Our ever-generous government is sending more money Boston’s way – but a question to be asked is whether we will be able to lay our hands on it.
A letter to Worst Street offers a grant of £750,000 now to fund capital projects that can be delivered this financial year.
Similar funding has also been awarded to Skegness, which has been given £750,000, and Mablethorpe with £500,000.
Funding is being allocated according to population size from the 2011 Census – in this case representing 64,600 people – and works out at £11.60 per head.
As is so often the case, Boston is being gypped from the start as the latest available population figures for 2018 credit us with 69,366 people – worth another £55,000.
The drawback is the condition attached to the pay-out. The grant must be used to support capital spend within the Towns Fund guidance.
This fund offers local authorities up to £25 million to develop long-term economic and productivity growth “through investment in connectivity, land use, economic assets including cultural assets, skills and enterprise infrastructure.”
The government letter says: “We are particularly encouraging projects that will support towns in responding to immediate challenges, including improvement to or new parks and green spaces and sustainable transport links, improvements to town centres including repurposing empty commercial properties, demolition or site remediation where this will have an immediate benefit.”
To unlock the cash the council needs to confirm that this spending is in line with the towns fund framework, will achieve good value for money and the project can be delivered this financial year.
Proposals will be reviewed and the money forked over once it meets the requirements.
The letter adds: “When your town submits their town investment plan in their agreed cohort, we will ask you to confirm how you are building on this initial investment.”
Our bid for up to £25 million is in the hands of a 26-strong committee of the great and the good known as the Boston Town Deal Board.
As far as we can tell, they last met at the end of January – and there are no clues as to whether they have kept in touch during the pandemic … although this is possible virtually.
The group has a blog – which last featured an entry on 20th March, and a Facebook page where the last entry was posted on Thursday 26th March with an “update” that said: “The Town Deal Board meeting due on Friday has been postponed and the team are busy planning how to support our local businesses for when they emerge from this lockdown.”
Will this mean a struggle to come up with something by way of seed corn to find a solid, approvable idea where the money can be spent by the end of March?
Even the board admits on its webpage that “Boston has a very short period to put together an effective and ambitious Town Board and develop a vision and Town Investment Plan to potentially access up to £25m.”
At present, the government timeline to get plans underway remains unchanged since the scheme was announced at the end of last year.
Boston has lost out so often before, that we hope that someone, somewhere, will be burning the midnight oil to try to cobble something together.
Individuals have submitted scores of ideas in response to a call for their thoughts – but many are outside the criteria to qualify, which only adds to the pressure to come up with something quickly
East Lindsey, meanwhile, tells us that its “local Connected Coast (Towns Fund) Board are in the process of finalising investment plans for each town in a bid to secure millions of pounds worth of funding.”
Let’s hope that being a branch office of Manby soon begins to bear fruit.
Do you want the good news or the bad news?
Well, the good news is that Worst Street tells us that the purple bin trial has been a huge success, with 132.5 tonnes of paper and card collected between September 2019 and May 2020.
The scheme was trialled in Boston town, Fenside and Wyberton, and the company that processes the contents of the purple bins reports that the quality has been over 98%.
The bad news …?
It looks as though tht will mean we’re all going to be lumbered with yet another bin – and for some people, there simply won’t be room to store them.
And Worst Street of course shares only the good news.
We’re sure that many of you – like us – recall the scores of complaints about the nit-picking that went on when the trials began and bins went unemptied due to the myriad rules about what did or didn’t qualify for collection.
Yes, the people involved in the trial have got the idea now – but that still leaves thousands of us with more agony to come if the purple bin scheme goes boroughwide.
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