monument to fishermen who sailed from Boston at the outbreak of the First World War and were killed or taken prisoner.
It was accompanied by a photo of a glum looking Councillor Peter Bedford and the woodcarvers along with a quote from “Councillor Peter Bedford, Leader of Boston Borough Council.”
Hmmm.
Is anybody there? Knock once for yes, twice for no.

***

In keeping with its policy that any old nonsense will do on the website so long as it has nothing to do with Boston – a policy perhaps inherited from its hopeless weekly newsletter – Worst Street has offered this bon mot


The information is as pointless as it is incorrect.
However else you calculate the size of the May Fair, it is not by length – as it does not run in a linear fashion.
Area would be much better – and then instead of London buses, we could talk in terms of football pitches, or make comparisons with the size of the Isle of Wight.
It’s a pity that some people have nothing better to do. What's the adage? The devil finds work for idle hands!

***

Now that BTAC-ky appears to have an open chequebook at its disposal, we hope that it won’t decide to use it willy-nilly.
A proposal to incorporate Woodville Road and Shelton’s Field into the borough’s CCTV system has produced a quote for “an alternative solution” costing £11,611 plus vat for Shelton’s Field and £15,710 for Woodville Road.
The solution uses 4G connectivity, and the cost includes two years of airtime. Woodville Road includes the cost of a six metre column, but the council would have to pay for connection to electricity supply and the installation of a concrete base, Annual maintenance would cost £129 per camera.
The CCTV control room software is not compatible with the solution proposed, and whilst other compatible software control solutions could be installed, the costs are unknown. The CCTV control system would also need to be connected to the internet in order to connect to the new cameras.
Given the way that Worst Street usually spends the largest sums for the worst result possible, we hope that this quote will swiftly be kicked into touch.
Especially as on the borough’s own figures when it upgraded the CCTV system: “Fibre optics are to be replaced with a wireless system reducing the cost of new cameras, together with their associated installation, running and maintenance costs, from £25,000 each to just £2,000.”

***

Finally, quite a number of candidates in last week’s elections homed in on the county council's reductions in street lighting lighting and how awful it was.
Some years ago we were involved in a national radio oral history project, and were told by more than one Lincolnshire interviewee about village life back in the 1920s and 1930s.
A common thread in these accounts was that  social events such as dances, meetings and the like were held on the night of the full moon during the winter months – because the lunar lighting was the only source by which people could find their way around.
What would today’s complainers make of that, we wonder?





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