Wednesday, 8 May 2013



The political events of the past few days have been something of a watershed, and we can only hope that our local leaders will heed the message sent out by voters, and not try to spoon out the mixture as before to our ailing Boston.
It may be a vain hope, with bleak threats such as the possibility of near round-the-clock drinking in the Assembly Rooms lurking just around the corner for starters.
But on a brighter note, we hear that a deal may have been done to rid Boston of the burden of the Princess Royal Sports Arena – although that was tried before and failed.
Whatever, it’s appropriate at this point to recognise another watershed of a more personal nature.
For some time now, the production of this blog has become less of a pleasure and more of a burden.
The reasons are purely related to the health of the author, who has decided that such a memorable political junction in the life of the town is an appropriate time to call it a day.
Over the past seven years, we have made quite a number of friends via Boston Eye – although we are sure that they are greatly outnumbered by our enemies.
To those friends we say thanks.
We would also like to express our gratitude to the Boston Bypass Independents, without whose glittering incompetence, this blog would have foundered long ago.
And whilst we figured that they would be a hard act to follow, we didn’t bargain on the Conservative group which took their place, and who – against the odds – succeeded in being even more selfish, incompetent, self-serving and contemptuous of the people who elected them than did their predecessors.
Surely, politics wasn’t meant to be like this.
Anyway, now it’s some other commentator’s problem.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013



We don't like to kick a man when he's down – but for once we're going to make an exception.
Barely a month ago, Boston Borough Council leader Pete Bedford was telling Bostonians that he hoped his party would add to its tally of seats – giving the Tories all of the borough’s seven county seats.
Like a Canute trying to turn back the tide, he declared: “I always think it is very, very difficult to knock out a sitting councillor if they have done their work properly.”
Although we always expect our politicians to avoid the truth whenever possible, the blatancy of this statement made even us take a sharp indrawn breath.
Had Mr Bedford taken his finger off the political pulse?
Had he slipped into a wormhole in time and wrongly believed himself to be back in the days of Tory landslides and mistaken the looming political earthquake for more of the same?
Had he ignored the obvious lure of the UK Independence Party to middle Englanders.
No to the latter.
Taking final leave of his senses, he told us: “I think a vote for UKIP would be a vote for Labour.”
We pointed out at the time that this was a daft thing to say, as a vote for UKIP was … erm … a vote for UKIP.
And votes aplenty there were.
OUT went Pete and his Boston Borough Council cabinet colleagues Mike Gilbert and joint deputy leader Raymond Singleton-McGuire.
OUT went out singing county councillor Andrea Jenkyns – now completely free to pursue her parliamentary political ambitions in Yorkshire.  
OUT went Councillor Paul Skinner.
Clinging on by the skin of his teeth saw Tory Michael Brookes, Boston’s other joint deputy leader – a one-time Independent who had defected to the Conservatives with a majority of just 113 votes in a poll totalling 2,549.
IN came Boston Borough Councillor Alison Austin as a Lincolnshire Independent at County Hall.
And that elusive seventh seat remained so. Boston West, formerly held by Independent Ray Newell, who stood down at the election went to UKIP, denying Boston Borough Councillor Yvonne Gunter four extra years of photo opportunities.
So what happens now?
Before 2nd May the Tory party held 61 of the 77 seats on Lincolnshire County Council.
They now have 36, and to control the council a party requires 39 votes.
Sixteen seats countywide went to UKIP, Labour won 10, eight went to the Lincolnshire Independents, three were won by Liberal Democrat councillors, three by Labour and Co-operative and two by Independents.
It means that deals are waiting to be done.
Ousted Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill has also adopted a Canute-like attitude.
He has sneered at UKIP because they don’t have a leader.
Well, they wouldn’t, would they, this early in the game?
And he has described a possible alliance of all the opposition councillors a “shambolic coalition.”
Not the best way to try to secure some vestige of victory from the jaws of defeat.
But closer to home, what might we expect?
Doubtless Councillor Bedford and his milquetoasts will shrug the whole thing off as something that has happened in wider Lincolnshire, and nothing to do with local events – despite the fact that the borough seat made vacant by the death of Councillor Paul Mould was also won by UKIP.
That would be disastrously wrong.
Boston has once again, famously proved that its electors have got minds of their own.
When the Bypass Independents made promises that the townsfolk wanted, they voted them in.
When they let us down, and the Tories looked better option, they voted them in instead.
Now, UKIP is making promises that resonate with Boston people, and they have been given their chance at County Hall for the time being, with the next local elections just two years away.
UKIP’s problems are that the promises which have seen them elected cannot be implemented at either county or local level.
We’re sure that this doesn’t mean that they won’t try their best to bring about changes.
But what they have done is issued a warning call and a challenge to the main parties.
Ironically, a psephologist has pointed out that because of the structure of the electoral system, UKIP would not gain a single seat in parliament based on last week’s votes.
But politicians who failed to respond to such a clear message from voters would be foolish indeed.
We were reminded the other day of a quotation from a former U.S. Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill.
All politics is local. Politicians must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office. Those personal issues, rather than big and intangible ideas, are often what voters care about most.”
Is anyone listening?
In a short space of time, Councillor Bedford has fallen from the dizzy heights of Chairman of Lincolnshire County Council – only the 25th such person to hold the title of “First Citizen of Lincolnshire” – to running backwater Boston, doing  just as his masters at County Hall decreed.
Two years ago, when Councillor Bedford emerged like a rabbit from a magician’s hat to take on the leadership of Boston Borough Council, he said that he might not take on the job for the full four year term – as required by the Department of Communities.
In an official statement at the time – dubbed “Leader’s Vision – he “clarified his position as leader of the council, saying he was dedicated to the job for the next two years at least.
“Beyond that he would have to rethink once Lincolnshire County Council elections had been held.”
Well, they’ve been held, and the voice of the people has been heard loud and clear.
After leading his crew to destruction at county level, perhaps it’s time for the captain to abandon ship and for a new leader to try to avoid lightning striking in the same political place in another two years.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Thursday, 25 April 2013


There’s just a week to go before the Lincolnshire County Council elections, with seven seats in Boston up for grabs – and 27 candidates fighting for the spoils.
In each seat there is a full house of candidates from the Conservatives, Labour and the UK Independence Party and six “independents” of two different stripes … “independent” independents and “Lincolnshire Independents.”
Those who claim to be in the know say that the only difference between these candidates is that the Lincolnshire Independents work as a group in County Hall which gives them a place on committees with they would not otherwise get … although we still find it contradictory that an “independent” group should have a “leader.”
Interestingly, the Lincolnshire Independents’ website lists not only its own candidates – but links to the name of others standing as “solo” candidates as well.
Unlike some previous elections the main parties are keeping a fairly low profile – perhaps because there is little for them to shout about.
Political observers say that the elections are likely to see a revolt by voters in true-blue Tory shire counties which could hand the party one of its worst results for many years – and they don’t come much truer or bluer than in Lincolnshire … where the 77-strong council comprises 62 Tory, five Labour councillors, four Lib Dems and six “others.”
Some experts predict that the Conservatives will lose at least a third of the 1,477 English council seats they are defending.
The last elections on 4th June 2009 saw Labour’s worst performance in living memory – so it would be hard to imagine them doing any worse.
But the Tories are said to be vulnerable as never before to the challenge of UKIP, whose leader, Nigel Farage, received a warm welcome on a recent visit to Boston, and is the only political “big name” to make a trip to the town.
Certainly, the candidates that we have spoken to see UKIP as the big challenge next Thursday.
Meanwhile, there has been little by way of exchanges between the rival parties as has happened in previous years.
However, one regular reader chose to interpret comments on the Boston Protest March Facebook page as meaning that UKIP was fielding paper candidates – candidates who stand for a party that has only low levels of support, or who are used as “makeweights” to boost party numbers at an election, and who can split the vote.
An e-mail to Boston Eye says: “Once again UKIP is fielding the same paper candidates nominated in previous years. Candidates who have absolutely no intention of representing the people of Boston, but if elected will quite happily carry out the minimum obligation of attending one meeting at Lincolnshire County Council every six months to receive an annual allowance of £8,184 for the next four years.” 
Don Ransome, UKIP's East Midlands regional organiser, and a candidate for Boston South, dismissed the claim as “Just a load of Tory rot.”
He said that five of the seven candidates were members of his family and neither of the other two had indicated they would resign after the election – as claimed on the protest march page
“I would suspend anyone adopting that line,” he added. “Most of us intend to give our allowances/expenses to local charities.
 “Unlike the rest we are not in it for new cars and foreign holidays.
 "When they fear you they smear you."
Interestingly, claims were made after the Boston Borough Council elections two years ago that the Conservatives had fielded a number of paper candidates – a number of whom were elected.
Given the performance of some councillors, we can quite believe that, as clearly, their candidacy has not been worth the paper it was written on!
Another reader raised an eyebrow after noting that the address listed as home to Boston North West Conservative candidate Andrea Jenkyns – who was recently selected as prospective parliamentary candidate in 2015 for a distant Yorkshire constituency against shadow chancellor Ed Balls – is apparently up for sale. Miss Jenkyns is quoted as saying that she will continue to live in the town during her candidacy – so our reader may well be adding two and two together and making five!
Given the current political climate both nationally and locally, we expect one or two surprises next week, and the very thought has left us giddy with excitement – so much so that we are off to keep a long-standing appointment for the next few days.
Boston Eye will return on Monday 6th May and open the week with our assessment of the County Council election results – but you can still keep in touch with us via e-mail whilst we are away.
And yes – we have put our money where our mouth is and applied for a postal vote to ensure that our voice is heard.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

It seems that nothing much is changing to narrow the gap between a disadvantaged Boston and the rest of the county.
Two years ago, a report by the University and College Union revealed a Britain divided between the educational haves and have-nots.
It ranked the 632 parliamentary constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales according to the percentage of working age people between 16 and 64 with no qualifications – and placed the Boston and Skegness constituency 17th from the bottom of the list. 
The report has remained a benchmark since then – and now, figures from the Office of National Statistics, drawn from the annual population survey –  show that nothing has changed, and place Boston at the bottom of another list … of qualifications in each of the first four educational categories from basic knowledge and skills at Level 1 to specialist learning skills and higher education qualifications at Level 4.
And sadly for us, the only area in which we lead the pack is that for people with no qualifications whatever – almost ten per-cent ahead of the county average.
At Level 1, the county figures average 83.16% across the seven district councils with Boston on 75.2%, East Lindsey at 84.7%, Lincoln 84.4%, North Kesteven 88.2%, South Holland 79.4%, South Kesteven 85.6%, and West Lindsey 84.6%. 
Where people of working age without qualifications are counted, the figures are: Boston 15.8%, East Lindsey 9.8%, Lincoln 9.6%, North Kesteven  5.5%, South Holland and South Kesteven tie on 8.3% with West Lindsey at 8.5%.
The average for the county is 9.4%
The figures pile on the agony after recent statistics from the 2011 census showed that whilst Boston Borough scored high percentages in job areas such as transport and storage and agriculture – both of which are to be expected – we were well behind in areas of employment such as construction, education, finance and insurance, and information – all of which are developing elsewhere in the county.
Boston is already struggling to create enough new school places to meet the demands of our burgeoning population – but what is the outlook for youngsters after several years at the chalkface?
We’ve drawn attention before to the views of two of our most prominent citizens – MP Mark Simmonds, and council leader Pete Bedford.
When Mr Simmonds was once asked about the lack of jobs for local people, he retorted: “I meet some young people in Boston who say ‘Mark, when are you going to get all these migrants out of our town, and I say to them, ‘Well, when you’re prepared to go into the fields or the packhouses.”
And Councillor Bedford is on record as saying: “It’s the fact that our population have got to get used to the fact of starting to apply for such jobs (in the packhouses) again.”
It is impossible that Boston is uniquely unfortunate when it comes to education – our young people are as bright as any.
But it appears that whilst in other parts of the county they can turn out school-leavers with qualifications that better equip them for their working lives, in Boston, we cannot follow suit.
Is it a case that the schools lack the quality and pass their failings on to the pupils?
We need to determine the cause and rectify the problem as a matter of urgency.
Interestingly, a glance at the local election literature for next week’s Lincolnshire County Council elections shows no mention of education – which is of course a county responsibility.
It’s almost as if our local politicians are trying to imprison Boston in some agricultural dark age.
They are wrong if they think that this is doing a service for local workers.
It is inevitable that as time goes by, the fields and the packhouses will become increasingly mechanised – in the way that farming changed beyond recognition after the Second World War when tractors and combines brought an end to the centuries-old practices of  ploughing,  sowing and harvesting by hand.
And what will our so-called leaders have to say then, as hundreds of local jobs vanish?


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Any moment now, we are due to be treated to some mind boggling facts and figures about how well this year’s Big Boston Clean-up has done – and how many tons of litter have been collected by the teams of volunteers who have lent a hand.
Elsewhere in the town areas that have gone neglected for years are being given a frenzied cleaning in the hope that we might lure the judges of Britain in Bloom to hand us another trinket – though what good it will be is anyone’s guess.
And of course Operation Fly Swat rumbles on in the background – using forced labour from North Sea Camp Open Prison to clear our dykes and ditches.
As we have said before, litter and mess have become something of an obsession with Boston Borough Council of late – and recently several of the borough’s committees have received an update on Boston’s street cleaning services.
The most obvious thing about them is that they are under resourced – with just eight operational staff roaring around with three mechanical road sweepers, a couple of machines to clean the shopping precincts  – and a number of support vehicles.
This squad has the job of collecting litter from county and borough owned council areas including the highway, footways, footpaths, car parks and around 450 litter bins throughout the borough.
But with so few people tackling the problem for so many days, it’s impossible to stay on top of the problem
Whilst Boston’s town centre is cleaned 362 days a year, the borough’s other roads and footways are treated at a minimum of once each quarter – so is it any wonder that the town always seems to be in a mess?
A recent poll of services highlighted a number of specific areas of concern – which will be familiar to the people who live there or use them regularly.
Areas such a High Street and London Road, Main Ridge, and Willoughby Road stand out on the list – and further afield, almost half the parish councils in the borough names areas that needed extra attention.
A number of volunteers lend a hand in many areas of the town and in the parishes and since the Placecheck groups came into being, a major job for many of them has involved collecting litter.
Now we are told that “efforts are being made to expand this philosophy across the parishes.”
We have long criticised Placecheck – but at least until now, it has directed its efforts at more than merely clearing away litter … which sounds as though it will not be the case if the scheme is extended.
There is also the matter of cost – which is disproportionate to the tasks being achieved.
Each of the original Placecheck areas received £20,000 for their project – but half of this money was immediately clawed back in administration costs.
Given that litter removal in some shape or form then tended to dominate each scheme, this turned out to be a very expensive way to keep Boston tidy.
We are also told that a number of “Litter Champions” have come forward to provide street cleaning in their local areas.
“Both initiatives show that many residents are  prepared to add their weight to the fight to increase local responsibility, but even with these volunteers … some respondents remain critical of our joint ability to contain litter effectively across the entire borough.”
Whilst we admire the phraseology, we do not think that locals pick up litter “to add their weight to the fight to increase local responsibility.”
They pick up litter because Boston Borough Council is failing in its statutory responsibility to clear it, and their roads and pavements would disappear beneath mountains of rubbish if they didn’t bail the council out.
Not only that, but we suspect that many of these “volunteers” do not realise that as they are not employees or directly supervised by council staff,  they are not protected by the council’s blanket insurance policy cover. Woe betide them if they are cut or injured or otherwise made ill in their public spiritedness.
And although the council is trying to play down the risks, we all know how willingly insurance companies try to duck responsibility in the event of a claim.
Whilst the council acknowledges that street cleaning remains an emotive issue – it is unwilling to come up with the obvious solution … to stop footling about by dumping responsibility on its taxpayers via costly and financially wasteful schemes, and instead investing money in more staff and better equipment to do the job that we pay them for.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Monday, 22 April 2013


The top item on the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting of the Boston  Town Area Committee is headed “Boston Big Local – a  discussion with the Big Lottery Fund’s “Big Local Rep" for Boston Central.”
Regular readers will recall that this is all about money – a million pounds worth of it to be precise – granted to Boston by something called Big Local … which is to do with the National Lottery.
The money is to be spent in the six most deprived wards in Boston – Staniland South, Pilgrim Ward, Skirbeck Ward, Boston Central, a small portion of Fenside and Witham Ward.
And, as everyone has been at pains to stress, the way this money is spent will be entirely community led and controlled, without any interference from those powers that be that usually crawl out of the woodwork when any free cash is on offer.
At the time the announcement of this largesse was made at the end of last year, Mandy Exley, the South Lincolnshire Community Voluntary Service Community Development Officer – yes, the SLCVS again – told us: “There’s no government arm in Boston involved in any of this. It is totally community led … We’re all going to be working together to help the residents work very, very closely with the lottery so the residents are equipped to manage this funding. There will be extensive community consultation done right across Boston, so everybody will have a say.”
She was also at pains to stress: “This money will not be dictated by Boston Borough Council; it will not be dictated by our organisation, the SLCVS.  It will be totally dictated by the local community ... it is their say where this money is spent”
Such unambiguous statements caused us to raise an eyebrow, when – not long after – BTAC was given a special audience with the Lincoln-based official who is overseeing the Boston scheme … to “help with community consultation and planning.”
Since then, there have apparently been a series of public meetings  – though we have heard nothing of what went on.
What we have heard, though is a bleat from the Labour group on Boston Borough that some central wards have been left off the list, and who want to know who’s had what from the National Lottery fund over the years.
“We still don’t believe that we should go any further forward on allocating the Big Local boundaries and the wards which will benefit, until we have had a proper discussion about this information. Based on this discussion we would hope to see a local decision about what the catchment area of the Big Local will be … “
Somewhat contradictorily, whilst Labour agrees that it should only be residents of the wards involved and not any elected members who decide how the money should be spent – “we recognise the need for support from all of the key bodies from local government, health, police, housing, the voluntary sector and any other bodies that operate within these wards.”
We couldn’t agree more with the first half of this call, as that it what has been promised.
But we also think that just because for the sake of brevity the grant area was referred to as “central” Boston, this should not be taken to include wards other than those specified.
Now BTAC’s finger is back in the pie with Wednesday’s discussion.
At this rate, we fear that that it will not be long before a cosy little clique of all the usual suspects will assemble itself whose idea of giving “support” to the hapless public is to get money spent on their pet projects.
We’ve already seen how schemes such as Placecheck led to a series of homogenous projects that used external financing to pay for services such as street cleaning and maintenance that was the work of Boston Borough Council.
Now, it seems that by superimposing itself on the Big Local project, BTAC is hoping to spend the money on a wider area than that specified – and perhaps ultimately on projects agreed within the cabinet rather than those wanted by local people.
If a member of one of the wards named in the Big Local project would like money spending on a particular project he or she should have to make a case to the “people’s committee” set up to run the show – assuming it ever gets to that.
At the moment, despite all the promises of this scheme being run by the public for the public, the efforts of our  local politicians of all parties seem to be directed at  grabbing as much of the money as they can.

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Friday, 19 April 2013

As Lincolnshire County Council’s heavily-censored final meeting before next month’s elections went through the motions last week, we were treated to a “Leader’s review of the council 2009-13.”  If Councillor Martin Hill expected the mentions of Boston to act as a persuader for wavering voters to re-elect the Tories for a further four years, he might well be disappointed.  The best he could come up with was to say that the county has “invested in town centre improvements in Boston, including an historic Grade II-listed townhouse, and Grantham.” Presumably, the town centre improvement he had in mind was the refurbishment of the Market Place – hailed almost universally as a disaster. And the listed townhouse is doubtless 116 High Street – acquired by Heritage Lincolnshire after years on the English Heritage “At Risk” register. The house was the town’s first private bank, which operated between 1754 and 1891. Boston Borough Council was involved in the compulsory purchase of the building in 2004 after which little appeared to happen until it did a deal with the Heritage Trust four years later. Why does all this remind us to the sorry saga of the neglect of the town’s Assembly Rooms – which will soon miss their second promised re-opening date?
The Big Leader’s  other mention of things of note that the county has done for Boston during its four year reign was the closure of county council facilities in the town, and the subsequent relocation of staff in borough council premises, which reduced the cost of accommodation per employee from £2,000 to £700. That’s a generous slice of cash back, but it would be interesting to know exactly what it has meant to us locally. We don’t seem to have heard any mention of rental paid by the county to the borough for the office space it now utilises, and which by all accounts should be a substantial bonus for the council’s creaking coffers. Surely, we’re not doing this for the love of it, are we?
As the election draws nearer we enter a delicate period where councils tread carefully to avoid seeming to promote parties or individuals.  So it came as something of a surprise to read on the borough council website about the benefits to Boston from last week’s county council approval of Lincolnshire's ten-year strategy for transport. Local items mentioned included a distributor road, the Waterways Project which will turn Boston into a staging post for visitors to Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely cathedrals, the new St Botolph's footbridge and improvements to public transport infrastructure.  Aside from the fact that news like this is normally issued from county hall the timing is clearly helpful in a borough where four of the candidates for Boston’s seven seats are high-ranking Conservative members of the borough cabinet –  among them the leader and his joint deputies.
Still with county politics, we noted some amusing comments from Tory councillor Andrea Jenkyns on the news that she has been selected to challenge Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls in the Morley and Outwood constituency at the 2015 general election. The Boston Standard followed up last week’s Boston Eye report on its website later in the day,  when Miss Jenkyns  declared that her selection to stand as an MP was good for the town “as it will give her the opportunity to raise matters with government ministers,” adding that whilst she will continue to live in the town during her candidacy she would look at the situation again if elected to the House of Commons – “pointing to the fact that some MPs hold full-time jobs and what she was proposing would effectively be no different to this.” Hmmm. Meanwhile, one or two of our political acquaintances have raised an eyebrow at the claim made on the Conservative Party website that “among her many achievements is securing £10,000 of place check (sic) funding to improve the local community marina and establishing not-for-profit narrow boat trips as a means of increasing tourism into the area.”  Either we missed that, or more by way of explanation is needed.
Earlier, we mentioned the so-called improvements that have been made in Boston. The council has been very keen to encourage local businesses in the town’s conservation area to take up grant funding available from English Heritage. Recently, we heard of a plan to improve the look of Church Street in the town – with an ambitious plan to make it comparable to the famous Shambles in York. Whilst the idea is certainly challenging, it is not beyond the realms of possibility – so long as the council refrains from placing obstacles in the way. That’s why we were surprised to learn that the borough is quite adamant that a brick-built bay window on one of the shop fronts should be removed as part of any application for grant aid. Admittedly, it is a 1950s addition, but it adds character to the street that might be lost by its removal. It’s taken years to get people interested in the grant scheme, and we wonder what on earth the council is thinking of by adopting this sort of stance.
Whilst the Market Place is generally the part of town with which the phrase “an accident waiting to happen” is most usually associated, we have found another road which runs a close second. The unnamed road which brings traffic in and out of the rear of the Pescod Centre joins the junction with Pen Street at a set of traffic lights, only one of which is pedestrian controlled. Anyone crossing in the direction of Wide Bargate takes their life in their hands, and occasionally so do some people who might expect to cross in safety.  Although traffic is banned from leaving Pescod and turning right into Main Ridge West, this doesn’t appear to deter some motorists, and earlier this week we saw a pedestrian almost knocked down by a vehicle turning right as she crossed with permission of the pedestrian light. Road safety officers please note.
On the other side of the street, we note an application to turn an empty shop in Vauxhall Road into an off  licence – to sell booze for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. If successful, it will become the fourth such outlet within a few hundred yards. Not only that, but there is a pub in the street as well. Meanwhile, another application – this time for a 13 hour daily stint –  has been made in West Street, of all places. Surely, these two areas have more than enough drink outlets without the need for still more?
On a stroll into town last week we encountered the weekly craft market in the area around Boston Stump. Stall holders told us that they had returned some weeks earlier, and that, so far, things were going pretty well – although from what we saw, a little more by way of support would not go amiss. We mentioned the market to one or two of our friends, who expressed surprise that there appeared to have been no announcement of its return after the winter break. Attractions such as this need regularly publicising – if they are not, then they eventually disappear. Having said that, we were surprised to read of what appeared to be an alternative attraction in the form of a craft fair in nearby Pescod Square. Of course, it is part of the rĂ´le of a shopping centre to stage events to draw more customers – but couldn’t a little imagination have been use to come up with something different?
The area where Wide Bargate abuts Strait Bargate near W H Smith is once again a gloomy looking part of town following the departure of the Phoenix non-smoking group from the former Sketchley’s shop. The place began life as part of an exercise in which Boston Borough Council threw more than £50,000 in government grant money down the drain with an effervescently incompetent plan to brighten up empty shops and run down areas of the town.  The result was the home for dispensers of do-gooding leaflets and the Room 52 Gallery run by the Giles Academy. The latter closed down after the term at which the premises were leased on a peppercorn rent, and is now occupied by Age UK Boston and South Holland, which appears to have vacated its County Hall offices. The newly vacated premises are currently on offer to lease for £58,000 a year. We were critical of the use of the shops when they were originally refurbished, and they remain totally unappealing and inappropriate for a high profile part of the town. It’s all to do with appearances and style – something which is sadly lacking around the place these days.
What Boston’s car park czar Councillor Derek Richmond doubtless thought was a persuasive case for increasing charges has fallen on stony ground among readers of our local “newspapers.” They have replied in their droves to his recent letter to editors to point out that other towns around the country can offer some spaces free of charge, and stress that cheaper parking can attract more people to the town.  Damning words and phrases such as “extortion,” “soft option,” and “daylight robbery” have all been used to describe the situation. Harsh as this language is, it is nonetheless all true – and the only people who fail to recognise the fact are the members of Boston Borough Council’s so-called leadership.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Thursday, 18 April 2013


It seems to us that – not for the first time – Boston Borough Council is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
A detailed account of the discussions at the last meeting of BTAC – the Boston Town Area Committee – reports on the idea of turning the group into a separate Boston Town Council. At present, it effectively operates as the borough’s 19th parish council, drawing its income from a charge on the council tax – just as the others do.
However, in recent months there have been rumblings that BTAC is sometimes playing second fiddle to  the council’s ruling cabinet – doing its bidding rather than what the members would prefer if they had the democratic opportunity.
The most recent example was the last minute dumping of more than £30,000 from the council’s main budget on to BTAC to take over the full running costs of the Garfits Lane playing fields.
This is despite the fact that the council has an extremely well-funded leisure services budget with its own portfolio holder. But the crucial effect of passing the budgetary buck to BTAC was to let the council claim that its share of the council tax had not been increased – whilst instead increasing the council tax for a Band D property in the BTAC area from £8.85 to £12.72 – more than 40%.
The decision to do this teetered on the brink – and it was only the casting vote of Conservative chairman and cabinet member Councillor Mike Gilbert that carried the day … which was seen as validating the charges that the cabinet had a grubby finger in the pie.
One suggestion that has come up recently is that BTAC should go solo – cut its ties with Boston Borough Council, and become a parish council in its own right.
But the obstacles to this create a significant barrier.
Even before any decision, it would split the council, as – if BTAC decided to go ahead – it would have to engage its own advisors, as the Chief Executive would be acting for the borough council in any review.
And whilst the benefits would include increased self-determination, BTAC would run its own services in its own way and employ its own contractors.
The report to the committee – watched from the wings by stage manager and council leader Pete Bedford – says: “It would have its own clerk, and the head of the town council would have a civic role. It would make its own policy decisions; the borough council’s power and influence would be diluted. The rates charged for the area would be for the new town council to set …”
As always, cost is a predominant factor – and many committee members thought that a change would be too expensive.
But another view was that forming a town council would give people in the town fair and equal democracy to those in rural areas of the borough, as they were disadvantaged at present.
Not only that, but after reorganisation in 2015, the parishes would have more seats, and, effectively will set BTAC’s budget – “which was a concern, as decisions would be made by people who did not live in the town.”
If a referendum was held and town residents were asked whether they wanted to pay one charge or two they would vote for one. Self-determination was needed. BTAC was already paying for officers and accommodation.
But an interesting sidebar to the debate was that at the right time, a campaign would be launched for a parish council for Skirbeck as well as a town council for the town, to give people a voice.
Whatever the outcome, it is certainly true that the residents of the town are being discriminated against by the current structure.
BTAC’s current budget is proportionately small at present – around £100,000.
Declaring UDI, it seems, would require a shedload of staff, and possibly a town mayor as well – although what a mayor for the rural part of the borough would do is anyone’s guess.
But what would be most interesting would be the political implications of any change. As the council is ruled by the Tories, they plan never to lose a vote – although a couple of absentee members at a critical time could always change that.
When BTAC is running at full strength, there are 16 members – nine of them Conservative. The remaining seven comprise a mixture of Labour, Independent and English Democrats.
An independent BTAC might place decisions under greater scrutiny, and might make it harder for the cabinet to pull the strings if that is the case.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Richard Harbord will review the Committee’s constitution to see if it could be amended to give it more parish council-like powers and report back to a future meeting.
But at the end of the day, cost – not democracy – will be the deciding factor, so expect to have to take the mixture as before.


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Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Kicking people when they’re down is getting to be something of a routine with Boston Borough Council – even though the reason that a lot of us are down has much to do with the present political and economic climate.
In recent months we have continued to suffer pay freezes – or even cuts – and seen reductions in the services that cost small fortune at both local and county level.
So it feels like someone is rubbing salt into the wound when Boston Borough Council buys space in one of our local “newspapers” to warn us – “Times may be hard, but don’t become a criminal.”
It goes on to say: “With changes in some benefits now taking effect and consequent reductions in payments, recipients are advised that the last thing they should consider is trying to cheat the system.
“Benefit cheats end up in court, and there are now new methods employed with cross-checking of data by all agencies involved in processing claims.”
It goes on to detail a recent case which saw a Boston woman given a 12-week suspended prison sentence after being convicted of benefit fraud – and continues in stern tones …
Criminal convictions have massive implications for a person's ability to lead a full life …
“The majority of employers will ask about previous convictions and four million Criminal Record Bureau checks are carried out every year in England and Wales. If a person lies about their convictions it is a criminal offence.
“If a person has a job and is sent to prison it is very likely they will lose that job, but even if they are not jailed it is possible to be dismissed for gross misconduct.
“There can be difficulties in getting visas or entering certain countries for those with previous convictions. In particular, travelling to the USA can be an issue.”
Stuff like this follows the line that Boston Borough Council takes when dealing with its punters.
In the past, we have seen such headlines as: ““There will be no hiding place for any who spoil the streets of Boston …”  “Litter louts – we’re watching you” … “Your waste: Your responsibility. Waste cowboys could land you with a fine and a criminal record …”  “Don't get caught without a TV licence …” the list goes on and on.
Although the numbers involved in benefit fraud run into millions of pounds, the fact is that in 2011/12 it is estimated that nationally just 2.1 per cent of total benefit expenditure was overpaid due to fraud and error, the same as the 2010/11 estimate.
There will always be people who try to cheat the system – and whilst some will do so because of greed, or because they want to put one over on the system, there will be other who do so as a last resort.
These people need help, advice and encouragement – not bullying and threats.
Nor such sledgehammer phrases from the council such as “those who try to cheat the system are often not aware of the fraud detection tools that enable the council to detect fraud. They are able to identify undeclared people at properties and receive data matches to show when earnings, savings and pensions have not been declared. The council also uses impressive technologies to spot those who try to cheat the system
“All housing benefit claimants and council tax support applicants are required to notify relevant changes … such as increases in earnings or changes to household members and failure to do so could result in prosecution and heavy financial penalties.”
And after all the threats and heavy handed bluster, the sole lifeline thrown to readers of this piece is: “If you are in difficulties because of changes to your benefits please contact the benefits and council tax section. They can help.”
The feeling that we get is that the only sort of help available is help to find the quickest route to prison, or to receive swingeing fines that add still further to a person’s financial difficulties.
There are ways to approach these problems, and the Boston Borough Council way is the wrong one.
A more sensitive approach and a more humane face beats threats every time.
As the anonymous sage once said: “It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.”


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Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013



The issue of car parking in Boston is one that simply will not go away – and the more our local leaders try to persuade us that it’s a good thing to charge drivers for the privilege, the more the debate rages.
The latest argument comes from the town’s car parking Czar, Councillor Derek Richmond, whose sympathy towards motorists ranks alongside that of Judge Jeffreys towards the accused at the Bloody Assizes.
One thing that is never going to work where parking issues are concerned is to play the poverty card – although Councillor Richmond has not let this stand in his way.
“Boston Borough Council has limited means to raise money to pay for the services it provides, and, in the current difficult financial climate, balancing revenue with expenditure becomes harder and harder,” he tells us in the pages of the local “newspapers.”
Against a backdrop of dwindling resources, we are told that money raised from council car parks “is important” – i.e. without it the council wouldn’t have any.
But the problem is that after years of selling off  its assets, the civic car parks are now more or less the only egg remaining in the council’s basket.
Year in, year out, as summer follows spring, Boston Borough Council ups its car parking charges.
Whilst councillor Richmond concedes that it would be “brilliant” to make all parking free, “more than £1 million a year in lost revenue says we cannot.
“There is simply not the means to make up that amount of money, and I am sure we would be heavily criticised however we tried to make up that sort of shortfall.”
We have a problem with an argument such as this, as it implies the automatic conclusion that “making up a shortfall” can only be achieved by increasing charges.
In fact, Councillor Richmond reinforces this idea by saying that people who do not use the car parks would rightly complain if asked to subsidise those who did.
But we wonder whether anyone, at any time, has called a brainstorming session to see if there are ways that the council could generate income by means other than simply robbing the council taxpayer even more.
Councillor Richmond says that car parking charges in Boston are reasonable, comparable and, in some instances, cheaper than in neighbouring towns.
However, a look at our nearest neighbour – Spalding, in South Holland District – suggests that broadly speaking, it cheaper to park there.
Comparing the SHDC website with that of Boston, parking in the Sheep Market – Spalding’s equivalent of the Market Place – is 50p for half an hour and 80p for an hour. In Boston, the charges are listed at 60p and £1.40p.
Again, the price of a seasons ticket in Spalding is either £220 a year or £260 depending where you park – whilst a year’s parking charge in Boston is £328.
And whilst we don’t know what the score is in South Holland, we do know that councillors and council staff in Boston enjoy free parking – at a cost to the local taxpayer of more than £100,000 – a perk that they will not withdraw despite the criticism and unpopularity that it brings.
Councillor Richmond says that some places quoted as providing free parking are not council-owned car parks but run by stores and supermarkets – citing Asda, Tesco Currys and Downtown in Boston as examples   – even though three of these are well out of town, and therefore irrelevant to his argument
One interesting compromise in Boston might be to allow free short term parking – i.e. 30 minutes’ worth –in the Market Place in Boston.
There are very few parking spaces here to begin with – so the loss of revenue would be minimal.
Such a decision would help people who need to use the Market Place for a visit to the bank – although the queues in some of them might require a longer stay than half-an-hour – or people who just want to make a quick visit in their lunch break.
This would be beneficial both to the town centre and to the council, and would be seen asa concession by the council that might defuse much of the anger over its intractability.   
Councillor Richmond declares that: “It has never been my intention to be unjust or unfair to any part of the population …”
But events do not support his argument – witness the charges imposed on disabled blue badge holders and his laughable 30 minute “concession” to them.
As we said earlier, an imaginative leadership might well be able to brainstorm money raising ideas that didn’t involve highway robbery.
But then, brains seem sadly lacking amongst those who claim to be our rulers.

  

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Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Monday, 15 April 2013


As spring casts aside its winter duvet and prepares for a new year of growth and progress, our leaders at Boston borough council are adopting a rather different approach – they simply turn over for a lie in of a month or so.
nd April 2013 has been cancelled “due to insufficient business.”
Last week an e-mail to all elected members told them that “with the agreement of the mayor” the next meeting of the full council scheduled for 22
This has happened before, of course – and we once remarked that if we held shares in a company with an annual budget of around £10 million and a staff of 275, we’d expect the people who ran the business to be pretty busy … rather than merely turning up when the mood took them.
This time, though, we think that the cancellation has less to do with “lack of business” and more to do with what our local leaders laughingly call “politics.”
Full council meetings in Boston are largely a rubber stamping exercise, with decisions taken in advance, cut and dried, and steamrollered through regardless of any opposition attempts to mount a challenge or table a discussion.
The one ray of light in these otherwise turgid affairs usually comes in the form the agenda item headed “To answer questions (if any) from elected members pursuant to Rule 11 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure.”
Whilst the preferred option of our so-called leaders is to take no questions whatever, things don’t always go their way – and when questions are asked the great and the good of our Conservative elite are often left with egg on their faces.
The last full council meeting, http://newbostoneye.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=adey for example, more closely resembled a Brian Rix Whitehall farce – with council leader Pete Bedford being caught with his trousers down more than once after he was handed the wrong answer to a written question.
And who can forget the well-earned embarrassment suffered by the former mayor, Councillor Mary Wight, when a question exposed her antediluvian attitude to equality when she declared: “women have far more important things to do, like cook dinner and look after their husbands and families than attend meetings in the evenings.”
So, no full council meeting means that there will be no questions.
Despite out suspicious nature, we might have accepted this at face value – but we have a nasty feeling that there is an element of organisation that reaches beyond Boston.
Alarm bells sounded when we spotted a notable omission in last Friday’s final agenda of Lincolnshire County Council before next month’s elections.
Just like Boston Borough Council, County Hall normally allows members to raise questions with executive members of the council – their equivalent of portfolio holders … but not this time around.
Doubtless, the official line would probably have something to do with “Purdah” – the period before an election when normal protocols and behaviours around a council activities in general and around publicity and communications in particular become more restricted.  
But we suspect that the ban on questions has more to do with the possibility that what little opposition there is within the county council would seize the opportunity to pose awkward questions to the Tory leadership less than three week before polling day.
If they did, we couldn’t blame them – but we will never know, as the opportunity for questions and answers has been banned.
So too with Boston – no last chance to call our portfolio holders to account.
In the past 12 months there have been six full council meetings in Boston – and one of those was a “special” one.
Not only has there been little by way of business, but now it seems that even half a dozen meetings are considered too many.
We find it a struggle to believe that everything is going so well that decision making can be left in the hands of just seven cabinet members – without no need to consult or hear from the other 25 members –  well, 24 at the moment.
But isn’t it convenient that the chance for questions has been removed?
And not just for one meeting either – the following council on  May 23rd  will the annual meeting and Mayor making, so it’s doubtful questions will be allowed there either.
It’s called democracy – Boston style.

 

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Friday, 12 April 2013


At the start of the week, we commented on the potential dilemma facing voters in next month’s county council election if asked to choose between “Independents” and “Lincolnshire Independents” a group on the county council that boasts a “leader” – something that we regarded as contradictory. One candidate from Boston is borough councillor Alison Austin, who is standing in the Boston South division. She e-mailed Boston Eye to say:” I deliberated for a long time as to whether my official designation for this election was to be‘Independent’ or ‘Lincolnshire Independent.’ Either way I am an Independent. If elected to the County Council as part of the wider group of Lincolnshire Independents I will be able to have greater effect than if I was just a lone independent. It gives me more support and influence at County level. My election literature makes it quite clear that I am an Independent and also that I shall be working with the Lincolnshire Independents. By standing as a Lincolnshire Independent I have openly declared that I am not a member of any national political party. Lincolnshire Independents do not operate any form of “party whip” and no one will dictate to me how to vote. My aim is to speak on behalf of the people of Boston and I will vote as I think most appropriate.”
 Yesterday we mentioned the interesting news that Andrea Jenkyns – the county councillor for Boston West, who is seeking re-election next month – has just been accepted as the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for the Morley and Outwood constituency in West Yorkshire – just over 100 miles from Boston. Miss Jenkyns is, of course, Yorkshire born and bred, and she will be up against shadow chancellor Ed Balls. The constituency was fought for the first time at the 2010 election after boundary changes, and Mr Balls squeaked home by just 1,101 votes against the Conservative candidate.  Locally, the news remains low-key – with no announcement as far as we can find.  Until yesterday one of Miss Jenkyns’ websites was still closed “for maintenance” but we assume there will be an announcement soon. Somewhat unkindly, the website Political Scrapbook  reports the news under the headline “Tory candidate to face Ed Balls in terrible amateur music video.” Miss Jenkyns is, of course well-known in Lincolnshire for her love of music, and Political Scrapbook light-heartedly suggests “Perhaps she could form a band with Ed Balls on the drums?”  


It goes on to link to a “weird Kate Bush-esque music video” in which Miss Jenkyns performs a song called Crazy World   (see picture, above) where she delivers a series of facial tics normally associated with low-budget vampire movies. Political Scrapbook also includes another link showing Mr Balls beating the living daylights out of a drum kit. It’s a cruel world in politics.
 Amidst the heady excitement of the county council elections, let’s not lose sight of the one for the Staniland South seat on Boston Borough Council, which takes place on the same day – Thursday 2nd May. Candidates are: Pam Kenny for Labour, Rob Lauberts, listed as an Independent – he is a “Lincolnshire Independent” on his nomination form for the Boston West Seat on the county council – Bob McAuley for the UK Independence Party and Carl Richmond for the Conservatives – any relation, we wonder?


The ward  (see map, above) comprises 1,595 dwellings, with 3,434 inhabitants aged 43.9 years old on average. The seat became vacant following the death of Conservative Councillor Paul Mould in February.
Yet another attempt by Boston Borough Council to seize victory from the jaws of defeat has rebounded.  The borough website informs us that “One of the year's major projects has taken place as part of the Boston in Bloom 2013 campaign.” It turns out to be a £2,500 clean-up of Customs House Quay where a pressure washer was used to spell the name of the location in the dirt. With what almost seems to be a sense of pride, the council chortled that “more than 15 years' worth of accumulated grime, moss and weeds were blasted away.” Fifteen years? Accumulated?   Why didn’t some bright spark think of growing Boston’s in-bloom entry in the muck that’s been allowed to build up to show how dereliction can become a source of civic achievement? The episode reminded us of the persistent neglect of the Assembly Rooms by so many successive councils that eventually what should have been a jewel in Boston’s crown was flogged off cheaply to be turned into a night club before it fell down.  We are now told that in order to preserve and maintain the appearance of the quayside a high-temperature annual clean is planned, along with regular weed spraying which the Environment Agency has agreed to carry out.” Yet again, the desire to win some civic bauble trumps what should have been regular maintenance to make the town a pleasant place for the people who live here year round – and who don’t merely drop in for a one day judging session
In a similar vein, we are, of course in the throes of Boston’s “Big Clean-up” week, when it’s impossible to walk around the town without encountering tribes of high-vis jacket wearers wielding litter pickers to make the town a better looking place. We’ve said before that we have no problem with this stunt, which saves Boston Borough Council a fortune by doing the job we pay our council tax for – but street cleaning is a year-round task – not a special event like a birthday or anniversary. If an area is highlighted by the public as a “grot spot”, it should not be allowed to languish for 12 months before receiving attention. Neglect encourages  neglect in cases such as this, and the sooner litter is cleared away the better. It was equally discouraging to learn that the Environment Agency was planning to use boats to clear rubbish from the waterways, which could present a serious flooding risk if it blocked drainage channels. Surely, they haven’t relegated these vital tasks to a once-a-year publicity stunt as well? And all of this reminds us – did anything every become of the  highly publicised “name and shame” campaign involving Boston Borough Council and the Boston Standard, which was going to clamp down on litter louts? No, it didn’t, did it?

Still on the subject of litter, – it seems to be this week’s mantra for Boston Borough Council. It is possible to publicise something to the point where trying to show an upside has quite the reverse effect. The front page of the borough council website yesterday carried nine stories – six of which were about litter and rubbish. Their headlines were: “Boston Big Clean-up 2013,” “Derelict property is brought back to life,”  “Bulky waste collections suspended,”  “Custom House Quay clean-up,”  “Order your brown waste bin,” and “Fly Swat total.” A casual visitor could be forgiven for thinking that Boston was a litter strewn and dirty place. And if you’re wondering about Operation Fly Swat – that’s the canny council use of forced labour, where inmates at North Sea Camp Open Prison tidy up under the guise that collecting rubbish constitutes rehabilitation.
We note the arrival of a book about Boston Guildhall which “describes the life and times of the Guildhall and Boston in 12 chapters” and wonder if this is a collation of the monthly “Tales of the Guildhall” which appeared in Boston Borough Council’s good news bulletin between April 2011 and March last year. We couldn’t really see much point in it the first time around, but at least it has been put to some sort of use eventually. If you want one, it’s £3.50 a copy, but as it’s been produced by council staff and published by the council as well, we would appear to have already paid for it. Somehow, we don’t think that J K Rowling has much to fear.
Talking of the Guildhall – is now a good time to reconsider the feeble opening hours of such a key visitor attraction in the town. Whilst free admission helped boost attendances – though not by much – you only have to blink to miss the Guildhall entirely. It’s open between 10:30am and 3:30pm from Wednesday to Saturday, with the last admission to the museum at 3pm. It’s bad enough that one of our few decent attractions is open for such a short time. What makes matters worst is that the the Tourist Information Centre is also based in the Guildhall and both the museum and the TIC are open for the same meagre hours.
Wednesday’s comments about the pitfalls of using Boston Borough Council as a role model for   a Youth Council and Young Mayor scheme for the borough have struck a chord with a councillor who was elected for the first time  in 2011. Independent Councillor Carol Taylor writes: “I read with great interest your blog this morning highlighting the plight of our potential youth council. I agree with this concept, but totally disagree that it should be a mirror image of Boston Borough Council. I was one of those newly-elected to local government in 2011. I entered the arena (because that is what it is!) with enthusiasm, excitement and a belief that I was going to be part of an organisation which made things so much better for the good people of Boston.   Instead, I was greeted with ritualistic behaviour from those who have the power to dictate – not  influence – decisions and outcomes and use that power to do just that and,  boy, do they use it well. With regard to the somewhat small group coming forward for the youth council, they are from what I have seen and heard an excellent example of how the future could be for Boston. Two of the group are closely related to a councillor and the same councillor very generously donated £1,000 of their own money to start the ball rolling. This is such a kind gesture, as unfortunately there is no money for the youth council until they become established and generate their own income. I am in favour of the youth council but we must not allow them to be a mirror image of the present council. They are our future. Future means change and we must encourage them to do just that and lead us into a true democratic society.”
Finally, in the week of the Big Boston clean-up, we welcome a poem on the subject from our Boston Eye verse-smith Terry Coope. It’s called The Big Spring Clean.

Our rivers and drains and leafy lanes,
Were once such a pleasure to walk,
That old fly tippin' has gave us a whippin',
Culprits rarely caught.

Throw it down, clog up the town,
It's everywhere you go,
So give it a whirl it's a "job for the girl"
And save the borough some dough

Will Jen Moore show the rubbish the door,
It's a constant whinge and woe,
Why left so long to sound the gong,
That's all we want to know.

Young and old timers with gloves and bin liners,
Walking to and fro,
With an high vis' jacket,
We'll save Pete a packet,
Community spirit will grow.

So come on Jen, better than paper or pen,
Hands on, there's Litter to sort,
But why should we worry, 'cause there's no hurry,
We've got Harry's Audit report.

On a final note, but it's no joke!
There's one thing puzzling me,
For it’s us the Council are stitchin’,
There's another "soup kitchen",
With a "meal deal" for free.

A meal don't come cheap with a rubbish heap,
Just tell us your 'grot spot'
Then fill a bin with a drink thrown in
They say it's FREE – but it’s not.

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

 

Thursday, 11 April 2013


The rhetoric has started …
With just three weeks to go to the elections for seven Boston seats on Lincolnshire County Council, our local politicians are dusting off their phrasebooks to find the words needed to win the day.
And according to one local report, it all comes down to four words - potholes, immigration and welfare reforms.
But whatever the issues, the big talking point is whether after all these years the Conservatives might see their stranglehold on Lincolnshire loosened.
After all, the Tories are running well behind Labour in the national opinion polls, whilst UKIP has gained more than 30 council seats in just three months.  
Despite what some see as the writing on the wall, Boston Borough Council leader and Tory county council candidate Pete Bedford apparently remains upbeat.  
He told the Boston Standard that he hoped for a clean sweep of the borough’s seven county seats – one of which is currently held by Independent Ray Newell, who is not seeking re-election.
And how’s this for confidence?
“I always think it is very, very difficult to knock out a sitting councillor if they have done their work properly.
“I know our councillors have worked very, very hard over the last four years for Boston and Lincolnshire as a whole.”
Interestingly, Councillor Bedford’s comments came after the news that one of the Conservative candidates – Andrea Jenkyns, who is standing for re-election in Boston North West – has been selected as the Conservative’s prospective parliamentary candidate against Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in the West Yorkshire constituency of Morley and Outwood, where Balls won by a narrow margin at the general election.
Without pre-judging, it would seem hard to represent Lincolnshire adequately if re-elected whilst campaigning to win an important parliamentary seat more than 100 miles away from Boston in 2015.
Such things usually involve moving house to live in the constituency thus being totally available to make one’s mark.
And if re-elected in Lincolnshire, what if victory comes in Yorkshire?
It is not possible to be the servant of two masters.
Councillor Bedford’s assumption that he and his merry minions  have been seen to be slaving away on our behalf, might also bear some examination.
Boston Eye has followed almost every full County Council meeting  since the last elections – and as you might recall from our reports, questions and comments from “our” councillors – aside from Councillor Newell – have been few and far between, and sometimes irrelevant.
In fact, we were pressed to recall the name of our representative at county hall – and have certainly never heard from him, in the four years since he was elected.
But having said that, neither have we heard from any of our borough representatives.
Apparently, they are now all so important that the only way we learn what they are doing is to read it in the papers!
That, of course, assumes that they do anything worth reporting!
Councillor Bedford has said that he said he welcomes the challenge of UKIP – which comes across as patronising rather than sportsmanlike, and seems quite unlikely as well.
But cryptically, he is quoted by the Standard as saying: “I think a vote for UKIP would be a vote for Labour.”
Surely that is no different than claiming that a vote for the Boston Tory wannabees for County Hall is a vote for the Monster Raving Loony party.
A vote for UKIP is a vote for UKIP.
Nothing more.
All Councillor Bedford is doing is trying to scaremonger – but has picked the wrong party to depict as a threat, as at the moment, as we have already said, Labour is considerably more popular that the Conservatives nationally, and UKIP is doing pretty well, too.
Labour tells us on their local party website that their candidates have made contact with “hundreds of people in Boston” and there are five clear issues which local communities feel strongly about:
These are to: Stop buses running through Strait Bargate, bring back a dog warden, clean up the town and waterways, introduce residents’ parking/cheaper car parking, and to stop spitting and drinking in town.”
The party adds: “So on May 2nd you only have one choice if you want these issues tackled and dealt with.”
There is an absence of any promise here which gives us pause for thought.
Not just that, but these are issues of such parish pump status that they are unlikely find their way on to a county agenda.
Most cautious of all was UKIP’s Don Ransome – after whom the party might as well be named in Lincolnshire, as four of the seven local candidates bear the surname – who confined himself to saying that he was delighted to be able to contest all seven Boston seats and hoped to win at least one.
He added “The mood swing on the streets is amazing - we have never been so popular.”


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com