Monday, 30 April 2012

What a waste of time!


It seems that time is definitely not of the essence where anything to do with Boston’s Business Improvement District is concerned.
More than a year since a task and finish group looked at the way that the BID was run and recommended improvements, Boston Borough Council’s cabinet of curiosities last week finally got around to “noting” its  report and asking for one small suggestion that has not been adopted  to be implemented.
Whether or not it was the intention, the delay of 18 months since the Task and Finish Group was first mooted, has achieved little if anything by way of change – but it has allowed the BID to sail serenely on -  taking something like £200,000 from local levy payers in the meantime, and virtually ensuring that it will remain unchallenged until the expiry of its five-year operating period at the end of next year.
Perhaps this is because the borough council more or less sat back and let the BID justify its own existence at the end of the 12 month period which it was given to get its act together.
With monotonous regularity the BID has trotted out the same list of achievements over the past year or so.
The include the ridiculously expensive 3d maps complete with several errors, and the tourist information point boards – removed and refurbished at a “secret location” before being reinstated.
Since then we have heard much about joining the Britain in Bloom contest run by the Royal Horticultural Society – though little about what that specifically entails.
There is mention of a Family Event to "promote" Boston and increase "visitor footfall" – but when and where it will take place is still a mystery.
There is also the Portas Pilot scheme, for which Boston BID was the lead applicant - although many others were involved.  The forms went in a few weeks ago after a series of rewrites to make it look halfway decent, and was accompanied by one of the most bizarre videos we have seen which allegedly aimed to promote Boston.
The condition that Boston BID should not undertake work on projects which are the responsibility of other organisations - such as the council or this police - is not being adhered to. The outcome is that businesses which became unwilling BID “members” simply by being in the organisation’s area, are effectively paying twice and are forced to hand over their levy or be hounded through the courts by Boston Borough Council.
BID has also “joined the social networking revolution” and now has a presence on Twitter and Facebook as well as its website – where its “latest news” is now a month old.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the BID’s income goes on the town rangers and the manager’s salary – a total of 59% … with a further 14% on overheads.
At last week’s Cabinet meeting, the BID manager Niall Armstrong at least had the good grace to acknowledge that what improvements have been made need to continue - particularly in relation to communication between the BID and the businesses.
The best the Cabinet could come up with was a call for a "public speaking" session at the start of each BID board meeting - to let members ask questions or raise issues of concern.  This was something recommended by the Task and Finish Group which had not been implemented. 
So that’s it.
Eighteen months of discussion and debate, in around ten committee meetings has culminated in the borough council doing next to nothing apart from accepting the BID’s version of how good it is.
The official minute says: “The Cabinet expressed general support for Boston BID and recognised the progress it had made since the Task and Finish Group report.  The Leader thanked Mr. Armstrong for attending the meeting and for the work carried out by BID in partnership with the council and other organisations.”
Why are we not surprised at the way things have turned out?

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


Friday, 27 April 2012

Our Friday miscellany of the week's news and events

Yesterday’s blog on car parking and the inequalities of allowing borough council staff and members a free pass while the rest of us have to pay, yielded some interesting information. It appears that one borough councillor gifted with a conscience has worked out what his or her “free” parking is worth - and chips in the appropriate amount from his/her allowance. If all other councillors did the same, we reckon that it could pay between £2,500 and £3,000 back into the system. It may sound like a drop in the ocean - but at least it would be a nod to the Tory claims that “we are all in this together.”
As the Boston Borough Council Task and Finish group - which is looking at the pressures caused by immigration - continues its evidence gathering sessions, we are reminded that senior councillors and officers from the other district councils in Lincolnshire agreed to attend a meeting about immigration in Boston. The invitation was issued by council leader Peter Bedford, who argued that immigration affected Lincolnshire as a whole - not just a local area. When the meeting was announced – around two months ago – we were told that neither a date nor an agenda had been set … which still appears to be the case. After so long, we are beginning to wonder whether the idea has been quietly dropped.
Meanwhile, a reader salutes our “spot on summary” of events at the Task and Finish group. “To date it has been a politically correct whitewash,” he writes. “The police inspector disagreed with the report in the local press that more foreign drivers have been convicted of drink driving and motoring offences than the indigenous population, and  appeared surprised when the reporter told him that the figures had come from  the Road Safety Partnership. At the meeting with union representatives and the job centre manager, the union reps were adamant that the influx of some 30,000 immigrants into Boston has had no detrimental effect on the job market at all….  It appears that as long as the unions get their subs and the union reps keep their well-paid jobs it's of no consequence who pays for it. I don't suppose yesterday’s meeting with the head teachers will have been any different. They will have to toe the line for fear of rocking the boat and putting themselves in the firing line -  plus of course the government pours in lots more resources to schools with large numbers of immigrant children …  so you have to ask why are  they going to complain.  The problem is the government and all the organisations that rule our sorry lives think we are all stupid and live in la-la land.”
Apparently, some people completing the coupons in the local “newspapers” to register an interest in the brown bin garden waste collection scheme, were left a little red-faced when they presented them at Worst Street and were then asked to stump up their £20 as well. A similar “registration” scheme, which had  also appeared on the borough’s website vanished shortly afterwards. Now, the only way is to pay up – although there were problems doing that online for a couple of days earlier in the week. Even now, it is not easy. The steps to follow are 1: Click on the “Make a payment tab.” 2: Click on the “Make an online payment” tab.  3: Click on the “Other payments” link. 4: Click on the “garden waste collection” link. – it’s one of the options in a column of thirty-four choices (see right.)  5: In the box that drops down, click on the arrow next to “select one” – and select the only  one option that appears …  “Garden Waste Bin - One Off payment.”  And then … at last … an application  form appears. Surely, a simple “click here” link from the front page of the website to the form would do much to simplify things and possibly encourage more people to sign up. We understand that bins aren’t being ordered until the council decides that a reasonable number of applications have been made. Something that gives us a frisson of fear is the boast this week that just 37 people have so far paid for a bin, and 203 have expressed interest. Two hundred and forty households out of around 26,000 –  set against an earlier deadline of 14th  May when registrations were being taken – makes us wonder what the council will do if too few people want the service … as it is banning existing collections of garden waste from green wheelie bins once the new service takes effect. We are also  intrigued by the offer on the borough website of a chance to “WIN your BIN.” That’s all it says. Would someone tell us more, please?
Monday’s blog about preserving the names of the Skirbeck and Pilgrim wards because of their heritage connections struck a chord with Independent Boston Borough Councillor for Witham Ward, Carol Taylor. “During the past two weeks I have learned about the wonderful history of Skirbeck and confess to not knowing anything about it before Reverend Noble educated me on the subject,” she e-mails.  “This has now led me to investigate further not only the historical background of Boston, but also the ward I represent. It is clear that Boston leaves many other towns/cities in the shade when it comes to heritage. Boston Borough Council has in its midst Councillor Paul Mould, who has an incredible knowledge concerning this very topic and is an accomplished author.  I think it would be remiss if we don't utilise this gentleman's knowledge to further enhance the promotion of history/heritage. Would it not be possible for Councillor Mould to be given portfolio status in recognition that this subject is a matter of great pride to all of us in Boston and the surrounding areas? I realise that heritage already has a portfolio holder, but why not break with tradition and have heritage/history as a separate entity to attract visitors -  but more importantly the education of our children and indeed people like me,  so that great pride is at the forefront in Boston.”  The current holder of the heritage portfolio is none other than the Respected and Beloved Leader, Councillor Peter Bedford, who numbers - among his borough council responsibilities - coastal strategy, strategic planning, conservation, the local development framework, county and regional partnerships, transformation programme, development control, port of Boston, regeneration, and media. On top of that the man who needs two deputies is a bigwig at County Hall as well. So perhaps it might be an goexcellent suggestion to hand responsibilty for heritage to someone who knows whereof he speaks!
One of those stories that appears from nowhere is currently doing the rounds. It concerns last week’s sausage and mash supper at the Conservative Club to mark St George’s Day and raise funds for the Mayor’s pet charities.  The tale goes that as 8pm arrived, the food didn’t – and there was a frantic rush around the corner to make the shortage good with fish and chips from Tate’s. Did it happen? We asked Boston Borough Council. They didn’t reply.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that little has been heard about the forthcoming Jubilee party in Central Park which is being paid for by the Boston Town Area Committee. Although £5,000 was set aside for the event, we hear that half of that will now be spent as,  only around 1,000 visitors are expected – and the lion’s share of the money will go on portable loos.  We’re told that there will be no bunting, no fireworks - but there will be two ladies in Polish national dress for some reason.  The cabbage bowing will go ahead as planned, and there are dire murmurings about some stuff and nonsense involving Morris Dancing. The word karaoke is also being muttered alongside the name of a venerable councillor.
Ironically, in the same week that Independent borough Councillor Ossy Snell has written to the local press about the lack of support from Lincolnshire County Council for a Boston bypass, there is more news of the county’s largesse elsewhere in this respect. Plans have been announced for a relief road and up to 4,000 new houses in Grantham with County Hall putting up £30m for the new road. The county said that the plans would help deal with a growing population and ease congestion through the town centre. As well as building new housing estates, the scheme will include schools and shopping facilities. County Council Leader Martin Hill said: "The new road will help remove traffic from the town centre as well as service the new homes and businesses. We have made provision for it within our budget to help speed up its construction." As Councillor Snell points out, as far as Boston is concerned, County Hall feels that we don’t need a bypass because they have improved our walking and cycling routes, and the Into Town bus service. That’s all very fine if you are fit enough to walk or cycle, or if the bus passes near your front door.  What make matters even worse is that not only does Boston urgently need a bypass, some extra homes and schools would be very welcome as well. When will our local conservative “leaders” start rattling Lincoln’s cage to stop Boston being treated as a second class town, we wonder?
For reasons that we cannot understand, we are often accused of having a bit of a down on Boston Borough Council. So we are happy to take up cudgels on its behalf following a letter in one of our local “newspapers” which accused the borough of over-charging for the removal of large items of rubbish.  The item in question was a sofa – and the charge to collect it and dispose of it was £15. The writer of the letter felt that such a cost made fly tipping acceptable. Rubbish – if you will excuse the word!. It takes two people and a vehicle to make a special trip to a specific address before loading a heavy and bulky item aboard and then delivering it to the tip. Try whichever man in a white van that you wish, but we are sure that you will get no change from at least £25 - with no guarantee that your sofa won't be fly-tipped. The Borough Council service is helpful, available, affordable and efficient.
A reader has been in touch to express disappointment
at the response from the Boston Standard to a story on its website (see our picture on the right.) When the fuel tanker drivers' talks broke down last week the Standard’s response was to run a story in the local news section accompanied by no fewer than three video clips of panicking drivers queuing for fuel some weeks ago.  A protest to the editor evoked a reply from his deputy: “As is common with all media, be it broadcast or print, we used recent archive footage to show the events that happened in the town. It is made clear in the body of the text that this video relates back to the beginning of April. It is clear that the story is of great interest to our readers, particularly in an area so reliant on fuelto get around. For that reason we put on a short piece outlining the latest news on the matter.” Later, word went around the town of motorists queuing for fuel in a repeat of the panic at the beginning of the month. Co-incidence, perhaps?  Our reader sent another e-mail expressing concern about this, but no reply was forthcoming.  And guess what, the news that a further round of talks had been held and adjourned with no immediate threat of a strike have gone unreported – but yesterday the panic reports were still there.
All this reminded us of a passage from Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel “Scoop,” about journalists and journalism - and an anecdote concerning the fictional Wenlock Jakes, the highest paid journalist in America: “Once Jakes went out to cover a revolution in one of the Balkan capitals. He overslept in his carriage, woke up at the wrong station, didn't know any different, got out, went straight to a hotel, and cabled off a thousand word story about barricades in the streets, flaming churches, machine guns answering the rattle of his typewriter as he wrote, a dead child, like a broken doll, spreadeagled in the deserted roadway below his window .... That day every special [reporter] in Europe got orders to rush to the new revolution. They arrived in shoals. Everything seemed quiet enough, but it was as much as their jobs were worth to say so, with Jakes filing a thousand words of blood and thunder a day. So they chimed in too. Government stocks dropped, financial pains, state of emergency declared, army mobilized, famine, mutiny -- and in less than a week there was an honest to God revolution underway, just as Jakes had said. There's the power of the press for you.” Agreed. Power without responsibility!
Finally ...  we ahve been prpomised Cabbage bowling,  and the possibility of Morris Dancing.  So what else could Boston Borough Council come up with to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee? We stumbled  across one record attempt that took our fancy in the form of a world record bid for bee handling, which took place recently in China. Could it work in Central Park? And is there a councillor brave enough to pose for this photo opportunity? But if so ,  who could differentiate between the bees and the silly B’s? Answers on a postcard, please.



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


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Adopting Pilgrim
parking plan
would spare
council's blushes

We received a rapid response to Tuesday's blog  about Boston Borough Council’s parking "strategy” – which has at its core the idea that drivers ultimately foot the bill for anything that is done, and may even end up paying to park outside their own houses.
An e-mail reminded us: “Whilst the council is busy increasing cost of parking, reducing length of stay, introducing permits, increasing the cost of permits, charging more when demand is at its highest, charging blue badge holders and introducing robust measures to police these plans, it is worth remembering that council staff can still have their free parking permits!"
To be honest, the issue of free parking for staff and councillors was something that had slipped our mind – which was perhaps the general idea.
It first came into the spotlight when the council was debating increasing overall fees and charging blue badge holders to park – a move that would generate more than £160,000 in a full year.
And yet, for a council that claims to be so hard up, there was no plan to with withdraw the free parking perk for West Street that costs around £100,000 a year.
In fact the cause was championed by two council cabinet members.
Boston Town Centre portfolio holder Derek Richmond was quoted as saying that the council  had been let off “as it was thought they had faced enough hardship recently, accepting a two year pay freeze and dealing with other restrictions.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Raymond Singleton-McGuire – who drew up this year’s budget – added: “They have taken a hit and they have been restricted.”
This, of course, conveniently overlooked the fact that in this economic crisis we have all “taken a hit.” Many people have lost their jobs, wages in many other areas have been frozen as well - so Boston Borough Council is by no means unique.
Since that debate, workers at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital have been told that they will have to pay for parking from the beginning of next month.
Let’s not forget that many of these people are poorly paid, and have also “taken a hit” with a two-year pay freeze for staff earning more than £21,000 a year.
Parking charges will vary from £115 a year for lower paid staff to £240 for senior grades.
In Boston, a year’s parking season ticket costs £328.
However, the way that United Lincolnshire Hospitals will administer the scheme is through what is called  Salary Sacrifice, ” which sees a reduction in pay to the tune of the parking charge – and so has the benefit of  reducing tax, national insurance and pension payments … which would mean savings of between 30% and 50%, depending on pay grades.
If such a scheme were to be adopted by Boston Borough Council, staff would pay for their parking - at a reduced rate which would be affordable and fair.
The money raised by the scheme at the hospital will provide for further investment – something which is badly needed in Boston's car parks  – which the council reckons need around £400,000 to bring to a decent standard.
A sensible charge for staff and councillors would go a long way towards offsetting this bill.
Whilst senior Tory figures at the council have tried long and hard to justify the free parking scheme, we would remind them that  - in the words of David Cameron - we are supposed to be “in this together” ...  and to continue this perk is a denial of this concept.
There is also a moral aspect to this,  because it is wrong for an organisation which sets the charges to exclude its own people just because it can  - whilst forcing the rest of us to stump up.
According to the council, free parking “is part of the pay and conditions agreement with staff that they are provided with car parking to carry out their work.”
This suggests that it applies to staff who need to use their vehicles during working hours – despite the fact that the council leases cars for that purpose.
We are quite sure that many of those who park for nothing lock their cars at 8-45am and don’t unlock them again until they head for home. This is not using your car to carry out your work.
Public money is being lost here, and the current economic climate is not one where it can be justifiable to give it away.


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


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Immigration committee
debates education issues
 - but will much be learned?

click to enlarge photo
Tomorrow sees the third meeting of the task and finish group looking at the Social Impact of Population Change on Boston – which this time will focus on education.
It comes at an interesting time, as the Lincolnshire Observatory has just published the current figures for the ethnic breakdown of the local schools’ population, which show that around 12% of pupils in Boston borough are from European countries – more than 1,100 of the 8,773 total and by far the highest for any district council in Lincolnshire.
Among the people giving evidence at tomorrow’s session are Adrian Reed, head teacher at Haven High Technology College, Amanda Mozek, the Principal of Boston College, Martin Lister, head of Hawthorne Tree primary school, and Bridget Macpherson, head teacher at Park primary school.
Intriguingly, local farmer Sarah Dawson, Chairman of National Board for Horticulture and Potatoes, will also be attending to ask questions.
These meetings have settled into a pattern since they began, with the questions largely being asked by the Boston Protest March Group – which called and then postponed a planned march after Boston Borough Council decided at long last to address immigration issues in the town.
Tomorrow’s questions to the educationalists include asking how schools are managing to cope with the sudden influx of non-English speaking children, and  how their arrival affects what goes on in the classroom?
A claim  which is regularly aired – that  local children are being denied local school places because they have been taken by migrant children – is accompanied by the question “do you feel this is fair, and if so why?”
The experts are also to be asked if schools get any sort of financial help when they accept migrant pupils; what percentage of their school is migrant and what is the highest percentage they would feel happy to accept; and whether their schools employ, or have a translator or a foreign speaking teacher.
These are just some of the points likely to be raised, and they are all valid, but - based on what has emerged from earlier committee meetings - we  cannot be confident that tomorrow’s session will be particularly productive.
This is because guests at previous sessions have firmly rejected the long-held and in some cases clearly correct beliefs about immigration by questioners, and have been reluctant to abandon the politically correct line.
At the first meeting of the group, Boston’s most senior police officer claimed that language differences created a misconception about immigration, and there were no more migrant offenders than any other group.
Similarly, he argued that the litter problems caused by foreign beer cans were not just caused by migrant drinkers.
"There are some foreign nationals who do that, but there are an awful lot of English and Boston people who do that too.”
On the same lines, when employment issues were discussed three weeks ago, it was declared by local trade unionists that immigration into Boston has had no impact on job availability for local people, and  farmer Ms Dawson, declared that local people do not want to work in packhouses and food processing plants.
Indeed, she went further:  “It seems to come down to three key things. The lack of work ethic in terms of poor time-keeping and shoddy workmanship, a lack of enthusiasm and a disengagement with the work itself.”
We wonder whether her attendance tomorrow is to plead for the inclusion in the local curriculum of special courses on salad packing and caulie cutting  to help improve recruitment.
Given the story so far, we somehow doubt that tomorrow’s meeting will break the mould, as we are sure that none of the school or college experts will admit for one moment that they are unable to cope.
The best they might own up to are a few operational difficulties and pressures.
All of this must surely be making life difficult for the members of the Task and Finish group, who will have their work cut out for them when it comes to making their final assessment of the situation.
It's not a task that we envy them.

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


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Parking "strategy"uses sledgehammer to crack drivers' nuts


After all the chaos concerning car parking in recent weeks, it comes as something of a surprise to find that Boston Borough Council actually has a strategy for the coming five years – which is to be debated by the council’s cabinet of curiosities tomorrow.
Yet again, it depends on the iron fist in the iron glove approach, with the number one objective of improving traffic flow and reducing congestion.
A report says that key to this is the introduction of civil parking enforcement to provide a robust on-street parking enforcement regime in Boston.
Hand in glove with this is an evaluation of the feasibility of introducing residents parking schemes in congested residential streets which – whilst it could cost £30,000 to £50,000 per scheme to set up - would be offset by selling permits.
There is also a proposal to evaluate a park-and-ride scheme to link with the Into Town bus service. Next on the list is increasing the availability of on and off-street parking in areas of highest demand. Headlines from this include increasing “turnover” (i.e. profiting from car drivers) by enforcing compliance with maximum parking periods; introducing on-street pay and display parking in the areas of highest demand for parking; encouraging greater use of longer-stay car parks - possibly by increasing tariffs in short stay car parks and reducing tariffs in long stay car parks - and reviewing current season ticket and trader permit schemes to see if concessions could be offered to residents, local businesses and their employees to promote greater use of long stay car parks – but at no cost to the council.
Oddly, whilst the idea seems to be to drive the locals out of the town centre where possible, the reverse seems true for visitors, with the proposed provision of “sufficient” centrally located dedicated coach parking spaces to guarantee that coaches continue to visit the town.
And again, whilst any concessions to local people have to be cost neutral, the report says that there may be a need to consider incentives for coach companies.
“Any incentives that reduce parking charges would have an impact on the council’s overall parking income but may benefit businesses in the town.”
And whilst the need for dedicated parking for the disabled is mentioned several times, it is in tandem with considering the introduction of “alternative means of paying for parking for specific user groups who may find it difficult to use parking meters.”
In other words, forget about keeping free parking for blue badge holders, or introducing user friendly parking ticket dispensers – the idea seems to be to cobble together yet another back of a fag packet production to save money.
A few other snippets that caught our eye included a suggestion to introduce hand-held devices and printers to issue parking tickets.
This will cost the council about £1,000 a unit but "could be offset by an increase in the payment rate for ECNs (excess charge notices.)
Another plan to buy dedicated ticket processing software would cost around £5,000 plus £2,000 per year to operate “but will be offset by service efficiencies and an increased recovery rate for ECNs.” And on top of all this, it’s reckoned that the council will need to spend around £400,000 on car park refurbishment.
Yet again, it seems to be a case of using local drivers to pay through the nose and still return a huge profit for the council.
Interestingly, whilst the council appears to be a big fan of the Mary Portas High Street Review, it is not mentioned once in the report on parking strategy.
Could this be because the Portas Review identifies parking as one of the main factors that needs to change if high streets are to be successful – with number nine on the list of 28 recommendations proposing: “Local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres and we should have a new parking league table.”
What?
And wave goodbye to all that lovely money?
Perish the thought.

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

Monday, 23 April 2012

Skirbeck - from Domesday
to doomsday ...
unless commonsense
prevails


Click on the picture to enlarge it ...


If you think that renaming a few Boston Borough Council wards would be something that would almost slide through on the nod, then it seems that you would be wrong.
An electoral review of Boston by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England has recommended reducing the number of borough councillors from 32 to 30 - with a corresponding reduction in the number of wards from 18 to 16.
Among other things, the idea is to make sure that the number of electors in each ward is as similar as possible, and to ensure that a councillor is able to effectively represent his or her division
Reshaping the ward areas has meant renaming some of them.
So at some point in the future, we’ll be seeing the emergence of names such as Trinity, College and Haven wards and losing names such as Pilgrim and Skirbeck.
And it’s the loss of the latter name which is causing so much consternation.
Skirbeck as a village settlement is older than Boston, and was so resilient that it had its own parish council until it was absorbed into Boston amid great protests in 1931.
Skirbeck is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Boston is not.
St Nicholas Church in Skirbeck dates from the 12th century, and is the oldest church in Boston – older even than Boston Stump. St Nicholas – appropriately for a coastal town and port –   is the patron saint of sailors.
It’s not clear who has come up with the new names that that have been proposed – Boston Borough Council, or the Boundary Commission.
But in a letter to the local press, the Rector of St Nicholas, Father Paul Noble says: “Unless there is some change to names, the council will effectively remove from the map the existence of a place which has a long and proud history and which does not deserve to be condemned to oblivion now.”
We entirely agree, and are absolutely flabbergasted that the name should be dumped to casually.
Among the other ward names to go is Pilgrim - which has another association with the town’s history – and one  that we would have thought the great and the good would have wanted to maintain.
Admittedly, the new names do what it says on the packet – for example, College Ward leaves you in no doubt about where you live.
A report to Boston Borough Council claims: “We have used the parish areas as building blocks when looking at options for proposed wards. Parish Councils represent democracy at its most local level and it is likely that parishes would be largely unaffected by the proposed wards as people will still associate with their parish regardless of which ward they live in.
“However, on balance, greater weight has been placed on strong boundaries and maintaining community identity, when mapping wards with an underlying aim of equality of representation.”
There seems little by way of maintaining community identity in abandoning reference to what was a true building block in the shape of the very first village in the area – and one which is steeped in history.
The present parish includes the Hussey Tower., the former Boston Workhouse, and was once home to St Leonard’s Hospital, which was founded around 1220 and held by the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem from about 1230.
Our picture at the top of the page shows the present ward pattern on the left, and the proposed new map on the right.
Unhelpfully, we can find nothing that relates the numbers with the proposed new names.
Surely, with a little bit of imagination and tinkering, the names of Skirbeck and Pilgrim could be retained.
It seems ironic, that a borough which is so proud of its history, should so casually discard one ward name that predated Boston and another that links to our transatlantic heritage.
Commonsense time, please.


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


Friday, 20 April 2012

Our Friday miscellany of the week's news and events

Independent Lincolnshire County Councillor Ray Newell has won support from a fellow independent on Boston Borough Council – after his concerns for the future of the town appeared in a county newspaper. Councillor Carol Taylor, who is a full time nurse with 40 years’ experience, has added her fears that although much extra house building is needed, nowhere is there any mention of a new hospital. She says: “Both Lincoln and Pilgrim have reached their capacity to develop further and it is clear to me that a new hospital between Lincoln and Boston must surely have been or will be addressed. My main concern for this issue is that “Legoland” will be built at the expense of the health of the people of Boston and surrounding areas but, alas, those in power have yet to consider the potential catastrophic effect this development will have on the Healthcare of the general public. For those of you who missed the letters we mentioned in Tuesday’s blog you can read them by clicking on the thumbnail on the right.
Daft quote of the week … #1 – “The veg used in the cabbage bowling will not go to waste. They will be the most important vegetables in Boston and indeed Lincolnshire on this day.”  – Conservative Councillor Mark Baker, creator of the cabbage bowling tournament, defending the event in a letter to a local paper.
Given all the health issues facing Boston, the news that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley may visit  the town later this month will surely get many people thinking up questions to ask him. The minister may talk to senior figures and staff at the Pilgrim Hospital and local GPs to discuss patient needs. But it is thought likely that Mr Lansley will NOT speak to the press - “due to local elections elsewhere.”  As Boston has so many health and related issues, what a marvellous technicality this provides to get him conveniently off the hook then, doesn’t it?
Daft quote of the week … #2  – “The event will be promoting Lincolnshire as 'the' county which puts vegetables on the plate of the country and indeed further a field (sic)”  – Conservative Councillor Mark Baker, creator of the cabbage bowling tournament, defending the event in a letter to a local paper.
We have been long-standing critics of CCTV as a means of policing for many years. And we feel that one of our arguments was reinforced this week after accounts that a man threw a traffic cone at the main window of Oldrids and caused £5,000 damage. Before that, he was seen kicking shop doors and trying to push over a sign on the town bridge. When John Milton wrote the famous line “They also serve who only stand and wait,” we are sure that he didn’t intend it to be taken literally. If the CCTV operators had  had the gumption - the common sense - to mobilise the police and report the incident on the bridge, the  subsequent damage to the window might well have been avoided.
How helpful can you get? A feature in the Boston Standard to mark the third anniversary of Boston’s Endeavour Radio includes a photo captioned “putting a face to the radio voices … meet some members of the Endeavour team." So far so good – except that newspapers are not an audio medium, and the picture did not tell us who the presenters were. If it had, we could then have tuned in and “put a face to the voice!”
Daft quote of the week … #3   – “The winner of the Bowling Greens World Championship will also have a great opportunity to promote Lincolnshire vegetables and the workers who work so hard to produce and supply it to the rest of the UK and beyond.”  – Conservative Councillor Mark Baker, creator of the cabbage bowling tournament, defending the event in a letter to a local paper.
Our sense of irony was piqued this week by a report on the borough council website which began: “The playing field at Old Leake is now just what the village ordered - thanks to a wish-list drawn up by children and the small matter of £67,500.” What made us smile was that the Mayor of Boston, Councillor Mary Wright, officially opened the new play area. Is this the same Councillor Mary Wright who declared “it’s only £1,000” at the recent BTAC meeting which approved that sum  for a pavement graffiti project. It surely is! How big do the sums have to be before they cease to be small, we wonder?

Back in February, the town’s bid for Boston in Bloom was launched as part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom contest. But this week it emerged that communities across the land are pulling out, and thousands of bulbs which have been ordered and paid for by local committees may not even be planted due to the drought. Local councils are said to be holding crisis talks with the Environment Agency and water companies to find ways to water public flowerbeds and hanging baskets - which is normally done by volunteers. Is it a case of unlucky timing or just another example the Boston Effect
Daft quote of the week … #4  – “The short-term use of a few cabbages plans to increase the awareness of Lincolnshire's ground workers and the valuable produce they grow and distribute and hopefully encourage more people to buy locally.”  –  Conservative Councillor Mark Baker, creator of the cabbage bowling tournament, defending the event in a letter to a local paper.
Yet another new blog has appeared on the internet - with Boston as the butt of its jokes. However, parts of it made us smile, and those of you who would like to share the joke can find it by clicking here
Adverts appeared in the local press this week exhorting us to book our £20 brown wheelie bins if we want our garden waste taking away in future. Not for the first time, the borough council is employing the carrot and stick approach – but without the carrot. The borough says: “The service is optional, and there is no obligation for you to take part, but we are confident that gardeners will know a good deal when they see it and will appreciate that our convenient garden waste collection service can save time and money, in terms of no longer having to take their waste to the tip.”  Hang on a mo ...  didn't we use our green bins before that? The bottom line is that either you buy a bin for £20 and your waste will be collected or you don’t – and it won’t;  as garden rubbish will no longer be taken away in green bins as previously. And if you think that you can get away with it – think again. In answer to the question “What happens if I do put garden waste into my green bin?” the borough website says: “We will be asking our collection staff to be vigilant, as they are with our recycling collections (and we all know what that means,)  and to report where any issues arise. Your green bin will not be emptied and you will need to take your garden waste out and dispose of it yourself …” And if you’re a little strapped for cash,  don’t even think about asking for an easy payment plan. “Payment must be up front, but you can 'buy' into the scheme at any time of the year.” It's fair to say that we anticipate some problems in the weeks and months ahead.
It’s now two months since Boston’s Labour deputy leader Councillor Paul Gleeson wrote to the Chief Executive of the Audit Commission asking for an investigation the way in to the way in which the borough’s Chief Executive, Richard Harbord, is paid. We know that the post is not as good as it used to be ( the Royal Mail,  of course, not the Chief Executive)  but shouldn’t some sort of response be forthcoming fairly soon?
Daft quote of the week … #5  – “On top of all the promotion provided by these cabbages, which after all will be rolled along the ground from which they were harvested, could still be edible, in which case they will be available for the public to help themselves to at the end of the day. If not, I am sure they could be used to feed Lincolnshire farm animals or the birds in the park's aviary.”  –  Conservative Councillor Mark Baker, creator of the cabbage bowling tournament, defending the event in a letter to a local paper.
We thought that “let them eat cake” was bad enough. But “let them eat cabbage, and bruised ones at that"  –  before they go to the farm animals  – really takes the biscuit, if you'll excuse the mixed metaphors! Incidentally, is cabbage bowling the only event that we are getting for our council tax? Don’t forget that Boston Borough Council – through  its  friendly bank BTAC – has thrown £5,000 at this knees up.

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

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Tories are urged to abandon disabled parking charges   After a quiet spell since the initial uproar, the plan to charge disabled Blue Badge holders to park in Boston has been raised yet again.
The borough council’s Labour group has been looking at the approach by a couple of other local authorities towards parking charges for blue badge holders,  and come up with some worrying figures - which make nonsense of our Conservative leadership claims that the idea will be a money raiser.
The Tories say that charging the disabled will raise £80,000 of vital income, and one of them – town centre portfolio jefe Councillor Derek Richmond - even concocted the ludicrous argument: “If an able bodied person pays for a parking space, why shouldn’t a disabled person? They have a disability – 99% of them do not have a financial problem.
Disabled people do not like to be discriminated against.”
And let’s not forget that in the same breath Councillor Richmond defended the decision to continue to allow councillors and staff to park free of charge – which creates a potential revenue loss to the council of more than £100,000.
Staff had been let off “as it was thought they had faced enough hardship recently, accepting a two year pay freeze and dealing with other restrictions” – the suggestion apparently being that the rest of us ...  aka the riff-raff ... have somehow escaped any similar treatment.
During the discussions about the plan - which eventually allowed the concession of an hour’s extra free parking for  blue badge holders  to hobble back to their cars - it was pointed out that current parking ticket dispensers are not disabled user friendly, and that more easily accessible machines will need to be installed.
The cost of this to taxpayers has now been highlighted by Labour, who say that installing 56 disability-  friendly parking meters in Lincoln was almost £200,000.
And although new meters were brought in after complaints that some disabled motorists could not use existing parking meters, there is still a question mark over their suitability - with Disabled Motoring UK, the charity for disabled drivers, passengers and blue badge holders, asserting that none of the meters presently being sold as “DDA” compliant actually are.
On its website, Labour says: “We have always been opposed to the idea of removing free disabled parking in Boston. We find £199,000 for these machines in Lincoln to be an incredible amount of money, especially as Boston Borough Council is now set to follow suit in its car parks.
“We have argued that the cash spent on these machines would have been better spent on keeping free services for disabled drivers, rather than installing machines that weren’t wanted.
“Boston’s Conservative administration is expecting the disabled parking charges to generate significant revenue every year.
But records of how many disabled people use Boston’s car parks have never been kept, making the projections a “shot in the dark”.
The cost of new meters in Lincoln is around £3,600 per machine – and Boston Eye reckons that the number of machines will be little different than Boston, which operates 24 car parks - many which have more than one ticket machine.
Nearby Peterborough has abandoned charging the disabled. Their meters were also not disability friendly – but they took the more sensible view than rather waste a fortune on new machines, to continue free parking for blue badge holders.
“All that will happen in Boston is that blue badge holders will legitimately park on our streets causing potential blockages in our town,” says Labour.
“We have also been made aware of two firms of lawyers who specialise in supporting disabled people in making claims against organisations who discriminate against them. They work on a no-win, no-fee basis … with successful claims normally being settled in the range of £2,000 to £3,000 - potentially more cost to the council.
“Can the cost of each meter really be worth the cost of charging disabled people for blue badge parking in Boston?
“We would urge our Conservative councillors to do a U-turn on this ill thought out plan to charge blue badge holders.”

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

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Don't let narrow rules straitjacket ideas for better markets  The first tottering steps to bring more life to Boston’s renovated Market Place and the rest of the town centre were discussed at a meeting of Boston Borough Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee yesterday.
The idea is to allow additional street trading not only in the Market Place but also Strait Bargate and the Wide Bargate loading bay area by W H Smith.
For almost a quarter of a century, trading in these areas has been prohibited – but the idea now is to remove that restriction and encourage small “themed” markets on days other than normal market days.
We’d like to be more precise, but a copy of the proposed area for street trading mentioned in the report has not been made available to the hoi polloi.
But examples of such markets would be craft markets, continental markets and community markets.
As with all such ideas, the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.
Whilst wanting to offer attractive events that will make life more entertaining for residents and also hopefully attract more visitors to Boston, a self imposed set of rules could straitjacket things from the outset.
To ensure the market charter is not breached, traders selling goods of a similar type to those sold on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and which could damage those markets, will not normally be allowed.
The report goes on to say that the council will want to see high standards in terms of the quality and presentation of goods sold.
“We would want to ensure that any new traders did not unnecessarily undermine the existing businesses; either those that come to Boston on Wednesdays and Saturdays as part of the Boston Market, or the more permanent businesses that surround the Market Place.
“New traders and stalls would be allowed on the basis that they bring wider choice; greater vibrancy and assist in making the town centre a more attractive place to visit and shop in.”
Superficially, these are fine words, but given the variety of goods sold by shops in the Market Place and in the twice weekly stall market, coming up with something new is going to be a very tough challenge indeed.
The report mentions community markets – but what little we can discover about them suggests that they are little more than extended farmers’ markets.
Our present farmers’ market is a pitiful affair,  - especially when you consider that it takes place in the heartland of the nation’s food growing area. For years it has included such things as ostrich meat, herbs,  venison and smoked sausage – with not a fresh vegetable in sight. Given the rules that exist to protect the chartered market, we wonder whether farmers are banned for selling such produce from their stalls.
Whatever the reason, the Boston Farmers’ Market needs to buck its ideas up and  live up to its name. Ironically, it does not appear on the national farmers’ market website – although one in rural Westminster does!
Continental markets? We have have something vaguely approaching one from time to time, but we’re not sure whether a “genuine” such market could be held on anything like a regular basis.
If we really want to be distinct and different, why not consider branching out a little more ambitiously?
How about a monthly book market? Or one for toys, antiques, or gardeners?
Although the report says that re-designating the whole of the Market Place and Strait Bargate plus the Wide Bargate loading bay would provide flexibility to allow trading across the whole area rather than limiting it to defined areas – there is one fly in the ointment that needs addressing.
Yes, you’ve guessed it – the Into Town bus service.
Would you want to run a stall in Strait Bargate with these noisy monsters passing every few minutes -  spraying you and your stock with exhaust fumes and drowing out your attempts to do business with their deafening alarms?
We have said it before, and we are not ashamed to repeat it …
There is no place for buses to run alongside pedestrians in Boston.
The refurbishment of the Market Place, and the sensible decision to expand attractions and services in the area cannot work hand in glove with buses.
They can – and must – be re-routed.

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

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Q: Who Ray? ...
A: a County Councillor
who cares about Boston ... While our leader snipes and passes the buck ...

The favouritism shown by Lincolnshire County Council towards Lincoln – and the way that Boston suffers in comparison – has been starkly highlighted in letters from two county politicians in last week’s Lincolnshire Echo.
One comes from County Council Leader Martin Hill, who almost chokes on the superlatives as he declares his belief that Lincoln today is “a city on the brink” - not of decline, but of a really exciting new chapter .
“The city is far better placed for the future than many others around the country,” he claims, and continues: “Given its importance to the local area, that's good news not just for Lincoln, but for the whole of Lincolnshire and the wider region.”
Excuse us whilst we step outside to scream, as none of the "good news" that follows in any way helps Boston.
The long-awaited dualling of the A46 to Leicester will "put Lincoln well and truly on the map, giving it a first-class road link to the rest of the country. Just as important is the Lincoln eastern bypass ...  greatly improving traffic flows throughout the region. Lincoln itself will also benefit from a new east-west link.”
In the business sector, he cites developments which could potentially attract £500 million in investment over the next 10 to 15 years; a planning application for a huge redevelopment  that will transform the city's shopping; new hotels springing up to cater for the growing numbers of business visitors and tourists;  whilst Lincoln Castle has been awarded £12 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project that will include a new vault to showcase the Magna Carta in time for its 800th anniversary in 2015.
“The scheme could boost the value of tourism to the city by up to 55%, generating £68 million for the local economy and creating 1,100 new jobs.”
A wonderful prediction of growth and prosperity for all – if you live in and around Lincoln.
Contrast that with a letter in the same newspaper from Independent Boston County Councillor Ray Newell, headed: Population explosion is a social time bomb.
He highlights an Office of National Statistics prediction that Boston's population will increase by 19.4% by 2020 – which will mean another 12,000 residents.
“Boston's percentage rise in population will be less than one and a half per cent below that of Barking and Dagenham, which is the second highest in England.
“This 12,000 increase in population for Boston is absolutely massive. To put it into perspective, it is more than the present total population of Mablethorpe or Sleaford. It is an increase larger than the present population of Kirton, Coningsby, Sibsey, Benington, Frampton and Frithville combined.
“I, and very many independents and other local people, have warned for years, that this situation was developing.
“In 2009 the birth rate in Boston was the highest in the UK. Boston's Total Fertility Rate was 2.8, and I suspect, still rising. Just think of the additional number of houses that are required; the additional number of jobs and the additional number of school places. Then think about the total increased number of services required.
“Where will they, and the resources needed, come from?”
He asks: “What planning has been undertaken to meet this explosion?
“Because that is what it is. A population explosion – a preventable catastrophe - and an opportunity.
“I fear for Boston and its future.”
Councillor Newell has sent copies of the two newspaper items to various members of the great and the good – including local MP Mark Simmonds and his fellow Boston county councillors … all of whom are Conservative.
He tells them: “Boston already has huge and unlimited EU inward migration, coupled with one of the largest percentage of local, unqualified workers, in the whole country!  They are trapped in a low waged, declining, agricultural environment, with the most crowded road in Lincolnshire.
Boston's future, and that of its people, is indeed bleak!”
So far, he has received one less than eloquent or fluent response - from county councillor and Boston Borough Council Leader Peter Bedford -  who says: “I am sorry that as a county councillor for Boston you always seem to look at the negatives. Just for a moment stop and look at the issues that you have highlighted and some of the reason (sic) why.
“Boston for the electoral period 2007-2011 was under the control of a one issue administration of which you were an executive member on the cabinet through na├»ve and inexperience (sic) your one aim was to get a Bypass now dropped from your parties (sic) name.
“When you came into power you were repeatedly told that until you had a Local Plan in place that could not happen but for four years you did nothing but ponder. Boston’s future now looks brighter as our administration is talking to the E.A. (Environment Agency) the County Council partners who could and will help to deliver a better Boston.
“The Joint local plan which is being formed with South Holland Boston and County Council in partnership is progressing and will as part of it have a proposed route for a distributor road.
“Talks with the E.A. are on going to get the flood risk issues resolved so that developers can deliver much of what you ask for in this letter. So yes let’s get behind Boston be positive and lets (sic) deliver a better Boston for all.”
We suspect that this debate is not yet over.
In the past Boston Eye has poked some fun at Councillor Newell – but there is no doubt that he is now highlighting serious local issues, and we congratulate him for it.
The sad thing is that our local Tories at County Hall seem happy to dance on the  first class deck whilst the good ship RMS Boston sinks slowly to the bottom of life’s ocean.
Perhaps they do not understand what life on the poop deck is like in the town.
And  what a pity that the council "leader" has resorted to the feeblest political trick of  all – blaming it on the previous administration.

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

Monday, 16 April 2012

Now you see it ...
click to enlarge photo
... now you don't

We don’t know about you, but if we held shares in a company turning over tens of millions of pounds with an annual budget of around £10 million and a staff of 275, we’d assume that the people who ran the firm would be pretty busy.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case at Boston Borough Council – where the next meeting of the full council “with the agreement of the Mayor**” has just been cancelled “due to insufficient business.”
Earlier this year, we remarked on the borough’s laid back approach when a number of other meetings were cancelled for the same reason – and we observed that a fallow month in the calendar could be an excellent time to get ahead of the jobs that need doing, rather than simply taking it easy.
Apparently, though, this is not the case. For a council that is struggling to balance the books and with a leadership totally devoid of ideas, you might think that a meeting of minds at which all councillors could contribute would be a get-together worth having.
But no.
There is “not enough business.”
Since the decision some years ago to run a cabinet-style operation at the council, the bulk of day-to-day decision making is taken by just seven people, and selected items are then rubber-stamped by the council as a whole.
We say “rubber-stamped” because as the Conservatives have an overall majority in the council chamber there is no way that a vote will go against the cabinet – unless some Tories rebel … which is as likely as hell freezing over.
It is quite clear that many more decisions are taken behind the scenes, but we seldom hear about them – despite a promise of greater transparency made when the current leaders were begging for our votes.
As with such accidental structures, we wonder whether our cabinet is truly of the quality that it should be –  especially when so few decide so much.
And with such a tiny representation, we think it would be helpful if members could make more effort to attend, as we note that - of the last nine cabinet meetings, no fewer than four had absentees.
However, once the cabinet makes its "mind" up, a decision is unlikely to fail – especially with an army of backbench Tories who never speak and do the leadership’s bidding in their sleep.
Even if there really is “not enough business” to warrant a council meeting,  the decision denies non-Conservative members a basic right – to challenge and question the executive’s work and decisions.
In recent months, questions to portfolio holders from non-Conservative elected members have seen issues raised such as the communication problems in Boston’s Business “Improvement” District, staff pension concerns, the funding of Boston Stump, and broadband provision .
Often there are half a dozen questions from elected members at meetings, and members of the public also have an opportunity to raise points of concern with portfolio holders.
Surely, that is business enough in its own right?
The so-called “transparency” of the authority has proved to be little more than gesture politics.
Attendance records are patchy and therefore unhelpful when it comes to seeing who goes to which meetings.
An on-line register of members’ interests is “coming shortly” having been fended off for doubtful reasons for many months since it was first requested.
And wouldn’t it be interesting to know how councillors actually voted on the few issues that do come before them, so that we punters could see what line they followed on particular matters of interest to us?
Even the list of spending on items costing more than £500 is now presented in a format that is harder to explore than before, and which is no longer “flexible” which means columns cannot be navigated to find information.
But it’s not all bad news.
At least one other full council meeting scheduled for April is going ahead.
Wednesday will see the presentation of Community Service Awards, which the borough instigated in 1980, and which honours three or four residents for their contribution to the community.
It’s a peculiar thing, as it is little publicised, and in the recent past appears to have taken the form of people being nominated for awards by local councillors who have known them for years.
We think that it is really well overdue for an overhaul – and also perhaps a change of date  - as it now clashes with the much larger and heavily publicised Pride Awards run by the Boston Standard.
However, one big thing in its favour is a £500 buffet, plus a £150 drinks trolley – and travel claims for the members who do bother to go.
We mention the latter because a couple of years or so ago only 18 of the borough’s 32 councillors bothered to attend a meeting that lasted little more than half an hour.
Let’s hope  that in case of a repeat of that instance everyone has taken a doggy bag or two!
Insufficient business” – our Eye!

**Quote from the Mayor at a planning meeting on 25th May last year: “Women have far more important things to do, like cook dinner and look after their husbands and families than attend meetings in the evenings.”

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

Friday, 13 April 2012

Our Friday miscellany of the week's news and events
Despite – or perhaps because of – our outrage at an application to the Boston Town Area Committee for £1,000 to celebrate volunteering by chalking on the pavement outside the Len Medlock Centre, the money will be paid. Whilst the voting was close, it really does seem that some BTAC members have no sense of values in these straitened times. We hear that the phrase “It’s only £1,000” was uttered at one point by a councillor we regularly quote, and whom we thought was old enough to know better. Instead it merely serves to underline the crass, dismissive attitude of some towards the taxpayers who provide that money, and – more importantly – who elected the councillors who fritter it away it so absurdly.
On a similar theme, as the first anniversary of the Tory landslide that took control of Boston Borough Council nears, it is interesting to note the lack of interest by so many members in the people they promised to serve. A recent list of councillors available at local “surgeries” or in person to deal with local issues totalled just ten out of the 32 member council – and a mere three of the 18 strong Tory ruling group. The phrase familiarity breeds contempt would spring to mind – except that the contempt seems to have set in ahead of the familiarity.
A few days after we queried the outcome of the “peer review” of Boston Borough Council by visitors from other authorities and the Local Government Association, an item appeared on Boston Borough Council’s website. One of the reviewers, Councillor Peter Fleming, the leader of Sevenoaks District Council, told Worst Street staff: "You should be rightly proud of the authority you've got and the direction you are going in." The borough declared the review “fairly successful.” It added: “In our case the peers found a lot of good practice and made ten or so recommendations of areas where we might do things differently. This was very valuable and we will be reporting on those recommendations with action plans in due course.” Hopefully we will hear about them in due course.
Earlier this year we pointed out a dilemma facing Boston Borough Council after local sprinter Bernice Wilson received a four year athletics ban for doping offences. Ms Wilson, who has trained at the Princess Royal Sports Arena in Boston, appeared on the borough’s Roll of Achievement – and we speculated on whether the powers-that-be would consider removing her entry. Our question has now been answered, as a recent look at the Roll of Achievement - now maundering in a dusty corner of the borough’s website after having never really taken off - shows that Ms Wilson is  now conspicuous by her absence.
A recent report on the BBC’s website claimed that the work to refurbish Boston’s 500-year-old market place had almost finished. This we have to see, we thought, and tottered into town expecting to see the eighth wonder of the world. Presumably, the Beeb were short of local news on that day – or perhaps even shorter than usual -  because the Market Place appeared little different to the last time we looked. The source of this "news" turned out to be a pot-boiler press release from Lincolnshire County Council – and we wonder whey they couldn’t have waited a few weeks longer to celebrate the real conclusion of the work. Perhaps they’re desperate to say something good about Boston for a change?  However, it didn’t stop one of our local papers running the piece – even though the true situation was just a few steps away from the office if they had taken the trouble to look.
Every time that we compare Boston Business Improvement District with Lincoln’s equivalent – Lincoln BIG - we are struck by how different they are and how much better the latter is. The latest idea from Lincoln is the re-introduction of an open topped bus tour of 12 tourist attractions in the city. Granted, such a scheme would not work in Boston, but as the Market Place totters on the brink of re-opening, we are disappointed at the deafening silence from the BID about how it plans to utilise the space. Imaginative use of the area is something which would seem to be more the responsibility of business than the council, although we suspect that events involving vegetables may well be staged from time to time. The Market Place needs to stage regular and varied activities so that it becomes known as a place worth visiting for a different day out. After all the fine words spoken about the refurbishment, please don’t let it become another missed opportunity.
Talking of vegetables, the ill-judged plan to play cabbage bowls at the Jubilee knees up in Central Park seem increasingly to be rebounding on the borough council’s Tory misrulers. What appeared at first sight to be yet another excuse for a photocall has now attracted criticism from four other members of the council. They are pointing out the waste of food and the inappropriateness of the stunt when many people are finding the rising cost of putting meals on the table is making life difficult for them and their families. If the “leadership” had any sense, they would replace the real vegetables with a paper or plastic substitute – like in the days of Crackerjack’s “double or drop” competition. But we shan’t hold our breath.
It seems a little late to be asking what the East Midlands Development Association has done for us now that it has been wound up. There was general agreement during its lifetime that it tended to favour Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire rather than the region’s country cousin. Not that anything much seems to have changed now that it has been partially replaced by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Their list of projects to date makes no mention of Boston – and the nearest to us so far is the £6,500,000 Red Lion Quarter in Spalding where the project team identified an “urgent need” for the facilities that this development had on offer. That’s not quite how it turned out, though, as the scheme fell flat on its face within a few months – and the building has now been sold to Boston College by South Holland District Council. We hope that someone, somewhere, is making the case for Boston whenever grants are made.
Not that this appears to be the case as far as a bypass for the town is concerned. Although Spalding, Grantham and Lincoln are all getting new roads, an analysis in this week’s Boston Standard quotes  council leader Peter Bedford saying that we have to be “realistic” and that in time we will get a “distributor” road. Why is the man settling for second best? Not only that, but why is he cooling his heels by saying that a road can be discussed as part of the preparation of a local plan for the borough over the coming two years? Funding of a distributor road will  apparently come from developments along it – a form of local construction tax. But surely, the  long running and seldom challenged argument that Boston is unattractive to developers because it is considered a flood risk area with low quality employment opportunities will stifle any proposed new homes or business plans. The general view from the bridge seems to be that whilst by-passes are for other towns, people in Boston can use the bus, cycle, or walk.
There seems to be a conflict of opinion over whether native Bostonians are work-shy when it comes to taking up jobs on the land and in the packhouses. The farming viewpoint was summarised by an NFU representative  at the most recent borough council Task and Finish group investigating immigration issues who claimed:  “It seems to come down to three key things. The lack of work ethic in terms of poor time-keeping and shoddy workmanship, a lack of enthusiasm and a disengagement with the work itself.”  Ask many of the contributors to various websites about immigration and like issues in the Boston area, and they will tell you that they have been priced out of the market and marginalised.
We fear that the NFU lady is over-generalising – even though she claims to have “evidence” that employers have been unsuccessful even when they went “above and beyond the call of duty to employ UK citizens. If nothing else, it is essential to find out the truth – especially as trade unionists are insisting that the arrival of EU immigrants has had “no impact” on job availability for local people. As they said in the X Files – “the truth is out there.” We just need to find it.

Meanwhile – and despite claims such as those mentioned above that local people do not apply for jobs on the land, there is talk of “an awareness demo” in Wrangle where farming giant Staples has applied to extend the number of caravans in its “village” by 22 – to house a further 130 migrant “students” employed under a government scheme that sees them “train” for six months before returning home. It’s not that long ago that one of the great delights on a shiny night of the county’s farming industry was to salute individuals who had dedicated a lifetime to the same employer, and whose families were similarly employed. Low grade honours were often awarded to them, but the sense of pride from the recipients was incalculable. We find it hard to believe that so much has changed in so short a time.
Finally, they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we think that someone needs an eye test after the claim in this week’s Boston Target that “Fydell House is Boston’s grandest house, in one of the town’s grandest positions.”
Grand?
Here’s the view from the front gate so that you can make your own mind up.

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Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com