With a heavy-lidded glare, a Boston town ranger bars the way to the town’s Business “Improvement” District annual meeting.The ranger – together with a colleague and a Boston police inspector – were waiting outside the Blenkin Memorial Hall in Wormgate to prevent a former BID director going in to ask a series of questions which he had submitted in advance.
Local accountant Darron Abbott – who resigned in protest at the way the BID was operating – had earlier been told by the BID’s chairman that he would be barred from the meeting because he did not have a proxy to show that he was representing a local business – and his own company was not located in the BID area.
Unfortunately for all involved with this act of personal censorship, Mr Abbott had taken the prudent step of obtaining an appointment as a director of a local business within the BID territory and as such was entitled to admission.
But none of the people seeking to prevent his lawful entry to the meeting would look at the proof when it was offered.
The heavy handed treatment he received sparked protests from others who had gone into the meeting.
Local florist Maxine Hill told Boston Eye: “The rangers were actually pushing him, and I heard Darron saying ‘don’t touch me, don’t push me …’
“I can’t see who the hell they think they are to say people can’t come into a meeting – it’s crazy …
“It was commented in the meeting that it was disgusting that he wasn’t allowed to come in. My thoughts were that he should have been allowed to come in, and to be kicked out if he caused trouble …
“He does have a good input to the meetings normally, but they just weren’t having any of it. I did say to them, ‘if you actually look at the paperwork he has in his hand he should be allowed to come in’ – but they weren’t’ interested, and I just said ‘I think that you’ll find you have egg on your face when you find out that you have illegally not allowed somebody to come to your meeting.’”
Ms Hill said that the meeting itself was “was much the same as always.”
She said she asked where all the directors were.
“There was basically Alan Ellis, the chairman, Councillor Carol Taylor who represents Boston Stump, the accountant who’s not part of the board of directors and Niall Armstrong, the manager – so there were two directors out of twelve there.
“Councillor Derek Richmond was there – but only for about an hour then got up and walked out.”
In terms of business … “It was already said that we were on track for the new Christmas craft fair, but I said aren’t you pre-empting that considering there a ballot in October – are you going to pay for it out of your own pocket ...?
There were lots and lots of questions as always on the finances. Someone asked for it all to be broken down, because I know about the Boston Beat money (a free concert planned but cancelled two years in a row) that’s gone AWOL – it was asked why it was that the event was not actually insured against cancellation – it wasn’t – I think it’s a figure of around £14,000 plus that has been lost.
She asked if they were going to get the money – which comes from the compulsory levy on local businesses – back.
“They said they’re ‘trying.’ Six months down the line they still haven’t got it, so I think they’re obviously wasting their time … they’re not going to get it but they’re trying to fob us off saying they’re still trying, but I don’t believe that for one minute.”
Ms Hill said there was “quite a bit of discussion” about the ballot in October which the BID is hoping will win it a second five year term, … and if people who threw their ballot papers away wouldn’t be counted as a ‘yes’ vote this time.
“They disagreed that that was how it was done, but obviously it was because a lot of people did throw it away because they thought it was just a circular and didn’t bother to read it properly but were counted as in favour …”
“People are saying to me that BID is a successfully run thing. Well, maybe it is, but not in Boston, never.
“In five years all they’ve done, they’ve got the town rangers and so far they’ve lost £15,000 that I know of.
“Have they lost any more in the past that we don’t know anything about? We got the Mary Portas money. I asked what was happening with that – no, nothing, no answer to that one.
“I really, really hope that the ballot goes the right way this year and Boston BID goes.”
Darron Abbott, meanwhile, has also questioned if the meeting was quorate – whether enough directors were there for the meeting to proceed under the BID’s constitution.
He said that only two founder members were present when three are required, and that no members of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce members were there, when there should be at least one.
Mr Abbott has also filed a written complaint with Lincolnshire Police about the conduct of one officer, and second another who, he says, refused to take details of the complaint or let him report an allegation of assault.
We asked the following for a comment on the events of Tuesday night:-
Alan Ellis, Chairman of Boston BID
Councillor Derek Richmond, Boston Borough Council’s portfolio holder for the town centre and also a director of Boston BID.
Not one of them had responded by the time this blog went to press.
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