Friday, 19 August 2016


A few days ago we learned that the Boston Daily Beano is to change to “a new, fresh format, easier to read and with more online content.”  Given that is already online, we are not quite sure what that means. It will also change to a weakly instead of daily edition after its “summer break.”
A break of almost a month underlines how unimportant the thing is – and is a clear indication of what a flop this feeble attempt at promoting Worst Street has been.
It’s journeyed from monthly, to daily, and now to weakly. During these years is has been often packed with stories totally irrelevant to Boston Borough Council – but no matter, they fill the space, don’t they – even to the extent that the tsunami of coverage for the recent Boston Central Park sand pit event was mistakenly believed to be the work of the council by one local “newspaper” … when it wasn’t.
We think that a good idea during the Beano’s break would be a full appraisal of whether or not it is worth bringing back – and if the powers that b’ain’t were to put their hands on where their hearts ought to be, we think we will have read the final edition.

***

We hope in the case of the bulletin, the phrase “easier to read” is not a substitute for “dumbing down even further.”
We say this because a recent contribution from Worst Street could well have been produced as a new issue in the Roger Hargreaves series, and entitled “Mr and Mrs Councillor.”
Beneath the banner “How exactly does the council work?” – and avoiding the obvious answer of “not very well”  – Worst Street offers this piece of infantile fatuity.
“Boston Borough Council runs along the same lines as Government. At the head of Government is the Prime Minister.
At the head of the council is the leader, Councillor Peter Bedford.
“Coincidentally they are both Conservatives because, in the same way that the Government is Conservative controlled because it has a majority of elected Conservative MPs, the council has a majority of elected Conservative councillors.
“Supporting the PM is the Cabinet, and the council has a Cabinet too. At Government level these are elected MPs who have been made ministers with special responsibilities, such as education, health, defence. The equivalent at borough council level are (sic) members of the Cabinet. This is (sic) sometimes called "the executive board" and members are known as executive members or portfolio holders …
And the last laugh appears at the end of the piece, and tells us … “The borough council's make up is 13 Conservatives, 12 from UKIP, two Labour, two Independents and one Unaligned making 30 in total.
This shows that the Conservatives do not have an overall majority at the borough council, which makes for some interesting debate.”
Oh no it doesn’t!
The hatred of UKIP led so-called Independents and even Labour to vote with the Tories regardless which means that of  “interesting debate” there is none.
To mark this latest nonsensical guff from Worst Street we propose a special edition in the popular “Dummies” guide series …



***

The nonsense continues on the same theme beneath the heading “Top-level summit: Enhancing Boston's image.”
We were told: “Key leaders from across Boston have met to discuss plans to strengthen the community and address negative perceptions of the town.
The meeting was called jointly by Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones (not pictured here because he’s pictured everywhere else) and Boston MP Matt Warman. Others attending included “senior officials from Lincolnshire Police, Boston Borough Council, Citizen's Advice Bureau and Lincolnshire County Council.”
The bottom line in all this was that most of the problems we believe beset Boston are merely “perceptions” – i.e. figments of our collective imagination.
Aside from the insults contained in this suggestion – that we are too dense to recognise reality – we question the description of a so-called top-level summit of key leaders.
Last time we looked these “key leaders” were elected public servants (apart from members of the CAB) – although perhaps after his elevation to Boston’s answer to Prime Minister “Daisy” May,  so-called “leader” Pete ‘Nipper’ Bedford may have developed misplaced delusions of grandeur ... if he hasn’t already!

***

Sadly for Lincolnshire Police, the “summit” was followed by the news that the force was the most underrated the country – with just 58.3% of people telling the latest official crime survey that the force was doing a good or excellent job.
This put Lincolnshire Police's approval rating at 35th out of 43 forces.
But don’t worry – it’s all in your mind!

***

The other day, we mentioned the way that cash-strapped Worst Street was wasting money here there and everywhere …
A few items we have noticed since include spending on “entertainment” for the recent Vintage a-Fayre of £460 and £570 to bring a purportedly "free” cycling event to Boston Market Place.
“Fayre’s” such as the Vintage A – which sells old clothes at silly and sometimes smelly prices – are commercial activities … so why do we fund their “entertainment” which presumably means providing buckshee food and drinks.
The “Get Cycling Roadshow!” was again an event that we felt should be self-funding – but it cost taxpayers £570 to bring to town.
Finally, there was a charge of £405 for “cornfields annual mixture” – presumably for Boston in Bloom’s volunteers to spread willy-nilly alongside the John Adams Way bridge. We always thought that our local bloomers did their own thing – without the taxpayers footing the bill.
Fairly soon, the market tall holders will–  quite reasonably, we think   be asking why they should pay to mount what Worst Street claims as one of Boston’s biggest tourist attractions.

***

At long last, the future is looking slightly brighter and so we have decided to resume the occasional blog. Thanks for still checking in and keeping the readership count high – we’ll carry on publishing as and when – so please keep up your good work.

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 also on Twitter – visit @eye_boston

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


It’s not that long ago that the great and the good of Boston Borough Council were warning us of tough times ahead as government cutbacks dictated the need for further reductions in services.
Worst Street’s finance portfolio holder, Aaron Spencer, told taxpayers: "Let's be clear – there is no place to hide. The challenges that lie ahead are unprecedented. Tough decisions will have to be made about the services this council provides ... This council can no longer afford to fund all it once could. Residents will see a change to what this council does and how it provides its services.”
Well, that’s true enough, certainly.
In the interest of transparency, Worst Street published a list of its monthly spending which tells us a little – but often not enough – about where our hard earned wages are being spent.


Which is why we raised an EYE-brow when we saw the spending figures for June.
Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce received nearly £5,400 from Boston Borough Council for the street party to mark the Queen’s 90 birthday on 12th June. The Lincoln-based chamber oversees the Boston Area Chamber of Commerce, which is behind the comatose Boston Town Team – which is the group that organised a private street party for specially invited guests, and a handful of other activities.
At the time, Phil Drury, Chief Executive at Boston Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to support Boston Town Team on this event.”
Did he know at the time that this support would be measured in terms of thousands of pounds?
And who authorised this in the first place?
A few days before the event, Boston Borough Council paid the Anglia Motel at Fleet Hargate – a 30 minute, 16 mile drive away from the town – more than £3,000 for accommodation.
The motel’s typical nightly rate is £50– so what was Worst Street putting up perhaps as many as 60 people for?
Another item on the list is £2,000 for a Boston Mosaic – created by Carol Parker, who calls herself “a socially engaged artist delivering and developing creative sessions with social benefits.”
The mosaic – pictured here – has been placed on the link between Boston station and the Stump. 
Meanwhile, the borough employed outside agency staff to man its refuse collection service – costing the thick end of £20 thousand for a single month.
“Security” for the May Fair cost nearly £16,000 – whilst on a much smaller scale a charge against “civic functions" billed an evening buffet at £450. Doubtless this is part of the annual £80,000 cost of the mayoral offices, which is somehow too important to consider cutting.
Finally the long awaited answer to the question of how much it costs to feed the biomass boilers that heat the Moulder Leisure Centre and the PRSA has emerged.
A single month’s payment came to an eye-watering £64,000 – and if that wasn’t enough the council paid a further £3,000 for the fuel to be delivered from Nottingham.
Around the time Councillor Spencer was telling us how tough times were, the so-called “leader" Pete ‘Nipper’ Bedford added: “We simply cannot afford to do all we once did. The stark choices now are to stop doing some of the things we have always done, do them differently or find new ways of paying for them.”
So when does it all begin, eh, Pete?

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, 15 July 2016




This time last week, Boston Borough Council was gleefully showing photos of our local police and firemen helping scrub the Town Bridge clean in time for the arrival of the Boston in Bloom judges. This time last week, some friends of our acquaintance whose relative in their nineties had been robbed of £50 for a second time by a doorstep conman the previous Tuesday were still awaiting a visit from a police officer – which they were told would be made  no later than Sunday. But a badge from Britain in Bloom is obviously far more important, isn’t it?

***

Still with police priorities, we note an appeal to Lincolnshire Twitter users by a force Chief Inspector asking for nominations in this year’s Police Twitter Awards. Categories include sections for the Best Tweeting Corporate Police Account, the Best Tweeting Individual Police Officer, PCSO, Special Constable – and yes … even the​ Best Tweeting Account. 
We note that the officer making the appeal has notched up 24,553 tweets since he started. Even at as little as a minute a time that represents 17 full days. Many officers tweet and there are 16 categories for the awards. How much expensive police time is being wasted nationally on this trivial pursuit, we wonder?


***

Why is it that so many people that think a trifling catchphrase lends a subject more credibility? Boston Borough Council reviews the risks it faces on a regular basis – some might think that daily would be insufficient – and identifies something called the “risk appetite.” The risk to the future of the town centre in terms of retail, housing and car parking was recently identified as “medium” –  although given that is in the shaky hands of the Preposterous Boston task and finish group we would have imagined it to be in greater danger.
But it was the definition of the “risk appetite” that caught our eye.


“Projects and major change – Hungry.”
Of course we are hungry for new projects and major change, but no-one at Worst Street appears to have the wherewithal to come up with any ideas to turn the place around.
And daft buzzwords only serve to make things worse. 

***

The pointless “Ask the Cabinet” session set for Monday night is paraded as a triumph for openness and transparency – but behind the scenes the story appears rather different. We hear of a gradual transformation process under which councillors have been advised to refer any questions asked of them to the Worst Street press office. We fondly remember the days when councillors were approachable and “independent” regardless of their party politics. Now an exclusive gang of six takes all the decisions which are rubber stamped by a full council meeting which tries to ban as much discussion as it can. When did you last see councillor quoted in our local “newspapers” on an issue affecting his or her ward?  And we wonder how many of them offer local “surgery” facilities these days – but instead prefer the punters they “serve” to come cap in hand to them, and let a council officer put words into their mouths instead of answering personally and directly.

*** 

Which brings us neatly to Labour councillor and group leader Paul Gleeson, who has become something of a worldwide talking head on life in Boston in recent months.
His most recent outing was in the pages of the New York Times which tells its readers that migrants no longer feel welcome in the town.
“Something is broken in this town,” he is quoted as saying. “This veneer of propriety has suddenly disappeared.”
What is there to say about such as response? Councillor Gleeson has been at Worst Street for five years – and the problems in the town have been developing throughout that time. Yet the only time we hear his voice is when we read his assessment in the international press. It was Mark Twain who famously said that “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

***

But even that level of disinterest is overshadowed by the latest pearls of wisdom from Worst Street "leader" ‘Nipper’ Bedford, who has simply shrugged off  the news that the most recent murder in Boston means that there have been at least 21 unusual or suspicious deaths in the town in 19 months.
“There are no unsolved crimes of murder.” He says. “The incidents we have had have tended to occur in domestic situations and involve people who know one another. The streets are safe.  Any suspicious death in our town is a cause for concern and increases the perception that serious crime is on the increase.” He appears to ignore the reaction of people living in the streets where these unimportant expirations occur. Boston is no longer a happy place for many people and Councillor Bedford’s clear ignorance of the bigger picture shows him up for what he is worth.


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, 14 July 2016

They think that
we are so
stupid

Yes … the Ovaltinies are back – and happy days are here again.
With customary gung-ho juvenile delight, Worst Street is trailing the third of its totally pointless “Ask the Cabinet" sessions … and is making them even less relevant
The last of the meetings – which were once trailed as likely to be staged quarterly – was in January. It’s time to wind the calendar up, we think!
But unlike previous sessions, this coming Monday night’s dog-hanging is about to get "a whole lot more personal." 
Once upon a time, the one-time less than magnificent seven sat uncomfortably about while badly aimed cameras filmed the nape of their necks or the pillar behind which they were trying to hide. Their often inaudible questions and answers were webcast so that people watching agog on their home computers could soak it up ‘live’ with a summary reported on the Worst Street website.
The cabinet is now down to six members – and of those, only five are turning up on Monday.
In the past, Worst Street preferred written questions submitted in advance to “give portfolio holders an opportunity to present the most comprehensive answers, by having all pertinent information available.”
Now: “Instead of an open public question-and-answer session, residents will be able to get up close and personal with influential executive members and quiz them in a much more private environment.
“There will be no cameras, no microphones and no webcast – just opportunities to chat one-to-one with councillors at a much more personal level.”
Residents can turn up without giving advance warning of their questions – which is great news for victims of the council bar on those they deem “vexatious.”
Whilst Worst Street sees this as pioneering, we view it as lip service to openness and transparency which keeps public criticism out of the public domain.
So-called council “leader” Pete ‘Nipper’ Bedford calls the approach “more like a regular councillor surgery” – without apparently realising that they are seldom staged any more.
“I am hoping this will encourage more to attend. We want to see an interest in what we do, and perhaps what we don't do, and welcome questions on any subject pertinent to the work of the borough council. I think this willingness to change and adapt shows we are transparent and open and prepared to give answers to what may be some quite tricky questioning.”
Having viewed these sessions in the past, we were struck by the lack of quality shown by cabinet members.
Whilst they can’t all be the brightest candles in the box, many are incapable of decent articulation and it is not hard to question their overall intelligence.
Nonetheless, these six people run the council – forget the idea that the remaining 24 even bother much to take part.
Monday night’s absentee is Boston’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Aaron, Councillor Spencer – but ‘Nipper’ is ready to provide what might have been his answers.
Having seen them both in action we feel that nothing would have been gained by Councillor Spencer’s attendance.

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, 13 July 2016


Recently, meetings of the Boston Town Area Committee BTAC have gone hand in hand with requests for members to fund projects which by the council’s own definition should be paid from central rather than “parish” funds.
Lately, we’ve seen the near doubling of this year’s council tax precept to start a kitty for the benefit of the Preposterous Boston Task and Finish Group, and the allocation of £35,000 for decorative street lighting in December. This is not to be confused with Christmas lights, as the money is for Project Illuminate – which is counting the days until 2020 when the good ship Mayflower reached the Cape Cod having set off from Plymouth with a 102 pilgrims aboard – none of them remotely connected to Boston.
But the money mentioned above pales into insignificance when compared with the demands being suggested tonight, which total £323,190 – for which the lion’s share is funding the public toilets at £179,000, and Central Park at £123,350.
The money wanted represents a 100% increase in the rate for a Band D property.
A constitutional document for BTAC in the public domain says the only items which can legally be charged are those provided exclusively or mainly for its residents, and that when the wider population use facilities they are properly subject to “the council wide council tax.”
However, it appears that this was conveniently tweaked a while ago and is being meddled with still further even as we speak, and that BTAC’s powers and responsibilities may well be “extended and enhanced” even more. A licence to rob Peter to pay Paul. Expect more big council tax increases in the years to come.
Whilst we accept that Worst Street has a cash flow problem – this should not be allowed to supersede the responsibility of the council to the people it claims to serve.
The cost of BTAC is borne by some of the poorest and most deprived wards in the country – let alone Boston, and it is wrong to use them as a cash cow.
If the council lack the skills at officer and member level to create new ideas for funding, then it should find the people who can, and not stoop to daylight robbery.
Another point worth considering is whether there are cuts which could be made which might yet rescue the facilities that need saving before taking the easy way out and billing the taxpayers.
For instance, in some areas, Worst Street is cutting back to the minimum requirement under health and safety rules.
Yet whilst it regularly declares that it has no statutory responsibility to provide toilet facilities, it is clearly scared stiff of doing away with them
Meanwhile, it still sees nothing wrong with offering free parking perks to staff and councillors worth £100,000 a year, and funding the mayoral office to the tune of a further £80,000.
Flushing away these two items alone would cover the cost of keeping the public toilets!

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


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Why fight crime
when it’s easier
to give in …?


Boston Borough Council and Boston Police last week joined forces to ask us not to report perceived examples of street drinking on social media.
Quite rightly, they highlighted a recent photo on Twitter showing an apparently unconscious man on the ground and warned: “Never make an assumption that someone who is unconscious and laying (sic) down in the open is under the influence of drink. They could have hit their head and seriously injured themselves. They may have been laying (sic) out in the open all night and have hypothermia.
“Their life may be at risk. It is not appropriate and does not demonstrate community responsibility to take a photo of someone clearly in need of help and post it on social media.”
So far, so good.
But a key point about social media is that it reports what’s going on – and in the case of street drinking shows how well it is … or isn’t … being dealt with.
The montage above – from photos sent to Boston Eye last week – shows that street drinking is still clearly rife ... despite some claims to the contrary.
Last week’s Boston Borough Beano quoted Boston Community Inspector Andy Morrice saying: “We have only recently been told about a problem area near the Stump. We are having hedges removed, and replaced by flower beds, so there is no screen to hide behind, and are having a tree pruned back for the same reason.”
And whilst not reported by Worst Street for obvious reasons of shame, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee fountain in Central Park has had its upper tiers removed following persistent vandalism.
Chief Parkie, Councillor Claire Rylott, is quoted as saying: “The cost of constantly repairing it did not make economic sense in these financially straitened times.
“Because of the on-going costs and not being able to use it properly, it was agreed unanimously at a Boston in Bloom meeting to use the base as a planter.”
The fountain was supposed to be a ‘lasting legacy’ to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and part of a £10,000 garden.
In all of the above examples, the people with the responsibility to maintain our quality of life are bending the knee and giving in to criminality because it is easier than standing up and fighting.
Regular readers of our so-called local “newspapers” will note that the Co-op in West Street is a regular target for shoplifters.
We wonder if the powers that be plan to force it’s closure to reduce the level of commercial crime.
Nothing would surprise us.

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, 11 July 2016


Displays of
λεκτική διάρροια
are all Greek to
most of us!

Tonight sees the full meeting of Boston Borough Council – these days a rubber stamp job where even some of the so-called opposition put their teeth in their water glass for the few minutes the meeting lasts and vote with the leadership.
The only real items of interest on the agenda these days are questions from elected members in which they try to wrong-foot their leadership masters.
These questions used to be listed in advance – but alas this is no longer the case … perhaps because it might serve as an appetiser and lure our local “newspapers” to the meeting. Heaven forbid.
It was questions asked during this section that revealed that whilst Worst Street was going hell-for-leather to install biomass boilers at the Moulder Leisure Centre and the PRSA, it had no idea what the fuel would cost.
We still don’t know, but we hope there are no nasty surprises such as when the borough underestimated the cost of the installation which saw the price rocket by 64%, from £456,000 to £749,000.
Tonight, the minutes of the April 4th meeting report a number of questions from the UKIP contingent, which again held up a mirror to the unattractive face of some of our so-called leaders.
A question from UKIP Leader Brian Rush regarding the running of the PRSA by the preposterously named C-SALT and asking if we have at last seen the end of the long running debacle prompted a feeble stab as what we think he considers politics by the council “leader” Pete ‘Nipper’ Bedford, who said: “As the former portfolio holder for the facility, you did not sort it out. This administration has.” Huzzah!
Another UKIP questioner, Jonathan Noble, listed the rises in Councillor Bedford’s special responsibility allowance from £6,487 in 2012/13 to £7,366 the following year and to £8,070 in 2014/15.
He asked: “Could you enlighten us with the wondrous works you have performed to receive such increases?”
Apparently no ready answer sprang to mind, so Councillor Bedford chose to explain that “The increases were recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel, originally as a single increase, but the council decided to phase over a three year period …”
He then pointed out that all other Lincolnshire district council leaders got more than he did. Which apparently make everything hunky-dory. Some might say, however, that the low rate of reward reflects the achievements delivered. We couldn’t possibly comment.
‘Nipper’ also claimed that that over the last three years the council had “brought in” £6.5 million to Boston, compared with “only” £14.3 million for the previous 17 years.  A little more detail on that would surely make interesting reading.
The last question to catch our eye was again from Councillor Rush – to Conservative Councillor Doctor Gordon Gregory – the self-appointed investigator of the Million Pound Loan Mystery.
And Councillor Gregory used the Complete Oxford Dictionary as a soapbox on which to stand to deliver his reply.
For example … “in order that I may shine the light of knowledge on the tenebrosity of this question, I sent an email; composed for clarification as to what he would like me to include in my answer. The councillor has reworded his question, though its opacity of purpose is as yet left undiminished …”
He went on: “The specific foci (sic) of my desire for clarification was and is the fact that in the intention, process and findings, in thought, word, and deed, I have openly shared to all members, including with the councillor himself.”
And so he went on …
Whilst we accept that written answers present an opportunity to portray oneself as literate and lucid, this was going too far by any stretch of the imagination and appeared more as an exercise in showing off.
Councillor Doctor Gregory – who given his day job must sure be able to diagnose the  ailment known as verbal diarrhoea – promised  that all would be revealed in a final report, which appeared at the end of May.
Sadly, we have to say that we found it less than enlightening.
Old hacks like us obey a basic rule that the bones of any story will be found by asking the questions “Who, What, Where, When and Why?”
In the case of the Million Pound Loan, the vital information of "Who, What and Why" are unfortunately absent.


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