Amidst the borough council’s financial affairs, comes news that the cabinet recommended writing off £156,000 in business debts – including several which had ceased trading … among them £38,850 from the town’s Subway sandwich shop. In one fell swoop that pretty well wiped out the savings of up to £40,000 on the council’s insurance contracts. We know that Subway is a franchise, but surely the parent company can be held to some sort of account – rather than just getting away with it. And why was the debt allowed to get so large? When the shop closed back in May, a spokesman said: “We hope to relocate this store in Boston town centre in the near future.” We hope that if Subway has the cheek to try such a stunt after hitting local taxpayers so hard that the council is bold enough to refuse the application.
A difference of views has arisen over a candidate fighting the forthcoming election for the Frampton and Holme ward on Boston Borough Council – made vacant by the resignation of Brian Rush. A reader writes to say that although candidate Maggie Peberdy is standing as an Independent, not so long ago Boston District Independent Councillor Richard Austin was claiming her as a candidate for the BDI. This was angrily denied by Councillor Austin, who says: “BDI is fielding no candidate and has never had any intention of doing so. We have never even asked Mrs Peberdy or any other individual to stand as a BDI candidate. I would be interested to know who is spreading this rumour.”
Atter last week’s wireless interview in which Councillor Leader Peter (“Simply the Best”) Bedford attempted to justify his cabinet’s secrecy and poor handling of public relations regarding the sale of the Assembly Rooms, a reader writes to say: “The bit where he says the owner wants to keep everything underneath (the Assembly Rooms) – well, the public toilet block is underneath! With regard to the claim that councillors could have come to the cabinet meeting, he says he invited two – so why didn't he extend a personal invitation to all? He is right about one thing, though. He is “simply the best, better than all the rest" – at misleading, back tracking, and being drunk with power with no thought for the people who elected him and his. … wait for it … Mugnificent Seven !!
Forgive us if we remain confused about the state of Boston’s weekly market. In the past couple of weeks, a clearly miffed portfolio holder Councillor Derek Richmond, has angrily denied claims that there are fewer stalls than before the refurbishment – and has gone so far as to say that there is in fact a waiting list. By contrast, the borough council’s annual report tells us: “Boston Market continues to thrive, with 88.95% occupancy, compared to the target of 82%.” This suggests that there is a deliberate policy of running the market at a lower capacity than is possible. But if so, why set a target of 82%, then let it to be exceeded by seven per-cent – when, assuming that there really is a waiting list, it would be possible to achieve 100% capacity – and be something to celebrate?
Allotment holders in the borough can be forgiven for feeling that their sense of irony is being tested with the news that the Broadfield Lane site might again welcome grow-it-yourselfers. Four years ago, the allotments were in the news when Boston Borough council issued eviction notices to tenants on behalf of a greedy local charity that wanted to make a huge profit from developing the site. The move more or less coincided with the economic slump and corresponding collapse of the housing market, so no building ever happened. If we were offered an allotment on that site now, we’d think twice – unless there were some strong assurances – rather than risk being thrown off again when the housing market improved. A further irony is that in 2008, while all this was going on – the Boston Town Area Committee was urged to pay to clear the Broadfield Lane site and "to avoid any adverse or damaging publicity with regard to the state of the site" – which had “an amount” of asbestos that required disposal. Four years on, last week’s BTAC meeting heard that asbestos abounds in old sheds on many council-run allotment sites around the borough. Funny how this hazardous stuff can be expensive to remove unless the council doesn’t want to meet the cost – when it’s apparently safe to leave it alone.
If ever proof was needed that speed cameras are largely a joke, other than being a money-making exercise, then it comes with the news that Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership has taken down the cameras on John Adams Way. What makes the news so daft is the announcement that the cameras have been useless for the past two years, because they have not had any film in them. Regular users of the road will testify that at certain times it is nothing more than a racetrack. Not only that, but the high incidence of drivers jumping red lights – which one day will lead to a serious pedestrian casualty – might well have been stemmed if the cameras had been in use. Without any sense of irony, the Road Safety Partnership says speed on the road will continue to be monitored, and that the cameras could return if average speeds increase. But how will they know?
Meanwhile, we note that Boston police have “spoken out” about street drinking in the town – particularly around the Herbert Ingram Memorial. And guess what they said? “If people don’t report incidents to us, we won’t know about them.” Amazing! Such “incidents” seem to run from dawn to dewy eve. Not only that, but the police claim that shrubbery was removed was to give the CCTV cameras a better view. What makes us so annoyed about this is that here we have a known problem which is happening virtually within view of the police station, and still the police will do anything rather than cross St Botolph’s footbridge to patrol the area a few times a day. Next year, of course, it will all be different, because the bridge is being replaced, and the police will have the excuse that they won’t be able to cross the river for half of the year.
On a similar subject, we are sure that readers of our local newspapers were appalled by the photographs showing the Market Place in the early hours before the Battle of Britain Parade in Sunday 16th September. We join wholeheartedly in the praise of Boston Borough Council’s Fen Road staff for clearing the area between 4am and 9am. What is sad is that they should need to turn out for an expensive exercise, and one which ought not to have been necessary. Clearly the amount of filth and litter abandoned in the streets gives the lie to the claim that central Boston after dark is a wholesome and peaceful place to be, as we are sure that this one Sunday morning was typical of many. And our Tory leaders are welcoming the idea of yet another night club in the area!
Yesterday, we mentioned the bonus that will head Boston College’s way when its De Montfort campus is sold for £1,500,000. It’s on the market thanks to Boston Borough Council – which leased it the Peter Paine Sports Centre for a song, which also led to it picking up another cool million in improvement grants. But now we hear that the college closed the Sage Restaurant, in Spalding's Red Lion Quarter, because it’s not commercially viable. The college recently bought the Red Lion Quarter from South Holland District Council for £2.4m, which at the time seemed a bargain as the project had cost around £6 million. We’ve said it before, but we preferred the good old days when colleges concentrated on education students and left business to the businessmen.
After all the fanfare surrounding the three year arts project in the Boston area funded with a £2.5 million grant from the Arts Council, we hear that although the programme has the active support of Boston Borough Council, that’s about as far as it goes. The bid was made by the South Holland and Boston “Creative People and Places Arts Consortium” to take art of all forms out to the community and into often isolated rural areas where access can be limited. At the time, Councillor Yvonne Gunter, portfolio holder for leisure services, described the grant we have received, as a fantastic achievement. She urged all involved in the arts locally, in whatever form, to embrace the opportunities becoming available. So why is everyone now so tepid about the idea?
We wonder how much attention will be paid to the views of local people after the announcement of a series of public meetings coming up in the town, where residents can air their views. The organiser of the meetings – Boston North West, County Councillor Andrea Jenkyns, says that they will cover topics such as welfare, immigration, Europe, schools and health. “We will collate their views and ideas and send them back centrally, which then gets formulated into a full report and sent to the relevant minister,” she is quoted as saying. The first meeting – on welfare – will be at Fenside Community Centre next Wednesday, and immigration will be on the agenda on November 8th … by which time we should all have had a chance to digest the recommendations of Boston Borough Council’s Task and Finish Group’s report on the impact of population change. The trouble is that – given the disinterest shown by our local “leadership” in the views of the people who elected them, we find it hard to believe that our views will cut any ice down in Whitehall.
It’s only last week that we commented on Boston Borough Council’s website prompting readers to support a non-council event - albeit a local one. So this week it was even more baffling to find an invitation to visit Gowrings Mobility Roadshow at the National Space Centre by ringing in advance for a free ticket. The “award winning national space centre” – then received a generous plug as a visitor attraction, and the company’s marketing director managed a quote as well. As far as we can tell, Gowrings has no local connections – neither to Boston nor Lincolnshire – and we wonder whether there aren’t better, more local events that the council’s website could be telling us about.
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