Last week’s item about the Quadrant development generated some interesting responses – including some attempts to answer our questions about what happens to the existing site of Boston United’s York Street ground.
It was also interesting to note that following last week’s blog an e-mail from the developers urging people to show their support for the last chance to secure a new home for BUFC by sending (presumably favourable) comments to Boston Borough Council before 11th June.
“Q1 includes a new community stadium as a secure and sustainable new home for BUFC. We need your help now to encourage Boston Borough Council to approve the application,” says the message.
This is assuming that so many people care about their local football club – and are willing to say so – that they can influence the council’s planning committee … which seems a little ambitious to us.
However, time will tell.
But overall, many people seem to think that the decision to approve all this is a foregone conclusion, and we tend to agree.
Such glittering words and phrases have been used to paint a picture of the scheme that the inevitable impression is that only a fool would fail to grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity to bury Boston’s rural hinterland beneath acres of concrete.
In fact the overall language seem couched more in political than developmental terms – and regularly mentions a distributor road for those who still believe that Boston might, one day, perhaps acquire a bypass of sorts.
Phase one of the Quadrant plan – for 500 homes, a 60-bed hotel, food store and petrol filling station, restaurant, pub and hot food takeaway, leisure units and the football stadium is well documented, whilst Q2 will develop a further 200 acres and is “likely” to include a marina, an as yet unspecified amount of housing, open spaces; retail and leisure units, community facilities, and “employment land.”
Given that the scheme is called the Quadrant, we guess that Q3 and Q4 will follow in due course.
According to the developers, 4,520 new homes need to be built in Boston Borough by 2031, to meet local housing requirements – and it looks as though this scheme will provide a large chunk of them – although not, perhaps, as well staggered across the coming 17 years as might be wished.
Wyberton is currently home to 1,626 dwellings, housing 3,790 people – so it seems no exaggeration to say that this development, once completed will easily double the size of the parish, which certainly ought to worry some people.
Local campaigners calling themselves the Wyberton Quadrant Action Group have forced a referendum on the scheme which will take place on June 19th, between 4pm and 9pm.
So, what’s the word on the street?
One major concern is about facilities.
Boston Borough Council has apparently asked for £750,000 towards school provision – but little has been said about dealing with the health of all these new residents locally, or the impact on Pilgrim Hospital.
It’s being said that retail facilities would be managed by outside contractors – and the number of empty shops around Boston which are similarly managed is testimony to the problems the area faces in attracting new investment.
There are also worries about the concept of a community stadium – which to many people implies a facility that once it is built is handed over to the locals to run, and which has reignited fears of a repeat of the PRSA council funding fiasco.
As far as Q2 is concerned some readers are exercised by the possibility of the eventual absorption of Garfits Lane recreation area – which is to be the subject of a public meeting about “future management options” – and which the council seems keen to wash its hands of.
And what about the current football ground?
It’s being whispered that we might end up with a massive multi-storey housing development which would incorporate the sites presently occupied by the football club, the Gliderdrome, Matalan and the John Adams Way petrol station which will act as the gateway to the site – and that this has already been given a tacit blessing in the corridors of Worst Street – even though a decision is certainly not within the life of the present council.
It seems safe to say that we can expect no pleasant green space to survive in what is currently a much needed “lung” in this congested and polluted area.
In the same way that the Queen is said to think that the entire nation smells of fresh paint, it seems that the eau de Boston will be a none too subtle potpourri of cement dust and petrol fumes.
In the fall-out from the European elections we noted a report from the BBC which quoted Boston’s MP Mark Simmonds in bullish mood despite the massive local swing to UKIP.
According to Auntie’s Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Political Editor Tim Iredale, “the European elections saw UKIP poll more than 50% of the vote in Boston.
“However, the Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, Mark Simmonds, said he was confident he would be re-elected at the general election.”
Bully for him.
We’ve already commented on his lacklustre response to Boston Borough Council leader Pete Bedford’s suggestion that he should spend more time in the town, and now he’s adding insult to injury by being smug and complacent to boot.
Recent video of Mr Simmonds shows a perma-tanned looking, much smoother sounding man than the one we recall from a few years ago, with a distinct veneer about him that now separates him from us mere locals.
His defence comprised a combination of party political broadcast, a rallying call to vote Tory in next May’s elections and the suggestion that we should all feel grateful and humbled because he is the first local MP to achieve ministerial status – coupled with the indignant comment that he lived locally, which seemed to hint that this automatically meant that he was around town a lot.
We wonder whether Mr Simmonds ever sits back and considers what an amazing gift he was given when he was offered the Boston seat – a place in parliament for life if he wants it, with all the benefits that this brings.
Already, he has notched up 13 years “service” in Boston, compared with an average of slightly less than nine years for his typical fellow member.
For that, we would have wished for a more humble response than the one that was given – and we wonder .... if living in the constituency was not regarded as bordering on the essential whether he would be seen within a million miles of the place.
We were reminded of an episode in the days when we dabbled with the wireless, and a newly selected Tory candidate elsewhere in Lincolnshire refused to take part in a broadcast debate – which in those days meant that the whole thing had to be ditched – on the grounds that “local people have always voted Conservative, and they always will.”
He said that he felt that there was no need to woo the electorate, although privately he might have been scared to have dropped a clanger that could have cost him votes. Either way, his complacent dismissal of the electorate was disgraceful then – as is something similar now.
And there really is nothing to be smug about. The latest poll analysis of seven national surveys by Electoral Calculus published on 1st June showed that overall the average support for the Conservatives was unchanged at 32% , with Labour on 34% (-2), the Lib Dems on 8% (-1), and UKIP with 16% (+2).
The new national prediction is that Labour will have a majority of 28 seats, winning 339 seats – down six since 3rd May.
It seems as though the increasingly secretive Boston Big Local group is starting to show its true colours. The group found itself in turmoil after some members expressed doubt about the direction in which it was going, which was followed by two meetings closed to the public whilst it tried to get its act back together.
At the most recent of these, we hear that a prime mover in the debate was kicked out of the group and told to leave the meeting.
Surely this is not the way that local citizens charged with spending a million pounds for the overall benefit of the town and its people should be behaving.
And who appointed them in the first place?
They should be open, public and accountable, and anyone who isn’t should be replaced.
Why is it that these days, whenever we hear the words Boston Big Local, we recall the desperate, inept and ultimately discredited and rejected Boston “Improvement” District?
Another bright idea from Boston Borough Council …
Businesses are being invited to buy advertising space on two big TV screens in the main reception areas in Worst Street. They will blather away during normal opening hours and show waiting taxpayers a loop of information and news.
The council reckons that as many as 54,000 potential customers can be reached in this way every year – a group referred to as a captive audience while they are waiting to be served.
Our experience of such “services” is that they are annoying, unnecessary, and make the wait seem twice as long.
We would also have hoped that the council’s objective ought to be to deal with customers as quickly as possible, rather than try to entertain them whilst they stand in line.
Incidentally, we do wish that organisations such as Boston Borough Council would avoid the phrase members of the public which they use in this case to describe punters queuing for service.
The people who serve them are also members of the public, as are the senior officers and councillors. Even the police are “civilians” with specific legal powers – although they never acknowledge the fact.
Members of the public is a phrase which creates a them versus us situation, which the council should not try to encourage or perpetuate.
Customer service issues are always tricky, and fortunately we seldom if ever have to visit Worst Street –relying instead on e-mail to sort out any issues that arise.
But therein lies another rub.
Unless you are addressing an individual, the council’s general e-mail address is one of the info@.... variety.
On almost every occasion that we have used it, our message has fallen into a pitiless bottom and remained there until we have chased it up.
Most recently, an e-mail remained unanswered for a month until we wrote again. We then received a prompt reply and a promise of action. So why was the message ignored until then?
And thank heavens that we weren’t provided with entertainment to while away the time – we could have watched the Forsyte Saga fifty times over in the time it took Boston Borough Council to respond.
Our Big Brother council was back in action during the week with a piece in an issue of the Boston Daily Blather about the council’s new Trash the Ash campaign.
“Littering the streets continues to be a major concern for borough residents. It’s one of the things which always crops up when views are sought on what Boston Borough Council’s priorities for the future should be.
“But one area where there is particular concern is smoking litter. Many, especially smokers, still do not consider their carelessly-discarded cigarette ends to be litter, to the point where it has almost become socially acceptable to throw down a cigarette
butt in the street. WRONG! It is litter and anyone caught could face a £75 fine.”
Play it again, Sam.
This latest campaign reminds us of Boston’s blitz on graffiti some years ago, when the council left us knee deep in adjectives rather than litter vowing to purge the town of fly by night paint sprayers.
We’re waiting now with bated breath for the Borough v Boston Banksy battle. Some people appear to like the faux Banksys that are popping up around the place, although we have to say that we are not fans.
But now Boston town centre supremo Councillor Derek “Knocker” Richmond has announced an intention to act.
He told one of our local ‘newspapers:’ “We will probably have to remove them as they are sending out the wrong message … the concern is we will have people come along who aren’t very good sticking up graffiti around the place.
“We can’t keep getting more of this sort of thing as it degrades the town. Boston is a historic town and we need to keep it that way.”
Despite the interesting phraseology, we had to crack a smile at the idea of the man who can shoulder much of the opprobrium for the appalling “revitalised” marketplace suggesting that graffiti degrades the town in a way that the marketplace does not.
Boston’s joint deputy leader Councillor Singleton-McGuire has lost yet another string to his bow after ceding his Lincolnshire County Council seat to UKIP last year. He is no longer Chairman of Fishtoft Parish Council, which has a policy where anyone in the chair can only complete a four year maximum term, which he had done.
However, another member of Boston Borough Council – though not a fellow party member – is now chairman. Independent Group 2 (that’s the old BBI to you and us) Councillor Helen Staples was voted in at the Fishtoft annual meeting in May, with Councillor George Bishop as Vice Chair.
We hope that Councillor Singleton-McGuire is not a superstitious man given the belief that things good and bad tend to occur in threes.
Two departures from office in two consecutive years, both in May … with the borough council elections still to come in May 2015.
We’d be looking over our shoulders, and that’s for sure!
Whilst Boston Borough Council more commonly manages to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory, for once it is trying to blow its own trumpet.
In a rare unsigned party political broadcast in the Boston Standard, council leader Pete Bedford tells us that four case studies of “best practice” will be on display at the district councils’ stand at the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth next month.
The four things being trumpeted are the Geoff Moulder Leisure Pool “initiatives,” the confusingly named “Operation Fly Swat” which uses “free” (i.e. captive, and possibly involuntary) labour from the North Sea open prison, the garden waste collection service – which is efficient, but scarcely an initiative – and the “daily low-cost and environmentally friendly electronic residents’ newsletter.
The first in this quartet has mainly been achieved by a cosy deal with a couple of swimming groups and throwing money far in excess of the agreed amount at the project.
The second must surely depend on a handy, low-security prison for success. Not only are they few and far between, but the recent spate of prisoners going on the run from such facilities may well see a restriction on allowing inmates out for a spot of litter picking.
And finally, the Boston Daily Drivel, incorporating Pie Munchers’ Monthly. The phrase “low-cost” is interesting – in particular because there are no real figures to compare it with. It seems likely to us that that if one divides the cost of the staff time needed to produce it by the number of readers, and then it would not be so cheap after all.
And on the subject of cost – one figure that it proving elusive is that of attending the LGA conference. Traditionally, Worst Street has sent a couple of councillors along to this dog hanging for the great and the good – but as an exhibition is involved this year, some officers might be required to attend as well for below stairs duties.
Tickets for LGA members are just a fiver under £500 – and that doesn’t include the cost of travel or accommodation.
The cost of membership – which is not obligatory – is hard to find. But the most recent figures for Boston Borough Council are: 2007/08 £16,250, 2008/09 £ 13,485, 2009/10 £ 10,000, 2010/11 £ 8180 and 2011/12 £ 6,825. The typical cost today is around £10,000.
Would anyone care to assure us that this is really money well spent?
Following last week’s Fawcett Report on the extent of sexism faced by women in local government, our eyes were drawn to another piece of research which has yielded the fascinating information that fruit flies “think” before they act and take longer to make more difficult decisions.
The news cheered us immeasurably – since it means that there may be hope for members of Boston Borough Council’s cabinet, after all.
Finally, there are two sides to every coin, and we are grateful to a reader for this contribution following the European elections.
“I was enjoying my usual couple of pints in the local, and feeling a little smug, thinking how astute it was of me to have thought, and indeed voted, in the remarkable UKIP victory when an older, and normally very pleasant acquaintance, sidled up to me, a strange glower on his face ... or maybe a look of thunder.
“‘Can you believe that bloody result?’ he growled, ‘I am just so bloody angry, all of those stupid people! Who in their right mind would vote for that bloody UKIP lot, what the hell are these people on? How can that many people be so damn, bloody stupid? We cannot be without these immigrants, when you see how hard they work! Our bloody lot just would not do it, they are to bloody idle.’
“I said: ‘Why on earth you are so surprised, just look at the massive influx of visitors that have arrived over the recent years. Look at the pressures that this has put on our systems. Don`t you think local people are entitled to get more and more concerned?
“’Just look for a minute at the numbers who are coming, and ask yourself, how long do you think this can continue, how long can we go on being tolerant before our social and domestic systems begin to break down.`
“’Why are people so surprised that this politically driven movement will create a negative reaction, it was bound to happen?’
“`No! I am not surprised’ he snapped, `and I`ll tell you this though, them UKIPpers what caused this stupid election need their a***s kicking! They have no idea how much of a bad effect this will have on the farming industry...`
“I then asked him why he considered his labour needs more important than the needs of others who live and work in the area.
“Were we actually talking about ‘on the books employees,’ or hired agency labour, which might or might not be on short term contracts, maybe even flexible working arrangements, all of which are perfectly legal?
“And would he mind telling me if those that worked with, or for him, had employment contracts, and if not, did he have to pay anything towards holiday or sickness?
“’All I am saying is, that all that this will do’ he said ‘is put the price of veg up! Now how`s that gonna help anybody, and anyway, we might then lose the markets, that have been opened up by us bein` Members of the EU.’
“’You might be right’ I said. ‘And if all those people, who have landed here in the last few years, go back home, who is gonna pick your crops? `
“I asked my friend if that was the real reason for his angst....and again asked if he actually employed these workers, or were they kind of part time agency workers?
“How sure was he that the ‘agency’ was in fact properly addressing reasonable welfare arrangements, in accordance with British (no sorry) European Laws?
“He fell somewhat silent...
“Of course, I said, I still think that the Common Market was a fabulous idea ... I wonder why it changed. My friend agreed.
“Well sort of! But at least he was less angry now.”
You can write to us at email@example.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com
DON’T FORGET ENDER