Monday, 7 January 2013

A happy new year to all our readers, and welcome back to the Boston Eye blog.
There’s nothing like a fairy-tale at Christmas, which is why we so enjoyed the story in Boston Borough Council’s good newsletter purportedly written by leader Councillor Peter Bedford.
Somewhat mixing his countryside metaphors, he told us: “Challenges were met, improvements were made, thorny issues tackled, some including old chestnuts that had been around for a long time.”
And confusingly, we are told that: “It’s not until you sit down to reflect on all business done in the past year that you realise how much was accomplished in 2012.”
Apparently, the year was so hectic that Councillor Bedford claims that his wife hardly saw him in 2012 -  although a visual aid in the form of new portrait of the leader is provided by way of an aide-mémoire … which we have to say that it looks more like an e-fit of a politician on the run than anything else. A tough new look for 2013, perhaps?
So just what were all these achievements of which the leader is so proud?
Sadly, it’s a case of same old, same old.
The last stages of improvements to the Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex are underway – and appear to be far in excess of the monies allocated to the project –  which primarily benefits an elite partnership of the Witham Schools Federation and Boston Amateur Swimming Club.  
The council “enabled” £1 million to be spent on improvements at the Peter Paine
Sports Centre.
“The facility was in much need of improvement and this is a sum the council could never have afforded to spend. By handing the centre over to Boston College, cash for refurbishment was unlocked creating another superb sports facility,” says the Leader.
What he fails to mention is that the council had never owned or operated the centre, but reportedly threatened the trustees that it would be closed if they didn’t spend £400,000 on refurbishment … or hand the lease to the council.
Certainly, the deal gave the college access to £1 million of funding - and coincidentally opened a window of opportunity to sell its De Montfort campus to developers and make another £1,500,000 in the process.
The council has had the effrontery to suggest that the sport centre deal –made through an offer that the Peter Paine trustees could not refuse – has saved the borough a million pounds.
In  a similar elitist deal to that of the Moulder project, it was agreed that the college will use the centre and grounds on weekdays, and the public at “locally-comparable rates” during the evenings and weekends.
A “new future” for the Assembly Rooms thanks to private investment is welcomed … even though a side effect was the loss of the Market Place public toilets.
Then, we are down to the leaves at the bottom of the teacup – the ones that always stick to your tongue and make you gag.
They include the completion of the Market Place refurbishment – which has turned the area into a take-you-life-into-your-hands-if-you-want-to-get-across-in-one-piece and a “worthwhile” project to restore historic 116 High Street – another neglected and one time council-owned property which was flogged to Heritage Lincolnshire to turn into something hallway decent.
Other causes for celebration were the Boston in Bloom competition – really? – the “big picnic” in the park  to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee –  which barely anyone attended –   and the “success” of the Olympic torch relay through the borough that cost a small fortune.
The leader tells us that we are “well placed to tackle what 2013 will throw at us” and that “arrangements are now at an advanced stage to put the Boston Sports Initiative into the position of managing the Princess Royal Sports Arena.
“This will enable it to become a successful venue for sport and public entertainment, providing an alternative venue for some of the more traditional Assembly Rooms events.”
Hang on … that sounds as though we expect the new Assembly are unlikely to remain at the heart of the town’s public life as has been repeatedly claimed.
Some truly good news is that Boston has been given £1 million in lottery funding for community projects – which excludes the sticky fingers of the usual suspects – though we think that this will be unlikely.
It’s often the case that the items omitted from lists like these are more interesting than those which are shouted from the rooftops.
Mention of the Market Place ignores the dangers the new design has created.
There are no reports of the decision to charge disabled blue badge holders to park their cars, nor of the 20% rise in allowances that senior councillors awarded themselves.
And we will be interested to hear the proposals concerning the PRSA – particularly as the quotes about it make no mention of an end to public funding – which is now supposed to have ended.
And perhaps once all this is over, Councillor Bedford could focus on something other than sporting facilities for a change.

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1 comment:

  1. Good to have you back and a happy New Year to you too.

    A welcome reprieve from the obnoxious spin we have had to endure over the past month .....