We wondered what on earth one of our councillors had done to be accused so vehemently of making “dangerous” comments and “fanning the flames of tension” during a meeting involving members of the borough Task and Finish Group on the effects of immigration on Boston, the Shadow Communities Minister Chris Williamson, and Harris Beider, a “Professor in Community Cohesion.” Apparently Professor Beider took exception to reported “claims” by Fishtoft’s Independent Councillor Ossy Snell that a lot of criminal offences appeared to have been committed by foreign people. Frankly, we think that the learned Professor should wake up and smell the coffee. On this week’s Boston Standard website, eight out of ten defendants on motoring charges were clearly from Eastern Europe – and many of the offences were serious in that they were drink related. It would seem that all Councillor Snell is guilty of is of speaking as he finds – but that is sometimes politically incorrect in itself for today’s pundits. Similarly Councillor Snell was chastised for suggesting that those migrating here should learn English. Yet when the government makes similar demands for applicants from overseas who want to work in the NHS, everyone nods sagely.
Along similar lines, after a recent report in the Daily Mirror which said that Butlins is hiring hundreds of workers in recruitment drives throughout Eastern Europe while turning away unemployed Britons, a Boston Eye reader has been in touch with our local MP Mark Simmonds. Bearing in mind that Boston was also a big recruiting ground for Butlins in Skegness, he writes: “Would it not be prudent for measures to be introduced into law to compel employers to actually advertise their job vacancies? I would further suggest that it would be prudent to curtail the on-going love affair some employers evidently have for cheap agency labour. If a firm has a job to offer, then it should actually be available to those here, it should be advertised here, and it shouldn't be permissible to fill vacancies with an endless stream of cheap agency workers purely because some employment sectors see it as a convenient means to circumvent basic employment rights. I submit that it would certainly be much more appropriate and successful than the open vilification the British unemployed are currently being subjected to by this government. A bit of common-sense in the circles of power wouldn't go amiss.” To us this seems a reasonable suggestion – but doubtless Professor Beider would disagree. So far a reply from Mr Simmonds has proved elusive.
There’s been much talk of road safety issues during the week, and an interesting observation has come in from Boston Eye reader Alan Marshall about a missed opportunity to improve one problem street. He writes: “Thinking of Tawney Street as perhaps the most dangerous thoroughfare in Boston, where parked cars obstruct any safe passage of ambulances, fire engines – in fact all motor vehicles, including cyclists – I observed the decline of the old hard surface tennis courts within Central Park adjoining Tawney Street for some years. When eventually the post and wire surrounds were removed, I thought to myself ‘Thank goodness. At last someone at Boston or Lincoln has finally seen what I had thought obvious for years. This being to widen the double-gated vehicular entrance from Tawney Street into Central Park so as to separate pedestrians from vehicles, resurface the old hard courts with high quality dark green tarmac, mark out parking bays, then offer all properties which do not have off-street parking on Tawney Street one permit for £100 a year, and thus remove all on street parking on Tawney Street. It seemed so obvious I didn’t think it needed me to suggest it. The day I drove by to see the old tarmac being removed in sections and replaced with soil, just reminded me how useless our borough and city councillors are. Ok, they call it a community growing space, but they have turned part of Central Park into allotments. Just how crass is that?
Despite all the promises in opposition, it is starting to seem as though our Tory councillors who also sit at County Hall are having second thoughts about supporting the re-routing of the Into Town bus service away from Strait Bargate. Last week we saw a letter from Councillor Mike Gilbert which, whilst supporting an alternative route, spent most of the time painting a picture of disadvantaged elderly and disabled people, and bus drivers starving in the dole queue as a means of pulling at our heartstrings to maintain the status quo. Now we have had a glimpse of an e-mail from another county councillor to a constituent which says: “I fully support looking for a solution that both considers the vulnerable and elderly who may use and depend on the bus service, whilst also having limited effect on other townsfolk, and I am therefore open and commend looking for a reliable and viable route.” Is it just a coincidence that “reliability” and “viability” are the two words most commonly used by bus operators Brylaine to justify the continued use of Strait Bargate as rat run when the county council renews their contract in June?
We tend to assume that our local councillors are on top of what’s going on in the town, and that they might as part of the job be expected to read our local “newspapers.” That’s why we were rather disheartened to hear the comments of one local Tory who declared that they didn't buy local newspapers because they weren't interested and they couldn’t afford them anyway. Such bllatant disinterest is a slap in the face to voters – but perhaps that was what was intended. If as claimed, this councillor is so poverty stricken that £1.15 is too much to spend, there are alternatives. A visit to the library is one, as the papers are usually somewhere around. We are also fairly sure that a few copies are available in the council members’ lounge – and failing that, we are certain that newspapers are an allowable expense for a councillor to charge.
We are indebted to Boston Borough Council’ website for an photo that could well form the basis for a future “spot the odd one out” competition. According to the caption accompanying the picture below: “Volunteer gardeners prepare to tackle a ten-ton pile of granite chippings.”
The news this week that a £50m project to roll out superfast broadband to at least 88% of houses and businesses in Lincolnshire is set to begin seems likely to have little, if any, impact here in Boston. A County Hall spokesman says: “Companies need it to expand and if we want companies to relocate here we need to have this 21st Century technology in place.” But the Luddite stance adopted by our local council leadership – and Boston’s MP – seems to prefer only the packing and caulie cutting industries … so why would they want high tech businesses to come here? It’s also less than encouraging to hear that BT is working with new technologies to extend coverage in Lincolnshire even further by rolling out superfast broadband to include its exchanges in Grantham, Spalding, Gainsborough and Bourne. It’s not the first time that Boston has missed the list, and also not for the first time that Bourne has overtaken Boston in the town improvement stakes – whilst our leaders appear to stand by and watch.
The next promised date for the re-opening of Boston’s Assembly Rooms draws ever nearer without any sign of any activity. This has prompted a reader to ask: “Does anyone have any idea when work is likely to commence? The May ‘opening date’ grows ever closer. I am sure Boston Borough Council are maintaining a keen eye on proceedings in the light of the terms of the ‘Agreement of Sale'. It might become very embarrassing for them if they are not ... especially for the party loyal who are looking toward being re-elected on 2nd May at county level."
A former member of the Boston Bypass Pressure Group has offered a further comment on buses using Strait Bargate as a rat run. Michael Borrill e-mailed to say: “The question of the buses through the Market Place has reminded me of the "Tribal" (a firm of “consultants”) report of 2007. This report, at great expense, provided the council with a Boston Town Centre Study which was apart from the Transport Study. Over the years some of the details have been cast aside – e.g. the West Street development – but many of the recommendations still apply. One of these was "more pedestrianisation" and less pedestrian/vehicle conflict. "The pedestrian experience in the Market Place can be viewed as inadequate due to the presence of manoeuvring vehicles, through traffic (there were no buses when this report was compiled) and the poor delineation of the pedestrian route across the Market Place. These issues lead to pedestrian/vehicle conflict and severance." This was before buses and the revamp of the Market Place! The report recommended : "Reduce pedestrian/vehicular conflict. Pedestrian priority should be a key part in any redesign of the Market Place. This does not necessarily mean excluding vehicles, but means that they should feel ‘guests’ in a space that is ‘owned’ by the pedestrian." I suggest all councillors read this report.”
The whooping by Boston Borough Council’s leadership regarding the plans for a £3 million marina by the River Witham off Fenside Road is all but drowning out the fears of local residents, who are concerned that it may cause structural problems to their houses, as well as devaluing them and increasing insurance charges. All of this is being brushed aside by plaudits for the scheme – which will see 161 berths for boats and a restaurant as well. We have our doubts about such a project. It may well bring in a few more visitors, but the bottom line is that it will more likely see Boston used as a staging post along the Fens Waterways Link. But the best line we heard was the idea apparently endorsed among our so-called “leaders” – that the development might see a near doubling of house prices in the area overnight. Now we know that some of our councillors do not inhabit the real world!
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