Monday, 11 June 2018


An official complaint has been made about a remark said to be homophobic and allegedly made by a Boston Borough Council cabinet member and committee chairman.
The comments were said to have taken the form of joke by Councillor David Brown at a training meeting on 20th April, attended by planning committee members and officers.
But it is said to have misfired with some of those present – prompting former Mayor Councillor Brian Rush to take the matter up with a senior officer attending the meeting.
Councillor Rush says that he was promised some sort of action on the matter, and that although an apology was offered, he felt that it was not enough.
In a 1,600 word letter of official complaint to the council’s Monitoring Officer Michelle Sacks, Councillor Rush says: “The very fact that he has been thought a suitable person to hold the office of Chair of Planning is worrying enough in itself, but now to have been presented with a Cabinet position” – Councillor Brown replaced Councillor Mike Brookes as portfolio holder for environment – “is a bridge too far in my estimation and … is extremely worrying.
“It is my belief that his promotion will certainly have undermined the confidence of future planning applicants, but will also surely have damaged the trust that the people of Boston Borough need to have in their elected members.
“You will … know just how angry and disappointed I was to be informed by you that in ‘your opinion’, this councillor’s apology, was ‘an acceptable and adequate response to what those who were in attendance had heard!’'
“Let me also say that I have good reason to believe that not to be true.
“Nor in fact do I believe that such an apology would have been thought acceptable, especially given the forum within which the ‘story’ was told.”
Later, he adds: “Given that this administration is reputed to pride itself on subscribing to a policy of fairness and open-mindedness, I believe that this man has undermined those policies with  his unsolicited, and degrading homophobic commentary, without the slightest regard for ‘any or all of those present’.
“It is a matter of record that all in attendance were experienced councillors, and senior officers, you being one, whom one would expect to behave to the highest possible standards of language and behaviour.
“Yet on this occasion Councillor Brown failed to act correctly, without the slightest regard for fellow attendees, nor those whose life preferences, or human persuasions, may have differed from others present.
Councillor Rush says that he is surprised that Councillor Brown is still in post as Planning Committee chairman  – adding “that once the genie is out of the bottle  we can never ever then be sure that such jaundiced opinions are nullified, except by his removal from councillorship.
“… can the action taken, and the apology made, completely erase the mental opinions he so clearly harbours, and how can we or the public, ever now have any confidence in the fairness of judgement he is expected to project?
He concludes: “Councillors in my opinion should never mock or criticise other members of society whose life differences are a matter of personal choice, some of which may indicate sexual preferences of their own, which may be very different from one’s own; that does not give anyone the right to scoff or criticise  such differences in a public arena.”
“ … Given the insensitive and offensive nature of the comments made by him, I believe this renders him completely unsuitable for membership of the planning committee but also and indeed, any level of public scrutiny.
“This embarrassingly offensive, so-called ‘funny’ story, begs us all to ask, what kind of  leader would ever have allowed any member to express such homophobic, and offensive opinions within an arena where the  ‘life standards’ of others, can and are, at times,  completely different.
“No amount of training could ever eradicate such a discriminatory opinion.”

***

We asked Councillor Brown for a reply – which was equally robust.
He told Boston Eye: “I will confirm a complaint about a remark I made in a private training session where no member of the public was present has been made by Brian Rush.
“Simon Rowberry – the former Interim Development Manager of planning – was talking about the Green Party and the attitude some Green councillors take to planning issues.
“He followed ‘There are a lot of Greens in Brighton.’
“I quipped ‘Mmm – there are a lot of Gays in Brighton.’ That's it – exactly what I said. Anyone who twists this in any way or exaggerates is telling you a lie and I will swear on Oath that's exactly what I said.
“During the lunch break Michelle Sacks asked for a quiet word and suggested I might have offended someone in the room – perhaps they had a gay son and were experiencing trauma.
“On my return to the meeting I addressed those present; I apologised and said I wished to withdraw the remark as I am no bigot and certainly wished no offence.
“Let me tell you something about myself. I'm one of six kids – my father died when I was nine. My loving mother raised us kids to accept people for who they are. We have always been a family that prides itself on acceptance to all people no matter what their colour, creed, religion or sexual persuasion …”
“ … I was especially offended when Brian Rush said on camera THEY (the councillors) WILL NOT MEET THESE PEOPLE (the Muslim community.*) That’s an offensive outrageous remark to make.
“From 1985 to 1993 I ran my own giftware manufacturing business and came in to contact with many Gays – either running a gift shop or being a sculptor/model making. They are very talented people; many of them have remained close, personal friends since.
“Recently I became aware of a remark at another meeting. I asked the gentleman – I'll call him Fred – ‘Is it true you asked the Mayor for the possibility of a Gay pride Carnival to take place in the Town’?  
“He replied ‘It was mentioned in the meeting within the events committee and his reply was something like ‘Such an event and the people it attracts would not be welcome’
“Who's the real bigot?
“The screenshot of the message was shown to Michelle Sacks together with the name of the correspondent. I shall further pursue my complaint if Brian wishes to play tit for tat.
“It seems to me Brian is out for revenge.
“Is that the behaviour of a councillor? Surely the council chamber is where one scores a victory.
“As for the Extraordinary Meeting calling for his resignation, my speech was deliberately kept neutral – after all it was me who "seconded" him in the first place. I started with the words ‘Damned if we do, damned if we don't.’
“You know full well that if we had brushed it under the carpet (and that would have been my choice) we would have been vilified just the same but then, I can't turn the clock back.”

*This comment was made in February after a motion was passed at an Extraordinary meeting of the council, calling for the resignation of Councillor Rush over certain remarks alleged to have been made on Facebook.

***

We e-mailed the borough’s Monitoring Officer to ask what the procedure was following a complaint, but the question apparently went unmonitored – as we are sure that it was not deliberately ignored.

***

Another interesting sidebar along the road to openness and transparency was that one of our e-mails to Councillor Brown was blocked by Boston Borough Council.


We’re sure that councillors of all political persuasions will be pleased that apparently Worst Street determines what they should or should not read, and manages their mail accordingly.

***

No sooner had the ink dried on last week’s blog in which we called into question Boston Borough Council’s reliance on the internet than – abracadabra! – up sprang another Worst Street website … to encourage economic growth in Boston borough.
click to enlarge photo 
According to WorstWeb  the site, which has the slogan THINK BOSTON think business “puts the borough on the economic map,” gives a host of great reasons for businesses and their workforce to want to settle here and is updated with social media posts about businesses and business opportunities
Frankly, we have to say that we have seen better.
A lot of what appear to be links turn out to be no such thing – and the Boston net has been cast wide to include embrace, Holbeach and, we think, Sleaford.
Newcomers to Boston, may well be lured by the promise of “readily available and reasonably priced housing” – but may find the promise of “good connectivity by road and rail” slightly more elusive.
The bottom line is that the website is little more than a collection of links to organisations that do things.
There is a section entitled “get in touch” which includes a “contact form”   asking for name, e-mail address, ‘phone number and a message.
Who receives that it anyone’s guess, and the provision of a name would be a good starting point –  a personal touch that might help things along in these competitive times.

***

The feeling that any content will do so long as the pages look busy is inescapable.
A section on “attractions” includes such entries as the Fenside Community Centre, Boston Aerodrome, Boston and County Club, the Len Medlock Voluntary Centre and the railway station.
And in some cases, there is scant attention to detail – witness the entry below … ironically for an attraction owned by borough council leader Michael Cooper.


Think Boston also has its own Twitter page – apparently created some months ago – which includes many entries which are completely irrelevant to Boston and to thinking about it.
Worse than that, the non-local links are mostly tales of industrial doom and gloom – such as “European fruit pickers shun Britain/ Poundworld future in the balance after buyer pulls out/Rate rise chances dim as inflation falls/M&S to close 100 stores by 2022/Tesco Direct closure puts 500 jobs at risk.”
But never mind – at least the feed has followers – all five of them when last we looked.
They comprised Clive Gibbon, the Economic Development Manager at Boston Borough Council, Boston Eye., BBC Radio Lincolnshire, a local food firm and a local PR firm.
Look on the bright side – things can only get better.
They can’t get any worse!

***

Just over two years ago, Worst Street published its “working document” for balancing the budget by 2020 to find spending reductions of £2.2 million including “a staggered downsizing of staff reflecting the changing size and shape of the council through other transformation projects.”
We were told: “The council has done its best to prepare itself for the difficult times ahead.
It already has the leanest senior management team of any council in the county, possibly the country - just two.
“The chief executive has taken on the duties of the deputy chief executive and the finance director shares his time with a neighbouring authority.
“Other staff work in part for Boston Borough Council and in part for neighbouring councils, such as East Lindsey District Council and South Holland District Council. Savings have also been made by sharing services, such as some refuse collecting duties.”

***

So it came as something of a surprise to learn of changes to the structure which appear to be the opposite of those declared in 2016, and which have slipped under the radar without any kind of announcement.
click to enlarge photo
The most recent update – posted on WorstWeb less than a month ago – shows no fewer than seven members.
Not only that, but we have reacquired a Deputy Chief Executive role bolted on to the existing duties of  the borough’s Corporate Director and Monitoring Officer  – a promotion that surely must be accompanied by a decent pay rise.
So what about the shared duties between Boston and East Lindsey?
For some years, the role of Section 151 officer – a council’s finance chief – has been held by Robert Barlow and shared between the two authorities.
But there seem to have been changed here as well.
On the East Lindsey website, Mr Barlow repeatedly appears not only as the Section 151 officer – but on at least one list as a permanent employee at East Lindsey, working four days a week as the Deputy Chief Executive on a salary between £85 -£90,000 a year.
Confused?
So is at least one councillor, who told Boston Eye: “He definitely only recently told me, he was taking retirement for health reasons”
Whilst it always sounds a little pompous to say that we pay the bill for councillors and for officers it is nonetheless true – an a little more transparency on who gets our money and for what would be most welcome.

***

We also note that Worst Street has clambered on to the bandwagon that aggrandises preciously easy-to-understand job descriptions.
Until now, Phil Perry, the officer in charge of the town centre, leisure, events and culture has uncomplicatedly been known as “Head of Town Centre, Leisure, Events and Culture” – a description that clearly does what it says on the packet.
Simples.
Now, the council appears to have adopted the practice known as jobbledygook – and Mr Perry has become the Head of Place and Space.
We don’t know who dreamt up that bunch of bollocks – but feel that they must have much in common with the creators of the jobs in the list below of  fancy pants job titles … drawn up by the Plain English Foundation …


***

There are three weeks to go before yet another “pubic consultation” draws to a close – this one seeking our views on how Lincolnshire disposes of its rubbish. Our observations of these so-called soundings of taxpayer opinion in the past are that whichever council is asking the questions, the result is usually the one they wanted in the first place.

***

Worryingly, the County Council consultation comes at a time when a policy paper by the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee has come up with a proposal that would see taxpayers charged for the weight of the general waste they put out.
It would mean installing electronic chips in tens of millions of bins so that collection lorries can recognise them.
Currently bin collection costs fall under council tax.
LARAC, which speaks for senior council waste officers, said the ‘pay as you throw’ charges could be kept down if manufacturers and supermarkets were forced to pay much more to fund council rubbish services.
LARAC argued the charging regime would boost recycling as people would make sure plastic, paper, glass and food are put in household recycling bins, which would not carry a charge, rather than general waste bins.
The government is consulting on reforms to how the UK pays for the collection, handling and recycling of waste, and the LARAC policy document says rubbish collection should be split away from council tax.
It says: “A fundamental shift in funding is needed.
“It is time to look at how we decouple provision of waste services from being considered ‘what council tax pays for’ and move it to something that producers and users are responsible for.’
We know from past experience that Worst Street loves the idea of decoupling services that were previously provided from the council tax and feel sure that Clownty Hall would be onside for that as well.
Just be aware … at the moment waste removal is a statutory requirement – but watch out for moves to change all that.
The main argument against the sort of thing is that if – like most households – taxpayers dispose of their waste correctly they will simply end up paying extra for a service that was previously included in their council tax; another  example of less for more that is becoming increasingly widespread.

***

Finally we’re on a two week break from this edition for reasons of Ho-Ho … hospitals and holidays.
Look out for the next edition on Monday 2nd July.
But don’t forget – we’re still available on e-mail and via Twitter, and if anything urgent needs reporting we’ll make sure we cover it.


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, 4 June 2018

In the last couple of issues of Boston Eye, we have examined the reluctance within Boston Borough Council to engage with taxpayers and connect with them in a helpful and meaningful way.

***

In the last blog for example we criticised Worst Street’s attitude which relies on the internet as its messenger-in-chief – more often than not with poor or non-existent results.
Despite this, the council has decided to do away with its Viewpoint Panel – which has been on the go for donkey’s years.
According to Worst Street: “The Viewpoint Panel is a group of residents who 'Have Their Say' and make an important contribution to improving services …
“ … We ask for your views and let you know the results and what decisions resulted from the consultation.”
But not anymore.

***

A letter has gone out to members telling them: “ … the Council has decided to dissolve its Viewpoint Panel. We have been reviewing all the personal information we hold as a Council in light of the data protection legislation coming into force on 25th May 2018.
“We have weighed the benefits of having a dedicated consultation panel against the privacy impact of holding personal details and we have looked at the alternative methods of informing you about consultation.
“We have concluded that it is not necessary for us to hold your personal information so we will be removing all of your details from our records in relation to consultation.
“We would like to thank you for your valued contribution to Boston Borough Council's consultation and we would welcome your continued involvement in the future.
“We do not need to hold your personal information for this to happen.
“You can find all of our current consultation on our website …by following our Facebook page … and on Twitter.
“You can get hard copies of our consultation from main reception or by ringing and asking for the transformation team.
“We advertise our consultation in the local newspapers. If you feel that there are other methods that we should use then please do let us know.
”Again I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your valued time and contribution.”
Thank you and goodnight.

***

What this boils down to is that Worst Street has used the arrival of the EU General Data Protection Regulation as an excuse to stop consulting people in a way that has worked well for years.
Many users of the internet will have received e-mails in recent weeks telling them about GDPR and informing them of a change in their privacy notices to take this into account – which is all that is needed.
Trust Worst Street to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Now, instead of real people at the sharp end of a consultation, the council has moved further to distance itself from the real world.
There’s a surprise. 
***

Yet another example of how poor the reliance that Worst Street places in the internet as its way to communicate also emerged in the last few days.
An item on WorstWeb – the borough council’s website – headlined “Flower show plan wilts” declared: “Sorry to say that ideas for a Boston flower show have not bloomed. Not enough exhibitors have come forward to make the show, planned for Sunday, June 3rd viable, so organisers at Boston Borough Council have had to cancel the event.”
This was very much a last minute announcement for something that was to have been held yesterday, with the closing date for competition entries set for 28th May.

***

As we couldn’t remember ever hearing about this impending event, we looked around further, and discovered that it was billed as a BTAC-ky production …
We still couldn’t recall it, and a trawl through the BTAC agendas and minutes for the past several months left us none the wiser.
So we asked a couple of  BTAC members – and they’d never heard of it either.
When asked about publicity for the event, a spokesman for the council told the Boston sub-Standard the event had previously been advertised on the visitboston.co.uk website and organisers had been contacting horticultural professionals “directly prior” to the decision to cancel – i.e. at the eleventh hour.

***

All this sounds par for the course for Boston Borough Council.
Think up an event; keep it to yourself for as long as possible, then panic at the last moment before cancelling it.
Were Worst Street not involved, it would be unthinkable that it would not be possible to organise a successful flower show in this part of the county.
We were reminded of a passage from the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy by the late lamented Douglas Adams


It could have been written with Worst Street in mind, couldn’t it?

***

Talking of BTAC-ky, we note that the chairmanship of the committee has passed from Conservative Councillor Nigel Welton to UKIP Councillor Sue Ransome
For around half his term in office Councillor Welton was a Labour councillor, but changed horses and was almost immediately welcomed into the cabinet at the beginning of the year – taking on the town centre portfolio to complement running BTAC-ky
Council leader Michael Cooper said at the time: "This realigns the portfolios and makes them, easier to manage. It made sense for Councillor Welton, as chairman of the Boston Town Area Committee (BTAC) to take on responsibility for the town centre."
Why is that we don’t think it will make similar sense in the case of a UKIP councillor?

***

Back to Worst Street and its obsession with electronic communication.
A recent “digital strategy” document published for consideration declared: “in this digital age where most everything (sic) can be purchased online and delivered within hours, it is not difficult to make most of our services accessible online. Indeed, many other organisations have already done so.
“However, the size of Boston Borough Council – and the associated numbers of transactions – brings with it a number of considerations …”
It went on to look at a number of topics and consider the attendant risks attached.
The document says that some customers will only ever expect face-to-face or telephone interaction with the council, and says that “there can be little or no savings from online services if traditional channels are maintained as-is.”
Under the heading “customer aspiration” the report says that some customers expect to interact with the council as if it were an online bank or retail site, adding: “The complexity of some council services is such that it is extremely difficult to make the interaction as simple as online shopping.”
Dealing with customer dissatisfaction the document recognises that changing customer habits can be a difficult and lengthy process.
“Customers may be unhappy if their preferred service request process is changed with no obvious benefit to the customer.”
Furthermore, it is recognised that some of the services provided are very complex and require several interactions before fulfilment and that as a result, some services might be better provided face to face so the customer outcome can be managed by “an experienced human being.”
And finally, Worst Street says that the borough’s multilingual customer base makes designing online services significantly more complex and increases costs and risks.

***

Reading between the lines of this document tells us that taxpayers who prefer the status quo can stick their heads up a bear’s bum; that it will all be an uphill struggle, but at the end of the day … it doesn’t matter what the punters think so long as Worst Street makes savings – unless that proves so difficult that the council simply won’t bother, and resort to using people once again.
Somehow, we don’t see the outcome of all this ending up as a giant step  forward for Worst Street taxpayers – particularly as the council handles this sort of thing to badly.

***

As Boston Borough Council has noted, we are now a multilingual community, and we are sure that we are not alone when – on many days when we stroll the town we hear English being spoken as the exception rather than the rule.
Not only that, but whereas once upon a time the speakers were mostly all young men of working age– they now range from toddlers and their mothers to grandparents and sometimes even older … the complete generational gamut.
So we suppose that it should have come as no surprise to read reports in a number of national newspapers which showed that Boston is the most changed place in Britain between 2007 and 2017, with the town's population of people born overseas soaring from three per cent to 29 per cent.


The figures were released by the government’s Office for National Statistics – and whilst they made headlines in a number of national newspapers – including the Daily Mail, in which the above chart appeared, the story did not seem to be of any interest to our local media.
We suspect that this is because they have been brainwashed into believing that publishing such stuff is somehow racist.
In fact it provides an argument as to why areas such as Boston deserve special attention – such as the recent grant of £1.39m from the government’s Controlling Migration Fund.
We have been told that this will be used on a programme of projects “aimed at bringing people together through sport, events and community assets, extending the availability of advice services, tackling rogue landlords and anti-social behaviour, strengthening community leadership and whole community volunteering opportunity (sic) and supporting the development of English language skills.”
Quite what change or “control” this will bring about is uncertain – and again, the organisations involved with the council are the usual members of the great and the good, many of whom are long on talk and short on action.
We’re talking the likes of  “Boston College, Boston More in Common, Bringing Learning into Communities (BLIC), Citizens Advice Mid Lincolnshire (CAML), Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service (LCVS), Lincolnshire Police,
Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), St Botolph’s Parish Church and Taylor ITex
Community Interest Company (CIC.)”
There’s also an allocation of £10,000 set aside to help fund Christmas lights in Boston.
What has gone unremarked is that the 3% - 29% population change is not redistribution – it is a 26% addition to the population, with all the pressures that accompany such a huge change.
Useful though £1.39 million might be, it is a drop in the ocean.
Better to face up to that now rather than letting a bunch of largely well-intentioned but unspectacular amateurs organise games of ping pong and the like – when what we need is millions spending on improvements to education  facilities, the NHS locally, and housing provision just for starters.
The borough had a total population of 66,900, at the ONS mid-2015 estimate, while the town itself had a population of 35,124 at the 2001 census.
How things stood in 2007 isn’t known – but it seems safe to conclude that the bulk of the 20,000 or so newcomers have integrated themselves  smoothly into this new look Boston, and share as the native population view when it comes to the need for schools rather than sports, and health and housing  rather than endless talking shops.
We need now to approach Boston’s problems as Boston’s problems and not as Old Boston v New Boston including inward migration. 

***

After something of a rollercoaster ride in office, there was a happy ending for last year’s mayor, Councillor Brian Rush, when he and his wife Jayne attended a Buckingham Palace garden party last Friday – a traditional visit enjoyed by the outgoing first citizen.
“What a great it was for Jayne and I to get to go to the palace, amongst dignitaries from all over Britain and indeed from around the world,” Councillor Rush told Boston Eye.
“I cannot believe how lucky we were, to have been within touching distance not only of our wonderful monarch, as well as maybe the King in waiting, Prince William.
“Whilst we both were in awe of those around us, it nevertheless was a great privilege to have been there to represent the Borough of Boston.
“This was the icing on  the cake after what was for us a glorious and very successful year.
“Thank you to the fantastic people of Boston.”

***


And finally, we were pleased to see that BBC Look North has again decided to acknowledge Boston’s existence on its weather maps.


The map on the left was the one we featured a couple of weeks ago, whilst the one beside it was screened last week.
  

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, 21 May 2018


Even though the local council elections earlier this month did not involve us in Boston, they ought to have set alarm bells ringing in Worst Street.
That’s because they signalled just a year before the elections on 2nd May 2019 which will see all the seats on Boston Borough Council up for grabs.
You can track how long there is to go with the Boston Eye countdown calendar on the top right of yhe page – which we are sure will bring a frisson of fear to those councillors whose days are clearly numbered.


***

Unlike, for example, Lincoln City Council – where one third of the members are for re-elected each year – Boston suffers in that any major changes in political allegiance means a massive influx of councillors who often have no previous experience of the job that they have been parachuted into.
Examples from recent years include the Boston Bypass Independents’ landslide in 2007 and the 2015 UKIP surge where they tied with the Tories on 13 seats each before almost immediately falling out and fragmenting.

***

This year’s results showed gains for Labour and the Liberal Democrats at the expense of the Tories and UKIP – the latter being the biggest victim, losing 123 seats, and ending up with just three out of the 4,404 contested.
The current make-up of Boston Borough Council is: Conservative – 16, UKIP – 6, Independent – 4, Bostonian Independents – 4.
Given the way things appear to be going it seems reasonably certain that UKIP’s six councillors have the most to fear, followed by the Bostonian Independents (not to be confused with the private wing at the Pilgrim Hospital) – one of whose members, whilst said to be “part” of the group even though he works out of the area – has attended only one out of the eight most recent council and committee meetings … a meagre and measly 12%.
The “Independents” political potpourri – comprises two who have declared allegiance to the Conservatives, former Tory leader Peter Bedford who quit the party when he lost his role, and dyed in the wool Labour councillor Paul Gleeson who needs a group allegiance to retain his committee chairmanship.

***

This doesn’t make the Tories the good guys either. At least one has an attendance record of only three out of the most recent eleven meetings at which he was expected – a 73% absentee rate.

***

We would expect anyone who can’t be bothered to turn up on a regular basis not to seek re-election next year.
We would also expect a number of other councillors to call it a day – if nothing else due to the march of time.
All things being equal we think that there could be as many as 12 new faces at Worst Street in less than a year’s time.
So watch this space – and follow the countdown clock as the election rolls inexorably nearer.

***

Having talked about attendances, the     issue becomes moot when applied to full council meetings for the rest of the year with just three … in July, September and November.
Whilst it could be argued that they are merely rubber-stamping exercises, and therefore not as important as they once were, there seems to be a growing tendency to ease rank and file councillors out of the decision-making process as far as possible.

***

An interesting example of this involves desire to offload the council’s leisure and cultural services on to a private, third party operator  to meet the cuts it needs to make – such has been done with the PRSA.
But a recommendation to develop a proposal with a non-profit organisation with charitable status created by East Lindsey District Council four years ago got a rough ride and was subsequently withdrawn.
During the debate concerns were raised that the proposals should have been subject to scrutiny before being considered by the council and that the number of service areas involved was too wide-ranging.
Whilst the principle of the proposal was accepted, the majority of members who spoke said that alternative options and service providers should be considered, including an in-house company, and that scrutiny was the appropriate first step in such a process, as with all major decisions.

***

Now the report has again appeared on an agenda – and again, apparently without undergoing any preliminary scrutiny process.
This time it popped up for discussion at last week’s meeting of the cabinet of curiosities
Instead of the recommendation to develop a proposal with East Lindsey together with a timeline and a three stage process which would see two more  reports come to the full council during 2018, the new report recommends  inviting expressions of interest by publishing a formal notice in the Official Journal of the European Union, then a timeline, and again, a three stage process which would see two more reports – initially  for consideration by and Overview and Scrutiny (at last!)  ahead of cabinet and full council meetings during the year.
Whilst the original ambition was for “a go live date” of 1st January 2019 it has now been put back to sometime in the first quarter of next year.
As before, the report leaves mention of the impact on staff until the very end, acknowledging that “the council is aware a proposal will have implications for its staff.
“Staff and staff side representatives will be fully briefed and consulted on an on-going basis as the proposal develops and be key stakeholders in the shaping of a final proposal which is in the best interests of the borough council and its residents.”
Whatever Worst Street says, the bottom line is that this is all about savings – in this case around £250,000 – so really, service no longer matters … the council is merely divesting itself of assets to cut its budget.
As is often pointed out when economies are on the agenda, the services provided are largely discretionary – but Worst Street has hoist itself on its own petard after years of lame attempts to improve the health of the borough and stressing the importance of the facilities it is now trying to dispose of.

***

We had a rather frustrating dialogue with a senior member of the council as an aside to a Twitter debate the other day.
The bottom line was that we were told “… it's better to use your talents in a positive way … to be involved … rather than produce criticism from the side-lines.”
An example of the positive use of talent that we were given was attendance at five back-to-back meetings in a single day  with the accompanying snipe … “Look forward to some positive actions promoting this fine and Historic (sic) town of ours.”
As we pointed out – and not for the first time – our criticism has nothing to do with Boston, but the many hapless councillors who run it.
In a previous life, we spent many years working for the BBC, whose lifeblood – as with local councils – takes the form of meetings up the ying-yang.
Looking back, it is hard to recall a meeting that did much more than waste the time of the attendees – and five back-to-back meetings in a single day most likely do nothing more than was five times as much “talent” as does a single meeting.

***

We mentioned last week the uselessness of Worst Street’s sharing of information with the taxpayers – pointing out the only content given out is an agenda a week before the meeting and a scrappy summary of what happened in the minutes accompanying the agenda for the next meeting some weeks later.
As if that isn’t bad enough, the Boston Town Area Committee – B-TAC-ky – is striving to go one further.
The committee which now commands one of the biggest budgets in Worst Street meets on Wednesday  without the customary standing item on police issues and two other agenda items which take the form of “presentations” rather than reports which … means that there is no clue as to content.
Frankly, the meeting may as well be held in secret for all the contribution to democracy, openness and transparency that it makes.

***

Speaking of which …
The anonymous author of the Boston sub-Standard comment column Observer was recently taken to task in a pithy little whinge from Worst Street after he mistakenly suggested that the council – rather than an outside group – organised a recent public event.
However, he made a point with which we heartily agree – and which underlines the dog in the manger attitude adopted by Worst Street when it comes to passing on information.
 Time and again, the only source of information is via the council website – WorstWeb – and as with this most recent example, other information in public areas is conspicuous by its absence.
In these days when the need to inform is integral to good public relations, this sort of attitude simply will not do.

***

Here’s another example of the attitude we just mentioned.


Not quite a timely reminder with less than 45 minutes to go, is it?

***

The Worst Street deadline for expressions of interest to manage this year’s Christmas lighting in Boston has passed with just one submission
Despite the fact that Worst Street did not want a town-wide solution from a single group, the bid is for … a town-wide solution from a single group – in this case the tradesmen who did the job last year and who now call themselves Christmas in Boston 2018.
The idea was for applications for six smaller areas to be decorated and lit    the Market Place and Christmas tree, Strait Bargate, Wide Bargate,  Bargate End Car Parks, the War Memorial, West Street, the traffic roundabouts – at Boardsides, Tesco, Chain bridge, ATS and Spirit of Endeavour, and Wormgate/Pen Street.
It was hoped that this would encourage more groups or individuals to come forward, and better spread the workload.
However, given the infighting over the project in recent months, it would seem that volunteers would rather steer clear than risk a load of hassle, which is a pity.
Much of the reason for such a response can be guessed after the Christmas in Boston 2018 group published an “open letter” (read it in full here) http://newbostoneye.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/is-it-freeze-no-its-flood-of-hidden.html to Boston Borough Council calling for the cabinet’s recommendations to be discarded to let the group complete the project again this year.
The argument “… why should we have to apply again …” was at the core of this, with the vaguely menacing reminder that: “We hold over fifteen thousand pounds worth of lights to put up this year.  Why are you intending to give this (the task) to someone else to light up the town and buy more lights when we have them already?”
The group demanded that the council pay £10,000 set aside for Christmas events from the migration funding grant for 2018/2019 and 2019 /2020, directly to them as soon as possible, to let them plan their “volunteer” work for Christmas 2018.
As an application to stage an event during the time of peace and goodwill to all, it more closely resembles an iron fist in an iron glove.

***

It seems that memories are short in Boston Borough Council's Markets Review Task Group – formerly known as the Prosperous Boston group … or as we preferred in the Preposterous Boston group.
Beneath the headline “Students to give teenager views of markets,” WorstWeb reports that students from Boston schools and academies are to give “insights” into the town's markets from the perspective of the younger generation.
Preposterous Boston spent almost two years long waffling – yet as long ago as September 2016 – it  recommended introducing a young peoples’ market on the lines of a “Teenage Market,” that was first established in Stockport in 2012,  when two teenage brothers put out a call out for young traders and performers and were overwhelmed when hundreds of young people applied to take part.
The markets are now a well-established feature nationally, and there have also been several staged in Lincolnshire.
In July last year, Worst street went so far as to appeal for support for a crowd funding bid to raise £1,000 to help run a market this year and next.
This was organised by the Boston Youth Council – another of Worst Street’s big ideas, in this case from six years ago – aimed at 13-19 year-olds who are “passionate” about young people's issues and who care about living in the borough and want to learn more about local government, democracy and how they can influence decisions.
As this was a project involving Worst Street, the result seemed inevitable – and it was.


So, Preposterous Boston takes two years to complete its task – which ended last October, then waits another six months to explore what young people want from the town’s market … having already proposed an answer which has been seen to lack support.
Words fail us.

***

We’ve lost count of the number of times that people talk about putting Boston “on the map” – which is where it has been for centuries, of course.


Perhaps, then someone might have a word with BBC Look North about their weather map – as we are sure than Boston merits a name check.

***

Last week we  pictured an image of Boston in Bloom if you live in town but not on the lily-walk especially gilded for the competition judges to inspect.
Shortly afterwards – and most certainly unconnected with our comments, the grass was cut …


The picture on the left is of the first bin south of Vauxhall Bridge, with nettles left tall enough that they might sting anyone trying to put their litter in, and a bag of doggy-doo nestling against it..
The brown mess in both photos is the cut grass left to rot.
Perhaps it might have been better to have left it alone.

***

There no Boston Eye next week – because it’s another bank holiday. Join us again on Monday 4th June.



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