Monday, 23 April 2012

Skirbeck - from Domesday
to doomsday ...
unless commonsense

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.

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