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 naïve 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.
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