Our Friday miscellany
of the week's
news and eventsOur question about where the Lincolnshire County Council staff were coming from to take over two floors of Boston Borough Council’s West Street offices has been answered. LCC wants to quit Boston’s County Hall to save money – it currently costs £192,000 a year to run the building. It houses the registration office, adult social care, children’s services, Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership and business support. And it is home to Boston Library, which will also have to move. Yet again, the plan highlights a lack of foresight by those who spend our council tax so freely. Just two years ago - on Monday 22nd February 2010 to be precise - the library reopened to a big fanfare after a costly refit. We can’t recall the exact price, but similar makeovers at other county libraries were in the region of £100,000. And now they want to move it. Aside from the fact that this is a colossal waste of our money, could we at least suggest one wholly suitable location which, coincidentally, is another council white elephant.
The now closed and on-the-market Haven Gallery (right) is in the town’s Arts Quarter. It is bright and spacious, and has a lift and disabled access - all of which makes it ideal for use as a library. It could also be used to display some of the town’s paintings and artefacts, which the Haven should have done but never really got round to.
Before it moves, Boston Library is to become only one of two in the county taking part in a regional pilot project to help people find online information about health and social care issues more easily. The other library is in Birchwood, near Lincoln - one of the city's most deprived areas. Library staff have been trained to help customers find local health and social care websites on the internet, and each library computer will also point users to NHS Choices and other local health care websites. It all sounds very helpful – but also potentially expensive for somewhere such as Boston, which is already overburdened in this particular area.!
Don Ransome, a Wyberton parish councillor and UKIP activist, writes to Boston Eye to say that whilst he wishes Boston Borough Councillor and Labour group leader Paul Kenny good luck as chairman of the Task and Finish group discussing local immigration issues, he questions if he is the right man for the task. “In the 2005 General Election, he said the solution to the migrant worker influx was ‘to build more houses for them,’" writes Councillor Ransome. “I do hope he has seen sense since then, I really do.” By way of consolation, he adds: “I actually get on well with Paul and these are genuine doubts, meant with no disrespect to the man.”
Despite local protests, Lincolnshire County Council is persisting with a trial six-month ban on drivers turning right from Sleaford Road into Brothertoft Road. We use this road a lot, and have to say that we have seldom encountered much by way of problems. County Hall says it will be monitoring the experiment closely and will make it permanent if the trial is successful. We take that as meaning it will become permanent, regardless. According to a county highways officer, the ban is the “culmination of a number of initiatives to keep people moving in the town.” By an interesting coincidence, yesterday saw us heading out of town across the junction of Spilsby Road, Freiston Road and Willoughby Road, which was the subject of another highways initiative, and variously denounced in the days of the BBI as a “death trap” and, ludicrously, “the road rage capital of Europe” Fellow road users will recall that until the County Council intervened, drivers waited at the lights in two lanes, then raced frantically to force their way to the front as the roads merged into a single carriageway. After sixteen weeks of roadworks, the highways department unveiled a new junction … at which drivers wait at the lights in two lanes, then race frantically to force their way to the front as the roads merge into a single carriageway. Lincolnshire County Council calls this “initiatives to keep people moving.” Boston Eye calls it pointless and ineffectual tinkering.
Meanwhile, LCC tells us that plans to deliver further improvements for cyclists around the town are being investigated - including routes to Pilgrim Hospital, routes along Windsor Bank and Witham Bank, and improvements to the National Cycle Network route at South Square and Haven Bridge. Lincoln gets another bypass. Boston gets cycle tracks. If they’re trying to tell us something, they couldn’t make it much clearer! The idea of cycle routes on footways such as Windsor Bank and Witham Bank are all very fine if they are separate and distinct, and don’t make life even worse for pedestrians who often already find themselves at considerable risk from two-wheeled riders who ignore the cycling bans in force. At present neither of the footpaths named are wide enough for pedestrians and cyclists to co-exist in safety.
We welcome the news that Boston Borough Council is to continue to say prayers before the start of full council meetings. Not so much for reasons of faith, but because we feared that our overly politically correct leadership would not hesitate to fall in line after this week’s High Court ruling that prayers were not lawful. It seems that the decision was largely down to technicalities, and so our leaders are not actually being that brave - but we’re glad that the tradition will remain in Boston. A cynic might say that the council needs all the help it can get!Last week we mentioned that Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue will soon have one of the UK’s largest flood rescue capabilities when it takes delivery of ten new rescue boats. The availability of these boats is something that has been vigorously pursued by Boston West County Councillor Ramonde Newell, since the boat that was once based here in town was moved to Spalding. Last week’s announcement from County Hall said that the exact locations for the boats had not been determined, but in a statement to today’s County Council meeting in Lincoln Councillor Peter Robinson, Lincolnshire’s Executive member for Community Safety, will say that the boats will be launched ceremonially on 28th March, and adds: “They will be deployed to whole time manned fire stations, including Boston.”
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We wonder whether Boston is in line for a bold new innovation from Lincolnshire Police. For some while now there has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of prisoners between Boston and Spalding after the latter’s police cells were closed to save money. Now we hear that the police plan a £200 million contract with the private firm G4S to build a new two-storey custody suite with 30 cells. Although the location of the cells is still to be decided, the Boston area must surely be a prime candidate given the local concerns about the state of the cells that has recently been expressed.
Whilst household recycling figures in Lincolnshire remain encouraging, with the county recycling 52% of its waste, Boston is still the name which crops up as the guilty party which is dragging the rest of the place down. County Councillor Lewis Strange, Lincolnshire’s Executive member for Waste Services and Green Issues says: “If Boston joined the other districts in recycling their green waste stream, our total recycling figures should improve by a couple of percentage points." Recently published figures for 2010 put the borough at the bottom of the compost heap with a meagre 29% of recycling - whereas the top recyclers, West Lindsey, manage 56% .
The saga of Boston Borough Council’s vanishing website stories continues. Last week we mentioned the tale of a “giveaway” of unwanted materials such as paving slabs, bricks, kerbstones and other construction materials - which public bodies and charitable organisations could apparently have for the asking, - but which vanished within hours of being posted. On Friday, just before knocking-off time, a report appeared about the burst water main in the Market Place. It ended with the promise: “More information will be posted as it becomes available.” The message remained on the website throughout the weekend and into Monday morning, before it … vanished - without another word. People may have been relying on their council for information that they didn't get. The moral? Don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
More news of the antics of Boston’s former Chief Executive, Mark James, who’s now chief executive at Carmarthenshire County Council. We’ve mentioned before the tough line he takes with local bloggers - in particularly Jacqui Thompson, who writes one entitled Carmarthenshire Planning Problems. Mr James has already been instrumental in getting Mrs Thompson arrested after she filmed a council meeting on her cellphone. Subsequently, Mrs Thompson issued a libel writ against Mr James, alleging that comments he posted on a blog were libellous. Now, according to local newspaper reports, Mr James is counter-suing as well as defending – and the council has agreed to foot the bill! All of this reminds us of Mr James’s spell in Boston, and the scheme to build the Princess Royal Sports Arena – which he claimed would not cost local taxpayers a penny. Once in Carmarthen, a similar scheme was launched to construct a multi-million pound rugby and athletics arena, which has also cost local taxpayers a fortune.
Has this week’s Boston Standard inadvertently reproduced a howler from a quarter of a century ago? The paper’s Pages from the Past tell of a 1987 visit to a local school by a Mexican guitarist “simply known as One.”
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One of the most popular names in Mexico is, of course Juan – which has two entries in the nation’s top twenty list. Imagine the scenario 25 years ago. Reporter: And what's your name? Guitarist: Juan. Reporter: One? Guitarist: Si, Juan. As the pronunciation of Juan is … One, and we're talking about the Boston Standard here, the potential for disaster is inescapable!
Finally, in the interest of even-handedness, we reproduce this unforgivable pun from the Boston Target.
Sometime puns work well, and are funny. On other occasions they fail because they misuse words, and are pretty tasteless, and this is one of those times. Aside from that, the issue is probably no laughing matter - as we are sure that anyone requiring ankle replacement surgery will confirm!.
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