Council's top rankers didn’t know
about sign that “closed” the Market Place!
Last week saw a meeting called for specially invited businesses to discuss the controversial refurbishment scheme for Boston Market Place – which is already running behind schedule and making life increasingly difficult for local businesses – two of which recently closed ... blaming the works as the reason.
Among those present was Boston accountant Darron Abbott, one of the few champions of local businesspeople and their concerns over the scheme – and a campaigner for better performance (or perhaps any sort of performance) by the Boston Business "Improvement" District.
By all accounts, the meeting was not what one might call civilised.
Mr Abbott tells us that the invited guests numbered just two - plus around 20 gatecrashers – four Boston borough councillors and one Lincolnshire County Councillor, the BID manager Niall Armstrong and BID Chairman Alan Ellis.
“The evening started off with a short speech by a chap from Lincolnshire County Council,” reports Darron Abbott.
“Basically he had sympathy - but tough, it is the future we are looking forward to; the new vibrant Market Place will attract visitors in great numbers.
“This is when things began to turn a little boisterous, with people heckling to say that what would be the point ... as there will be no shops to visit.
“Sensing the hostility he handed over to a representative from the contractors, Ringway, and boy, did he get a rough ride - especially when he boasted that he would have another gang of four men arriving in the Market Place to bring things back on track from Monday.
“Then he revealed that they should really have been here two weeks ago, but the job in Peterbrough they were working on had overrun - looks good for the job to be finished here in Boston.”
The Ringway spokesman then went on to mention that there were delays in getting some of the materials, and was challenged from the floor about his planning – as, if he had not ordered all the materials before he had started, what kind of plan had he got?
“He then bumbled on for several minutes explaining he could not give any specific timetable on what he would be doing and when, said Mr Abbott.
“He got more stick when he stated that at some time he may have to close South Street.
“Asked why he not did know for sure whether South Street would be closed - and if it was, when - once again it was pointed out he had no plan and no idea.
“He then unwisely stated that he was under time and profit constraints, etc. That was a red rag to a bull to the businesses which have no income or profit at all; he then received quite a bit of abuse.”
Around about this point Boston Borough Council Leader Peter Bedford announced a council plan to introduce a 50p charge for half an hour’s parking on the old Kwiksave car park.
Darron Abbott told us: “It was very swiftly and loudly pointed out that half an hour is not long enough to shop and browse, and it was suggested that free parking should be offered instead.”
A suggestion that the BID revenue should be used to subsidise parking, was said to have brought nervous shuffling from the company’s manager and chairman - and a suggestion it could be discussed at next week’s board meeting.
“The meeting continued with the same antagonistic person asking questions such as why it was supposed to have been a meeting for the invited few - and the town rangers were then blamed for not delivering all of the invites.
“That person then mentioned the sign on High Street that gave the impression that visitors should proceed no further.” (see photo at the top of the page.)
Apparently neither Boston town centre grand panjandrum Councillor Derek Richmond nor Phil Drury, the borough’s Strategic Director and deputy chief executive, had seen the sign on the High Street. Surely, two such top ranking representatives should have been better informed.
We wish we could have been there, as the meeting certainly sounds to have been a sight to behold.
What is clear is that not only is the refurbishment scheme failing to deliver, but so is Boston Borough Council if a fiasco like that is their idea of addressing the concerns of local businesses.
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