Friday, 29 March 2013

Tuesday’s high-handed – or rather jack-booted – solution to protests by Boston Business “Improvement” District have cost that pathetic organisation a friend that it ought not to have lost. One of the founder director appointments comes from Boston Stump, whose representative was Carol Taylor – co-incidentally an Independent Boston Borough Councillor. But not a BID director any more.  In an e-mail to the BID Chairman “Obersturmbannführer” Alan Ellis, she condemns the decision to use police and town rangers to exclude protestor Darron Abbott from Tuesday’s annual meeting – calling it “abhorrent,” and something that should never have happened. “Mr Abbott should have been allowed to come in, and then if any disturbance had occurred we could have acted accordingly. You said to me that the decision to exclude him was made in the afternoon – but as usual you and Mr Armstrong (Niall Armstrong, the BID manager) made that decision without consulting other directors. I was also informed that this year's Xmas market will be on 29th November and 1st December. St Botolph's Xmas fayre is the following weekend. This should have been a team effort between the two, thus promoting a very festive few days which included St Botolph's. May I remind you that 'The Stump' is still the biggest tourist attraction for Boston?  The very poor attendance of other directors was unacceptable, and at least two of the absentees very rarely turn up for regular meetings either. I have discussed my decision with Father Hugh (Reverend Doctor Hugh Jones) and Graham Stewart-Smith (the Parish Administrator) and they are in agreement that there is no longer any point for representation of St Botolph's Church on the board of Boston BID.”
It seems that senior members of Boston Borough Council are falling all over themselves to bask in the glory to be had from apparently reducing incidents of anti-social drinking in the town. The council claims that a new policy of removing public seating from anti-social behaviour hot spots has seen complaints fall dramatically. Queuing up to offer their quotes are Councillor Mike Gilbert, portfolio holder for community development, who says that said reported incidents had reduced by half between August and  December in public areas where drinkers congregated were “targeted.”  Step forward council leader Pete Bedford, to add that there had also been a reduction in street drinking since the Ingram Memorial area was opened up to the Market Place. And last – and by all means least – Councillor Derek Richmond portfolio holder for the town centre, chipped in to say said there had also been increased police activity to deal with street drinking … with a number of  arrests. The decision to remove public seating was very much a smokescreen. More than twenty benches have been removed – purportedly after complaints –  but we know of  several where there was no consultation with local people as to whether problems occurred or not. What did benefit the council, though, was to get rid of benches that needed regular inspection,  painting, maintenance and all those other things one associates with street furniture. The result?  Perhaps a diminution of anti-social behaviour – but certainly a much larger saving of money for the cash-strapped council.
In the previous item we mentioned Councillor Derek Richmond – a man with more responsibilities than you can shake a stick at.  Another of these is car parking, and we note with interest that the man who is often so quick to blame any individuals or groups that he can find for problems rather than Boston Borough Council, has now locked his sights on people who park their cars – and don’t pay the council for the privilege. According to a local “newspaper” report he blames drivers who use private or free car parks for a projected loss of £91,000 from the council’s budget. Disability campaigners were singled out for a special mention, as their apparent selfishness in challenging the introduction of charges for blue badge holders delayed them for three months – losing the council income.  In the same way that the government feels we should share the pain by footing the bill for  the political incompetence that led to the collapse of the banks, and wrecked the housing market, Councillor Richmond is quoted as saying: “Thank goodness we increased charges and introduced blue badge charges; otherwise we would be way down.” Amen to that. From now on, we intend always to park in Boston Borough Council parks – and to make sure if there is one with a dearer tariff nearby that we use it in preference to a cheaper alternative.  We hope that the rest of our readers will do the same – apart from  any councillors or borough council staff who, of course, are allowed to park free of charge.
We note that UKIP leader Nigel Farage is to visit Boston next month and will tour the town ahead of a public meeting at Wyberton Sports and Social Club. Among the issues he plans to talk about is the effect of immigration on Boston. Although politics is a serious business, we were amused by the photograph on the Boston Standard website – where Mr Farage has what appears to be a disembodied hand on this shoulder. 

It reminded us of a scene from that classic Hammer movie– “Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors” which saw Christopher Lee in a similar predicament! We agree that a helping hand is useful for a politician, but isn’t this taking thinks a little too far?
Talking of Boston and immigration, we note the latest figures in the national press this week. Among the reports, the Daily Mail said that nearly 120,000 Romanians and Bulgarians have already moved to Britain despite not yet being able to work freely in this country. Data from the 2011 census said that migration to Britain – at a rate equivalent to 30,000 a year – began as soon as the two countries joined the EU. “Census figures gave an official figure of 988,123 Eastern European citizens present in the country in March 2011 – including 588,082 Poles, 104,676 Lithuanians, and 73,208 Romanians. Around one and a half million people from the eight Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 are thought to have lived and worked in Britain at some stage. The census showed the highest concentration of Eastern European citizens in any town in Britain was in Boston, with 10.7 per cent of the population are Eastern European passport-holders.


But the figures that the Mail produced (above) Showed that Boston was not alone. Nearby Peterborough was 6th in the migration top ten on 7.5%, and neighbouring South Holland was tenth, with 5.9 per-cent.
We mentioned last week the pointlessness of petitions which either fail to attract many signatures, or which fall by the wayside due to insufficient promotion.  A long time ago, Boston Borough Council announced the introduction of online petitions, and what has happened since has scarcely set the town alight. Currently, there are no-active petitions. And here’s the score to date … 
click to enlarge photo

The page was last updated in July last year, and tests to see if it was working properly almost outnumber the petitions. Is it just a case that Bostonians don’t care? We hope not – as there is so much to care about.
One such thing is the development and regeneration of Boston.  Towns around us such as Bourne and Spalding seem to be forever improving – and now Sleaford looks set to join them.  Supermarket giant Tesco has confirmed that it is pressing ahead with plans for a new store, which could lead to £100 million pounds worth of redevelopment and up 1,000 new jobs. The proposal is part of wider regeneration plan to redevelop “The Maltings” - Europe's largest at risk heritage site – which already has planning permission and funding for 204 apartments, 24 houses – plus restaurants and shops. North Kesteven’s Chief Executive Ian Fytche said: “"Such a strong expression of investor confidence sends a strong message that Sleaford is somewhere to do business and gives us a boost in pushing forward with our broader regeneration vision.” Whither Boston? Or should that be wither Boston?  Around five years ago we were promised an £80 million development of the West Street area with plans for the a 60,000 sq. ft. department store, a food store, eight "major space units," 17 additional units of various sizes, a new "riverside restaurant quarter," a 700 space "gold standard" car park, more than 100 new "city-style apartments," an hotel and a new "iconic" pedestrian bridge linking to the town centre. Then the company planning it fell flat on its face. What do we have to look forward to now?  Unspecified plans to turn the Assembly Rooms into a “modern entertainment venue” which have just been put back for a third time since Boston Borough Council flogged it off after years of deliberate civic neglect rendered it too expensive for the public purse to repair. Other places have something to look forward to; the hope that things will improve and that better and more varied shops will enhance their towns.  But not, it seems, Boston.
Even the image of Boston as somewhere where there are interesting things to see and do is gradually diminishing. The latest edition of Lincolnshire County Council’s quarterly magazine lists what it calls “The essential guide to what’s on in Lincolnshire for Spring 2013. In Boston, this amounts to a “Where’s Wally” children’s activity on Boston Library on 10th April – but you’d better be quick, as it only lasts an hour! Never mind. On its front page, the Boston Standard promises a guide to “what to do during the Easter Holiday.” Most of it involves going elsewhere than Boston – but if you’re on the lookout for something really different, you can get hypnotised, hire a skip, buy some new double glazed windows, get your eyes tested, or visit a dentist. Not so much a guide, really as just a list of people daft enough to advertise for no particular reason.
Mention of Lincolnshire County Council brings us neatly to a new blog that has appeared in recent months. Because they’re a lot smarter that we are in Boston, it is called  Oculus Lindum  -  subtitle: “An eye on the goings on in Lincolnshire.” This translates as Lincoln Eye! It’s written by a gentleman named Peter Barton, a local government officer for the last 15 years of his working life, who dangles such interesting buzzwords as “self-interest, sleaze, corruption, and jobs for the boys” among the subject material. It’s worth a read and you can find it by clicking  here
Yesterday’s photographs of a Boston Town Ranger helping the BID keep unwanted visitors away from the company’s annual meeting struck a chord deep in the memory banks of some of our readers.

Yes, quite a lot of you – like us, old enough to remember the Beano comic – were struck by the similarity between the star of the BID AGM and the much funnier cartoon character Wilfrid, one of the stars of the Bash Street Kids. Incidentally, now that Boston BID is struggling to find directors, could we offer a couple of nominees that they might wish to consider – local farmer Richard Tater known to his friends as Dick  and Boston shoe repairer  Jack Boot   after all the BID should get on well with a load of cobblers.

We’re off for a few days now. Have a great Easter. We’re back again on Wednesday 3rd April

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