The adage has it that if you take care of the pennies, then the pounds will look after themselves …
But in a case recently brought to the attention of Boston Eye it would seem that if you don’t take care of the pennies … someone else will do it for you!
A former supporter of the Boston Bypass Independents party – created and led by the now independent conservative councillor Richard Austin – which swept to power on Boston Borough Council in May 2007, then crashed and burned after failing to deliver … was stunned to discover that the £5 a month she signed up for many years ago to support a party lottery was still being taken from her account and over time had amounted to hundreds of pounds.
That’s despite the party ceding power to the Tories in 2011 after losing 21 of its 25 seats, then throwing in the towel and rebranding as the Boston District Independents.
Mrs Jane Curley, of Holland Fen, and her husband Guy were both enthusiastic supporters of the BBI.
Mrs Curley told Boston Eye: “My husband was in the original party.
“I was in the Conservative Party first and I desperately wanted the roads sorted out and the schools sorted out and they seemed to be talking sense.”
She stood for the BBI in Swineshead and Holland Fen in 2011 against well-established political heavyweights Tory Michael Brookes and Independent Richard Leggott – but nonetheless was pleased with her result.
And it was about that time that she signed up for the BBI lottery – promising to chip in £5 a month.
Fast forward several years, and Mrs Curley was going through her bank statement to try to shave a few pounds off her expenses.
“I must admit that I’m not very good at checking my bank account and I decided to look through my direct debits to see if I could shed anything to save a bit of money and I was absolutely gobsmacked that I was still paying it,” NHS worker Mrs Curley told Boston Eye at the end of a 12-hour shift.
“Once the bypass party had packed up I thought that would all have been cancelled. But it was obviously still going into an account to the Boston Bypass people – and I have no recollection of which bank it was going into.”
She cancelled it – “and that was after I contacted a friend of mine who was also in the bypass party. She had no idea about what was going on either and suggested that I contact Helen Staples (who took over the leadership of the Boston District Independents which superseded the BBI – Ed.)
“I must admit I didn’t, but a week later she phoned and said she didn’t know anything about it and that we should contact Richard Austin.
“Well, I had tried to contact Richard Austin initially as my first port of call and it was very, very difficult ...
“But I’m getting a bit old.
“You’ll probably find out easily – but I’m one of those unfortunate women who’ve been caught having to do what some call a life sentence to retire.
“I’m over 60 but can’t retire until I’m 66.
“It’s quite upsetting, so we need to cut back on everything, and a refund would be quite helpful – although I’m not expecting it.
“To be quite honest, I gave up then; I thought ‘they’re all going to close ranks and I’m not going to get anywhere and they’re going to say it was an insignificant amount to them.’
“I mean it’s a lot of money to me – but probably insignificant to them.
“But I would like to know where and what the money has been used for …”
Boston Eye e-mailed Councillor Austin for a comment last Thursday morning … and he replied the following day with a response that sounds as though Christmas may have come early in the Curley household.
“I am pleased that you have Jane Curley’s contact details,” he wrote, “as in the near future I would have been renewing my efforts to make contact with her. It is difficult to understand why she has not been able to contact me, being a Borough and Parish Councillor and also my phone number is in the phone book.
“I was made aware from a third party a few weeks ago that Jane had discovered that she had been paying £5 per month into a BBI account. The BBI party was disbanded several years ago and the Treasurer was asked to close all the accounts.
“Unfortunately the Treasurer moved from the area and died so there were no bank statements or information to hand about the account or signatories. Furthermore Jane could not be located to help. Richard Lenton kindly agreed to investigate as he has banking experience.
“I am pleased to report that, after great difficulty, Richard has identified the bank and the account. About ten days ago the bank agreed to provide statements, within three weeks, going back to 2011 that hopefully will show the amount Jane has paid in and other details. Please ask Jane to contact me so that any money paid in by her can be returned in full.
“This account was controlled by the Treasurer but my recall, from 2011, is that the lottery element was a very minor issue. Hopefully the bank statements will help. Jane is welcome to see them when they arrive.
“I very much look forward to seeing Jane again and arranging for this money to be returned to her in full.”
Anyone who had hopes that Boston will come up smelling of roses once the TV drama Wild Bill is screened will have had them dashed by an interview with the star playing the role of the US police chief parachuted into Boston to sort things out.
Some of the quotes from actor Rob Lowe on the BBC included: “The faces here are amazing. The old people look like they are in a documentary about Armistice Day! It's that unbelievable, weathered, proud, proper English working class look.
"To throw a high-flying, fast-talking American in to the mix is the perfect fish out of water set up …”
“… It's a perfect place to put a story, the story is all about conflict and people are feeling a lot of conflict here. It's kind of boiling under the surface.
“It's such a unique place and I love shows where you put a character in a place and the place becomes a character itself. And that is what this is, there's nowhere else quite like it. It's never really been seen properly on TV before.
“It's been great cinematically for us to be here. The stories in this area are so uniquely odd and wonderful and putting an American in the centre of all of it is kind of like a great oddity.”
Last week’s impressive remembrance service at the town’s war memorial – which would have been even more so with better public address facilities – prompted a question from a reader.
He noted that the Assembly Rooms was not flying the Union Jack – nor had it flown a flag for some time.
That is a shame – and something that should not be happening according to Boston Borough Council, which reported back in 2014 …
“Flags will continue to fly for civic occasions and at times of public celebration over the Assembly Rooms in Boston as they always have, despite a change of ownership.
“New owner, businessman Matt Clark, gave an undertaking to Boston Borough Council at the time of the sale of the building that he would continue to “fly the flag.”
“Mr Clark said: ‘I stressed at the time of the handover that I wanted to see a continuation of community uses at the Assembly Rooms, and this includes use of the flagpole.
“‘I have said on many public forums that the flagpole is not lost and will not be. I am very happy in continuing to fly any flag that the council would like.
“‘I am determined that the new future for the Assembly Rooms will keep it at the heart of the community, dominating, as it does, the Market Place. I have always accepted that there would be no more appropriate place, at the very heart of the town, for flags to be flown that can easily be seen and admired by all.
“‘I am very much a traditionalist and take great pride in our heritage and different cultures and will support these in Boston as best I am able.”
The impression that we take from this is that it is up to Boston Borough Council to request the flying of flags on special occasions.
Did they perhaps forget to ask for that most important of days?
Another question raised was about how Worst Street interpreted the date of the event ...
We assume the numbers are meant to signify the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – but given the way dates are now written gave the impression that the war ended seven years before it started.
Recent reports said that new measures that make police forces responsible for pension contributions previously provided by the government could see Lincolnshire Police facing a £21 million shortfall in the next two years.
The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, was reported as saying: “Even after all of the effort and money invested in recent years to innovate and transform Lincolnshire Police into one of the most forward thinking and efficient forces in the country we are still faced with a funding gap of £17m over the next two years that our depleted reserves simply cannot meet.
“This extra cost pressure could boost that number to an incredible £21m that can only be met by additional grant from central government, contributions from local taxpayers and or a total reorganisation of the force and a reduced level of service to the people of Lincolnshire.”
Having said that, around the same time, Mr Jones was highlighting a report which showed that two uniformed officers on the beat prevented 86 assaults and saved thousands in prison costs.
He tweeted: “We know from recent outstanding results in Lincoln centre that a small team can make a huge difference. Prevention is better and cheaper than cure.”
The report said that the result of a year-long experiment in Peterborough showed that PCSO foot patrols targeting crime ‘hot spots’ could yield a more than five-to-one return: with every £10 spent saving £56 in prison costs.
Targeting each crime ‘hot spot’ in the city with 21 extra minutes of daily foot patrolling by Police Community Support Officers could save the justice system hundreds of thousands of pounds through prevented crime.
Police on the streets? On foot? A breath-taking new idea – why has no one thought of it before?
Last week we talked about Boston’s CCTV system and the number of times that its eagle eye comes up with inconclusive results – such as happened with the recent vandalising of the aviary in Central Park.
Another fairly regular target is another park – in this case the one in Garfit’s Lane.
Earlier this month a dog walker who visits the park daily snapped the scene below.
The gouges in the football pitch in the foreground appear to have been caused by a motorcycle.
The towering post with a ringside view of events is – yes, you’ve guessed it – a CCTV camera.
Yet again, whatever happened appeared to go unnoticed by the camera – and prompted an e-mail to the local councillor – Independent Conservative Alison Austin.
The e-mail was sent at 10-22am on the morning of 7th November and without too much mental strain it was possible to guess that the damage had been done within 24 hours of the writer’s last visit to the park.
Back came the reply: “I am extremely grateful to residents who let me know about incidents as soon as possible after they occur, preferably with some indication of when they might have taken place. For the example, last night (7th November) between 10 pm and 6 am if it was noticed to have been overnight.
“I cannot visit every part of the ward every day and therefore appreciate the cooperation of public spirited residents.
“Once I am given adequate information I can set appropriate action in place.”
Helpful, or what?
The response apologised and estimated that the damage was done on the evening of 6th November.
And that’s the last we’ve heard of it. so our best guess is that yet again CCTV was looking the other way at a crucial moment ...
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