The mess which caused the cancellation of Boston Borough Council’s Corporate and Community scrutiny committee on 21st June because not enough councillors could be bothered to attend has been revealed on the Worst Street website.
As you can see, it shows that only one committee member took to trouble to send a substitute in his stead – Councillor Richard Austin, whose old adversary and former leader Peter Bedford stepped into the breach.
Cry, God for the Boston Corporate and Community scrutiny committee, Dicky and Saint Pete.
Of the rump, seven of the eleven members sent apologies – and their failure to attend not only caused the cancellation of the meeting, but presumably generated costs for the attendance of three officers … two of them earning more than £50,000 a year.
What we would like to know is how soon it is before a meeting that apologies have to be submitted
If a reasonable time is allowed – and so long as a shoal of members avoid simultaneously succumbing to an attack of the trots on the night – there should still enough time to call off a meeting and spare participants and lot of inconvenience.
What we suspect is that until the meeting starts and apologies are called for no-one has a clue about who is – or isn’t attending.
If so, this is a sloppy piece of administration – but something that would not be surprising given the chaotic spaghetti that calls itself Boston Borough Council.
Mind you, sloppiness appears to be endemic in the borough – as a regular reader wrote to tell us.
“In studying the latest BBC Parish Council Newsletter I was struck by the fact that two of the meetings advertised therein did not have the correct day to match the date printed,” he told us.
The meetings concerned were for the Full Council and a Planning Committee meeting.
“One has to ask, given the recent record of councillor attendance at other Borough meetings, whether similar mistakes have been prevalent in the past.
“If this is so, then it would seem training for officers is needed; if not the case, then a course for councillors to remind them of their duties, in line with their election promises, would probably be a good idea even if we are in the last year of the present elected term.
“Some quick attention to this problem is needed if we are to remove all confusion in councillors' minds as to the date of Christmas this year.”
A local Facebook page – Boston the people – is going to war on the shabby state of the town and its some of its historic buildings … and appears to have won the support of one whom taxpayers might expect not to be able to spare the time.
A photo album called Stop the Rot on Boston’s Historical Buildings was accompanied by the message: “I took the bull by the horns armed with my camera and have wrote (sic) to the council over the weekend sending them my albums, along with my concerns and suggestions.
“I have made three albums of our town, which I will post to this site separately. For for (sic) some reason the links to them don't work.
“The first one is focused on the state of the Assembly Rooms.
“The second is a visual survey of weeds and state of some buildings.
“The third is The best of Boston.
“I've received a rapid and positive response from them (the council - Ed) first thing this morning as follows …”
The reply – addressed in first name terms and purportedly from the borough’s Chief Executive – read:
“Thank you for your email, thoughts, comments, enforcement suggestions and attachments.
“You have raised a number of issues and suggestions and I hope that you will allow me some time to properly consider before proving (sic) a more substantive response.
“In the meantime I have passed a copy to colleagues to see if there is something we can do in the short-term using our street cleansing, staff, the BTAC operatives and/or the Fly-Swat team.
Our past experience shows that Mr Drury is no slouch when it comes to replying to e-mails – although we have not previously noted such a rapid response.
Perhaps now that he has a deputy instead of being a one-man band he has more time on his hands.
However, the idea of a £95,000 a year panjandrum showing an interest in the minutiae of weeding the gutters brings with it a concern that there is nothing much more important to do.
It is also something of a worry that it has taken all these years for the message to get across – that once you leave the town centre or the Boston in Bloom judging route, the town is a weed and litter strewn tip.
And neatly combining the shabby state of the town and the Bloomers’ judging route, we must ask why the town bridge is in such a state.
As we crossed it the other day, we noted the disgraceful condition of the pavement and the urgent need for some serious re-painting. The bridge has been a foreground to the view of Boston Stump taken by thousands of photographers over the years – and its condition suggests that it will definitely not be seen by the judging panel this time around … or it would glisten blindingly in the sun.
Talking of Chief Executives – a couple of Mr Drury’s predecessors continue to find their way into the headlines … but not for the best of reasons.
Mark James, Boston’s Chief Executive between 1995 and 2002 has been a regular in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs feature – but is closely followed by his successor Nicola Bulbeck who followed Mr James into office in 2002, and subsequently swapped Boston for the delights of the Devonshire countryside.
Her tenure proved controversial – even after she left Teignbridge Council … having previously been given a 12% pay rise which took her total pay package to just under £142,000.
Nice work if you can get it.
Old news is better than no news at all, we suppose, and some praise for policing in Boston took a couple of weeks to reach the locals – and then via a highly circuitous route.
The story – listing the top five local authorities for crime detection – first appeared in the Sunday Times on 17th June.
It was picked up by the intrepid news hounds at – of all unlikely places – Boston Borough Council, almost a fortnight later, then by BBC Radio Lincolnshire … finally becoming the lead story on the Boston sub-Standard three and a half weeks after it first appeared.
Ironically, as far as we can tell, Lincolnshire Police have made no mention of the report.
Whilst the figures are good news, they ought not to – as they inevitably were – be used to support an argument that the perception of crime is much higher than the reality.
Perception is important – and having lived in Boston for many years we, and others we know, feel less comfortable on the streets that we did ten or twenty years ago.
And whilst it is true that a 4% detection rate in bottom-of-the-list Rushcliffe is truly shameful, Boston’s 20.1% rate means that the odds are comfortably in favour of criminals getting off scot free.
As we are sure you know last week was National Democracy Week.
other organisations up and down the country staged events, talks and fun activities to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act which gave women the same voting rights as men – Worst Street did not appear to be among them.
Our next door neighbours in South Holland were far less indifferent … running a market day stall manned by councillors and members of the SHDC democratic services team.
There were also exhibitions and other initiatives across the week.
Councillor Malcolm Chandler, Deputy Leader of South Holland District Council, said: "National Democracy Week is a fantastic new initiative and it is great to see South Holland District Council taking a major part in helping share the powerful and positive messages attached to it.
"Democracy and all that is attached to it is so imperative to our way of life in this country and it is so important that the right to vote is exercised.
“Just one vote can make all the difference, and that is why encouraging participation and engagement is such a key objective for myself, other councillors and council staff.”
What a shame it’s not the case on Boston.
Meanwhile South Kesteven District Council was busy supporting a Teenage Market which was held at the weekend.
Regular readers will remember that a similar idea was floated for Boston – and after two years of fannying around it was declared that the idea had no support here. Why is it that Grantham can manage it and other places such as Lincoln, Sleaford and Stamford have all held similar markets in the past?
There are no prizes for guessing the answer.
Talking of events, the weekend saw something called Lost … and found Vikings – which apart from suffering on the first day due to the England World Cup quarter final game against Sweden … a country with strong historical associations with the Vikings … was also peculiarly presented on the borough website.
Whist entry to the Central Park event was free but with some small charges, there was also a warning that “some scenes may not be suitable for young children unaccompanied.”
As ever, nothing is simple and straightforward when Boston Borough Council has a finger in the pie.
Our remarks last week about the Worst Street sausage and beer festival which is being held in Central Park on Saturday drew a rebuke from one of our readers, who e-mailed to say: “I usually agree with you on your slant on West Street, but I feel I must criticise your comments on the beer and sausage in the park event.
“I personally have been involved with helping to provide an expert judge, in fact two. “They are husband and wife, both retired, and have a great knowledge of what they are looking for in a good sausage.
“They are Lincolnshire ex-butchers, so should be most suitable.
“They will be looking for a variety of factors, not just the finished product and taste, but how it is prepared, uncooked state , presented and cooked etc. (I only go on taste, I add). So please, don’t hit them on this!
“After all we should be proud of our Boston, Lincolnshire Sausage.
“What you should be hitting, is the fact that so few of our local butchers did not feel they were worthy of entering!”
In our own defence, we have to say that last week’s piece did not have a go at the judging for the best sausage competition – but at the poor way that ticket sales were organised and the rigid rules and regulations being imposed.
And we also know of at least one big award-winning farm shop that was contacted after the council was told it had not been approached and received the message: “Hello, we are holding a sausage and beer festival on Saturday 14th July in Central Park, Boston. If this is something you would like to get involved with, please contact me.”
No mention of a competition of any kind.
Although we have criticised Worst Street many times for using its website as a sole means of passing on information, we now think that this might be because the powers that be don’t know what they’re doing.
A recent website feature on garden waste collection concluded
Apparently it hasn’t occurred to anyone that if you’re not online, you won’t be able to read about alternative ways to get in touch.
Finally, as things wind down for the summer and the silly season and holiday period take hold, Boston Eye will be reducing the frequency of publication from weekly to fortnightly for the next couple of months.
Our next edition will appear on Monday 23rd July.
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