Friday, 22 March 2013

The almost forgotten plan by the Royal Mail to look for alternative premises – possibly in an existing shop – so that it can economise by closing the Wide Bargate main Post Office,  was dragged back into the limelight this week.  The Boston Standard launched a petition when the news was announced, and proudly told us that it had garnered “more than 150 signatures.”  Hmmm.  Last time the Standard played the petition game was when Boston Borough Council announced its intention to charge disabled blue badge holders to park.  Without even a blush of embarrassment, a reporter presented just 27 – yes, 27 – protest coupons from readers … and if that wasn’t bad enough, three were from readers outside the borough - including one from as far away as Kent. There is a time to hand in petitions, and there is a time not to. And when the best a borough with a population of 65,000 can come up with is a meagre 150 votes against the post office plan, the better thing to do is to keep stum. Such a poor level of opposition to the post office proposal  sends a simple and plain message; go ahead with the closure, the locals don’t give a monkey's.

If you’re a busy man in the world of politics, it’s sometimes easy perhaps to lose track.  So we can understand if voters in Fishtoft do a double-take at an item of campaign literature

from Conservative councillor and joint deputy borough council leader Raymond Singleton-McGuire  –  see  picture below
click on the photograph to enlarge it
Councillor Singleton-McGuire – who  is also  the Lincolnshire Council Councillor for Fishtoft,  as well as being the parish council chairman, has mailed stay-at-home voters to tell them that they will shortly be receiving their postal ballot paper “for the local Boston Borough Council elections on May 2nd.” Come again, Councillor? Unless you know something we don’t know, Boston Borough Council won’t be up for re-election until 7th May 2015.  Whilst it’s good to hit the ground running at election time, it’s also helpful to know in which direction you’re travelling. Isn’t it?
And talking of elections, we note the announcement of the vacancy for the  Staniland South seat on Boston Borough Council, which became vacant on the death of Conservative borough Councillor Paul Mould last month. To glean this information, you have to visit the “public notices” section of the Boston Borough Council website to be told: “To call an election a request must be made in writing to the Returning Officer at the address below by TWO electors within the principal local authority area.” No closing dates are given for this. In fact we know that this has been done, because at least one candidate has come forward, and we are sure that there will be more – but it seems almost as though the council would have liked it to slip by unnoticed.  No date has yet been announced for the election but the odds are that it will coincide with the County Council elections on Thursday 2nd May – principally because it’s cheaper that way. It’s impossible to say whether or not this is a good move. A local council contest in isolation might not draw much interest – but if more people are minded to pitch up for the county council event, it may improve the turn-out.
Perhaps it’s because an election is in the air, but have you noticed that in this week’s local “newspapers” there are more letters from our local councillors than you can shake a stick at. The Boston Standard has letters from 21 local councillors – if you count one from the 17 strong “Conservative Group” and another  from the three “Boston Labour Councillors” – whilst the Boston Target has letters from another six councillors. The Tories seem particularly anxious at this time to let us all know how unafraid they are, and what amazing achievements they have accomplished. Wethinks the Tories doth protest too much, to paraphrase Hamlet – although there is much that is hammy about their performance. More on elections next week.
Last time we wrote about the lack of surgeries held by our Boston Borough Councillors, we mentioned the decline of the roving surgeries staged by Labour group members of the council. However, we’re told that the last one was held in January, and the next will be tomorrow. You can buttonhole your councillors in Staniland North Ward between 10am 11am when they will be touring Fydell Street, Ellen Close, Granville Street, and Bartol Crescent. And they will be in Skirbeck ward from 11am until noon, covering Kings Crescent, Kings Avenue, Church Road, Kitwood Close.
A couple of weeks ago we mentioned the poor turnout at a meeting arranged in a Stickford pub to discuss the European Union. It was organised by East Lindsey District Councillor Victoria Ayling, with Bostonians especially in mind. Clearly, although no one else was much bothered about the subject under discussion, Councillor Ayling,  who was East Lindsey’s portfolio holder for Corporate Affairs, - and who came within  714 votes of ousting veteran MP Austin Mitchell at the 2010 general election battle for Grimsby –  has much stronger views that perhaps some people thought.  Last week, she jumped ship from the Tories to UKIP, saying she could no longer serve Lincolnshire residents under David Cameron as leader.
We’ve mentioned Boston Business “Improvement” District a couple of times this week, and will have more to report ahead of their annual meeting next Tuesday. In the meantime, we were interested to note the following announcement at last month’s BID board meeting: “The decision was taken that BID would run the 2013 Christmas market and the Chairman was already looking to attract an A list celebrity to switch on the Christmas lights.” This strikes us not only as a tad presumptuous as others had a say in last year’s event – but potentially risky. An event such as a Christmas market needs a lot of money spending up front … particularly if star names are involved. What if the BID does not win the September ballot for a second five year term in office?  It’s possible that it could have splashed out several thousand that might not be refundable, and therefore end up coming out of the pockets of local businesses. The only way to avoid such a potential calamity would be to wait until the result of the ballot. In that event it would be far too late in the day to arrange anything very special, as most stallholders would have booked elsewhere, as would the cast of Emmerdale Farm. Yet again, the BID looks guilty of not thinking things through properly.
Some good news for Boston for once in terms of winning back a service that was to have been taken away. In July last year East Midlands Ambulance Service proposed the closure and sale of dozens of ambulance stations to improve its performance times, which were among the worst in the country.  The idea was to replace the region's 66 current ambulance stations replaced with 13 larger "hub stations" and more than 118 "tactical deployment points." And, as is so often the case these days, there were no plans to include Boston as one of the hubs. However, in a revised plan announced earlier this week, the new idea is for 16 hubs and 108 smaller community ambulance stations – and with Boston being included among the hubs. Let’s hope that this new recognition of Boston as somewhere worth serving is set to continue.
We mentioned the Boston Standard earlier in the blog, and we have to congratulate them on an ingenious way to win an award. The paper devoted a third of its front page – and the sole report on page 11 – to tell readers that it had scooped three press awards. It won “Title of the Year,” “Best use of digital platforms” and Small weekly title of the year” at an awards ceremony in Peterborough. The event?  The inaugural Johnston Press Awards – organised by Johnston Press for newspaper members of … you’ve guessed it … the Johnston Press Group. Not too hard to succeed somewhere there, we imagine. Perhaps the “small weekly title” referred to the dwindling readership. Soon, we plan to announce the Boston Eye annual blog award which will be given to blogs published about Boston which have the word “Eye” in the title. We feel that we have a good chance of success.
Finally, we were tickled by the sign pictured below which we saw in a car park off Wide Bargate.

The name Robin Hood conjured up the outlaw’s memorable policy of stealing from the rich to give to the poor.  Exactly the reverse of Boston Borough Council’s parking policy – to take from the poor to give to the rich!

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1 comment:

  1. I am sure I read details relating to the vacancy of the Staniland South seat in the Boston Standard either the edition of the 13th March or the 20th. Probably the latter. The date of the election relating thereto was mentioned also.