Wednesday night sees the Boston festive lights debacle back on the agenda with a discussion aimed at avoiding blame for the Christmas calamity – which could prove difficult – and seeking a way forward this coming yuletide.
Given that this is being done under the umbrella of BTAC-ky – the Boston Town Area Committee that has turned ineptitude into an art form – we already have a sinking feeling that nothing much will be changing … except perhaps the level of recrimination once this year’s event has passed.
Once Worst Street Central had washed its hands of the responsibility, this poisoned chalice was passed to a combined task farce meant to comprise local businesses, Boston Town Team and BTAC-ky.
BTAC allocated £35,000 towards a Christmas lights project in the town for 2016 “on the understanding that it is a one-off allocation and match-funding will be required in future years” and a small sub group was formed to take it forward, working with Town Centre Portfolio Holder Councillor Paul Skinner and the Boston Town Team.
A proportion of the first year costs were associated with the “purchase of equipment leased to the project” and is it said that the self-same scheme will cost around £15,000 this year.
During a debrief last month it was characteristically understated that there had been “some” negative press, but with a common feeling “that what was done was good, but there was not enough of it.”
Identified more closely, the criticisms included the projections not delivering everything they should have, a need for strings of lights in the Market Place and through Bargate and a much more cohesive approach.
Options to be explored to raise funds for 2017 included: a “community projects pot”, Boston Big Local, and crowd funding schemes as well as asking larger out of town businesses for sponsorship.
The meeting discussed lamp-post motifs in the Market Place, string lights through “Straight” (sic) Bargate, and decided to look at a scheme operated by Warwick District Council (see photo below) “where funds were raised through business sponsorship.”
Erm … well not entirely.
The county council and Warwick’s Court Leet – a medieval throwback established in 1554 – have both given grants to the town’s chamber of trade to replace the outdate light bulbs with LEDs, and the chamber won a £20,000 grant from National Grid to continue the process and obtain more lights.
Boston’s starting point is one which doesn’t involve any lights.
However none of this detracts from the splendid display seem in Warwick last year.
However – whilst we know that Rome wasn’t built in a day – we somehow cannot imagine Boston looking anything like this in December.
Meanwhile, questions are already being asked about the projector system used last year in Boston.
Some accounts say the equipment has been leased, others that it was hired and yet a third version is that it was purchased outright.
We seem to recall one member of BTAC-ky saying that the projector would be made available for events throughout the year – which suggests that it is owned outright.
If so, it is an excellent opportunity so earn some money from hiring it out, helping other local charities improve their promotions – and getting some practice in operating it so that it may prove more effective this coming Christmas.
Boston’s road to nowhere was put into clear perspective when Lincolnshire County Council’s Corporate and Community Scrutiny Committee discussed the Boston Transport Guide for future traffic planning up to 2036.
Councillors were told that whilst the proposed Boston Distributor Road was “very, very important” there was no more than “a chance” that the road “could” make good progress in the coming 20 years and that a completion date beyond 2036 was “very difficult to predict.”
In other words – no one has a clue. Nor do they seem to care.
The concept of the “distributor” road is that it will be built link by link if a developer comes along with plans for housing along the proposed line of the route.
All that’s on the table so far is a plan that may ultimately connect the A16 to the A52/Boardsides road – and it’s already been made clear and that the cost of building a bridge for the project would be prohibitive.
In the same week that this debate was going on, Clownty Hall announced a £5m improvement scheme at the A17/A151 Peppermint Junction in Holbeach which could pave the way for up to 650 new homes.
The first phase of Boston’s Quadrant scheme, within which the distributor road is being located, will see around 500 new homes alone, and up to 460 new local jobs.
Why do we let Lincolnshire County Council continue to feed us all this bullshit? And more to the point, why do we keep swallowing it?
The meeting also heard an explanation why – unlike other places that merit by-passes and major improvements – Boston does not.
Rather in the way that black holes in space operate, Boston apparently sees traffic pouring in from all directions – but not coming out the other side.
In other words, most of the town traffic comes in but doesn’t travel through.
With roads such as the A16 which links Peterborough and Grimsby and the A52 running across to Skegness from the Midlands holiday heartlands of Nottingham, Leicester and Derby, we find this hard to believe.
But because of this the county declares that its strategy is to get people walking, cycling and using public transport rather than using their car.
Aside from the highly patronising standpoint that this attitude adopts, it also ignores the fact that many people cannot walk or cycle much in the way of distance – particularly when weighed down with their weekly shop.
And using public transport means travelling at a time decreed by the buses rather than enjoying the freedom to travel as you please.
The county argument also overlooks the fact that traffic can gridlock at any time in Boston – and not just during runs to-and-from work.
The argument against a by-pass is also an argument against a distributor road, we would have thought.
It would also be interesting to hear the reaction if the Boston solution was applied in other parts of the county – such as Lincoln and Grantham.
A couple of blogs ago, we mentioned Worst Street’s enthusiasm to pass the buck whenever the opportunity arises and save a bit of work in the process.
The latest concerns plans to reduce street lighting across Lincolnshire – including Boston.
In its self-styled “newsletter” Worst Street tells us: “Boston Borough Council has received some enquiries about planned reductions in the hours that street lights are lit. This is a Lincolnshire County Council initiative and not Boston Borough Council.”
Well, that’s true enough – and in fairness readers are given some help to steer them towards the information that they need.
Although a Worst Street summary would have been quite useful – none was forthcoming.
But the same issue of the seven-story bulletin goes on to promote five other stories which are also nothing to do with the council.
We wonder when this pointless piece of busywork will be recognised for the waste of time and resources that it is, and when we will see the council getting down to sharing some specific information about what it is doing and why.
The only story of relevance to Boston Borough Council concerns “an opportunity for community groups … to have a professional-looking online presence at no cost.”
At a time when Worst Street is doing less and less, for some reason it has been in touch with a company called interests.me – which allows “individual groups” (sic) to publish to their own webpages or existing website, “and also (sic) to a community website (which would be managed by the council)” …
… “The council is excited at the prospect of community and charitable groups taking advantage of this growing platform, and would use content submitted to feature in the Boston Bulletin and other forms of promotion, such as the council website – and Facebook and Twitter.
Of course they’re excited – the outcome would be more irrelevant content that the council hasn’t had to create and pack its sluggish website.
This is yet more pointless busywork and is really the role of our local “newspapers.”
We’ve said it before – it’s high time that Boston Borough Council’s website and Bulletin told us what’s happening at Worst Street and explained the thinking behind its decisions – and not wasting our time and insulting our intelligence with a load of pointless pabulum.
We sometimes wonder whether we let ourselves be over-influenced by statistics.
Last week we heard that Lincolnshire has seen a rise in hate crime of 59 per-cent between July and September 2016 compared with April to June of the same year.
It is the highest quarterly figure since comparable records began in April 2012, and puts the force at eighth place nationally out of all forces across England and Wales.
Contrary to expectations, there was no sharp increase in racially or religiously motivated crime in the aftermath of Brexit – instead the biggest rise was against disabled and LGBT communities.
Whilst so-called hate crime is to be deplored, before we get too concerned and our police launch Operation Stoppit, we should point out that this huge increase represents a rise to just 78 incidents of hate crime … over three months.
That represents 26 crimes a month – less than one a day in a county of 730,000 people.
And in terms of crimes per head of the population, the figure is just 0.0035 per-cent
This week we received some “observations from a Boston Yorkshireman” – which we think are well worth reading.
n a dank and dreary Saturday morning I ventured in to my adopted town full of optimism and with an open mind as to what I might find. My optimism soon began to diminish when I walked round the corner of Dunelm Fabrics towards the White Hart where I was confronted with empty foreign labelled aluminium beer cans and bottles at the side of the road feet away from a sign indicating a No Drinking Zone and then I noticed the whiff' from Dunelm's staff car park which appears to have become gents toilet No.7.
Proceeding through into what is usually a vibrant Market Place, there was a distinct lack of stalls – and hence shoppers – but this could have been the weather. I crossed the 'pedestrianised' market square avoiding the bus and cars passing through to do my shopping.
I set off to return to my car (Mr Bedford, I have no intention of changing to a bike) over the new pedestrian bridge and near the Jobcentre, yards from the police station had the good fortune to cast my eye over a bin fastened to a tree requesting, yes you guessed it, aluminium cans.
I then drove out of our wonderful historic town along West Street with its multitude of 'colourful' shop fronts (I thought Worst Street planning were going to do something about the spread of these into the rest of the town?).
Whilst driving home I thought ‘why should a small minority be allowed to get away with spoiling the town for the majority of citizens’ – hence I thought of Boston Borough Council who need to put right their own failings and also go after and punish the minority who mess the town up for the majority.
It is solutions, then ACTION not words that taxpayers want from the council and if this is done we can reverse the decline of a lovely market town.
Have Boston’s traffic wardens taken to hunting in packs?
In recent days they have been spotted on at least three occasions as a slow-moving green trio, and also a couple of times travelling in tandem.
Not only does this seem something of a waste of resources – but they always seem to be in areas where there are little or no traffic problems while parking regulations are flouted willy-nilly elsewhere.
A classic example was last Friday, when wardens patrolled neatly parked and orderly streets – whilst a few yards away in the Market Place cars were line up beside the run of planters and beneath an emphatic parking prohibition sign.
They might as well give up.
The talk of a unitary authority for Lincolnshire which would subsume the county’s seven district councils makes sense in many ways – not least in that it would save millions of pounds a year.
From the outset, it has produced the not unreasonable suggestion that if nothing else, it might encourage districts to get their acts together and deliver a decent service – something that is long overdue in Boston at least.
But a plan to sound out and deliver a verdict for a sensible price now it looks as though that won’t go ahead as it failed to take into account the megalomania and self-interest of the district councils.
Next week’s full meeting of Lincolnshire County Council will discuss a report which says that district chief executives – who were approached with an outline proposal to conduct such an 'advisory poll' on county council election day, 4th May – was to go running to a QC and raise a challenge on a wide range of legal grounds.
And, no doubt, they were enthusiastically aided and abetted by senior councillors within the system.
Whilst County Hall’s legal advice disagrees with the districts, the report says: “It is evident from discussions with the districts that there is no wish on their part to seek a legal compromise on the matter, meaning that resolution of these conflicting positions could only be determined by a court, with all of the attendant expense to the public purse.
A poll of some kind may now take place in the autumn.
What does all this tell us?
Basically, that we have a selfish, greedy bunch of people running some councils who are working entirely for their own benefit and who have wasted our council tax to try to feather their nests for the future.
Out with the lot of them, we say.
A couple of weeks ago we had an “Ooops!” moment when we received a complaint from our council “leader” about our reporting of a local “newspaper” item which wrongly named him as the
respondent to a question when in fact it was someone else.
Well, Councillor Bedford was back again this week, asking: “Which Cabinet Member lives in Butterwick? Once again incorrect information to your readers.”
It seems that one of our regular and reliable correspondents had mistakenly thought that Councillor Paul Skinner – the cabinet member responsible for Boston Town Centre – was from Butterwick … when in fact he represents Fishtoft.
We are sure that given the level of interest in the goings-on at Boston Borough Council that many readers are appalled at such a gross desecration of the truth, and that some may well require post-traumatic stress counselling as a result.
Confronted by the error, our correspondent replied: “... the point, surely, was that town issues such as the one in question should quite properly be represented by councillors whose ward has a connection to THE TOWN!'
“Of course everyone realises that the Conservative group were clearly lacking, quality, candidates for cabinet positions!”
Our correspondent has been given 500 lines to write, which say “Fishtoft is not Butterwick” in order to ram the message home and we are sure that it will not happen again.
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