As the uproar surrounding the secret sale of Boston’s Assembly Rooms continues unabated, the mystery is inevitably beginning to unravel. New information which we will be sharing with you in the days ahead includes the news that there is almost no hope of the public toilets being saved. We are told that they have been earmarked for conversion to a bar – whilst the upstairs area will become a nightclub, as widely predicted. What a magnet this will be for young drinkers from as far afield as Peterborough, Skegness, Louth and perhaps even Grimsby. Perhaps we should start working on a Boston acronym to promote it. Booze On Sale Throughout Our Nights …On a similar subject, just a week after appealing to local people who are fed up with drinkers hanging around the Ingram Memorial to report such incidents, the cops have announced that extra officers will be brought in. They have admitted there has been an increase in complaints, and said that an operation will begin in early October. As usual, they will be adopting a softly, softly, rather than using the banning orders available to them – instead, trying to “focus on education for those people who are drinking in the town centre to make them realise that, on occasions, they do upset people.”
Drinking in public places is a key subject covered in the long awaited Task and Finish Group on the Social Impact of Population Change which appeared this week after some fumbling stage management. Sadly, whilst various branches of the media got their copy of the report ahead of the publication day, the Boston Standard told us that Dean Everitt – the man whose call for a protest march prompted the whole enquiry – had not seen the report before the paper went to press. Mr Everitt’s role in events is pivotal – and to apparently exclude him from the circulation list not only robbed him of his say on the day, but seemed extremely rude. We’ll be taking a look at the report next week.
Whilst we made it clear last week, one of the candidates in the forthcoming Frampton and Holme election for a seat on Boston Borough Council has asked us to re-emphasise that she is standing as an Independent. Maggie Peberdy wrote to Boston Eye to say: “I should like to confirm that I am standing as an Independent candidate, and not as a Boston District Independent. I should also mention that I retired as manager of Boston Citizens' Advice Bureau last year, having completed 25 years' service.” We're happy to oblige. Just a reminder that the other candidates in the election on 18th October are: Stuart Ashton (Independent), Sue Ransome (UKIP), Claire Rylott (Conservative), and Mike Sheridan-Shinn (Labour.)
Another Boston shop bites the dust. This time the national chain JJB Sports vanished overnight with the loss of eight jobs – joining other big national names such as Clintons’ Cards, Julian Graves, Millets, and Game during the course of the year. The face of shopping in Boston is certainly changing. We suspect that the town now has more phone shops and charity shops than many others – but what is being done to lure quality shops into the town? The answer seems to be very little, and tends to undo many of the benefits of the Market Place refurbishment. We think that the time is long overdue for a summit meeting between Boston Borough Council and Boston Business “Improvement” District to see what can be done as a matter of urgency to address the shopping slump.
It goes without saying that politicians have to be upbeat. Thus, the leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Martin Hill, proclaims the closure of County Hall in Boston as “good news for local people.” We find it hard to agree. The closure means that the Register Office has moved to Boston Borough Council’s offices in Worst Street – which allows taxpayers to use the facilities of the borough and county councils all “under one roof.” Personally, we have never visited the offices in fifteen years, so the benefit is doubtful. However, with a little geographical economy, Councillor Hill adds that it is now easier to access a range of services in “one central location.” It’s time to visit Boston, Mr Hill. Whilst County Hall can fairly be said to be central – standing within the shadow of Boston Stump which itself adjoins the Market Place – Boston Borough Council’s offices are a little out of the way – and can scarcely be called “central”
Fade in sound effects of the bottom of a barrel being scraped … Beneath the headline “Our website has star quality - it's official,” Boston Borough Council trumpets a four-star rating awarded for its coverage of … air quality. None other than that prestigious local government publication The Air Quality Bulletin, rated Boston's website as "very good" for quality, putting it in the top 38 of 433. What next, we wonder? An honourable mention for the Market Place renovation in e:Pave – the digital magazine “that looks in-depth at a wide range of important issues of interest to all those involved in urban design, hard landscaping, civil engineering and indeed any form of paving.” Sadly, we suspect that the list is probably endless.
Isn’t it funny that when Boston makes bad news, the town’s name is broadcast here there and everywhere in the newspapers and on radio and TV? Yet when there’s some good news for a change, our name is somehow omitted. Such was the case in last weekend’s Sunday Times, which devoted hundreds of words in praise of Treo – a military working dog who was awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross in March 2010 for his life-saving work in Afghanistan. Treo, an arms and explosive search dog, is now the subject of a book written by his handler for five years, Sergeant Dave Heyhoe, who comes from New York near Boston, of course.
A good idea from Boston’s Labour group of councillors is a suggestion to emulate a London 2012 partnership campaign to improve East London’s waterways ahead of the Olympics. Our Local Labour team suggests that a similar big clean-up of our waterways in Boston would be a worthwhile project to consider in the future. Not half! “Why shouldn’t Windsor Bank, the Maud Foster Drain and our other waterways such as the Haven, the Witham and the Forty Foot Drain be included?” they ask. “Wouldn’t it be nice to see our waterways looking smart again? So, if the Environment Agency can clean up London’s waterways, can they help us here in Boston to clean our waterways? If they can’t manage this year, what about the Boston Big Waterways Clean-Up 2013?” We hope someone will take this particular ball and run with it, as we have often pointed out what a huge opportunity is being missed in Boston by continuing to neglect our waterways. An improvement scheme would most importantly benefit the people who live here, which would make a pleasant change. Sadly, the mention of Windsor Bank reminds us that when the borough council ripped out all the public seating to “discourage” anti-social behaviour, it never crossed anyone’s mind to turf over the ground left bare as a result. A walk along the bank these days resembles the aftermath of a gravedigger’s convention rather than a “country comes to the town” stroll.
Seemingly unaware of the acute problems and dangers of the current parking situation in Boston Market Place, the borough council is relying on the promise of jam tomorrow from Lincolnshire County Council. “Parking - getting tough on inconsiderate motorists,” is the menacing message on the borough website. It goes on to tell us that the county council will start using new parking enforcement powers in Boston from Monday December 3rd – “ reducing congestion and inconsiderate parking, as well as supporting local businesses with adjacent parking facilities.”
Lincolnshire’s Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, Councillor William Webb, is quoted with his by now well-worn promise that: "… we can do more to keep people moving safely on the roads, reducing congestion from inconsiderate parking, and supporting businesses with parking bays outside.” In case the Worst Street watch has stopped, this means that there are still almost two months of random and reckless parking, plus the attendant danger from traffic which drives wherever it chooses – regardless of pedestrians who now falsely believe that the Market Place is their friend. Surely, the powers that be cannot bury their heads in the sand for such a long time and simply do nothing?
After businesses in Sleaford saw sense, and became the first in the area to vote against continuing their Business Improvement District, the big stick used to make them recant was to threaten the loss of CCTV coverage in the town. Apparently Sleaford BID contributed to CCTV running costs – probably much in the way that our Boston version pays for services that Boston Borough Council should provide but no longer does. North Kesteven District Council has now said that it will pick up the funding gap. Boston BID funds the expensive town rangers, of course – or rather acts as go-between for the levy-payers and the firm it appointed to do the job. Boston businesses please note. Ditch the BID when the time comes next year, and hopefully Boston Borough Council will again take back responsibility.
“43 PAGES! Did you miss us in August? Well, we’re back with a bumper August/September combined edition that’s our biggest yet.” Thus shrieks the headline from Boston Borough Council as its bulletin returns from a spectacular two-month holiday. The issue may be bumper, but there is more that is bum than per, as it is largely a compilation of the “news” releases sent to our local papers during its holiday – so most of it is old hat. The only people we know who were pleased to see the return of the bulletin were those heroic spotters who monitor photos featuring Tory Councillor Yvonne Gunter, the dignitary responsible for cemeteries and crematoria. In the July bulletin, her photo appeared four times, bringing the total since publication began to 32. The latest edition includes five photos featuring Councillor Gunter – so we are now up to 37 in all.
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