Friday, 25 April 2014

Increasingly the big name stores are pulling the chain on Boston.
Greenwoods Menswear is the latest to announce that it is closing down.
Surprisingly for a company that boasts a “mansize” range that goes up to 4XL, it would appear that business is not booming in a town that is famous for the obesity of its population.
And the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop is also to close.
This in turn may well raise questions about the future of the towns Peacocks store as the Peacocks chain was bought out by Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a rescue operation in February 2012.
Unnoticed amidst these closures – possibly because it is not within a stone’s throw of our local “newspaper” offices –  is the disappearance of The Body Shop which has been tarted up to make it more attractive to any potential leaseholder.
All these stores are in the Market Place – which is a big enough mess already without empty shops with windows advertising the like of circus arrivals and speedway meetings.
And let’s not forget that the former Millett’s store is still standing empty as well.
Elsewhere, Pescod Hall, the former Clintons Cards and HMV premises are all empty in Pescod Square.
Clintons Cards was reported to be re-opening in Boston in the former JJB Sports premises on Wide Bargate – but as that was reported in November last year with the opening said to be “around the end of January … in time for Valentine’s Day,” we fear that something may have gone awry.
And as for the Boston Shopping Park – some stores have remained unoccupied since it was built on the six acre former ASDA site in 2006 … eight years ago.
Currently, Boston lacks an economic plan.
The council produced an interim economic development strategy in
2011 with a two-year life which has pretty well failed to meet any of its objectives.
It let the council limp along as usual whilst the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership was being established and was developing an economic/growth strategy for the Greater Lincolnshire region.
Last month, a report to the council said that the Greater Lincolnshire LEP economic strategy had now been developed and Boston Borough Council “needs to develop its own economic vision and strategy to dovetail with the LEP strategy and provide sustainable economic development in the borough.”
And not a moment too soon.
The Greater Lincolnshire plan covers the county area prior to local government reorganisation in 1974 which hived off an area then named Humberside, and which makes it the second largest council area in England.
With so many big places, it is not surprising that Boston is barely mentioned – and when it is, the population is given as a mere 41,000 – when the latest estimate of 64,600 is still regarded as an underestimate.
In the meantime, the rot sets in still further.
The borough council’s own figures for the final quarter of last year show an average daily pedestrian footfall for the first nine months of 2013 at 2,394 – which seems pretty feeble to us.
Occupied retail shop units in the town centre have fallen to their lowest in four years and there were forty vacant units when the report was compiled.
Meanwhile, Boston shambles on with no current action plan – other that the recognition that it “needs” to develop a “vision.”
Before the tumbleweed starts rolling through the Market Place, it’s surely time to dump the jargon, and get to work on a solution.

We mentioned last week the ructions at Boston’s Big Local – which rather than coming up with ideas on how to spend the £1m given to Boston by the Big Lottery Fund – seems to have spent the time on internal disharmony and a lot of inconsequential meetings.
Aside from the resignation of the only paid officer – a “facilitator” who quit complaining that  she was  “deeply concerned” with the management of the project, and often met “obstruction and dismissal” which made the job untenable – questions have been asked about the Big Local “Rep.”
He is Ivan Annibal (pictured right) who runs a Lincoln-based business, and who is currently being given the once-over by Renaisi, the company which trains and supplies the reps.
Mr Annibal – a former Lincolnshire County Council worker – is a very busy man indeed these days, and from a trawl of the internet would seem to consider himself an important person as well.
He is another of those people who has a finger in more pies than he has fingers – although he would appear to be as new to the world of the Big Local as are the members of the committee who appeared as if by magic to manage the spending of our £1 million – and we wonder whether he has reached the point where he has too much on his plate.
In a paean of self-praise on his “Intelligence Forum” website, we noted at the weekend that his role of Big Local rep was listed as “designate” – although it is, of course, now substantive.
Busy as he is, though, he is a man who honours our religious festivals.
The resignation of the Big Local facilitator was reported by Boston Eye last Friday and by the Boston Standard a few hours later.
When asked for a comment by the Standard, his retort was:” “I’m fine, but it’s Good Friday so you’ll have to call me back on Monday, my friend” – clearly overlooking the fact that the Monday in question was Easter Monday.
We have always had scant regard for people who address total strangers as “my friend”.
It’s usually intended to sound clever, but patronising, and thus put the other person at a disadvantage.
To us, it the choice of the expression indicates a pillock.
We have seen e-mails which passed between Mr Annibal and a member of the public who had questions about the appointment of the facilitator, which show him to be a world class prevaricator – which is disappointing when he has charge of a massive sum of public money intended to benefit the town of Boston – in short, we don’t expect the Standard to have much luck whenever they call him back, which so far, they don’t seem to have done.
Why is it that Boston always has such bad luck?
Just as we get shot of the town’s utterly hopeless Business “Improvement” District, we get the Big Local Committee, which seems to have spent hours in meetings that achieve nothing – and on some occasions even less.
Watch out for more in Boston Eye.

This year’s annual proclamation from Boston Borough Council that the police and a “community safety” presence will be all over visitors to the May Fair like fleas on a dog to prevent anti-social behaviour reminds us of yet another broken  pledge since the town’s Assembly Rooms were sold by Boston Borough Council  for enhancement as an eyesore.
Promising that flags would continue to fly over the Assembly Rooms at times of public celebration and for civic occasions despite change of ownership, owner Matt Clark said: "I stressed at the time of the handover that I wanted to see a continuation of community uses at the Assembly Rooms …
 … "I am determined that the new future for the Assembly Rooms will keep it at the heart of the community, dominating, as it does, the Market Place …
“… I am very much a traditionalist and take great pride in our heritage and different cultures and will support these in Boston as best I am able."
However, this did not include the first-ever flying of the Commonwealth Flag on 5th March which instead hung limply from the broomstick on a windowsill which the powers that be in Worst Street laughingly refer to as the council offices’ flagpole.
Continuing the policy of moving “traditional” events away from the Assembly Rooms, the Mayor of Boston will again be declaring the fair open from the steps of the gallopers ride – whereas for decades until the Assembly Rooms were sold, the ceremony took place on the balcony of the building, giving the ceremony a real presence – as our picture above shows.
We wonder whether Boston Borough Council even asked whether the Assembly Rooms could be used for that purpose again this year to restore the broken link with a long standing tradition – but somehow we doubt it.


We must be getting old – no, we are getting old – because we confused ballots with lots in last week’s edition when we wrote about the selection of Boston’s mayor.
A reader reminds us that a ballot system was imposed by the Boston Bypass Independents, and resulted in at least one interesting and unpopular selection.
When the Tories surprised themselves and everyone else by winning control of the council, they restored the rule that length of service determined the choice of mayor and where seven councillors shared the same length of service it was agreed that the postholder should be selected by lot.
Last week we asked the question about how this selection process was organised, and it appears that it usually takes place at a private meeting of the candidates in February – with the result being announced to the members and the public at the following full council meeting.
Amusingly, we were reminded that one member of the old Bypass Independents Party said her reason for favouring an elected mayor was because some councillors were “not fit to be Mayor.”
Although whomever that person had in mind was never specified, our reader commented: “I wonder what that councillor thinks of the suitability of the incoming Mayor.”

Although the recent flooding is slowly being consigned to history, some concerns are being expressed about the progress and financing of the much trumpeted Boston Barrier.
This multi-million pound project is intended to protect Boston in the event of a flood, and we are told that it would have kept the waters at bay during last year’s episode – which is, of course, little consolation for all the people affected.
It’s five years since the barrier was first proposed – at which time it was said that it would cost £50 million and be completed by this year.
Now, the cost is being quoted as just a tad under £100 million and the Environment Agency has said that “subject to approval,” construction will begin in the summer of 2017 and be completed by the end of 2019.
“Subject to approval” has a leaden ring to it, don’t you think?
There is also a school of thought that flood prevention is secondary,  and that the  prime reason for building the barrier is to boost the Fens Waterway Project which will connect the Rivers Witham, Glen, Welland, Nene and Ouse and open up 240 km of waterways creating a new circular waterway for recreation, tourism and the environment.
It’s a great idea that will certainly benefit places like Lincoln, Ely and Cambridge – but sadly, yet again Boston is really little more than a staging post for the craft that will use it.
Then there is the financial side …
Boston’s Labour councillors have expressed serious concern about whether the right resources to build the barrier are in place.
They point to Boston Borough Council’s capital programme for the five years to 2018/19 which has no capital proposals for contributions to the flood barrier scheme.
They add: “We know one of the biggest threats to our town is flooding, so shouldn’t the people of Boston be asking a simple question – where is Boston Borough Council’s contribution to this scheme, or are they expecting the government to fund it?”
Our concern is that with so much flooding elsewhere in recent months, the Boston scheme may well be postponed or side-lined – and as costs continue to rise might well be delayed yet again
The recent floods across the country have cost insurers more than £1 billion and in the recent budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that £140 million would be made available for repairs to flood defences – described as a 'sticking plaster' by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
And we are unimpressed with the promises of Environment Agency Chairman Lord Smith, whose lacklustre response to the recent Somerset floods led to calls for his resignation and whose term in office ends on 13th July.
During a recent tour of Lincolnshire, he was reported to have confirmed the cost of the scheme at an “estimated” £90 million and said: “I am determined, before I step down as chairman of the EA in a few months’ time to make sure that this is well on its way to happening.”

As an aside to flooding in general, we were greatly entertained by Boston Borough Council’s joint promotion with the Boston Target to give away one of eighteen kits of water repellent strips that offered “a simple, effective DIY flood defence system.”
Well they look to be.
But in terms of convenience, we have some doubts.
The company which makes the kits says that it can’t recommend them for use in salt water flooding, which is what occurred in Boston,
But that problem can be overcome by “simply” folding the strips lengthways in half and soaking half the length in a basin of cold tap water so the fabric-like lining within the strips swells as it becomes a soft waterproof gel.
Are you with us so far …?
Then, with the swollen gel facing out, trap the strips tightly between the door and the frame all along the bottom.
But what the rising flood waters are doing whilst all this is going on is anyone’s guess.
And it seems as though the general public are fairly unimpressed by the chance to get one of these kits – even for nothing, which seems to be about what they are worth in salt water situations.
A fortnight after the offer was first promoted, Wednesday’s Boston Borough bulletin was begging people to apply as there were still “a few” kits left – when surely, there were only a few available to begin with.
The best thing that we think could be done would be for the council to invest in a few thousand sandbags with some of the government’s largesse that is coming the way of the town.
Although the borough’s response to the flood emergency was creditable, we recall that its earliest communication with the public was to tell them: “For the avoidance of doubt, in a flooding incident, Boston Borough Council does not supply sandbags, neither empty nor filled, to any resident or business in Boston borough as the responsibility for safeguarding homes and businesses lies with the owner.”
Not the best response from your self-styled caring council, wethinks.
It’s one thing to chortle about how well you performed after disaster struck, but most local authorities stock sandbags for their own use and the use of the public to help head off disaster before it strikes.
There’s a lesson there somewhere.

There was good and bad news in equal-ish amounts for Boston this week. To mark ten years since Poland and seven other relatively poor eastern European countries joined the European Union, the Independent and its sister newspaper i continued a series on the impact of migration from the EU, with a report from Boston – “where thousands of migrants settled, strived – and caused tension along the way” – by the papers’ Social Affairs Correspondent, Emily Dugan.
As you might expect, the report – which you can read in full by clicking here – followed the lines that we have become most familiar with.
They even wheeled out  the now long forgotten Dean Everitt, who was once so vocal about immigration, and who organised a protest march or two – and who is now apparently planning to stage some more.
And the piece went on to add: “The town has now become notorious for its strained relations with migrants.”
click on the picture to enlarge it
Gary Joynes, a neighbourhood beat sergeant for Lincolnshire Police,  managed to rub salt into the wound  with the  light-hearted but irrelevant comment that: “We were the fattest town in England, but the Eastern European ladies don’t tend to be a large build, so that’s brought it right down.”
But on a brighter note, this week’s Country Life came to Boston’s rescue with a full-page about the main door to the tower of St Botolph’s church in its regular series “Parish church treasures.”
Describing the Stump as “Britain’s greatest medieval church tower,” it went on to detail the importance of this entrance – in particular on Palm Sunday when “the entire congregation would have entered through this door, passing beneath an elevated monstrance* holding a consecrated host. They were led into the building by the priest, who commonly struck the door with the shaft of the proces­sional cross. His action symbolised Christ's forced entrance through the gates of death and the Harrowing of Hell.”
Wouldn’t it be marvellous to see that tradition restored once again?


The Boston Target’s issue of 16th April selected as their “letter of the week” – one of only two, incidentally – an accolade to Boston Council’s staff by none other than their respected and beloved leader Councillor Pete Bedford.
In it he praised their “understanding” and commitment to help the council meet the challenges which it faces.
This self-same letter appeared in the Boston Standard almost a month before on the 19th March – and as we pointed out at the time the staff’s “understanding” was reached against a backdrop that unless they voted for some harsh changes to their working conditions they would be fired and reoffered their jobs only if they accepted the less attractive terms of employment following a two year wage freeze.
Ironically, the week before the letter appeared in the Target the Boston Labour group of councillors sent in a missive on the self-same subject
In it they accused the council leadership of reneging on a promise to restore some of the forfeited pay entitlements, and giving staff no real option to negotiate at all.
Even more disappointing, they continue, is that the report on pay to councillors was written so as to ensure an absence of public scrutiny, denying the public and the media the chance to attend the meeting or see the paperwork involved.
They concluded: “The morale of staff is at an all-time low. The final deal put up to staff is one of the worst examples of employer/employee negotiations that we have ever seen.”
So who’s telling the truth here – Leader or Labour, which is showing itself to be the only real voice of opposition on Boston Borough Council.
As we said when Councillor Bedford’s letter first appeared: “If you put a gun to someone’s head, it is scarcely surprising if they go along with whatever you ask them to ‘volunteer.’
Treating the electorate with similar contempt by assuming that their attention span is so short that they will be stupid enough to overlook the fact that a threat of redundancy becomes heroic team playing in the space of just three months adds insult to injury.”
After his second attempt, we see no reason to change our view.


Coming next week
The private healthcare issue bobs up again for MP Mark Simmonds.
Why is it that doctors apparently don’t want to come to Boston?
And just how much does it cost to open and close a park gate?

*Monstrance: A vessel in which the consecrated Host is exposed for the adoration of the faithful .
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Friday, 18 April 2014

We mentioned Boston’s Big Local project last week – and the resignation of the “facilitator” for the venture, which has received £1 million from the Big Lottery Fund for the benefit of the town.
Since then we’ve seen e-mails which point to divisions within the organisation and dissatisfaction with the Lincoln based representative, Ivan Annibal – who was appointed to oversee the project and guide the committee tasked with spending the money.
In her letter of resignation shown to Boston Eye, the facilitator, Rachel Lauberts, says that she has been “deeply concerned” with the management of the project,
She goes on: “My opinions have been ignored which has resulted in me feeling disempowered and disillusioned. I joined this project because I believed that it was going to be, and clearly should be, resident led and felt that it was a fantastic opportunity for Boston.
“Having been appointed as the Facilitator for Boston Big Local I have naturally made it my business to do extensive research in to the process and procedures as laid down in all the guidelines under the Big Local Trust, from starting the conversation right though to completing and submitting the Big Local Plan.
“My decision to resign is based purely on the facts of how Boston Big Local should be conducted, and despite many efforts on my part to follow the correct guidelines I have often met with obstruction and dismissal which has made my position as Facilitator untenable.”
The resignation comes after the project steering group posed a series of questions for Mr Annibal to answer which raise several points about his role.
The gift to Boston is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the town.
The intention is that the decisions on where the money goes are in the hands of the people, and that Boston Borough Council and other such "worthy" organisations do not have any control over the spending.
Since the announcement of the project at the end of 2012, little has been heard of the progress the group is making.
Now it seems the message from the project is “not waving, but drowning” and it seems high time that the members get their act together.
Read more about the Big Local project and some of its ideas in future issues of Boston Eye.

In just a few weeks, we bid farewell to Councillor Paul Kenny as Boston’s 479th Mayor.
His year in office has seen one of the greatest contributions from a mayor that we can remember – and perhaps the best ever.
He has attended countless functions and events, and was out and about throughout last year’s flooding, lending help and support and generally boosting morale.
We have to say that he also looked the part – more than adequately filling the official robes in the way of a civic Mr Pickwick or Mr Fezziwig – which is an added bonus.
The next Mayor will be Councillor Alison Austin, and from what we know of her warmth, charisma, human kindness and communication skills, we think that councillor Kenny’s legacy has nothing to fear for the 12 months ahead.
Interestingly, when it was agreed to restore the seniority selection process to pick the mayor – on an accumulated service basis, so that a councillor’s previous service would be included in the calculation –  the  first post holder on that basis was Conservative Councillor Colin Brotherton.
But after that, we were told that  things became complicated because the next seven in line all have equal service.
It was decided that the democratic way around this was to choose a mayor by drawing lots – or that's what we were told.
The magnificent seven in question were: Councillors Paul Kenny, Alison and Richard Austin, Michael Gilbert, Brian Rush, Helen Staples, and David Witts.
So far, Councillor Kenny and Mrs Austin have made the cut, and next year's candidate will be in the unenviable position of possibly being appointed and then getting thrown out of office in the elections on 7th May next year.
But here's a question.
Does anyone recall a ballot taking place?
We certainly don't – although like so much that goes on in Worst Street, it may well have been done in secret and behind closed doors.


If you’re at a loose end over the Easter weekend holiday, then why not spend a few minutes – because that’s all it takes – to complete Boston Borough Council’s “Drinking in Public Places survey.
It's being conducted because the current Drinking in Public Places Order (DPPO), introduced to help control drinking of alcohol in public places in certain circumstances, is being repealed.
As the council tirelessly points out, it was never a ban, but a way to prevent alcohol consumption where it resulted in anti-social behaviour.
With the apparent introduction of “new rules” Boston Borough Council wants “to plot a way forwards.”
The council, having pooh-poohed public concerns for years, is now saying that a complete ban on drinking alcohol in the town centre and Central Park may now be the only solution  to “disgusting” anti-social behaviour as councillors "are now at their wit’s end”  – although for some of them, this is perhaps not too long a journey.
Councillor Yvonne Gunter, head of flags, planters, bridges, cemeteries, and parks is pictured grim faced in a recent Boston Target fulminating about drunkenness, coupled with urination and even defecation in the streets as well as the park.
“We have tried everything else – polite notices, warning notices, threats, face-to-face confrontation, reduction of corners they can hide away in, lowering the height of shrubs – but nothing has worked …
“ ... I really do think the only solution will be to completely ban drinking alcohol in the town centre and the park. If it’s illegal then firmer action can be taken against those who choose to flout the law.”
Problems in Central Park have been going on since policemen wore high hats and the involvement of alcohol has increased their severity.
But we do not think that a ban on alcohol should be the knee jerk reaction to the problem.
Such a law would make it impossible for a picnicker in the park to enjoy a tin of beer or a glass of wine – which is part of what a park should be for.
Over the past few years, Boston’s response to the problems of drinking has had the result of ruining the enjoyment of everyone other than the culprits.
We have seen amenity benches removed across the town, attractive shrubbery uprooted and flower borders ploughed over … all because of a handful of drinkers.
“Trying everything” does not seem to have included enforcement  of the DPPO at any stage – otherwise we are sure that the council would have shouted about it from the rooftops.
And at no time can we recall court appearances by any of the ne’er do wells who commit these unpleasant offences.
The police have announced the occasional “crackdown” on street drinking – the most recent being the preposterously named “Operation Dakota*” – which like all such exercises is a sop to public opinion that lulls people into a false belief that our police are really doing something, and which is shortly to be resurrected now that the lighter evenings have arrived.
It is the inaction in all of this that is most aggravating.
The council simply blows hot air.
The police do nothing.
Yet both authorities have the manpower and resources to act.
The bulk of the offences are confined to Central Park, where the council has ground staff and the presence of several volunteer groups.
The police have Neighbourhood Police officers for the town centre.
The idea when they appeared was that they would be “out and about” and the quote “more bobbies back on the beat” was brandished like swords at Agincourt.
We also have Police Community Support Officers.
The idea when they appeared was that they would be “out and about” and the quote “more bobbies back on the beat” was brandished like swords at a musketeers’ training camp.
Now, they all ride around in cars – allowing the public a brief glimpse of broken promises in action.
Boston Borough Council also has an Anti-Social Behaviour team.
Yet between all these people and their fancy titles, it seems that we can’t muster an organised effort to rid Central Park of the drinkers and piddlers once and for all.
So the next thing will be the imposition of an outright ban – if it actually is possible.
And if it becomes possible to impose one, then that’s what will happen, without a doubt.
The borough council survey asks only three questions posed in a way which makes the answers a foregone conclusion.
The handful of people who complete it will comprise only those who want to ban drinking– so expect the triumphal announcement of “overwhelming” public support.
What else could you expect from three questions …?
1 Should people be allowed to drink alcohol in a public place (e.g. streets, parks, car parks etc
2 Do you think there is a problem with drinking alcohol in a public place in the following areas?
3 If Boston Borough Council had sufficient evidence to BAN the drinking of alcohol in "defined" public places would you support this?
Not for the first time, the answer to the problems seems to be to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, when some positive policing could doubtless bring matters to an end and let the park remain a place for families to enjoy a glass of wine with their picnic if they wish – and that’s the important thing … the ability to live our lives with as few rules and regulations as possible.
And don’t forget – even if stringent new laws are enacted, they will be useless without enforcement … and if that had been done earlier, we wouldn’t have reached this sorry pass.

At long last, a good idea has been hatched in the corridors of Worst Street – an official calendar that hopefully will look different from the usual run-of-the-mill stuff.
The pictures will be the work of Boston photographer Christopher Lewis.
We have seen some samples, and they certainly are outstanding.
The borough has been seeking sponsorship to cover the costs and Boston Eye has been delighted to buy one of the pages.


Last week’s suggestion that Boston town centre is now in such a state of decay that it could well be twinned with Havana in Cuba was, as you probably guessed, tongue in cheek.
But has the idea struck a chord with one of our senior council members?
We’re told that no lesser figure than Boston’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Councillor Raymond Singleton-McGuire has paid the Caribbean paradise a visit – and who knows, when he sees things first hand he may agree with us about the similarities with Boston.
But just one thing, Regimental Sergeant Major … watch out for the "no parking" signs.
Although Cuba hasn't employed it for years, we understand it still has the firing squad for miscreants.

Finally, if you decide on a day out over Easter – rather than spending time filling out a survey on drinking in public places – we assume that there is something going on in Boston to entertain you. We say “assume” after reading the heavily promoted “Discover Lincolnshire” day being publicised by Lincolnshire County Council – which features news of events in Lincoln, Gainsborough, Lincoln, Spalding,  Lincoln and Alford. Mention of Boston is there none – which is often the case where the county council is concerned. And nearer home, the borough’s so-called “guide”  to Easter activities (pictured left) lists no fewer than five events at RSPB Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve – although two of them finish before the holiday break – and a distinctly non-Easterish coaching session at Boston Bowls Club.

*Dakota has a variety of connotations and definitions – none of which has any connection to binge drinking in the streets.

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Friday, 11 April 2014

The words from the book of Matthew, Chapter 26 Verse 41 might have been written with Boston in mind when the apostle famously noted: “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Because yet again, it seems that Boston is unable to get to grips with the important issues that could change life in the town for the better.
Two current examples show how an initial enthusiasm to light a way forward are already guttering like candles at a rainy barbeque.
The first of the is the Boston Big Local project, announced more than a year ago, under which the town is to receive a million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund to be spent over a ten-year period.
Already long forgotten is the fact that the allocation is for an area designated “Central Boston” which embraces the six most deprived wards in town – Staniland South, Pilgrim Ward, Skirbeck Ward, Boston Central, a small portion of Fenside and Witham Ward.
However, a number of people not associated with these wards have been quick to cry “foul!” and demand to know why a wider area cannot be included.
Usually, these people have political connections – which is interesting, given that everyone has been at great pains to point out that there is to be no political string pulling of any kind.
So what’s happened in the 16 months since the ballyhoo began?
From out of nowhere, a committee appeared to take on the task of deciding how the money should be spent.
Where the members came from is unclear, and who they are is unknown, but until now they have had a helping hand in the form of a “facilitator” who acts as a “mentor, critical friend and expert advisor” for the partnership and is there to provide a “support and challenge” role.
Wafflers of the world unite – you have nothing to lose but your brains.
There was an air of mystery when this solitary paid appointment was announced, and the plot has now thickened with the abrupt and unexplained resignation of the post holder which has not been helped by the refusal of the Big Local area representative to comment either.
So what’s the story so far ...?
We apparently have some money, which a virtually self-appointed ragtag group is to decide how it is to be spent. – although one suggestion was to blow £200,000 a year on a Party in the Park. Brilliant!
And that’s about it.
The structure of all this is already falling apart and nothing much by way of any bright ideas seem to have emerged.
Although the meetings are open to the public, their dates don’t appear to be well publicised, and unless our local “newspapers” attend to report proceedings, the punters remain in the dark.
Such a huge and potentially important project as this deserves better.
A good starting point would be a dedicated website, where we could see what was going on, and know who the members of the committee are – and to which we could contribute.
Sadly, we do not expect any of this to happen, and we sense a shroud of failure settling over the whole sorry circus.
How long will it be before the vultures start circling and declare that if Boston can’t decide how it wants to spend a million pounds, there are plenty of other places which can?

On a lesser – but nonetheless important note – we are disappointed to learn that the committee set up to try to celebrate Christmas in Boston after last year’s debacle is already foundering.
From what we’ve read it appears that there is more than a hint of the prima donna from at least one quarter – which the dictionary defines as “a person who thinks she or he is better than everyone else and who does not work well as part of a team or group.”
Well done to those who are hanging in there and doing their best. Boston needs a decent event this Christmas, and if things were to fail for a second year, then we think that the damage to business and the town’s social cohesion would be irreparable.
How grand to find a councillor who stands up for justice, law and order and appropriate punishment when an offence is committed...
Behold Councillor Raymond Singleton-McGuire, Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Borough of Boston, who was nothing if not forthright after a benefits cheat was ordered to repay the £20,000 she “fiddled” from the system.
Beneath the heading “We’ll get you in the end” Councillor Singleton-McGuire, trumpeted in the borough’s local Pravda:  “Benefits fraud is not a victimless crime – we all end up paying for it. It’s perfectly laudable that residents who work hard and pay their taxes supply information to us about benefits cheats.
“Benefits are meant to be a safety net for those in genuine need – not a bouncy
castle for those who want to thumb their nose at the rest of society. For this reason
I have now introduced a zero-tolerance policy protecting taxpayers’ money.”
Give that man a medal
Hang on though …
Is this the same Councillor Singleton-McGuire whose response to a member of the public alerting his partner to the fact that she was parked illegally responded by calling in the police?
It surely is.
And is this the same Councillor Singleton-McGuire who – after the police talked to both parties involved and found that there “was no evidence to substantiate that an offence had been committed” – told the Boston Standard that as a result of what he called “a storm in a teacup” he “no longer wished to do business with the complainant’s employers through one of his firms.”
It surely is.
We thought that blacklisting went out with McCarthyism and the Hollywood purges.
Quotations such as “one law for the rich and one for the poor” and “power without responsibility” come to mind in situations like this.
But nothing we could say can be better expressed that the comments made to the Standard after the story appeared …

We mentioned a couple of editions ago that the first tottering attempts to bring   democracy to Boston Borough Council meetings were not without their obstacles.
When cabinet members answered questions from the floor of the council chamber, the problem was that they could not be seen – giving the illusion of a talking pillar rather than a responding councillor.
It would be unkind to suggest that this may have been deliberate, and the efforts to remedy the problem generated some success in that the last meeting we watched on video councillors could be better seen – but unfortunately not heard!
The council chamber has microphones for councillors to use, and we seem to recall that many years ago it was possible to record proceedings by the simple insertion of an audio jack plug from a recorder into the council’s own system.

With elections for Europe just around the corner, we are pleased to see that life is set to remain simple for voters – assuming that the naming of parties remains much the same as it did in 2009.
Then, in the East Midlands there were 13 candidates – and the four available seats went to the Conservatives with two, followed by Labour, UKIP, and the Lib Dems, who won a seat apiece.
With UKIP tipped to do even better this time around, we wondered how things might look if voters were being asked to place their tick in the appropriate box in Lincolnshire.
Here, after a series of spats, the party has fragmented and in so doing threw away the chance to make a real difference in the corridors of power at County Hall.
The group includes two county and Boston borough councillors – who have decided that they now wish to be known as the “Independence from Europe Group.”
This means that the line-up for Lincolnshire County Council now comprises 35 Conservatives, 12 Labour, 10 “real” UK Independence Party members, 7 Lincolnshire Independents, 4 Independence from Europe, 4 Liberal Democrats, 3 Independents, and 2 UKIP Lincolnshire.
We’re not quite sure what this tells us about UKIP – but it says a lot about our local councillors … none of it very good.


 Most readers know our views on the Big Boston Clean-up by now – in a nutshell, it’s an effective community stunt, which lets Boston Borough Council duck responsibility for keeping the place clean for most of the year.
The problem is that for just one week the borough looks spick and span, and then the litter slowly accumulates over the next 51 weeks leading to the commonly voiced complaints about the mess that Boston is in.
Whilst this argument is refuted by the powers that be – a contradictory impression has been given out in the run up to this year’s event … which starts on Monday.
According to the council: “The Big Boston Clean-up's annual grot spot amnesty, applied every year since the initiative first took place in 2008, is over.
 “The gloves are off and businesses with untidy areas of land are to be written to telling them to clean it up, get involved in this year's Big Boston Clean-up or stand by to receive a litter control notice which could cost them a £100 fine.”
Does this mean that for the past seven years the council has deliberately turned a blind eye to the legal responsibility that businesses have to keep their premises tidy?
It would appear so.
According to Councillor Michael Brookes, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for waste services, businesses “have a legal responsibility to keep their land clean and tidy. But every year some commercial businesses rely on volunteers to do it for them. That's not on, and this year it ends.
“Those written to after a pre clean-up inspection who do not tidy up, or who have not contributed something to the effort will be fined."
So does this mean that helping out a Boston Borough Council publicity stunt can free you from the rule of law?
The answer would seem to be a resounding “yes.”

Just when we thought Boston’s flood drama was over comes news that ceiling tiles in Clarks newsagents on Fish Hill were brought down after water from a blocked drain in the Assembly Rooms above the shop overflowed.
Yet another blow for an iconic building, which – although it might be wonderful inside, we wouldn’t know – is decaying visibly despite repeated promises that it would be painted externally to a high standard.
Painting the building was a condition of sale – which stipulated it should be done within a year of the purchase almost 18 months ago.
Incredibly, the Assembly Rooms seem to be deteriorating more rapidly than ever they did during the years of neglect as successive council administrations refused to spend money on its maintenance.
But we’re now starting to wonder whether this is perhaps part of a cunning master plan designed to bring tourists to the town in their droves ...

The similarities between Boston town centre and the Cuban capital Havana are just too great to ignore – which makes us wonder whether Boston will be joining the likes of Cuzco in Peru, Mobile in Alabama, Tehran, Madrid and Glasgow to become the 26th place to be twinned with Fidel Castro’s home town.
And who knows if the idea catches on, maybe the council leader “Pedro” Bedford might be persuaded to get into the spirit of the thing and sport a Castro-style beard – but blue, of course!

Finally, although this time of year is when we celebrate resurrection, we think that unless Boston Borough Council believes in miracles the time has come to update its details of our local representation.
The following appears on the borough’s website beneath the heading “meet your local councillors.”

Councillor Mould died in February last year.

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