Monday, 16 January 2017

Here we go again – it’s council tax settling time … which means digging deeper in your pockets to buy less for more.
Boston Borough Council is proposing an increase of 2.86% which it seeks to mitigate by saying that it represents “less than just” 9p a week or £4.68 per household per year.
But of course we also have to pay Lincolnshire County Council another 3.95% which includes 2% for the social care ‘precept’ (there’s another new one) and Lincolnshire police from whom we still await a figure.
Interestingly, the greediest “council” of them all is the Boston Town Area Committee – BTACky for short) which purports to be a parish council for the town centre’s eight wards.
Things looked bad enough last year when the BTACkers chimed in with a precept that was 94.6% higher than the previous year – but for 2017/18 they want a stratospheric 281% increase – of £1 a week on a band D property.
The reason for this is BTACky’s apparent and recent thirst for power and stems from a need to have more say over the way the town centre is “managed.”
Yet by and large the money that the committee plans to spend will not directly benefit those living in the town centre – which was the original idea when the committee was created.
This has easily been overcome by a simple airbrushing of those terms and conditions, so that they long longer apply.
What hasn’t changed is that the town centre wards are among the poorest and most deprived in the borough – and whilst Worst Street managed to mitigate their increase to a “less than just” 9p a week, quite how they plan to present a more than unjust charge of almost £50 extra a year is anyone’s guess.
Most probably, they’ll ignore it – after all we’re only talking about the voters here, aren’t we?

***

When the increases were first mooted, we sent a round robin to all 14 members of the committee and a number of officers who were also involved.
One of the two replies we got came from the mayor Stephen Woodliffe, whose response had echoes of Marie Antoinette:  “I take issue with your assertion that the extra precept charges will be imposed upon residents of the poorest wards in the town.  The precept depends upon the valuation of the property and not upon its location. Thus, the greatest charge falls on those living in the highest rated band H properties, who pay much more than that of a band A property…
“… Looking to the future, it is my view that a charge of one pound a week on a band D property, and much less for a band A property, for BTAC would be a very reasonable charge to make to ensure that Boston remains an attractive pleasant place to live …”

***

The lion’s share of the money which these ninnies at BTAC are demanding  is for spending on facilities such as Central Park and the town’s toilets – which under the old rules were charged to the council’s central funds as they benefited people from far beyond the town centre area.
The recent moves have served no other purpose than to bail out the leadership by making it appear that their targets for cuts are being met … when they are simply being dumped on to other areas.

***

Whilst the books are simmering nicely, and ahead of the final vote to set next year’s taxes, Worst Street is again offering on of is hapless public “consultations.”
It takes to form of two items – each above a box in which to write comments.
The first says ¨Please read the draft Budget Report 2017/18 (which alone runs to 7,000 words) and the associated appendices, if you have any comments on the draft budget, please comment below …”
The second reads: “We are also keen to hear what you feel the town centre priorities are, please comment below…”
It ends: “Following the public and other consultation processes, the 2017/18 budget will be presented to Cabinet and then formally approved by Full Council in February.”
Isn’t this last line – “presented to Cabinet and then formally approved by Full Council” – something of a giveaway  
It seems to say “We are consulting you – and then doing as we please.”

***

We sincerely hope that all this interest in the town centre after so many hundreds of years will yield a result. Our last blog listed the new management appointments aimed at getting the ball rolling.
Then we have the BTAC chocolate teapot desperate to spend, spend, spend and act as paymaster for the shadowy and secretive Preposterous Boston Task and Finish Group.
But let’s not forget the equally ineffective Boston Town Team.
Fresh from its recent disastrous dalliance with last year’s Christmas lights fiasco – how can £35k produce such a feeble result – an advert has once again appeared for “an experienced part time Town/Event Co-ordinator to manage and promote the activities and events of Boston town.”
And they don’t want much, do they?


With so much responsibility for two days a week and £10 an hour – less than £8,000 a year, is it any wonder that the job has had to be re-advertised?

***

We hear of a similar problem at the Moulder Leisure Centre where they are advertising for casual receptionists at £7.47 an hour, as well as casual swimming instructors and casual leisure attendants at £8.81.
Low though the pay may be the responsibilities are much higher – and   in some cases include supervision and safety of customers using the pools, and security checks of changing areas.
But here’s the catch: “The hours of work are on a zero hour's (sic) basis and you will be contacted as and when required. Work will be over various shifts including evenings and weekends.”
Such contracts are generally condemned for reasons of fairness – despite which huge numbers of employees are now employed using them – 900,000 at the last count.
They are controversial because staff are not able to rely on receiving a set amount of pay, making it difficult for them to plan their finances or to make big purchases such as buying a house – and in extreme cases some employees earn less that £1,000 a year.
Almost two years ago, Boston Borough Council was asked to consider paying its entire staff the living wage – which is higher than the national minimum wage – but rejected the idea by 25 votes to six.
At the time of the debate, it was understood that 45council employees received less than the living wage and it would cost £75,000 to end the practice.
Labour councillor Paul Gleeson said that the average wage for those living in the borough was £3,000 lower than East Lindsey and £5,000 below South Kesteven. But a Tory portfolio holder at the time, Mike Gilbert said: “I’m not sure the way forward is to hike up wages which are paid for by council tax payers.”
Hmmm.

***

We know that our local “newspapers” struggle to fill space around Christmas time but their efforts sometimes reach nonsensical proportions.
This year, we have seen Christmas “messages” from the Vicar of Boston Stump – which is, of course, quite appropriate.
But do we really need messages from the Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire’s Police and C rime Commissioner, the Chief Executive of LIVES, Boston’s Mayor and the Leader too?
Of course we don’t.

***

Which brings us seamlessly to the leader’s Christmas message in which ‘Nipper’ Bedford asks us to talk Boston up, not down – something that we take to mean to create a less than accurate image of the town by overlooking its problems to create a good appearance that isn’t quite what it seems.
This year, the leader has put his usual crayon aside and written his message with a quill pen in almost poetic terms.
“Negativity is the oil greasing the engine of despair which can choke with its black fumes of desolation,” he croons.
“Let’s park that engine in the sidings for 2017 and emerge on to the main line with a modern, sleek, green machine to take us to pastures fresh and new and full of optimism.”
Aside from the fact that we wonder who wrote this stuff for him, we think that it more closely resembles a fairy tale than a New Year message.

***

It’s been a busy weekend for Councillor David Brown after he switched political allegiances from UKIP to the Conservatives, where he will represent Wyberton alongside the Independent Conservative Richard Austin.
After last week’s move we asked him if he would like to outline his reasons to his electorate, but were simply told: “I have issued a press statement and this will be submitted to the local press for publication in the forthcoming week.”
However, he did share news that on Saturday a team distributed leaflets to around 400 houses in the Wyberton ward and would be doing some more in the coming days.
“I will be holding a surgery at Wyberton Parish Hall, Saturday 21st between 10am and noon. This will give the electorate the opportunity to meet me and discuss any issues they may have.”
He added: “Since being elected May 2015 I have read your blog every week. If the Conservatives were as bad as you portray them, I would certainly not have joined them.”
Given the phoney optimism which characterises the Tory leadership, we sincerely hope that Councillor Brown has not been seduced to switch horses from the viewpoint of an outsider looking in, when we know that a number of Tory insiders looking out have more sympathy with our views than his.

***

Councillor Brown’s defection showed Boston Borough Council as its open and transparent worst.
After we heard the news that a Kipper had gone over to the Tories we looked to the council website for details – but not surprisingly there weren’t any.
The only way to work out who had switched was to check the 2015 election result against the list of councillors – although that wouldn’t work if you ran the check against the council’s now outdated who’s who guide to the wards.
Presumably, Worst Street doesn’t consider it worth telling the 3,117 people who took the trouble to vote in Wyberton that their representation has changed.

***

Finally, we received an e-mail after our last blog from Councillor Mike Cooper, portfolio holder for Housing, Property and Community which read: “Just a few points to clarify your latest musings, there was no cabinet meeting between Christmas and New Year, the offices were closed and we certainly did not meet elsewhere, Why would we?
“The £950,000 that you seem to think the council is spending on the offices is in fact being funded by another department, directly from Government and is NOT anything to do with the Council Budget for Boston.
“Do please print this mail, with my name.”
Happy to oblige, Councillor Cooper – but in reply, we would make the following points.
As the council published the date of the cabinet meeting as being on Wednesday 30th December, we had no reason to believe that this was anything other than the case. Why would we?

 

And if an item lists £950,000 from the capital budget as “municipal building alterations” we take Worst Street’s word for it. Why wouldn’t we?


The problem here is the same as with the previous item – poor communication by Worst Street with the people who pay for it and are entitled to expect better.



You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  Your 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



Wednesday, 4 January 2017



For a council that claims to have no money, Worst Street will certainly be flashing the cash in the months ahead.
A report to an apparently unscheduled cabinet meeting held between Christmas and the New Year – and missing from its general meeting list – asks that updated capital programme plans to spend more than £3.5 million in the remainder of the 2016-2017 financial year, which ends on 30th April are noted.
When we came across it, we were reminded of the now commonplace political ploy of burying bad news at a time when no-one is looking – but surely, that couldn’t be the case here.
There are several items that stand out – all involving huge sums of money – and all are projects where spending has not yet begun.
Far and away the largest is £950,000 for “Municipal Buildings alterations
Have we missed something – or did plans to tart up Worst Street to the tune of almost a million pounds slip us by?
We must have missed it, as according to the report, the table indicates the approved capital programme for the year
Then there is “PRSA Investment” – to the tune of £840,000.
An identical sum was mentioned in January 2015 – to be used to get the PRSA up to scratch so that it could be leased out.
In September of that year a full repair and renew lease for the site was signed with sport, leisure and recreation “experts” 1Life “relieving borough council tax payers of any future financial responsibility.”
1Life was given the go-ahead to arrange repairs and improvements to bring the centre up to an improved handover condition – with the final bill to be paid by the borough council … although we were told that those costs would be covered by savings made by energy efficiency improvements.
All of this was announced in the financial year 2015-2016.
So – have things been carried over because the work has not yet been done, or are we looking at a second, identical, payment?
At the time of the 1Life deal our so-called leader ‘Nipper’ Bedford said: “This points the way to a successful future for the PRSA at minimal cost to the council taxpayer.”
Perhaps a few words of explanation might help make matters clearer.
The third really big item is £440,000 for “East Lindsey DC CCTV” – which Worst Street is going to monitor for our neighbours.
Early reports about this were quite specific that “a total of 97 CCTV cameras are in use in the area and East Lindsey District Council is investing £425,000 to upgrade them all.”
Quite right too, so why does the figure appear on Boston’s spending programme?

***

It seems as though Boston Borough council is planning some New-ish Year’s resolutions for 2017 if our reading between the lines (which is the only way to do it with Worst Street) is correct...
We made the discovery when we were asked about Worst Street’s new management structure – and realised that we knew little if anything about it.
If readers with long memories cast their minds back a year they will recall the council’s fruitless search for a Head of Service: Economic Development and Growth – “a high profile appointment … (with) responsibility for providing strategic, visionary and organisational leadership in all aspects of inward investment, growth and wider regeneration and economic development for the Borough.”
Not just a high profile job either – a highly-paid one at £65,000.
This being Worst Street, the advert was placed at exactly the wrong time to generate a good response – between Christmas 2015 and the 2016 New Year – and it was not until the summer that the post was re-advertised – this time at a downgraded salary of £45k for the job of “leading” on economic development.
Then all was silence – aside from the sound of cash registers ringing in the office of the recruitment firm Veredus which charged Worst Street’s taxpayers more than £16,000 for advertising and its time involved in getting nowhere slowly.
Now, though, we note that the management cauldron has been given a big stir – with a host of unannounced changes which took effect at the start of October last year.
click to enlarge
IN comes an Economic Development Manager reporting directly to Chief Executive Phil Drury – just as it said in the original advert.
Clive Gibbon comes to Boston via Fenland District Council where he worked between 2006 and 2014, leaving to run his own consultancy firm between his Fenland departure and Boston arrival in September last year.
IN comes Phil Perry as Head of Service, town centre, leisure, events and culture – appointed in July last year from a similar role in South Holland.
The new line up is more streamlined, and sees some changes of title for other staff  – plus the disappearance of one of the borough’s longest serving and most senior managers, Steve Lumb … who retired in October last year after 18 years in Worst Street.
Hopefully, these changes are being made with some sort of aim to pull Boston up by its bootstraps – or at least by its shoelaces.
Certainly, there enough people are being paid to do it.
But as is so often the case with Boston Borough Council – whilst we taxpayers foot the bill we are not deemed worth telling what is going on – and major changes like these should have been announced.

***

That’s it from us for now – we’re off to the sun-kissed beaches of Norfolk for a spell and will be back around mid-January.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  Your 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



Thursday, 29 December 2016

We are told that a number of voters in the St Thomas’ Ward – represented by Councillor Alison Austin  have not received a copy of her latest newsletter.
As we have no idea how many have been affected, we attach a copy so that all might enjoy Mrs Austin’s latest musings …

click to enlarge

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  Your 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

Friday, 16 December 2016



Anyone listening to BBC Radio Lincolnshire or watching Look North this week would have come away with a depressing sense of having seen it all before, as people lined up to berate Boston Borough Council for its poor showing in the Christmas lights department.
A Facebook page attracted almost 90,000 visitors.
The condemnation was almost universal – and the ensuing news coverage produced the customary blame game that we have heard so often before.

***


Councillor Paul Skinner – who has performed so poorly in the past – again tried to wriggle out through political devices … when for once a simple, brief apology plus a “we’ll try to sort things out better next year” would have got him off the hook.
Instead, we heard that Worst Street had given ample warning that it could no longer finance luxuries such as Christmas lighting, and asked where taxpayers would rather see cuts being made.
We hate to seem repetitive, but the budget to run the mayor’s office is around £80,000 a year.
Shaving £35k from that to pay for the lights would still leave his worshipless almost a grand a week to party with his mayoral mates around Lincolnshire and beyond.
And of course, there is the £100,000 subsidy that sees councillors and staff park for nothing in a perk that no other public employees elsewhere enjoy.
Councillor Skinner also blamed local business for a lack of enthusiasm when asked to stump up towards the cost of celebrating Christmas – tediously reminding us that the council had “no statutory responsibility” to do so … whilst overlooking that neither is it compelled to fund staff parking or the vanity project known as the mayor.
So … if the council has no money for such seasonal frivolity – why did it  get the hapless and hopeless Boston Town Area Committee, B-TACky – to  hand over £35,000 (and pass the buck  as well) to the torpid Boston Town Team, whose inactivity makes a sloth resemble an Olympic athlete?

***

Enter Jenny Elwick – apparently still with the team even though the role of co-ordinator was advertised earlier this year.
Without blaming the council, she blamed the council … stressing that Worst Street waited until August to pass the baton to the Town Team which left scarcely any time to do much.
The lack of what we understand as lights was defended by the use of a laser projector which pumps images on to the wall of various buildings – but to most people it’s not the same.

***

We also e-mailed the Town Team’s Deputy Chairman for Facilities, Daniel Elkington who assured us that the group was still alive and kicking.
“The chamber are hiring someone to do the work in between meetings so next year should be better.
“Xmas lights are the first thing on the agenda for January. This year we got funding from BTAC to do them and front loaded the contract. This means with the same funding next year we will incrementally increase the impact year on year.
“We knew they wouldn't have as much impact as the old lights this year however, the old lights were in the possession of the old company that ran the contract and, sadly, couldn’t be retained.
“The ones that were owned by the town were not safe and were killing the trees so they had to go.
“The other elements to the lights were not taken up by the business community as much as we would have liked. This is nobody's fault really and there are lessons to be learned here.
“After the demise of the BID (which ceased three years ago – Ed)  it is going to take some time to build up a real business community and we will keep working on this as the years go by.
“Believe me; I share the frustrations with the plethora of legacy issues in the town and we will continue to work positively to engage with the business community and get a real sense of pride and ownership in the town, but it will be hard work as those legacy issues have done a lot of damage.
“I fully intend to report back to BTAC on the lights.
“In addition the Boston Business Briefing is going to be even bigger and better this year and we are looking forward to the business awards in February. We are glad the business awards were moved as they really did clash with everything else going off in December and February allows us to give them the prominence they deserve.
“We are also very glad that the Office of National Statistics  has a more accurate position on the population in the town as most funding formulae are largely based on population and we hope that with Experian updating their mosaic profiles of Boston it should be easier to attract more shops to the area.
“Finally, I had a wander around Waterfall Plaza the other day and was quite impressed by the facilities there. We hope that the work done on that development shows that there are innovative individuals willing to invest in the town.”

***

We keep hearing contradictory tales about who is paying whom and for what in this debacle – with Worst Street saying that the bill will need to be footed by business in the coming years, whilst Mr Elkington is talking of “the same funding.”  There are also suggestions that lights are being bought outright on a five year instalment plan.
The plot thickens almost by the day … just as the Christmas gloom deepens.

***

We wonder whether Worst Street has become so complacent in its misdirection that it no longer bothers to disguise things.
We have been told that a new avenue of trees has been planted in Central Park to replace mature trees which had to be taken down due to “safety concerns.”
But in the same breath, we learn that “the multi-stemmed silver birches have been planted on both sides of the path leading into Central Park from Tawney Street where previously a nuisance area had developed with drinkers relieving themselves under cover of the shrubbery which has been removed.”
So what are we talking about – safety or not?
The destruction of public amenities is the kneejerk Worst Street response to “anti-social activity” – by now acres of shrubbery and countless public seating areas have probably been removed because to one bothered to seek any other way to stop street drinking and its attendant problems.
We are also told that the next new tree-planting scheme will be at Burgess Pit, where a “community orchard” is to be developed with apple, plum, pear and cherry trees, plus crab apples for the wildlife.
Is this the same Burgess Pit that was once a no-go play area which even now requires its own dedicated CCTV camera?
It is indeed.
Should  Boston Borough Council deem scrumping to be an offence – and we are sure that if it doesn’t already, then it will do soon – then we expect the crews who man the cameras to be very busy indeed.
But nicking fruit from a “community orchard” might be a tough charge to make stick!

***

After complaints about the apparently off-hand way that Boston’s planners have dealt with objectors to the Quadrant scheme in Wyberton, a number of excuses have been forthcoming from Paul Edwards, the council’s development control manager.
These include  claims that “as a result of unplanned absences and other priorities, the collating of these revisions, getting them onto the website and then organising the over 400 letters (sic) and emails to advise people of this revision took much longer to generate than we would normally have hoped.
“This has resulted in some confusion and uncertainty which was never the intention of the Council and for which I must apologise.”
It seems that technology also bogged the planners down  when: “It turned out that one of the plan drawing numbers included an ‘&’ within it and the system that would have uploaded this onto the website saw this as part of a computer language instruction and it thus didn’t perform what we had asked it to do.”
Mr Edwards concluded: “On the contrary to not alerting the public, this council goes beyond its minimum statutory requirements on publicity of planning applications and in this instance when there is no actual requirement to publicise amendments to an existing application. In addition, I have recently repeated my offer to the Parish Council that I will always be willing to attend any Parish Council meetings to explain the procedure behind this or any other current application(s).
“I do understand your concern about incompetence but please let me assure you that we were aware of these difficulties once people had first brought it to my attention; it was just that I was not quick enough in rectifying it which led to your complaint for which I apologise.”

***



Finally, we were intrigued by a Worst Street decision to extend restrictions on a taxpayer due to the number of complaints and enquiries that he has made.
Worst Street has a condemnatory policy against “persistent and vexatious complainants” who act as they do “to make life difficult for the council or individuals, rather than genuinely to resolve a grievance.”
The response is a communications bar which limits complaints and insists that they are sent only via the hopeless “feedback” address
The “offender” in this instance has had “over 30 complaints and enquiries logged” to date this year – roughly one each working fortnight.
We have seen a number of these – and many of them seem quite pertinent.
The council appears not to like it when people won’t take their response as an answer.
And in this case, it is being claimed that e-mails to the “offender’s” local councillor are being redirected  to the “feedback” system which allows the council’s constraints to be used as a get-out clause.
Open?
Transparent?
Ho, ho, ho!
  

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  Your 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, 12 December 2016

Our blog last Wednesday mentioned the Boston Town Team – which has managed to underperform its predecessor, the pitiful Boston Business “Improvement” District … something we would have considered impossible.
After the blog appeared, we were sent a copy of a job advert pictured above for a new co-ordinator for the team.
The closing date for applications was 31st October followed by interviews just a week later.
Dates as close together as these often appear when an appointment has already been decided, and the procedure is mere formality.
Having said that, if an appointment had been made on 7th November, we would have thought that the news would have been publicised by now.
Given the output demanded of a two-day week, it might also have been the case that no-one bothered to reply.
After all, who in their right mind would think it remotely possible to achieve all the requirements of the job in just two working days?
These include: setting up and chairing bi-monthly meetings, recruiting new board members, organising and managing at least four events a year, writing quarterly newsletters, liaising with Worst Street, encouraging town centre businesses to take part in town centre activities and sponsor events and initiatives, producing promotional material for events/competitions, and securing funding for the Boston Town Team.
We’ve seen adverts like this before  – and the bottom line is that they rely on the post holder working however long it take to meet the targets – and in this case it could be considerably more than just two days.
Perhaps the timing of the vacancy goes some way to explaining why the Town Team appears to have done next to nothing where Boston’s Christmas celebrations are concerned  – and we wonder whether there is a co-ordinator in place or not … and if so who they are and what they are doing.

***

Our last blog also questioned whether  local businesses would be able or willing to find up to £8,000 every year for the knock-on costs of celebrating Christmas in Boston now that Worst Street has bunged the Town Team £35k for lighting.
A palpable clue came in a comment from former Councillor Carol Taylor who told us that two years ago she and Councillor Paul Gleeson sought sponsorship for the Christmas celebrations. 
“A big company kindly agreed to sponsor some of the tree lights for two years,” she told us.
“Another sponsorship came from B&Q who supplied 12 Xmas trees, 12 sets of 100 lights and delivered them to the businesses on Church Street.  
"Councillor Stuart Ashton made the wall brackets for them and one of his team and I put the brackets up as well as the trees.
“I paid for the brackets out of my councillor’s allowance.
“The following year only one of the businesses put a tree up – even though they all still have their lights and B&Q would have supplied more trees for with a large discount.
“This street couldn't be bothered and wanted it all done for them.
“Sadly there is a huge disrespect and dislike for Boston Borough Council by Pescod Square businesses and other businesses who will continue to work against the council ... not wanting to work with them for the greater good.
“There are two groups of people who should get off their backsides and work harder though. These are the current elected councillors and the Boston Town team.
"Boston should stop completely blaming the council; it is the businesses as well.”

***

As an interesting sidebar to criticism of Boston’s Christmas tree, take a look at this picture.
This is Heckington’s tree.
This village of just over 3,000 people will celebrate its 150th annual show next year – claimed to be the largest village show in the country ... which regularly draws more than 30,000 visitors.
Boston was once home to the then peripatetic Lincolnshire Show – but when the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society located to a permanent site  in 1959 … near Lincoln ...  never tried to create its own local effort.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

***

Still with things Christmassy – another sign that Boston Borough Council has given up the Ghost of Christmas Past is the absence of a promotional calendar for the town.
Its first effort appeared two years ago – and Boston Eye was among the local organisations to sponsor a page top cover production costs.
As Worst Street was writing the press release, the publication was a major success – and we understand that if certain councillors had paid forall their copies it would have been even more so.
A second calendar appeared last year – although Boston Eye was not invited to contribute … and again helped local charities through its sale.
This year …
Nothing, nada.
The calendar was purportedly a cost neutral production, so its non-appearance this year ought not be due  to economics.
So … it is an oversight, forgetfulness, indifference – something that could form the Worst Street motto.
In fact, in Latin, it sounds even more impressive …. providentes oblivione, neglegentia.

***

Another item we mentioned last week was the Quadrant application amendment – and the fact that objectors had been given scarcely any time to respond. Not only that, but despite a promise to the contrary, details were not available on the borough website, and the only to view the plans was to travel to the council offices.
Now we learn of another inconvenient little hiccup – inconvenient for the villagers, that is.
Apparently, Wyberton Parish Council did not receive any update or amendment details because they were sent to a previous Clerk who left more than two years ago.
We would have thought that if communications had been sent to the wrong person throughout that time, someone would have noticed, and the mistake corrected – especially with so many borough councillors also “serving” the parish.
So is it a case that for some strange reason this latest change of plan to the Quadrant project was alone in going to the wrong address and causing an unnecessary delay?
Fate forefend.

***

A straw-grasping entry on the Worst Street website, tells us that: “Boston Borough Council's binmen are among the best-known of the authority's frontline ambassadors …”
We wonder how far down the list our local councillors are ranked …

***

Perhaps things might improve if they paid more attention to their constituents.
We noted the minutes of a recent planning committee dealing with declaration of interests.
Councillor Stephen Woodliffe  (he who must be fully worshipped) declared having received e-mails about applications, “but it was his practice not to read them and kept (sic) an open mind.”
So how is his thought process shaped when make-your-mind-up-time arrives?
The only way we can find that objections to applications are summarised is in an officer report.
One that we looked at recently included an objection which was quoted thus: “When we constructed our chalet bungalow, we were required to install obscure glazing to avoid overlooking.”
Presumably there is more to this statement – but if there is, it was omitted, and we fail to see how it served any useful purpose … let alone assist councillors in coming to a decision.
Voters regard their councillor as their eyes, ears and voice in local matters – and to ignore them “to keep an open mind” (when the reverse seems to be true) is to do them great disservice.

***

A new reader e-mailed last week to say:  “After ten years of living in Boston, I recently came across your blog and now look forward to your observations as to the 'workings' of the Boston Borough Council residing in 'Worst Street.’
“My latest observation is the apparent generosity of some incumbent to supply dog owners with 'free’ dog poo bags and to self-congratulate themselves when stocks have to be regularly replenished and the hypocrisy with which we ratepayers are told that it is only fair that green waste bins are paid for by people who use them and not subsidised by people who don't.”   
It’s a good point – and one which reminded us that during the 2013 floods, Worst Street went to great lengths to tell us that it did not provide sandbags whilst employing ample stocks to protect its own property.

***

Whilst we always welcome comments about our blog, a couple from someone calling him/herself “Proud of Boston” will not be appearing. PoB claims not to be a reader – but was “prompted” to take a look by a friend. That’s one we’ve never heard before!
Both comments are lengthy and – doubtless due to the writer’s self-confessed lack of familiarity with Boston Eye – totally fail to appreciate what we are all about.
To publish the comments and then rebut them would be a waste of space and an embarrassment to the sender, so we are not going to bother.
Incidentally, Proud of Boston, “wingers” play in football teams.
We think the word that you were groping for in your harangue was “whingers.”

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Finally, proof at last that someone in Worst Street reads Boston Eye despite claims to the contrary.
Last Wednesday, our Forgotten Boston feature showed the excessively leafy lane alongside John Adams Way where it runs next to the Cattle Market car park.
Not anymore.
By Friday the path had been cleared – and what a difference our picture shows.
Well done whoever acted so quickly.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  Your 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



Wednesday, 7 December 2016




It seems that the powers that be in Worst Street have become so used to getting flak that they now take the fall for something whether it’s their fault or not.
Our report on last week’s “Christmas” lights event in Boston saw the council take a big hiding for the poor arrangements – see montage, right.
Yet in the days following the event it has emerged that that the people to blame appear to be members of the Boston Town Team – an organisation that makes the late, unlamented Boston Business “Improvement” District seem to have been a treasure trove of ingenuity, enthusiasm and action.
It appears that Boston Borough Council’s Town Area Committee – B-TACky – which has now completely ripped up its own rulebook at the expense of taxpayers living in the central areas, has bunged the Town Team up to £35,000 with which to purchase a lighting scheme..
On top of that there will be on-costs of £7,500 to £8,000 a year but, as B-TACky naïvely believes, “businesses needed to take ownership of this, and the Town Team would work on this.”

***

So, how does Boston Town Team “work?”
Very slowly, by the look of it.
The team held its first open meeting in January last year and then issued a highfalutin’ business plan.
It has thirteen team members – six of whom boast chairman or deputy chairman status – and is an extension of the Lincoln-based Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.
Its mission statement on Twitter is “Working to enhance the vitality of Boston to ensure it reaches its full potential via the promotion, support and delivery of key initiatives” as part of the Lincolnshire Chamber.
Since May this year, it has published 69 tweets – the last of which appeared in mid-August.
Boston Borough Council is among the Team’s “stakeholders” – a role it clearly takes seriously to part with such a large donation from our hard-earned council tax..
The team also benefited from the demise of Boston BID, when it was handed the £6,000 left in the company’s accounts – which we are sure it has put to good use.
The Town Team website links visitors to “the most recent version of the Boston Town Team Newsletter.”
It is a year old.
This weekend saw Small Business Saturday marked across the country – but not apparently in Boston.
The team failed to answer our Tweet asking what they were doing to reflect this year’s event – even though they acknowledged its existence last year.
Incidentally, neighbouring East Lindsey in common with many local authorities offered free car parking to help boost shopping numbers.
But here it went unremarked by Boston Borough Council. Without even a mention in the borough list of events for December.

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So where does all that leave us?
Despite being in control of things Christmassy, Boston Town Team appears neglectful to say the least.
And do we seriously imagine that businesses in Boston will collectively rally round to provide the £8,000 on-costs needed in the future?
And what happens when Transported stops doing the lion’s share of the work in terms of building and creating the Mayflower celebration parades?
We reckon that B-TACky will end up putting is hands in our pockets yet again.
And in that connection, a little more openness and transparency … on which Worst Street claims to pride itself … would be most welcome.
At present we have self-appointed committees meeting unminuted and in secret taking some big money decisions for which we are footing the bill.

***

There’s been some discussion recently about the progress in the plans for the Quadrant project which will see a new “community” stadium built for Boston United Football Club along with houses by the score.
Boston Borough Council recently wrote to objectors to the scheme to say that it has now received “amended details” – and giving them until next Wednesday to submit comments.
Unfortunately, the only way to do so appears to be by a personal visit to Worst Street as – despite the planning department assurance – they did not appear on the borough website when we looked yesterday.
A spokesman for one of the action groups involved says: “My main concern … is that if rumour is correct, there will not be a football stadium, community hall nor community facilities built in the foreseeable future.
“Therefore, as this was an enabling plan, the development should not continue on the west side of the A16 without being referred back as a new application.
“We were rushed into this, as BUFC were desperate for a new home, and it had to start a.s.a.p. for the 2018 season to begin.
“Considering the east side of the new road is now complete there is very little happening. That speaks for itself! After all, planning was sought on the West side and refused in the past, so why is this now continuing?”
Indeed, the original 2014 application makes it clear that “the delivery of a new community stadium for the club … is inextricably linked to the mixed use development on the west side of the A16 since the latter is defined by the applicants as ‘enabling development.’ That is that the mixed use development of housing, retail and commercial, leisure would not be being proposed without the stadium.”

***

Time now for the latest in our series Forgotten Boston.
The first photo might be headlined Can You Believe It?  – and goes a long way towards explaining where the discarded drink tins go after they are emptied in Central Park.


The answer: straight over the wall and into the Robin Hood car park on Tawney Street, where they are left to accumulate.
Recently, Worst Street requested empty cans for an “arts project.”
Well, they could kill two birds with one stone here – get all the aluminium they need and tidy the town as well. 

***

Our second offering is called Leaf Us Alone, and shows the picturesque scene on the footpath beside John Adams Way where it runs beside the Cattle Market car park.
It might look attractive but it also has a deadly potential.
We know from first-hand experience that many of these leaves are survivors from last autumn when they made a pleasant rustling noise underfoot.
A year later they are so dense, that when wet they create the closest thing that Boston will get to a skating rink this Christmas and constitute an accident waiting to happen.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  Your 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