Monday, 19 June 2017


For all the talk, nothing speaks louder than reality.
The people who live here know that Boston has a problem with street drinking but the powers that be mostly look the other way. 
So it was that on the weekend of the virtually unpublicised 1940’s bash in Central Park we ventured into town to take a peep.
Before that, we needed to visit the post office, which was deserted – aside from one male customer departing the only manned counter in the place.
As we were being served, we were suddenly shoved aside by the previous customer – although the booze fumes he was dispersing would have done the job without resorting to rudeness.
A pointing finger stabbed towards some forms at the back, and one was handed to him – whereupon he left.
We received an apology – and an explanation that the miscreant was unable to speak any English.
Well, that’s all right then.

 ***

Once out of the post office, we skirted the foot of Wide Bargate – past the beggar whom we assume is now no longer homeless” since he appears to have taken root in the doorway of McColl’s – the former Co-op – day in, day out.

***

Almost there …
But before we arrived, we noticed someone stretched out on a bench near the entrance to the former main post office building.
Two female police people – who between them might have almost equalled his bodyweight – appeared to be trying to engage him in a conversation presumably with the intention of getting him out of bed and on his way.
But, what the hell, it’s a sunny Sunday morning, you have a bench, some bedding including a pillow, and a bottle of vodka to hand on the pavement – and so you don’t apparently plan to go anywhere.

***

Into the park we went for a thirty-minute stroll – but not before the promise of a Hurricane fly-past had been marred by foreign aircraft including a Fökker-Öffe, a dive bombing Drïnkel and a crash landed Drünkel – or it might have been a  Messerschmasht
Out we came again to see the same two police ladies apparently no further forward than they were almost an hour after we first saw them.


***

But just as we started to drive off, we were alerted to siren sounds from the direction of John Adam’s Way.
A clearly marked “emergency” ambulance screeched up – and yet another young lady leapt out to locate the source of the emergency … at which time our rear view mirror lost sight of the action.
It may be that things were worse than they looked, but given the time that elapsed between our arrival and that of the ambulance, it seemed more likely that an inability  to get a drunk moving led to an ambulance being called out – rather than simply summoning a police vehicle for a trip to the cells.
If so, this will have been an expensive exercise – and one which again has street drinking as its root cause.

***

A few days before this, Mrs Eye was returning from the town centre when she was concerned to see a man walking unsteadily towards her having clearly over imbibed.
Needless to say, she was fearful. But just before their paths crossed, the man turned to one side to vomit into someone’s front garden.
Another narrow squeak.
That's just a snapshot of our week – how was yours?

***

Incidents such as these are not uncommon these days, as are sights such as this photo which was taken recently. Although the mess has since been cleared away – history shows that it will return again and again.
In fact a walk the other evening alongside the Maud Foster from Spilsby Road Bridge to the Skirbeck Road Bridge – which ought to be a pleasant waterside stroll on a sunny evening – was marred time and again by litter bins filled to overflowing with empty drinks cans.
At one point, where the towpath runs beside a children’s play area, there were no fewer than three such bins.
Quite obviously the drinkers had tucked in in full view of children playing, their mothers and passers-by.
But no matter – this isn’t in the town centre – so the authorities don’t give a monkey’s.

***

If you Google “street drinking in Boston” you will find a road to hell that’s paved with good intentions.
In September last year, beneath the headline “Street drinking in Lincolnshire town will NOT be tolerated” we were told: “A major clampdown on street drinking and drug taking in public has begun with posters placed around Boston warning it will not be tolerated.
“A mobile police van will be sat on one of the hotspot streets, Red Lion Street, in the town, this week to target anyone drinking or taking drugs.”
Earlier that same year a report promised: “Anti-social behaviour in Boston associated with underage and street drinking is to be tackled in a new scheme which directly targets off-licences.
“Boston could become the first Community Alcohol Partnership if police, council officials, schools and other partners agree to launch the scheme later this year.
“It comes as an additional measure to Boston Borough Council's ban on drinking in public places when it became the first authority in the country to introduce a public spaces protection order.”
Even earlier, in January 2015, we read: “The street drinking ban has been officially launched in Boston – making it an offence to drink alcohol in a designated area of the town centre.”

***

This is known as talking the talk.
But it is useless unless the people speaking intend to walk the walk as well.
Interspersed between all these promises of jam tomorrow are other headlines – such as the recent “Street drinkers are 'running riot' in Boston's Central Park.”
Despite all the clamps-down some genius came up with the idea of not locking the park gates overnight.
Councillor Claire Rylott, whose portfolio includes the park, was quoted as saying: “The six-month trial to not lock the gates started at the end of February to look at controls of anti-social behaviour issues in Central Park.
At present we have had no increase in littering or any anti-social behaviour. We will continue to monitor this and feel that it is an advantage to the public to have access to the park out of peak times with the summer and lighter nights approaching.
It is not a money-saving initiative.
So, the gates are left open “to look at controls of anti-social behaviour issues” whatever that means.
But it should have come as no real surprise to read that vandals trashed a wooden picnic bench in Central Park overnight on May 31st removing it from its hard standing, and hurling the remains around the area.
And how about the lethal potential behind the headline “Man fined after he was found carrying sword in Boston Market Place.”
The report said that the man concerned was trying to sell the sword to buy alcohol – having “been out drinking and had 'drunk a lot' before he had run out of money.”

***

And still the “initiatives” go on.
The latest comes from Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones  whom we are sure inhabits a world parallel to our own on occasions.
His latest cunning plan is the use of “sobriety tags” to combat alcohol fuelled crime in Lincolnshire – where it’s estimated that 25% of all offences involve alcohol.
Hi-tech ankle bracelets, which detect alcohol levels in the wearer’s sweat, alert the authorities when someone has breached an abstinence order.
We are not told how many of those are doled out by the courts – but they can be issued through an Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement.
If the tag detects the presence of alcohol in the system, probation services are alerted and the individual concerned could be sent back to court.
Somehow, we see this as nothing more than the latest in a long line of failed palliatives.
The fact is that controls on street drinking and the associated problems in Boston are broken – and no-one seems able to mend them.

***

With a little help from Boston Eye, Worst Street’s draconian punishments planned for people who park cars where the council says they shouldn’t found its way into the Sun newspaper.
Whoever spoke to the Sun reporter from the council offices suggested that they had the interests of the emergency services at heart – because they might be called to the "problem" streets and not be able to gain access.
Nice try – but it was the first time we’d heard them mention it; the law relates to waste freighters, and we are sure that the big boys in the police, fire and ambulance services would deal with the problem themselves if ever one was encountered.
Interestingly, when Worst Street acquired its new £1 million, seven-vehicle fleet in 2013, it made the point that the lorries “can carry ten per cent more than the ones they replace –  around 12 tons each – but, being slimmer, are able to access narrow roads that the wider-bodied old fleet could not.”
Think about that …
Slimmer lorries that carry more must be longer lorries … and whilst they can access narrower streets, they may not be able so easily to negotiate the chicanes created by cars legally parked on alternate sides of the road.
Looking back, we see that the problem roads where drivers are now being blackguarded never appeared as trouble spots before the new fleet was acquired.
So it seems that Worst Street created the problem that is now persecuting people over.

***

The hoo-ha over the latest laws came as Worst Street announced a new website to help boost tourism.
Whilst it’s a bit better looking than what has gone before, it is still nothing to write home about – but at least it’s a start.
All of this set us thinking about a new slogan that might tip people the wink about the dystopian borough that they plan to visit or even make their home…
It reads …
Welcome to Boston – where everything’s fine …



Finally …
We understand that issues reported in recent editions of Boston Eye about the roughing up of taxpayers got as far as elected members making overtures to the upper echelons of Worst Street to see for themselves ...
But the message that came down to councillors from the Ivory Tower was that it was not “'the done thing” for them to have access internal CCTV footage.
Hmmmm.

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, 12 June 2017


Boston Borough Council’s relationships with the people who fund it are often uneasy – but now they seem to be approaching rock bottom.
We say “approaching” as we feel certain that Worst Street will always go that extra mile to kick taxpayers in the teeth if it is at all possible.

***

At the end of last week, Worst Street announced new sanctions against residents in two streets where their car parking makes life difficult for the borough’s binmen.
We mentioned this last week, you remember – when we commented on the council policy of publishing the number plates of “offending” vehicles on their website.
And we also warned of the possible risks of something like that as well.
Now, Boston Borough Council plans to make it a crime for some people to park outside their own houses – with a fine of £2,500 if they continue to do so.
This will be done using powers available to Worst Street under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.
Registration numbers of “repeat offenders” who leave their vehicles “inconsiderately parked” so that the lorries cannot pass are being recorded.
Drivers will then receive a Community Protection Notice warning and then a Community Protection Notice requiring them to desist.
And if they don’t they will have committed a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £2,500.
The two problem roads mentioned are Horace Street off Carlton Road, and Rose Place off Skirbeck Road.
So far.
Both probably predate the days of cars and bin lorries  – which are so big the council calls them "freighters"  and Horace Street in particular is typical of many residential roads in the town.
It is already heavily managed by double yellow lines – yet Worst Street now wants to bring its sledgehammer down on those who use the few permitted parking places.
Whatever these bureaucrats declare, the residents of these roads are not guilty of ASB – Anti-Social Behaviour.
All they are guilty of is IBBC – Inconveniencing Boston Borough Council.
And if that can be made a crime, who knows where Worst Street will stop in the future?

***

Our second sledgehammer story of the week involves one of our “regulars” – local businessman Darron Abbott.
He has long been a thorn in the side of Boston Borough Council because of his refusal to go away if he feels that his concerns have not been properly addressed.
Just over a year ago, Worst Street created a “Persistent and Vexatious Customer policy” and promptly made Mr Abbott a founder member – and perhaps the only member.
This allowed the council to restrict Mr Abbott’s dealings with it – but it has not deterred him in any way.
After a visit to the council offices last week which ended with the police being called, but no wrongdoing being found, Mr Abbott has now been sent to the Worst Street equivalent of Siberia.
 Among the new sanctions being imposed are: A refusal to accept his phone calls; a block on access to all of the council’s social media accounts; access to the council permitted via a single e-mail address and – most draconian of all …
“You will not be allowed entry into the Municipal Buildings for any reason at any time. Should you enter the buildings the police will be called immediately.
“The ban from the Municipal Buildings will apply with immediate effect and will be reviewed in six months.”
The background to this is long and complicated – and an ironic twist comes in the fact that Mr Abbott is also a member of the borough’s “civilian” Christmas committee and has singlehandedly come up with many of the plans which will shame Worst Street's Xmas efforts of previous years.
But something which worries us greatly is the assumption by Boston Borough Council that Lincolnshire Police are at their beck and call to throw anyone they dislike out of the municipal buildings – simply on  their say-so, and with no legal validation.
Along with the attack on Horace Street and  Rose Place residents this is yet another sign of an already dictatorial council descending into uncontrolled tyranny – merely to get its own way.
Shameful.

***

Occasionally, we encounter reports prepared for Boston Borough Council committee members that make us wonder if we are actually being told everything that’s going on.
Tonight sees a meeting of the scrutiny committee that deals with Environment and Performance, which – rather than scruting – simply reports a shedload of statistics with a few comments attached and hopes that any problems go unnoticed.
Two items stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
They concern CCTV and its effectiveness and the ever present problem of fly tipping.

***


CCTV first … and according to the latest figures the number of arrests from the monitoring of the borough’s streets has almost halved – from 566 to 303 between 2015/16 and 2016/17.
That’s a fall of 46%.
Look further and you will see that evidence packages provided to the police fell by 39% from 320 to 199.
“CCTV outcome – incidents” (whatever that means) fell from 1,483 to 896 – a plunge of 40%.
 Compare this with previous figures, and the latest results make no sense.


CCTV has always been a high agenda item at Worst Street – where love of giving its taxpayers a hard time if possible is second to none.
There is no question that the system is expensive and labour intensive – as Worst Street bragged on its website earlier this year.
“The Boston control room now monitors cameras for the neighbouring authorities of South Holland District Council, East Lindsey District Council and North Kesteven District Council as well as its traditional role of monitoring Boston and Kirton. Our trained operators now have access to approximately 200 live cameras.
“The CCTV system is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”


***

So what is going wrong?
A report to councillors declares: “CCTV outcome trends are down this year but the cause is uncertain and may be positive (less crime) or negative (less crime being detected) so there will be a watching brief this year to improve our understanding of these figures in partnership with the Police (sic).
“For example, we have introduced monthly monitoring of the collection of evidence packages.
“There will also have been an impact due to the implementation of the transformation project but again this is unclear as it is early days so we will continue to monitor these figures in 17/18 to provide a fuller picture.”

***

We always try to be helpful in cases like these, and can quickly rebut the idea that crime has fallen.
Lincolnshire Police figures for all crime in Boston Borough in March 2017 – the most recent date available – show a total of 483 crimes.
The same source shows that by a remarkable co-incidence the figure for the same month last year was … 483 crimes.
Obviously, less crime is being detected then – or is it?
A recent appeal by Worst Street after  plants were stolen and damaged at a number of in town locations asks anyone with information about the thefts and damage, including when it may have occurred to aid review of CCTV film footage to get in touch.
What this suggests is that – whilst cameras may well be providing 365-day round-the-clock security as claimed – they may not be being monitored around the clock … hence the crash in the statistics.
Could this be a saving that we know nothing about?
Quite possibly.
The deceptively named “transformation programme” is just Worstspeak for cuts – which are mentioned as having had an “impact.”
The only mention we can find of CCTV in the list of budget slaughter is one under the section relating to partnership asset management which reads: “Sharing of annual revenue savings post-payback of investment.”
At the time that Boston was falling head over heels to take over everyone else’s CCTV, questions were raised about how effective the system could be in stretching its self so widely.
Now, it appears that the original plan for Boston to make savings by servicing other authority areas has been diluted and that the money earned will be redistributed

***

The available information seems to suggest that the human investment in CCTV is being reduced.
This is surely a false economy as there seems little point in having top of the range security if no one is keeping an eye on it around the clock.
This is known as closing the stable door after the horse has bolted and one day we may pay a high price for such a false economy.
And at the very best, Worst Street now plans to waste an entire year monitoring an easily explained change that sticks out like a sore thumb.

***

On now to fly tipping – a problem that is going through the roof …


… and yet again, Worst Street is in mañana mode.
“The volume and type data indicates that there is a particular issue with unauthorised house clearances and this is being targeted by enforcement action. Sub-categories will be introduced for ‘other household’ and ‘other unidentified’ so that we can have better reporting of what is being fly tipped from 17/18.”
To us, the reporting couldn’t be clearer.
Dumping waste equivalent to a Transit van full increased by 78%.
Dumping waste equivalent to a tipper increased by 172%
Dumping waste in significant amounts – how much more this is than a tipper is anyone’s guess –increased by 71%.
But never fear … there has been “targeted enforcement action”  …
Will someone please tell us when the last time  was that anyone was taken to court and fined for fly tipping, littering or standing still for more than five seconds by this slothful, disinterested, lackadaisical local authority?

***


Worst Street is after our views to “inform” a project to “safeguard the future of Boston's Victorian Cemetery.”
The worrying phrase about “safeguarding” the future of the area carries with it the deadly connotation that the place is somehow under threat.
We suspect that this is probably the case and that the murkily named Transformation Policy has a part in this somewhere. 
Part of the survey tells us: “Alongside using grant funding to greatly enhance what the cemetery currently offers for visitors, we will need to run some chargeable activities in order to make the long term maintenance of the site sustainable. These might be nature walks, music events or family activities.”
Music events – in a cemetery?
This got us thinking, and we came up with a list of bands and music that might fit in …

Danse Macabre - Saint-Saëns
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Burke and Hare – a musical play
The (tomb) Stones
The Zombies
The Grateful Dead
Dead or Alive
Velvet Underground

We hope that this will be of some help as a starter for ten.

***

There was a general election last week – and Matt Warman was re-elected as our Conservative MP.

***

Finally, with all the news of the past couple of week,s we omitted to mention an item from Horncastle – where the town council voted to do away with its mayor after only eight out of 34 people who responded to a newspaper survey believed that having a mayor was good for the town.
The same survey on Facebook received 54 responses, with 10 saying they “weren't bothered either way.”
The town’s last mayor said the main reason for doing away with the role – which paid an annual £1,000 allowance – was to save money.
"Mayors are expensive in days of austerity, and we need to save every penny," he said.
We have raised the issue of the cost of a mayor for  Boston – and whilst we don’t think that it should be done away with entirely, we believe that tens of thousands of pounds could be saved by reducing the number of events staged by other mayors that our incumbent attends.
Perhaps Horncastle has gone a bit too far, though … as according to the BBC news report on the decision “The town's mayor will be replaced by a chair …”
We know that many councillors are a little wooden, but …


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, 5 June 2017

Worst Street’s new leader has spoken publically for the first time – and in language that can be reported as well!
After tootling on about the “great responsibility to have been elected” Leader Councillor Michael Cooper tells us that he has “no illusions about the gravity of the position.”
Whilst we are no physicists we do know that gravity is a force that drags things down … and as that is the direction that Boston has been travelling for some years – helped considerably by its own council – it is encouraging to note that Councillor Cooper knows the score,
He tells us that whilst some might well describe it as a poisoned chalice, he sees it more as a challenge to be met.
“I am passionate about Boston and the wider borough and I have a gritty determination to make life here better for everyone.”
But after the rhetoric, what we see is pretty much the mixture as before.
We’re reminded of Boston’s damaged reputation – even though it remains “a safe and pleasant place to live” and now, more than ever, “we need a new era of positivity.”
Challenges will not be swept these under any carpets … (see our last two blogs)
The council has set out a broad framework for its aims by the end of the current administration in 2020 – in the face of “severe cuts” in Government funding … a path slavishly obeyed by the Conservative leadership!
There follows a list of things most of which are simply formulaic wordings and hints of jam tomorrow … maybe.
Thereafter the message could have been from the former leader Councillor Peter Bedford – including the lines about some major businesses having shown confidence in the area's economic resilience – Duckworth Jaguar and Land Rover and Sportsbikeshop, the new mint supermarket and a new Lidl supermarket arriving shortly.
Duckworths and the bike shop are both well-established local business which needed to expand in any case; mint is new, but a one-off shop rather than a major business, whilst Lidl could have been here years ago had Worst Street not been so picky.
It would have been nice to hear some admission that Boston Borough Council has played a major role in many of the woes which now face the town, and that had councillors not taken their eyes off the ball many years ago we would not  now be in the mess that we are in.

***


In the run-up to Thursday’s election perhaps one of the things we needed least was the arrival of  transvestite potter Grayson Perry to examine “the emotions, beliefs and desires that drive our loyalty to political tribes and uses the results as an inspiration for pieces of art” in a 50 minute TV programme.
Channel 4 was at its pretentious best for the “mid-Brexit and pre-general election programme with the artist pictured in Regency garb staring – face clenched – out from the White Cliffs of Dover  whilst appearing most of the rest of the time in mufti and two days behind a shave.
Inevitably, a programme about Brexit draws the luvvies to Boston, where Perry was filmed being driven around the town in a taxi, as people clambered in and out randomly to join him on the passenger seats for a chat.
Outstanding among these was the woman who proudly declared “To be honest, we don’t vote. Because what we don’t know don’t (sic) hurt us.”
Good to see local fingers on the pulse.
Later in the show, Mr Perry had dinner at the Boston and County club “with three prominent local leaders” named as Barrie, Yvonne and Marianne.
It was mildly disappointing when the Barrie and Yvonne turned out not to be the dance instructors from Hi De Di but Boston Borough Councillor Barrie Pierpoint and Yvonne Gunter – who became a brief double act in January when they announced their plan to stand as Lincolnshire Independent candidates at last month’s County Council elections … although Miss Gunter failed to follow through.
Which neatly brings us to Marianne – none other than Marianne Overton, who squeaked back in at County Hall as the sole survivor of the Lincolnshire Independents after they lost eight seats on election night.
Grayson Perry asked the trio whether the Boston Brexit – the biggest in the country – had had much to do with the EU … hinting, we think, that its roots may have been more anti-immigration than political.
Broadly speaking, he got what he was looking for …
Most help came from Miss Gunter. “There was a volume of them came in all at once. It wasn’t a trickle and I think that’s what shocked the town and the area. With this influx of varying nationalities they felt that the town was being taken off them …”
The drift of Marianne Overton’s contribution was that Boston has a wonderful heritage, and that if you have a sense of pride in your heritage part of it is in your spirit, whilst Barrie Pierpoint denounced the 48% of people who voted to Remain as being afraid of what might happen if we voted to come out, and branded them as cowards
As Grayson Perry left Boston he summed us up as having “a nostalgic, intensely local sense of identity and a desire to protect the lives they used to have”
And he added: “The fact that the vast number of agricultural workers are immigrants confirms for me that this is not a national conflict.”
Spot the R word?

***

If the programme wasn’t daft enough in the first place, we certainly raised an EYEbrow at the main choice of local guests – the “three prominent local leaders
Councillor Pierpoint is an Independent councillor, a businessman and deputy mayor – none of which point to and particulat prominence of leadership.
Councillor Overton was a leader – contradictorily of a group of self-styled independents – but is now a stand-alone representative of her party.
And despite her warbling about Boston’s and its heritage, Ms Overton is a representative for Sleaford and North Hykeham.
Last, and by all means least, Miss Gunter has played no role in local politics for years – and her only real claim to fame was a bid for election that never happened.
The only thing that we can imagine her “leading” is either a dog or a grate!
What viewers who were unaware of all this made of their appearance is anyone’s guess.

***

All this televisual magic was screened because on Thursday we have another General Election – and haven’t our Boston candidates embraced the drama with both hands?
Well, er, no.
The first of the six candidates to rattle our letterbox with a leaflet was the Blue Revolution’s Mike Gilbert, followed by Paul Kenny for Labour, and a few days ago Conservative Matt Warman.
Of the other three – not a peep.
Pas d’un oiseau.
If the candidates aren't interested, theny why should we be?
A fly on the wall tells us that Mr Warman’s pièce de résistance– a session at Blackfriars last Thursday night drew no fewer than three local councillors and six members of the public – standing room only if you’re meeting in a phone booth!

***

Last week we mentioned the snub from the BBC to Mr Gilbert by denouncing his party as too trivial to participate in one of the live local debates around the county.
But now it seems that the Boston debate won’t be along the lines of the others.
It was delayed due to the campaign hiatus created by the Manchester bombing, and radio station boss Charlie Partridge told Boston Eye: “The Boston debate is a first time voters’ audience at Boston Grammar School tomorrow at 11. It's an invited audience so we are not asking people to come.
“Paul Nuttall won't be there, but Victoria Ayling will speak for UKIP. Otherwise the main people will be there.
“It should be interesting listening.”

***

Since being roughed up by the BBC locally, Mr Gilbert was given the bum’s rush by Radio 5 Live when it pitched up in Skegness.
Whilst with another hat on we can see a possible reason for the exclusions, it is nonetheless the case that the variety and eccentricity of our nation is no better illustrated than at election times – when the choice before voters is more than just the mealy palate-sticking menu that the main parties have to offer.
In a formal complaint to the BBC powers that B the BBC, he says that Auntie’s policy is adversely affecting the contribution small parties make to Britain’s increasingly rich political tapestry.
He said: “When I enquired why I was not accorded a place on the panel of the BBC Radio Lincolnshire husting, I was told that this was because the Blue Revolution party didn’t have a national profile.
“I made the point that it was a local BBC radio station and that as the only ‘other’ candidate and a local person with political experience, people might wish to hear my views, but I was informed it was the station producer’s executive decision from which he was not prepared to depart.
“I am aware other ‘Independent’ candidates were also excluded from debates in other constituencies in Lincolnshire.
“My second complaint relates to a Radio 5 Live Marginal Mystery Tour which was broadcast from Skegness on 31st May. I found out about this by chance and was disappointed that again I had not been invited as a local politician with expertise on issues linked to migration and community engagement.
“Even though the UKIP candidate didn’t attend in person, I attended the venue  … and eventually was informed that BBC policy excluded me as it is again based on a national party profile.
“I was then called again and told that they would broadcast a few minutes of me at around about 12.35pm. I was in the end accorded about a minute or so prior to which I had to endure some comic turn by a BBC presenter who implied (please note implied) that I was some ‘numpty’ who wanted to talk about politics rather than eat ice cream on the beach. The brief interview went ok, albeit Blue Revolution being identified with parties like the ‘Dressing Up Party’ was a bit unnecessary. It also seemed to me that the interview was cut short for no obvious reason. The ‘comic turn’ was unnecessary if time was a factor.”
Mr Gilbert told the BBC board that Britain is in danger of having a political system which fails to reflect the diversity of the British population and in its attempt to shoehorn all opinion into ‘established party’ categories the BBC leaves the electorate feeling increasingly alienated and angry, and that  a constituency election “is a race not a war” and therefore there is no justification for publicly funded bodies like the BBC taking sides.
He concluded: “The BBC has a critical role here. No one expects a small party to win in what is clearly a rigged two-party system, however by denying local publicity the BBC makes the loss of the deposit more likely and therefore the future of small parties very precarious. This is something which in our opinion is not good for democracy.”

***

Whilst the BBC nationally enjoys flexing its muscles against the little people, that other BBC – Boston Borough Council  gleefully enjoys slapping  the taxpayers  down at more fundamental level.
For a long time now Boston Borough Council has favoured the petty and ineffective policy of naming and shaming people that it declares to be miscreants of some form or another.
In fact we would not be surprised to see their favourite old chestnut – the annual “clampdown” on litterers – finding its way into our local “newspapers” as it seems to do almost every silly season.
In the absence of covering news, the papers find it a comfy free ride to fill their pages, whilst Worst Street puffs with pride with what it calls “community action.”
And no-one ever appears in court for their “crimes.”
Latterly, though, the powers that bain’t have come up with a new cunning wheeze.
On the rare occasions that thoughtless motorists have prevented dustcarts from accessing a street, Worst Street has come up with the brilliant idea of publishing the owners’ car registrations on the council website.
By the sound of things, the problem roads are not of any great length – and the bins to be collected are on wheels, after all.
But no doubt because everything must be done in double quick time these days wheeling the bins a few yards is simply not an option.
But why publish the car numbers?
The Worst Street website is not well patronised for reasons that are obvious to anyone who takes a look at it.
Why not instead print a few notes and tuck them beneath the windscreen wipers of the naughty drivers – or if you want to be really annoying attach them with an adhesive that will take a little time to clear?
Whilst the reasons for others parking where they do should be of no real concern to a local council, we wonder how the reception staff might feel if a miscreant partner caught playing away from home chose to vent his feelings at being exposed by an authority whose answer to everything is the iron fist in the iron glove?

***

Ironically, we can’t recall the number of times our bins have been left willy-nilly when the collectors have obviously been in a rush – on at least two occasions blocking our street.
But that’s different.
We have to leave our bins on our curtilage by some ungodly hour of the morning but there is no concomitant responsibility on those who collect them to return them to where they found them.
Thoughtless though it is, we doubt that cars that are parked in a way that bars access to dustcarts are intentionally left with that intention.
Worst Street has always been a great place for vindictiveness and keen to search for new ways to exercise it – but if a car is blocking the path of a dustcart, far better to tell the emergency services that at least have some authority to prevent it happening.

***

Our piece last week about the goings-on in Worst Street prompted a response from former councillor Carol Taylor, who wrote from St Ives in Cornwall: “How cruel these councillors are to each other, nasty, vicious, back stabbing bunch of hypocrites. 
“Boston people deserve so much better but sadly they won't get it. 
With regard to councillor conduct, I was called in to see the Chief Executive at the time because another councillor reported my blog for causing offence and talked about councillor misconduct.
“Thankfully, the Chief was very kind and understanding and I swear that when I left his office, he was laughing a little, I think because he also saw it as petty.
I hope NBE will allow me to wish His worshipful the Mayor Councillor Brian Rush and Mayoress Mrs Jayne Rush a very successful year.”

***

Finally, as an organisation that claims to be passionate about Boston’s heritage, Worst Street has missed  yet another interesting date.



The Illustrated London News was founded 175 years ago last month by Boston’s MP Herbert Ingram. It pioneered picture journalism and survived until the late 1960s
Whilst the anniversary didn’t perhaps justify a ticker tape parade through the streets, we thought that it might have been worth a mention at least.

 Thursday is General Election Day - Don't forget to vote


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





Tuesday, 30 May 2017


If Boston Borough Council were an organism, current behaviour suggests that its outside would be scaly and rough to the touch, but flaky and slippery in other parts.
Inside it would be flatulent, dyspeptic, and riddled with a host of parasites – each trying to destroy the other.
Unpleasant as it sounds, these are the images conjured up by recent events.

***

The first followed last week’s Boston Eye  exclusive on the way that incoming UKIP Mayor Brian Rush was roughed up by his fellow councillors over his unwillingness to  be the sole volunteer among eight nominees to step down so that the seven required appointments to the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board could be rubber stamped.
As a result of this Councillor Rush has now quit the party – but not without making his reasons unequivocally clear.
We didn’t notice until we revisited the nominations that Councillor Rush’s chances were further diminished by a decision to place him out of alphabetical order and last in the list of nominees – therefore right in the crosshairs for rejection when it came to a vote.
This is especially ironic given the Worst Street Tories' anger at being "disadvantaged" when the Boston sub-Standard listed Mike Gilbert’s Blue Revolution Party ahead of the Conservative Party using alphabetising to ensure even-handedness. 

*** 

Councillor Rush – who was keen to be on the board because of previous membership – felt that the absence of support from UKIP colleagues had tested his loyalties to the point of resignation.
He told James Edwards, the latest leader of the Boston Kippers, that the first he knew of the Black Sluice membership problem was when Councillor Edwards contacted him at 1.37 p.m. on Monday 15th May.
“… the timing was both insensitive and discourteous …” said Councillor Rush …
“… the correct course of action … would have been to have discussed this decision on days preceding what was for me, a very important and highly charged event.
“However, I believe that the ball was already in your court, because no such proposal had been lodged, merely a request for a volunteer to stand down.
“It was then the time for any Ukipper to have presented an amendment, citing for example, Councillor Bedford to have been removed, on the basis he would soon cease to be a Conservative, and was therefore surplus to Black Sluice requirements.
“I, nor anyone else, should have to remind you, that your duty was to support the aspirations of your UKIP members, and not to side with the ruling group.
“Had you done so, any action taken would have been seen as entirely an understandable and democratic action.
“However and in light of the level of exclusion, UKIP members have been forced to suffer over the past two years excepting of course for one ‘specific’ Ukipper.

***

Councillor Rush adds that he is formally asking that the council’s Monitoring Officer fully investigates the circumstances that led to his application being selected for rejection, as well as when, and why.
He is also seeking a clear legal opinion, regarding the balances employed which should demonstrate and ensure fairness, and inclusivity.

***

As we advised with the other recent issue involving the council and one of its members, Councillor Rush should expect short shrift and a rapid sweeping of his concerns beneath the civic carpet.
The second matter concerned a complaint about the language said to have been used by Worst Street’s newly-appointed chieftain Michael Cooper – the man whose main claim to fame so far has been to put the “eff” in Leader!.
The silver-tongued Councillor Cooper was said to have expressed his feelings over remarks on Facebook by council critic Darron Abbott about his non-dom status – he lives in East Lindsey whilst representing a Boston ward – by nobbling a friend of Mr Abbott’s at a drinks bash after the announcement of his and Councillor Rush’s appointment and telling him …

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

Unsurprisingly, this prompted a formal complaint from Mr Abbott – and no sooner had we written in last week’s blog that “Early word on the street is that efforts are being made to sweep the whole affair under the rug …”  than a response was delivered.
And guess what ..?
The complaint was thrown out of the window.
Summarised, the five-page response decided …

  • The alleged comment was made at least one hour after the closing of the Annual Full Council and Mayor Making Ceremony.
  • The alleged comment was made in a public house in Boston town centre and not in the Municipal Buildings.
  • The alleged comment was made in a social gathering of mixed company (by this I mean a mix of political views and not solely a Conservative meeting and a mix of both councillors and non-councillors).
  • It is accepted that there was no intent to actually cause you physical harm.

Ironically the rejection letter adds: “I have referred throughout my correspondence to the alleged incident because whilst I can confirm a comment was made, I have not been able to ascertain the exact phraseology of that comment.”
Really? As far as we are aware a precise statement was taken from the person who was asked to pass the message on – and to accept that “there was no intent to actually cause you physical harm” clearly suggests that the offer was made but was merely an empty threat.
The rejection concludes almost gleefully: “As the Monitoring Officer, my decision is final in this matter. There is no right of appeal.
“If you are unhappy with my decision, you may seek independent legal advice in respect of a Judicial Review of my decision which constitutes a public law decision."

***


An interesting sidebar to all this is the way in which it gives councillors an easy ride.
The current code of conduct – which emerged between 2010 and 2015 – in the words of the government replaced  “the bureaucratic and controversial Standards Board, which ministers believed had become a vehicle for petty, partisan and sometimes malicious, allegations of councillor misconduct that sapped public confidence in local democracy.”
Whilst some of this may have been true, we cannot help but think the changes have also given generous scope for complaints with merit to be side-lined or rejected which continue to sap  public confidence.
The code also removed all sanctions, such as disqualification and suspension.
A second letter from Worst Street’s Monitoring Officer after Darron Abbott sent a round robin e-mail to all councillors asking for their views also clarified the ambiguity concerning what was said at the time.
“My letter of 19th May confirmed that a comment was made, but that I was not able to ascertain the exact phraseology of that comment and that as the Code was not engaged and therefore no requirement to conduct a formal investigation, the exact nature of the comment was not relevant to my final conclusions.
“For further clarity, the content of the statement made by Mr Cooper is irrelevant for my purposes, as at the time of the incident he was Mr Cooper not Councillor Cooper and does not change my conclusions.”
So … why bother to undertake  “preliminary interviews” with Councillor Cooper and the man he asked to act as a messenger boy “to ascertain the facts of the alleged incident in order to consider if a formal investigation should be instigated” when you know in advance that an investigation is unnecessary?
Rather worryingly, the letter added: “I can confirm that there are many examples around the country of elected officials who have been convicted of criminal offences but because they were not acting as a councillor on official business at the time, have not triggered the Code of Conduct.
“Where cases are acts of criminality, these are matters for the Police not the Code of Conduct.”
So – to avoid what they considered timewasters, the government has nationally created a climate where Jekyll and Hyde councillors can break the law with impunity knowing that even if they are sacked from their day jobs as a result, the allowances will still come rolling in.

***

Back to the wronging of Councillor Rush, and Labour Group leader Paul Gleeful – sorry Gleeson – was quick to enter the debate with the following Tweet.


“Rumours of a new political party in Boston called UQUIT - For all those councillors that have left UKIP”
This was a classic example of the saying “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones …” highlighting as it does the smugness of  a two-man group that sold political principle in favour of committee status.

***

To the general election now … and don’t bother to yawn, because nothing much has been going on…
Today’s view of candidates is largely determined by Twitter – which increasingly is used to let people know what is going on in their constituency.
In Boskeg, we have found nothing to write home about from the Lib Dems, the Greens, or the Blue Revolution – and what is being posted by the others is little to write home about.
Conservative Matt Warman seems to like a pub crawl as the  way to get the message across …


… although we did see him bravely tying his colours to the lampost in the town centre last week


Meanwhile, Labour’s Paul Kenny has been doing the rounds with a “fox” in tow. It’s the one in the costume we feel sorry for – and that’s not a quiz! Kenny is the glum one!


And among UKIP leader Paul Nuttall’s problems are that as leader, he has to travel the country in support of other candidates, and then when he does pitch up in Boskeg no-one seems to know who he is.

***

It’s all very unexciting – especially when former Tory treasurer and furious poll taker Lord Ashcroft has declared the chances of a shoo-in for Mr Warman to be 100%

click to enlarge

Perhaps that’s why – with just four days to go – Warman supporters have decided to keep their hands in their pockets as far chipping into his fighting skirmish is concerned – you certainly can’t call it a fighting fund.
Yesterday afternoon is stood at £810 raised from a £5,000 target – and with just nine supporters …one of whom donated twice.
Not an idea worth cantering out again, wethinks.

***

The delusions of grandeur shown by Worst Street’s Boston Town Area Committee – BTAC-ky for short – seem to be never ending.
Not only is the committee now meeting monthly but it has recently been showing off its new logo – which is to be officially unveiled at tomorrow’s meeting.



Quite why a minor committee –  albeit one that is ripping off the taxpayers left, right and centre and throwing their money here, there and everywhere  –  should need its own badge is anyone’s guess.
But we are sure that it makes the members feel important, and that’s all that really matters.
Nor was the committee stingy with the cost.
Whilst it was promoted as a competition, and the winner was a school pupil,  the cost worked out thus … a £150 prize for the winner, £100 for the school art department and £5 each for the other 40 entrants - £450 in all.
Still, it’s not BTAC-ky’s money is 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