Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The beleaguered Boston Town Area Committee – the ever-present piggy bank for Boston Borough Council’s cabinet to dip into on the flimsiest pretext whenever it is short of cash – is to discuss a change of role.
At the request of a member, tonight’s committee is to discuss the idea of the formation of a town council to replace BTAC.
The idea has been floated before, and is particularly popular with the Labour opposition group, but  has been rejected by council leader Pete Bedford - not surprisingly -  who has said he thought that BTAC has its own precept and budget, so is probably very close to what is being proposed.
And as a final nail in the coffin, he warned of a cost implication to setting up another separate town council, which he was sure that taxpayers would not want to pay.
Over the years, the frequent accusation has been made that the BTAC budget is too convenient as a source of funding for other committee projects – notably it would seem, leisure – for the council to allow the £80,000 a year that’s available to slip from the cabinet’s slippery grasp.
In the past year or so - BTAC has given £5,000 towards the Boston Community Showcase – which is clearly a borough wide event, another £5,000 for the Diamond Jubilee party debacle, a further £10,000 on the so-called Jubilee Garden and budgeted £20,000 towards a skateboard park in just one ward which it is already being recommended for relocation because the users are fearful of  problems caused by drug addicts and vandalism.
And most recently, the committee has been “persuaded” to take over the Garfits Lane playing fields, to spare another portfolio the burden.
And yet, as a new financial year dawns, the knocking at BTAC’s vault door is ceaseless.
A report to this evening’s meeting on the 2013 Boston in Bloom campaign produced on behalf of Leisure Services Portfolio holder Councillor Yvonne Gunter – whose sphere of operations is the one to benefit most from BTAC’s largesse – relies on the same clapped out argument when asking “that BTAC considers whether it is prepared to offer any support to Boston in Bloom 2013 to help enhance the town environment and foster public and business engagement in the campaign.”
The author, partnerships and sustainability manager Ian Farmer, tells the committee: “The Boston in Bloom campaign focuses on Boston town, which is the same geographical area as that covered by BTAC” – ergo BTAC ought to foot some of the bill.
We take a slightly different view – that the entire borough benefits from success in this event, because if the cards are properly played, people will come to the area to visit.
At the moment we are celebrating meagre success in last year’s Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom event as if we had collected the prize for Best Show Garden at Chelsea. Whilst it’s nice to win something for once – the displays were not that special, and given our history of never doing anything as well the second time around the outlook is probably gloomy.
There is every good reason politely to decline the invitation to shore up the leisure budget – which is already listed to receive almost £1.1 million pounds in the coming year.
Another item on tonight’s BTAC agenda concerns the neglected Ingelow Avenue playing field which it is clearly stressed is not a site for which the committee is responsible.
Having said that, we are sure that this will not stand in the way of parting BTAC from money should any opportunity arise.
Theoretically, BTAC is a good idea, as it supposedly ring-fences monies exclusively for spending on the town centre.
In practice, it seems that advantage is being taken of its generosityor worse that pressure is being brought on the committee’s Tory majority to do the cabinet’s bidding.
It’s time for BTAC members to stand up and be counted and work for the people.

Ahead of tonight’s meeting we received the following response to our blog from BTAC member and Independent Councillor Carol Taylor..

As you are aware, the majority of members on the above committee are Conservative councillors and to say the committee was " persuaded " to take over Garfits Lane playing fields suggests that the whole of the committee agreed to it.  We did not.  Members of the opposition groups including myself were totally against the idea and voted accordingly. Who would vote to take on a project which is used very little and is most certainly not financially viable and estimated that the amount of football games for instance played on the field averages at a cost of £700 per match ? Certainly no one with any business acumen,  but alas BTAC did. The voting was equal so the chairman had the casting vote ... no prizes then for guessing which way the vote went!
With regard to BTAC to “stand up and be counted ."  Do you really think, New Boston Eye, that this is going to happen? Of course you don't, and neither, I suspect, do the public. We will always be out-voted due to the number ratio. If only a few members of the Conservative group had the courage to vote with their conscience on issues which affect the good people of Boston.  Tonight's meeting with regard to BTAC becoming a Town Council will see a presentation by the Chief Executive. The council leader is against the idea and I have a feeling of déjà-vu that all the Conservative members of that committee will agree with their “Pied Piper !
Members of the opposition will always stand up and be counted, but sadly we are not enough in numbers to succeed,  a fact which the Conservatives continue to gloat on!
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