Friday, 13 July 2012

It was ironic to read a letter to the editor of the Boston Target from borough councillor Mike Gilbert trotting out the pathetic line that charging disabled blue badge holders to park was a symbol of the borough council’s dedication to treating us all fairly – rather than a clumsy and thoughtless mechanism to boost the council’s faltering finances by tens of thousands of pounds. The letter concluded: “…blue badge holders can feel confident they are paying their way like everyone else. Equality indeed. The irony? Only one inequality now remains in Boston as far as parking charges are concerned. It is that staff and councillors at Boston Borough Council are still allowed to park free – at a “cost” of more than £100,000 to taxpayers. The reason? They have “taken a hit” in terms of pay freezes, and have seen redundancies at Worst Street.  Unlike the rest of us, of course.  Perhaps Councillor Gilbert would like to tell our readers how he justifies the inequality that he is permitted to enjoy. We quote Orwell again. “All animals are equal – but some animals are more equal than others.”
It’s now possible to put some numbers on this perk. Two hundred and seventy one free parking passes have been issued, which if paid for would cost £320 a year each. The permits are allocated to staff and other council organisations.  How a council that is so hard up can cynically cling on to rewarding itself in this way beggars belief. Interestingly, Lincolnshire County Council staff working out of the West Street offices pay for their parking – which shows that someone at County Hall has a conscience ... even though one is apparently lacking at a local level.
Even though he cleverly conceals his talents, we are sure that Boston’s town centre majordomo Councillor Derek Richmond would not number photography among them. Although his picture  of the Five Lamps replica (right) was the first to appear – on the borough council’s website – it lacked focus and composition … including as it did a road sign and a pile of interlocking barriers and cones in the shot. Having said that, the picture was taken in difficult conditions on the rainy morning that the replica was erected. But what was really disappointing was  to see the selfsame photo reproduced in this week’s Boston Standard. The distance between the Standard offices in Church Lane and the Five Lamps cannot be more than a few yards – and yet the hacks were too idle to leave their offices for five minutes to take a quality picture of this excellent addition to the Market Place.
When we praised the replica earlier in the week, we had no idea of what it might have cost.  Since then, we have checked some prices and seen that a close equivalent is a replica cast iron column and lantern in The Mall, at Clifton, Bristol – which cost £48,000 … but if the picture we found of it was correct, it was much smaller. Nonetheless the Five Lamps replica is excellent. All that needs to happen now is for it to be placed as a focal point in the Market Place, and not dumped as an afterthought in the middle of a bus stop. And one other thing that struck one of our readers was the news that the lamps will be officially switched on by Boston’s Mayor, Councillor Colin Brotherton at 1-30pm tomorrow. Quite sensibly, our reader raised the point that this is a strange time to turn on a set of lights – if it’s a sunny day, then no-one will see them.
Talking of the Market Place, we mentioned last week about the random parking and driving that makes it a worse place than before for pedestrians. Last week we said that more needed to be done to alert drivers to the need to park in designated bays only – and to advise people who ignored the rules.  Whilst we didn’t expect anyone to heed our suggestion, we did not expect the reverse of it to be the case. Earlier this week, as once again we took our life in our hands to cross the Market Place, we observed that all but one of these advisory signs were piled up – one in front of the other – and leaned against the wall surrounding the Ingram Memorial … giving motorists the perfect get-out for saying “we didn’t know we couldn’t park.”
We note from the Boston Borough Council website that a display of paintings to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee has gone up in the “Atrium Art Gallery”  - ie  the Worst Street foyer. They came from an event staged by the South Lincolnshire Community Volunteer Service, which included inviting people to chalk on the pavements outside the Len Medlock Centre. It co-incided with an event to celebrate volunteering -  for which the SLCVS had already received a grant of £5,000. On top of that the group asked the  Boston Town Area Committee for a further £1,000 to fund the "art" event. What puzzles us is the council claim that the paintings “can now be seen for free” in the Atrium – when in fact they have cost Boston taxpayers a small fortune.
At least six of the nine bands lined up to play at Boston Business Improvement District’s free concert on Central Park on 21st July are local – and whilst this is no bad thing, we have to say that it makes it harder to understand why the event is costing  local businesses £10,000. Perhaps it is just as well that the event is free, because the lack of publicity with eight days to go seems unlikely to pack the punters in.  Still, this is Boston BID, don’t forget – where they continue to believe that their application to be a Portas Pilot “has as good a chance as any in being successful” – even though the results were announced a month ago – as which we have pointed out every week since - without them amending their website. Mind you, it’s not only the BID that is  backward in coming forward. It’s now more than a week since we asked the organisers for more details of the event so that we could publicise it. Guess what? We have not received a reply! We’re torn between christening the event Sadstonbury or Deaf Aid!
click to enlarge picture
We mentioned the other week that we had heard of some discreet lobbying to try to generate a “no” vote on the proposed protest march in Boston to draw attention to the high level of immigration. But we hadn’t reckoned that Boston Borough Council was so prescient. As our picture on the right shows, it apparently reported the result on 29th June - three days before the meeting took place.
The other day, we heard - amidst great fanfare - of the hanging of bunting along Wormgate as part of a campaign to "revitalise" the historic shopping street. The idea was that the red, white and blue bunting, and flags of nations would stay up to mark the London Olympics and then a street party in early September as Wormgate was closed to traffic. Now we hear that the bunting will be taken down again later today. Something to do with health and safety, and Boston Borough Council declaring that it has not been strung high enough!
Yet again we  are disappointed to read that  the authorities are taking the easy option to deal with anti-social behaviour.  It is reported that a number of public benches have been removed by the Boston Town Area Committee “to try to stop anti-social behaviour and help the town’s Britain in Bloom effort.”  The benches are at the Carlton Road/Sleaford Road junction, Frampton Place, Haven Bank, Fishtoft Road, High Street, Witham Country Park and Windsor Bank, and will vanish for a three month trial.  BTAC will also help fund the removal of shrubs that “hide litter and anti-social behaviour hotspots.” Boston’s police chief calls the trial “very sensible” but then he would, wouldn’t he, because it saves the police some work. Certainly, the decision apparently did nothing to help Boston’s Britain in Bloom effort, as we hear that the judges were distinctly underwhelmed when they came to assess our offering last week. Aside from the police response, we are reminded that that Boston Borough Council has a dedicated "team" which is supposed to deal with anti-social behaviour. So what do they do all day?  And why are we letting the baddies win?                                  
Some people might think that is a step too far, but this sign on a farm gate tickled our fancy. The farmer said it was a sign of our multi-lingual times and necessary to prevent local migrant workers from coming to harm if they strayed into the wrong field.
Boston Borough Council is a big fan of printing its notices in as many languages as possible, and given the subject – Beware of the Bull” – we thought that it could make a useful contribution to our local politics if it were hung on the council chamber doors whilst Cabinet meetings were in progress!
There will be no Boston Eye next week, because we are taking a break. We will be back on Monday 23rd July. However you can still reach us via e-mail with your news and comments, and we look forward to hearing from you.

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