Why does Boston always seem to be the afterthought on everyone's list?As we mentioned yesterday, Lincolnshire County Council’s Executive will this morning be recommended to approve its £11 million contribution towards the Boston flood barrier scheme.
It had delayed the decision for a month because it wanted to explore the possibility of the barrier being open for more than seven months of the year – which is what is planned at present.
This is because the County Hall contribution is to deliver the second phase of the
Fens Waterways Link.
For the link to work, the barrier has to retain water upstream to an agreed level, mirroring the operating level of the Witham, so that the Haven becomes suitable for novice and weekend boaters “facilitating ambition to boost navigation, tourism and riverside regeneration.”
When we talked about the barrier yesterday, it was in the context of protecting Boston from flooding – with all the benefits this brings … such as the opportunity to build much-needed extra housing in the quantity needed for local people.
There is also the appeal that a better protected area will have for business - not to mention the expectation that insurance companies might at last stop fleecing us with high premiums when we are at relatively low risk – despite what the Environment Agency says.
But Lincolnshire County Council seems to have the tourism bit firmly between its teeth as far as the barrier is concerned.
Today’s report talks of opportunities to re-establish the link between the town and the river, which would improve its townscape and historic character - and potential for recreational riverside improvements including walking, cycling, angling and the provision of marinas, and moorings.
Much has already been done in terms of walking, cycling and angling, and we doubt that marinas and moorings will do a great deal to benefit the population of one of the poorest paid areas in the country.
The report mentions regenerating the Boston waterfront to encourage business opportunities within the town centre and to optimise economic benefits – yet it also notes the possibility of moving the town’s fishing fleet downstream of the barrier, and providing new floating pontoon moorings for other existing River Witham users.
A key thrust of the tourism aims “will help achieve a significant milestone of the Fens
Waterways Link vision to connect the cathedral cities of Lincoln, Ely and Peterborough,” says the report.
Note that there is no mention of Boston Stump.
Yes, we know that it isn’t a cathedral. But it is one of the greatest – if not the highest ranking parish churches in the land – so wouldn't it be a grand idea to add it to this prestigious list.
It seems almost as if County Hall regards Boston as a useful way station for the Fens Waterways Link – somewhere that travellers can moor their boats and get a good night’s sleep – before moving on to something far more interesting.
Yet again we have a feeling that our town is regarded as a poor relation to Lincoln – where lottery funding of £12 million to “transform Lincoln Castle into a world class tourist attraction” has been won following "gruelling and detailed" applications by Lincolnshire County Council which is also chipping in more than £5 million.
At the moments, all poor little Boston needs as a starter for ten is for someone to donate £3,000 to light the Stump after dark throughout the year.
Even our own borough council, which can find £20,000 for a skate park, £10,000 for a “Victorian” garden, and £5,000 for a jubilee party, seems inexplicably strapped for cash when it comes to making the jewel in the town’s crown visible for miles around.
And although the report talks up regenerating the town’s waterfront to encourage business opportunities within the town centre, we heard a few weeks’ ago how suggestions from Boston’s Central Neighbourhood Panel were dismissed by Boston Borough Council on the grounds that there was no money for such a plan.
One would have thought that a good idea like that could become one of the famous “partnerships” that Worst Street is always bragging about – but apparently not even that possibility was mentioned.
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