Friday, 18 May 2012

Week ending - our Friday miscellany of the week's news and events

  Off to a good start ...  a reader e-mailed yesterday afternoon to say: “As a pedestrian - I have just witnessed several irate motorists remonstrating with a PCSO! They have been issued with fixed penalty tickets for failing to park in marked bays in Boston Market Place. WHAT marked bays? If you enter the Market Place and stand in the middle, I defy anyone to spot a marked bay! On closer inspection it is just possible to make out a slightly different coloured stone pattern in some areas but they are not easy to spot - unless at close range. They are even more difficult to see when wet - all the stones go darker!  Unless the bays are painted white or yellow - the effect will be that far from encouraging shoppers to Boston - people will avoid it and go elsewhere. Struggling businesses have suffered major disruption during the last year - with no real hope of recovering lost earnings!  The town centre is now a more dangerous  place to negotiate through. There is no discernible marked roadway through the Market Place - it is a complete free for all and most hazardous  - whether on foot, cycle or in a vehicle. How long before a serious accident?  I understand this revamp has cost a couple of million pounds.  There was nothing wrong with the previous block paving. It had only been down a few years! The result of the new surface is poor -  whilst at the same time there is no money for much needed road repairs! What a waste!
There are outstanding questions about the decision by Boston Police and Boston Borough Council to order the early closure of the town’s May Fair last week. We calculate that the loss of business to the showmen must have been at least £10,000 – and wonder what assurances they may seek in the future to prevent the same thing happening again. Three years ago, the review of the fair by the council was mostly driven – as usual –  by cost. A 35% increase in charges was suggested so that the borough would not be out of pocket. It was claimed that it cost the council around £40,000 to host the fair  – which fell to less than £10,000 after rental charges. There was also an issue concerning the police presence  - with the possibility that they might  wish to recover their costs. In that event, the council planned to pass the charge on to  the showmen as well . At one stage it was suggested that the fair might vanish entirely. Is it possible that last week’s decision is the thin end of a wedge that has this in mind?
There seem to be differing views about how bad things were during the week of the fair - pictured on the left in happier days - back in 1945. Although a decision was taken to close it early, the town’s "police chief " repeatedly said that the problems were no worse than in previous years – which made the decision something of a mystery. But two events which concerned us in that same week were unrelated.  One  concerned a man walking along Carlton Road with what appeared to be an air rifle. Although he wasn’t making any threats and the gun was not loaded, he was “brought down” by a police dog and arrested. Not only that, but a police firearms team was also sent to the scene. As a weapon was involved in that incident we can perhaps appreciate the response. But in a second incident, armed officers were again deployed after reports that someone "damaged" a car with a gun in Union Place. On inspection, it emerged that the damage to the car was “inconsistent” with a firearm. Armed police sent out twice in a week? A phrase containing the words “sledgehammer” and “nut” comes to mind.
which moves us seamlessly on to last week’s Scrutiny Committee meeting which discussed the success or otherwise of the town’s Designated Public Place Order– which aims to control problems caused by drinking. The meeting heard  that a number of benches where people congregate to drink have been removed. A police officer said that this was a last resort after police patrols had been stepped up and monitoring had been unsuccessful. Benches on Windsor Bank and in the High Street were specifically mentioned. We know Windsor Bank very well, and can say with certainty that there has not been a serious police presence there  – real or otherwise – in 15 years. It is also becoming the norm to cut down bushes which people use as toilets. As with last week’s early closure of the May Fair, which played into the hands of drunks and troublemakers, we cannot help but feel that the public are the losers.
Something that goes hand in hand with street drinking is urinating in the street, and again it was interesting to note that it could be "demoted" from its present status - and dealt with instead under a separate restorative justice programme” currently being worked on in partnership with Boston Borough Council and Lincolnshire Police. Apparently this will involve culprits apologising to anyone they have offended. Welcome to Boston– soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime …
Only last week, we mentioned a letter to the local paper which asked what the fuss was about the Olympics. Having seen Boston Borough Council’s answers to "frequently asked questions" about the journey of the Olympic flame through Wrangle and Boston at the end of next month, we wonder whether that is really worth it as well. Roads will be closed for around an hour as the torch  passes along the route, whilst staff at businesses on the route are being encouraged to turn out and cheer. The council will also “appreciate” local firms welcoming the torch with decorations– so long as they do not include Olympic insignia “for brand protection purposes.” Deliveries may be affected for up to two hours on either side of the torch relay. The torchbearers will be accompanied by a convoy of as many as 14 vehicles - including cars, trucks and buses - and up to eight police motorcycles. Vehicle owners may not park on the route on the morning of the event – which doesn’t begin until shortly after 2pm. We don’t know how you feel – but it’s not our idea of a great day out!
Of course, between now and the Olympics is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee - and  as more and more information is emerging as to how local villages plan to celebrate,  one area where it seems seriously lacking is Boston Borough Council’s £5,000 extravaganza in the town’s Central Park. A couple of councillors made fools of themselves with the concept of a bowling match involving cabbages which will constitute a special world-record attempt. A picnic is to be staged – but YOU have provide it! Also mentioned - back in mid February - was live music, karaoke “to feature the number one hits down the years since the accession” dancing, traditional sports with special jubilee medals for the winners, games, and displays. There will also be the official turning on of an Elizabethan jubilee fountain in a Victorian garden – work that one out if you can! It’s now around a fortnight to the Big Day – but there is nothing more by way of information. Should there not soon be signs of the town becoming a blaze of patriotic red, white and blue. According to the council: “Commercial and business premises' owners are to be encouraged to bedeck their properties with red, white and blue and Boston BID (Business Improvement District) is to lend a helping hand.” That probably explains it, because …..
A week ago, we highlighted the BID’s inability to spell the word “Diamond” – which frequently appeared without the final letter in its lamentable “What’s On” coverage. We would have thought that  word might have reached them by now and that a correction would have been made. But no. Please don’t tell them, it would be a shame to wake them up.
During a recent flirtation with democracy, Boston Borough Council introduced e-petitions. They were briefly mandatory, but the compulsion was dropped as part of the Localism Bill. We suppose that may be why the opportunity to create a petition has disappeared from the council's  website. If you had a bee in your bonnet, raising a petition was a good safety valve. A couple that we can recall concerned the re-introduction of a borough dog warden, and an appeal for brown garden waste collection wheelie bins.

Now, the message above is what you see when you search for the e-petition facility on the borough website. Is it just another slice from the “Let them eat cake” brigade?
Earlier in this week’s effort, we mentioned our perceived shortcomings in the way that Boston is policed. These could soon pale into insignificance following the news that Lincoln's police station on West Parade could be sold and replaced with a “smaller facility to report crimes.” One of the forces erudite senior officers said: “We need something that's a visible and easily accessible facility … to all residents …it's not intended to be a police station … somewhere that's more of a facility that's open for certain hours of the day … whereby people can go and deal with any issues and report issues or crimes or concerns that they have … We hope that they are re-oiling the locks in the Guildhall, because it sounds as though it won’t be long before it is brought back into service …
Last night saw the call-in debate on Boston Borough Council’s cabinet decision to approve its controversial parking strategy- which includes charging disabled blue badge holders.  It included an appeal from the Boston Disability Forum,  which stressed that a non disabled person has the choice of: walking into town; driving into Boston but parking out of town and  then walking in; or accessing public transport - all of which mean they wouldn’t need to pay to park. BUT a disabled person is: unable to access public transport; unable to park out of town or walk in; and unable to walk into town. “Therefore they have NO CHOICE but to park near the shops for accessibility and pay to park, which on a reduced income they can't afford.” Would that cut any ice? We doubt it!
Finally – we were struck by this message on the Boston Protest March Facebook site during a recent discussion - just click on the image to see an enlarged version.

A change of heart, perhaps?

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  1. AnonymousMay 18, 2012

    I feel that a lot of the trouble could have been avoided if the police had cameras, there was fighting on several nights when i was there and the last night the police where out with a video camera.
    The people causing the trouble where out on the last night but saw the camera and dispersed. Why didn't the police use the cameras from the start, to see people running and trying to hit two police officers one lady and one man was shocking if one video camera had have been there im sure the fair wouldn't have had to be shut down early.

  2. 'Is it just another slice from the “Let them eat cake” brigade?'

    No - Just another set of rivets 'popping' on the good ship Boston Titanic. Deck chairs are being re-arranged as we speak - and the orchestra is striking up. Good grief, the deck is beginning to tip, I do believe ...........