Friday, 22 May 2015


As the leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill was outlining plans for a brave new world which would see the county operating as a single authority, Boston was getting used to the idea that the clock was being wound back.
As he was telling the council’s annual meeting: “The signal to Whitehall could hardly be clearer – councils are ready for change,” Boston Borough Council was announcing a Heath Robinson amalgamation of the previous leaderships in what has aptly been called a “soft” coalition.
The sheer desperation of such a move – clearly intended solely as a way for the Conservative group to cling on to power and share as little as possible with the UKIP members ... who hold as many seats as the Tories – beggars belief.
Four years ago, when the Tories gained power from the Boston Bypass Independents, the BBI was said to have subjected Boston to "four years of nonsense" prompting "time for a change" and a "more democratic and transparent council."
In the four years between 2011 and 2015, the Conservatives have blamed almost every single problem faced by Boston Borough Council on the BBI – and their dislike for each other has blazed like a desert sun.

***

Now though, the willingness of two so-called “independents” to weigh in and give council leader Peter Bedford the majority he needs means that the Tories have apparently put their animosity behind them – although we somehow doubt it.

Quite what the rank and file made of the council’s own coverage of the coalition and the prominence given to the Austins after they had spent so many years being scapegoated for the state in which they allegedly left the authority is anyone’s guess.
But clearly, this was not a plan that gained instant approval, as it took far longer than the returned-unopposed leader had predicted  – and he has never been wrong before!
As this is politics, we are sure that the ex-BBI sheep in wolf’s clothing are not acting from the goodness of their hearts by helping Bedford force his dreary and unimaginative policies on voters, many of whom don’t want them.
Wait and see, and we are sure that some handsome benefits will be doled out to this saintly duo who have given the word independent an entirely new meaning.

***

The real irony for voters is that historically, they elected the BBI on the strength of promises they couldn’t deliver, then threw them out as a punishment and elected the Tories ... who have now been rejected for precisely the same reasons.
Bedford’s new look cabinet – well, more secondhand than new – is his best effort at making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
Moving seamlessly from the previous line-up to the present one are Councillor Michael Brookes, Aaron Councillor Spencer and Councillor “Who” ... Stephen Woodliffe.
Paul Skinner –  a one-time county councillor, and husband of Judith, who was re-elected to Worst Street  earlier this month –  takes over the poisoned chalice of town centre development and management, car parks, markets and public toilets ... a portfolio memorably held by Councillor Derek “Knocker” Richmond.
The remaining cabinet posts are filled by Councillors Claire Rylott and Ben Evans, who take on leisure services, and housing respectively.

***

Leader Bedford unsurprisingly called his crew “a good mix of people for the council’s cabinet – some with council experience and all of them very level headed. These are people the residents of the town and borough and the staff of the council can have confidence in.
“They will help drive forward good governance and performance from the firm basis provided by the past four years. We are all committed to the regeneration of Boston, for which much of the groundwork has now been done.
“National chains are showing confidence in Boston with expansion and new development and we will continue to seek value for money with shared services such as the current arrangements for refuse collection that we have with East Lindsey District Council and CCTV with South Holland and North Kesteven District Councils.”
Aside from the fact that his description of his colleagues was what we expected (“you can’t have maverick voices”) we are less confident about his remaining claims.
Quite what has been done to regenerate the place aside from the Market Place which was “refurbished” and then abandoned by the council years ago is hard to recall.
The national chains interested in Boston tend to be of the pound shop variety and promises of still more shared services may well be subsumed along with Boston Borough Council into a single Lincolnshire authority.

***

Though he has little to be optimistic about these days, Leader Bedford is reported to be unfazed by talk of a unitary authority
“There are no plans to abolish district councils following the meeting of Lincolnshire County Council on Friday,” said the man who is not a member and as far as we know was not at the meeting.
"There are no plans to abolish district councils. We continue to focus on making a difference for our residents and communities.
“We have a strong track record of delivery and clear plans for the future, with robust financial strategies and a great team. We can be proud of what we have achieved, and we can move forward with confidence."
He reportedly said that Boston Borough Council would “continue to work in the best interests of its communities',” and “engage with partners on a wide range of issues.”
We don't know what he’s smoking, but we hope that it runs out soon, so that he can re-join the real world.

 ***

To us, a key issue to be addressed in Boston remains the Market Place.
Promises of regular events and entertainment have failed to materialise.
Promises to review the use of the pedestrianised area by noisy and polluting buses have not been kept.
Promises to address the relationship between pedestrians and drivers have been forgotten
We hope that Councillor Skinner will be allowed to bring a breath of fresh air to his portfolio, as it would be disastrous if the prescription of the mixture as before was allowed to continue.

***

One of the few planks in the leadership’s creaking manifesto board-walk has become a little squeakier with the latest news concerning the Boston Barrier.
The good news in the latest update on the project is that the barrier remains on track to be completed by the end of 2019.
Something called a “design freeze” has taken place – which means that the main parts of the scheme have been finalised so that design work can be completed.
What happens now?
An “Environmental Statement” to confirm the impact of the project is being drawn up to accompany the Transport and Works Act Order Application to the Secretary of State.
As this is jobsworth driven, this will not happen until early 2016.
Apart from the sluggish timetable, progress on the barrier  is excellent news.
But the sting in the tail is that Boston again looks like being a loser in the game of making the town a more attractive place for the people who live here as well as those who visit.
Part of the plan involved a financial injection of £11 million by Lincolnshire County Council.
This would have gone towards a project to hold back the water behind the barrier which would mean better conditions for boats to travel through Boston and to stop on their way through.
It was said at the time that this would enable Boston to become part of Fens Waterways Link, which would have seen boats travelling between the cathedral cities of Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely able to pay us a visit as well.
But now, the county council is to adopt a “phased approach” to managing the water levels – which in essence means doing nothing other than saving £11 million in the short term, which despite promises in these fraught economic times to reinvest the £11 million into “the schemes that emerge from it” are unlikely ever to be reallocated to the project.
Recently, we asked whatever became of the plans for a £3 million marina project off Fenside Road for a 161-berth basin with facilities including a restaurant, shops and workshops.
The plans were hailed as an opportunity to harness the potential of one of the great assets in the area, and a step towards regenerating the town as a whole.
They formed a cornerstone of the Fens Waterways Link, which probably explains why they appear to have sunk without trace.
At the time the marina plan was approved, council leader Bedford said: “This is an exciting development for Boston, and justifies the county council putting £11 million funding up for the Boston Barrier and the waterways.”
We wonder what he might say today – given that the leadership position seems to be to look the other way whenever there is bad news to report.
No river link. No marina. No bypass – nor any chance of getting anything other than a Lego-style “distributor road” which might take decades to achieve … if ever it comes to pass – no pun intended.
It seems that yet again, the council that is “committed to the regeneration of Boston” has kowtowed to county hall at the expense of Boston’s future.

*** 

As the wheeling and dealing by the Tories to retain control of Boston went on, there was even a suggestion that the two-strong Labour group might have been planning some input in  a coalition.
But any such ideas were dismissed by their group leader Councillor Paul Gleeson, who told Boston Eye: “Because of both our ideological differences and a genuine belief they would not work for all the communities in our town, we would oppose any attempt by UKIP to control the council or committees of the council.  I think they realise that and we have not been approached by them.  In fact I am not aware of any attempt by them to try and form an administration.
“In respect of the Tories (coalition) the situation is as last council.
“The Labour group as opposition councillors are prepared to play an active role in the scrutiny process. 
“Otherwise and without predetermining anything, I cannot envisage a situation where we would support the administration in setting the budget.  Other policy proposals will be considered on their merits.”

***

The love affair between Boston Borough Council and the Clan Austin continued this week with Wednesday’s Boston Daily Drone dedicating its entire issue to Councillor Richard Austin – who was elected as mayor at yesterday’s full council meeting.
Apparently, Councillor Austin is an authority on nematodes – a form of worm that likes potatoes even more than fish and chip addicts – and which make him the sort of man with whom we would not like to be stuck in a lift with in the event of a breakdown.
Whilst Lincolnshire has always been a hard-to-reach destination, we were surprised to read in the Boston Bulletin that a young Richard Austin was parachuted into the fens to help potato growers battling the dreaded worm.
There follows an almost day-by-day account of his life since then, reminding us that he has had “good preparation” for the job of Boston’s 481st Mayor.
His wife, Alison has just completed a mayoral year with Mr Austin as mayor’s consort, and Alison now moves from being mayor to mayoress – only the second time this has happened.
For those readers fearful that the Austin mayoral dynasty might fizzle out in twelve months’ time, we are pleased to be able to tell you that according to the bulletin, they share their Wyberton home with Archie, the ginger cat.
Given the Austins’ interestingly influential position within the Worst Street structure, we are sure that a minor amendment or two to the council’s constitution could see the creation of  Boston's first cat as mayor – Comarchus Archie Austin Cattus  –   as the idea is not without precedent.
A cat named Morris was a candidate for mayor of Xalapa, Mexico in 2013 (pictured right.)
Mickelin the Cat was the leader of the Swedish Ezenhemmer Plastic Bags and Child Rearing Utensils Party; in 1997, a cat named Stubbs was elected mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska; Hank the Cat, a Maine Coon, ran for Virginia's Senate seat in 2012 and earned third place with nearly 7,000 votes, whilst Tuxedo Stan, from Halifax, Nova Scotia was a mayoral candidate in 2012.
Miaow-vellous!

***

The alliance between the Tories and their one-time Bypass Independent foes, prompted an interesting e-mail from local UKIP organiser Don Ransome – who was struck that the names of the proponents are both those of now-obsolete cars and vans.
And he came up with his own description of the “the Austin-Bedford charabanc transport service” – calling it “A retro style vehicle normally stuck in reverse, running on part-worn policies, ready to take the taxpayers of Boston for a ride along the virtual bypass route!”
By an eerie coincidence, his thoughts mirrored our own from nine years ago, when we wrote about the creation of the Austin-Jordan OBE (old banger executive) at the time when Richard Austin led the council and his deputy was Councillor Peter Jordan.
Our description of it ran thus: “It has two cylinders, a dickey seat (other parts aren't too good either!) and the car comes with rose tinted glass and a back seat driver as standard.
“It has no brakes so that it can continue to ride roughshod over anyone who stands in its way, and no reverse gear. There is no steering thus ensuring that U turns, however necessary, are impossible -  and an automatic gearbox with two speeds  –  dead slow and stop.
“Extras include hot air conditioning and a dimmer switch.
"In a nod to the environment the car has been produced (on the back of a fag packet) in a green version.
“Initially, there were plans to run the engine using steam, but the BBI ran out of this very early on in the design stage.
“It will now run on methane - powered by its own bull***t.”
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Both of these are ideas for their time, although we think that the former children’s’ TV favourite from the 1950s –  Colonel Crock, pictured above – is a more appropriate image.

***

Meanwhile, local Tories have come up with another interesting way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
After seeing large numbers of their local election candidates confined to the political graveyard, it looks as though they are planning to cash in on their election rout.


 Certainly their timing is impeccable – as being so recently bereaved at the ballot box, they are well placed to deliver  just the right level of sympathy required for a wake!

***

Interestingly, deep in the vaults of the county archive lies proof that history repeats itself – in the form of the medieval Boston Book of Days, which includes illustrations reflecting the Tory resumption of power ... 



... and the difficulties that follow such a hollow victory.


Interestingly for political historians, we suspect that the Tories of yore look more content because of the absence of a party called YEKIP!

***

A less than amusing sidebar to the recent elections was provided by a reader who fears that the system placed him at risk of being burgled due to lack of confidentiality.
He told Boston Eye: “Knowing that we were going to be away, my wife and I applied for postal votes for the first time in over 40 years.
“We thought our application would be confidential... but not so!
“The Borough Council and Electoral Commission confirmed that anyone can check to see who has been granted a postal vote – classed as an ‘Absent Voter.
“A printed list is available for inspection by Burglar Bill and all political parties and candidates can have a paper or electronic copy for use during the election campaign.
“I was alerted to this by an additional election address from a candidate who informed me: 'You will shortly be receiving your postal vote'.
“There is no warning that the fact that I will be an absent voter is made public!
“I wrote to the Electoral Commission and made it clear that I would not apply for a postal vote in future! If away, I will simply not bother to vote.
“I have spoken to other people who were also unaware of this vulnerability in the system.”

***

On now to the world outside politics.
No sooner had we mentioned our ex-MP's return to the world of work, than another job appeared on his post-Westminster CV. Former Africa minister Mark Simmonds has become a strategic adviser to the International Hospitals Group (IHG), a firm based in Buckinghamshire, which is involved in constructing hospitals in developing countries.
Government documents show  that Simmonds was a minister when he met representatives of the firm in December 2012 and July 2013 to discuss projects in Ghana. IHG has been involved in developing hospitals in Angola, Libya, Mozambique and Botswana.
Simmonds’ job with IHG is his seventh private role to be approved by the advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba), which must be consulted before senior ministers and civil servants can take up new jobs.
Boston Eye listed the other six last week.
Sadly, now that he is no longer a public servant (chortle) his income from all these jobs is a matter between himself and HMRC.
However, these sinecures typically start at the lower end in the £30,000 region and increase according to the level of “responsibility” required.
So Mr Simmonds should already be comfortably ahead of the £89,000 parliamentary salary which he dismissed as insufficient to maintain a normal family life.

***

At long last – after more than two years – the Boston Big Local Plan for 2015 -2017 has been approved.
The really good news is for Boston Borough Council –  as we have been predicting ever since the Big Local was announced and the great and the good were at pains to stress that the £1 million available was not to be allowed to pay for services provided by local councils and the like.
Now, we hear that among the “activities” approved we can expect:
Free lunchtime family activity sessions at the Geoff Moulder Training Pool – effectively a subsidy that will benefit the council.
Provision of better quality planters in Boston town centre – effectively a subsidy to the Boston in Bloom group in which the borough council is heavily involved.
Installation of new play equipment in Central Park. Responsibility for the park and its play areas is that of Boston Borough Council. Not only that but Worst Street has already announced that play equipment in Central Park is to be updated and refurbished as part of a £40,000 project of investment by WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Limited), BTAC (Boston Town Area Committee) and the council.
Running a small grants program (sic) with funding up to £1,000 for community groups.  Boston Borough Council’s Town Area Committee – B-Tacky – already does this, so there is a potential for savings to the authority.
Expanding the Fit 4 your Future programme to include the private sector giving accessible financial advice to residents.  The organisation is a coalition of Boston Mayflower, Boston Citizen's Advice Bureau and TaylorITEX CIC.
In summary, Boston Big Local says that its “vision” for central Boston “is for a happy vibrant area where people feel a sense of belonging.
“We aim to enhance the local area for the benefit of residents and businesses. Our objectives are to build closer communications between all people, make the area more attractive, encourage new businesses and help make the facilities better, improve the environment for all and help ensure cleaner and safer streets.”
Very laudable – but almost word for word the remit of Boston Borough Council.
Doubtless the plan will be heartily endorsed in Worst Street, as the potential for thousands of pounds to be saved leaps off the page.
Be afraid, be very afraid, next time someone tells you: “There’s no government arm in Boston involved in any of this. It is totally community led … We’re all going to be working together to help the residents work very, very closely with the lottery so the residents are equipped to manage this funding. There will be extensive community consultation done right across Boston, so everybody will have a say.
“This money will not be dictated by Boston Borough Council …  It will be totally dictated by the local community ... it is their say where this money is spent”
The Big Local would argue that its members took the decision – but what a happy co-incidence that the main beneficiary should be the council.

***

Our last item mentioned B-Tacky –   which for years has been the personal banking arm of the Worst Street cabinet – due to a Tory majority on the committee.
It is supposed to act as a “parish council” for the town wards. But seldom, if ever, does spending of specific benefit to an individual ward take place.
Not only that, but the committee’s grant scheme has handed over large amounts of cash to organisations not truly covered by its rules.
Its most infamous decision in recent times was to underwrite the £4,000 cost of a memorial unveiled to mark the 96th anniversary of the end of the First World War in case the council’s “publicly funded” appeal  failed to come up with the cash ... which at one time seemed very likely.
There was never any doubt that such funding was way outside the committee’s sphere, but B-Tacky didn't let that become a problem.
Now, however, things could be about to change.
Although the  non-UKIP members of the council as a whole have ganged up to block the way forward for the new arrivals that so many voters wanted to see in charge, they have no say in the membership of B-Tacky.
If councillors are elected to a town centre ward, then they have a place on B-Tacky by right. – and after the recent election, the structure of the committee stands like this ...


 Seven Ukippers dominate the committee, with the Tories on four – plus a Tory “independent” in the form of Councillor Alison Austin – and two Labour members.
This means that for the first time in four years, it ought to be possible for B-Tacky to serve the town ward voters as was intended when the committee was created ... and to spend in their interests rather than see their funds syphoned off into the cabinet purse.
Ukippers awake! Salute the happy morn, whereon the chance of democracy was born...

***

How best to present Boston’s image has always been tricky.
But in its efforts to make the place look rural and laid back the Boston Target may have overstepped the mark.
A recent issue portrayed the plan to develop the riverside wharf buildings beside the Haven Bridge thus...


An interesting illustration for an area of the town which is slap bang in the centre, packed with buildings,  roads and pavements.
It looks more like a newly discovered part of the Amazon rainforest.
Or how about this, which accompanied a report of a major intervention to head off the threat of overfishing of whelks? 



Certainly, catching them in the way illustrated will definitely slow down the rate at which they are taken from our seas – although it may be a while before you have enough for a serving.

***

There will be no blog next week while we take a lie down in a darkened room.
All things being equal, we’ll be back on Friday 6th June.
But don’t forget, we’re still there if you need to get in touch …


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com



Friday, 15 May 2015

Cartoon enthusiasts will recall those harrowing scenes from Roadrunner where Wile E Coyote is blown to kingdom come only to reappear in one piece as if by magic moments later.
Such a transformation now seems uppermost in the minds of some of the defeated Conservative candidates to whom voters gave the push a week ago.
Word on the street is that the Tories are expecting a shed-load of resignations in the not too distant future – largely from the new UKIP contingent, which might let them stand again and claw their way back into power on Boston Borough Council.
Already it seems, plotters at the Tory base camp alpha have assembled a list of who gets first dibs on the first vacancy – but we’ll not spoil things by letting you in on the secret!

Meanwhile, the man who led the Tories to their ballot box defeat was calmly rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
On Monday’s BBC Radio Lincolnshire Breakfast Show Peter Bedford was described as the “Tory leader of the authority” and the “Leader of the Tories on Boston Borough Council.”  
To us this seemed a little previous – but if it was a slip of the tongue, then nothing was done to correct it.
Councillor Bedford is a droner – talking in a near monotone at a tedious, soporific pace which makes him sound almost as bored as his listeners doubtless were.
If local politics is unappealing, it is because of interviews such as this...
“.... as of yet we don't even know who the other group leaders are ...
“... we will do our best, we’ve delivered all our promises ...
“... hopefully the existing councillors which aren’t UKIP will support us ...”
Since the council is split equally between the Tories and UKIP, Bedford was asked whether joint working was the most democratic solution.
“... that depends who their leader is and on their thoughts, obviously ... I think there’s only one with any council experience at all of Boston...”
A novel idea, that – democracy dictated by who you like best rather than what the electorate prefers.
So … had there been discussions with Labour or the Independents?
“... one group, but not the other because we still haven’t been confirmed who is their group leader ...”
We think that you will have got the picture by now.
House of Cards it ain’t.
More like the Magic Roundabout.

***

What seemed clear at that early stage – and has subsequently become clearer –  is that as far as the Conservative group is concerned, determination to  retain the political status quo  and refurnish the cosy club that they have inhabited for years surpasses the demands of the electorate.
Never mind that almost as many people voted for UKIP as they did for the Conservatives, those electors seem unlikely to get their wish for a new look council, as the behind the scenes negotiations will strive to ensure that the newcomers will be as heavily stifled as possible.
Whilst the Tory players and others concerned presumably consider themselves politically adroit with such machinations, we understand that UKIP is adopting a far more rational, sensible and cautious approach – accepting that with so many inexperienced councillors there is a need to take things slowly as they learn the ropes.
What disappointed us most was the  Tory assumption that when voters say they want a cocktail of Conservative and UKIP input to Boston Borough Council, what they really mean is that they want the Tories to carry on as if nothing has happened –  with Bedford remaining in charge ... regardless of his lamentable leadership these past four years..
This was not the message from the ballot box as we understood it.
And whilst he started the interview by saying that Monday afternoon would be the “important” time for wheeling and dealing to begin to shape the new council and to “get things ironed out”  ... by lunchtime on Thursday, we were still none the wiser.
In the meantime – and at least two days previously – David Cameron had appointed an entire government.. from the Cabinet down to the nuts and bolts in the  minor ministries.
But then he talks a lot more quickly than Peter Bedford.

***

Amusingly, at the end of the piece, Bedford was asked for his assessment of the town’s new MP, Matt Warman.
For Bedford, the response was effusive.
Matt is like a breath of fresh air ...” he raved.
Students of irony may well have noted how sharply the aforementioned “breath of fresh air” contrasted with the inflated old windbag making the comparison.

***

When Bedford spoke of talks with “one group, but not the other,” the inescapable conclusion was that these talks involved the “Independent” clan Austin – something which most observers would regard as a marriage made in hell .
This was confirmed late on Thursday afternoon, with the announcement of a "soft" coalition between the  Tories and their former arch enemies and founders of the Boston Bypass Independents.
The word "soft" sums it all up quite appositely.
At long last, we also had confirmation that Bedford had again ascended the Worst Street throne ... unopposed  –  another triumph for democracy.
We understand that Richard Austin will succeed his wife as Boston’s next mayor –  something we are eagerly anticipating, although we have mixed feelings about whether we can survive such a charisma offensive for another twelve months.
Much of the  blame for the pitiful state that Boston was said to be in when the Tories took power in 2011 was laid at the door of the Boston Bypass Independents –  so any decision to wheel and deal with the duo most associated with them reeks of desperation and an obsession to cling on to power at all costs.
If someone had told us a week ago that the Austins would emerge as a latter day Lone Ranger and Tonto to gallop to the rescue of the Conservatives, and be welcomed by the Tory leader Bedford to boot,  we would have collapsed laughing.
As Harold Wilson almost once said: "The weak are a long time in politics."
News of the "softies" taking over the council was accompanied by a list of new cabinet members ... and we'll look at that next week.
What will be most interesting is to see who will become the Chair of the borough Planning Committee.

***

One idea that took our fancy formed after we glimpsed a couple of adjacent headlines on the Boston Borough Council website. 
“Election results 2015” appeared alongside “Boston dance groups in exciting final.”
How exciting, we thought, if the Tories and UKIP staged a Strictly Come Dancing-style competition in which the winner gained control of the council for the coming four years.
But of course, they’d never get past the first question ... “Will you lead, or shall I ...?

***

We are told that the UKIP “defector” that we mentioned on Monday – Barrie Pierpoint  of the Old Leake and Wrangle ward –  has been “rejected” by the Conservatives with whom he apparently had a conversation ...
However, word elsewhere says that he’s been given a two months “probationary” period on the naughty step and told that good behaviour will be rewarded with a Conservative welcome.
This might prove more difficult than it sounds, as tales surrounding his spat with his original masters spoke of constant communication with another party, some less than pleasant e-mails and demands to take the helm.
A decision was taken to suspend him after the election pending a disciplinary hearing … but when told the news at the count on Friday morning, he quit his party and now calls himself Independent.

***

This prompted an angry response from an insider, who said that it would be interesting to speculate what might happen if a petition from voters in the Old Leake and Wrangle ward protested at the way they had been “duped.”
Sadly, but correctly, we fear, our correspondent concluded: “I suspect politics would triumph over decency.”
Another question concerned how other Independents felt about taking such a member on board and, if they were not keen, whether Councillor Pierpoint relished the thought of  having  no committee places as a single person “group.”
“That's how the Conservatives have treated David Owens and Carol Taylor for years.
"Privately, I would be disgusted with any group – red, blue, green or yellow – that takes such a person on board.”

***

They say that every silver lining has a cloud –  or something like that – and for us it came in the form of an e-mail from former councillor and town centre fuhrer Derek “Knocker”  Richmond, who did not seek re-election last week.
In a patronising farewell message to his former council chamber colleagues, he wrote: “I would like to thank you all for the support I have had over the last four years, as you know we took over the administration when this Council was in a very poor state and without all of your efforts it may now well be being run by another authority and so keep up the good work.
“As you know I'm not standing tomorrow but as they say, I'll be back ...”
Threats like these are the kind that a mother might make to a wayward child
... “ Keep your room tidy, or there’ll be a knock on the door from Derek Richmond …”
But we suppose that it is entirely possible that Mr Richmond is another of those looking for a return to rule via a by-election – and is trying to muster the signatures needed for his nomination even as we speak.
His reminder that Boston perhaps came close to being merged with another authority echoes what we said on Monday in our local election special issue.
The political Machiavellis in Worst Street may enjoy playing their silly games but a council as small and expensive as Boston needs to play a careful game to avoid being subsumed into another authority.

***

Interestingly, we noted that some steps in that direction are already being taken. Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill is said to be floating a plan to abolish the county’s seven district councils to save £30m.
It’s not the first time that he has mentioned this, and he has now said that reforming local government in Lincolnshire should be considered.
He said: "We have done some initial work and for example if we went for one unitary authority we would save about £30m a year.
"I'm not saying that this is the answer but we can't ignore that issue."
Today's annual meeting at County Hall will see Councillor Hill propose setting up a working group to explore the idea.
Suggestions of how the county could be run include a “doughnut style” model with a “central Lincolnshire council” surrounded by rural areas.
Whatever the result, jobs would go – particularly those of chief executives across the district councils.
Councillor Hill said: "It would be much better to work better together to save money and it would be easier for the public and receivers of services to work out."
He also said that bringing the councils together would give Lincolnshire “a better brand” – which is of course the usual tosh talked to make it sound vibrant and exciting.
What is also intriguing is Hill’s assumption that he is in a position to control the future of Lincolnshire’s districts.
Boston may not be the best, but to merge it with Lincoln would make matters worse

***

With chief executive roles potentially on the chopping block, we are reminded that Boston  Borough Council is still farting about over a successor for the job in Worst Street.
Richard Harbord became “acting” chief executive in 2009 and delivered a performance to rival that of The Mousetrap, enjoying a series of contract extensions – a number of them “final” – until he left the council at the end of November last year.
Long serving officer Phil Drury was appointed to act in his place.
What we can’t quite understand is why – given that Harbord would have been leaving in a few weeks had he not quit … his contract was last extended until 31st July “to provide stability and oversee any changes that may occur at the next election in May 2015” – nothing has yet been done to seek a “proper” replacement.
The option for Mr Drury to continue “acting” is for up to 12 months – with the erroneous suggestion that £10,000 a month would be saved until the post was filled.
There seems now to be no reason to delay matters further.
In fact – given that there are so many inexperienced new councillors  … not all of them Ukippers … – the need for some stability among the officer structure becomes more important than ever.

***

Meanwhile, it would appear that parting has definitely been a “sweet sorrow” for Mr Harbord.
Whilst in post, his pay for 15 days work a month was around the £10,000 mark.
But according to the borough’s own figures, his pay packet from September, October and November last year totalled almost £42,000 – around £12,000 more than might have been expected.
Answers on a postcard, please.

***

Still on the matter of jobs, we note that the electronic signature of UKIP’s Mr Fixit in Boston and Skegness – Don Ransome – describes him as “Campaign Manager for Robin Hunter-Clarke, UKIP PPC for Boston and Skegness 2020.”
The boy wonder was reported last week as saying that he wasn’t going anywhere ... but we still find it hard to believe that he won't be drawn by the lure of another seat before then, rather than cooling his heels for – what for him –  will be a quarter of his future lifetime.

***

In his radio interview on Monday morning, Lord Bedford of Boston was at pains to remind us how his boys and girls in blue had delivered all their promises during the past four years.
These were, of course, sufficiently vague to be declared “delivered” in a very broad way – as are the promises designed to cover the next four years.
They comprised such things as delivering their “long term local plan” to enable the distributor road bypassing Boston to be built; to “continue” the green waste collection and “empower” local communities to combat litter and antisocial behaviour; reviewing parking charges:  to keep our streets cleaner and safer for all; working to the delivery of the Boston Barrier, and having a Cabinet meeting Question Time.
And they call those promises!
The long term local plan is now decided  by something called  South East Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee  on which South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire County Council have a vote.
A pledge to “continue” green waste collection makes it sound as if it is under threat. What we expect is some sort of pretext to introduce annual charges – despite repeated Conservative pledges that it would remain free after the initial bin purchase.
“Empowering” local communities to combat litter means nothing more than persuading taxpayers to do the job that the council is currently charging them for but not doing properly.
As far as car parking is concerned, the promise to make them work better for “businesses, visitors, and residents of the borough” sounds impressive, but means nothing – and we note that not for the first time, the residents are at the bottom of the list.
The wishiest and washiest of the promises is that of a public question time at cabinet sessions.
Sometimes, these have lasted little more than half an hour, and comprised a list of instructions to a band of compliant ninnies to send to the full council for rubber stamping.
No doubt the time-worn idea that this is adding to “transparency” at Worst Street will be trotted out – but it will do nothing of the kind.
If the council really wants to let some light into its darker corners the most effective start would be to publish a list of how councillors vote which would tell us much more about them and their loyalties to the town.

***

Interestingly, in the world of promises, our newly elected MP – whom the voters actually did want in power – has nailed his colours firmly to the mast.
In a round robin message to voters, successful Tory candidate Matt Warman said: “I’m writing to ... pledge that over the next five years I will serve every constituent diligently and with enthusiasm.
“It is a huge privilege to be asked to serve you: I will work with councillors and colleagues in Westminster to make sure our local roads, schools and hospitals receive the investment they deserve; I will speak loudly on the profound changes, for better and worse, wrought on our constituency by changes in population over the last decade; and I will try to re-engage people in politics so that we never again face the sense of powerlessness and disillusionment I heard about on the doorstep.
“Boston and Skegness is no more a single-issue constituency than any other. We face a huge range of challenges and opportunities. Whether that is seizing the chance to further enhance the thriving tourist businesses in Skegness, building on Boston’s market, or continuing to produce the best food in the country, there is a bright future ahead.”
What we need now is to hear something similar at a local level, and things will be looking much better!

***


No sooner had we put the general election behind us than the answer to a long standing question was revealed –  how will our former estate agent and  MP Mark Simmonds make ends meet now that he's no longer at Westminster.
Well, now we know.
Simmonds has been appointed a managing director at Kroll –   “a multicultural team of leading experts from the fields of investigations, intelligence, risk analysis, cyber security, data breach response, and e-discovery committed to conducting business ethically and serving clients with independence and integrity.”
Simmonds’ job there will involve “providing strategy for cross border business intelligence and asset recovery.”
Simmonds had no official dealings with Kroll or its competitors while he was secretary of state for Africa.
But it’s interesting to note that his request for permission to pursue the job was one of a number made since he announced his resignation last year.
Job interests must be vetted by the government’s  Office of  the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, and as well as running the job with Kroll past them, he also asked about accepting a paid appointment as Chairman of the advisory board for Invest Africa  and a part-time, paid appointment as Chief Operating Officer of the Counter Extremism Project  –  a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organisation set up “to counter the extremism narrative and to shine a light on terrorist financing.”
He also  sought approval from the committee over  a paid appointment as a Strategic Advisor for FIRST –  assisting with advice and the promotion of UK trade., and a paid job as non-executive deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.
Let’s hope that all these will bring in enough money to live on!


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com




Monday, 11 May 2015

 4 days since the election 


The pollsters predicted a neck-and-neck race for control of the country at the general election – but when the votes were in they were proved hopelessly wrong ... and the Conservatives romped home by a country mile.
So much for opinion polls.
And not for the first time, Boston Borough Council bucked the trend when it came to local voting, sending politicians of all stripes packing, and opting instead for a neck-and-neck result all their own –  a tie between the Conservatives and the  United Kingdom Independence Party.
The outcome?
After successive administrations which saw the Boston Bypass Independents and the Conservatives ruling the roost – Boston has reverted to its traditional state of being under No Overall Control.
We went into election day having had 32 local councillors – knowing that we would end it with 30, due to government ward changes.
And of the 83 hats in the ring, 26 were Tory, 19 Labour, 18 UKIP, 14 Independent, 4 Green, 1 Liberal Democrat, and 1 unaligned.
Before the election, Boston had 16 Conservative councillors, three Labour, 12 assorted independents and an English Democrat.
Now, the state of the parties stands at: Tories and UKIP on 13 apiece, plus Labour and independents with two each.
Or does it?
Scarcely had the polls been announced than we heard rumours of  a UKIP defection to the Conservatives –  which appeared to be confirmed by unsuccessful parliamentary candidate Robin Hunter-Clarke


If true, it not only gives the Conservatives a majority –  but also roundly gives the lie to the one big pledge by the party’s late leader, Nigel Farage –  “If you vote UKIP - You get UKIP.”
True, we have had defections in the past – and UKIP has been the most prominent among them.
But we can’t remember one taking place on election day – with one well-informed reader going so far as to suggest that a deal was struck ahead of polling day.
Before the election, former leader Pete Bedford optimistically expressed the wish that he would continue in the role.
If he does, it will have less to do with his leadership skills and more with his luck at survival – as he inherits a party with many of its big names absent ... which might well affect the loyalty he might receive.
The Tory survivors are: Michael Brookes – who was also Bedford’s deputy –   and councillors Colin Brotherton, Maureen Dennis, Judith Skinner, Aaron Spencer and Stephen Woodliffe.

Between them, they comprise seven of the ten survivors of Thursday's political slaughter.
Just enough to form a cabinet unless you admit tyros.
The others are Labour’s Paul Gleeson, and Independents Alison and Richard Austin.
With nine new members, the path to the top could well be a rocky road for Councillor Bedford’s ambitions – much like Napoleon asking to be Defence Secretary following the Battle of Waterloo.
It may well be that the Tory newcomers feel that a new broom is required, and even if re-elected, Councillor Bedford may well turn out to be a toothless tiger.


Defections are one thing – evictions are another ... and some well-known local political names bit the dust at Thursday’s X Fight at the Ballot Box Corral.
Yvonne Gunter –   self-styled dignitary  and cabinet member for cemeteries –  lost her seat in Staniland Ward ... ironically to one of her major one time critics.
The former BBI/Better Boston Group councillor Brian Rush, who previously stood down for health reasons, re-emerged as the victorious UKIP candidate this time around ... along with a newcomer to the Tory ranks who was clearly preferred over the incumbent.
Another loser in Staniland was former Tory councillor Gloria Smith, who stood as an independent. A great loss.
Veteran councillor and octogenarian Mary Wright - a former mayor and chairman of Boston’s planning committee was another casualty.
Two other veterans - independents Richard Leggott and Ossy Snell lost their seats in Swineshead and Holland Fen and Fishtoft respectively.
Also in Fishtoft, Helen Staples – who would have been Boston’s next mayor –  was defeated.
The ward saw Conservative Paul Skinner – a former Lincolnshire County Councillor join his wife Judith at West Street.
In that same ward, one of our two belt-and-braces candidates, Jonathan Noble, was elected for UKIP ... whilst failing for the same party in East Lindsey District Council’s Sibsey and Stickney ward.
 A fellow runner in that ward, Tom Ashton, was elected for the Conservatives. But Mr Ashton, the local party’s Deputy Chairman for Policy and Campaigning failed in his bid to join ex-leader Bedford in Boston’s Coastal Ward.
Given the outcome, this may be just as well as Councillor Bedford might think that Mr Ashton has much to answer for!

***

We turn now to UKIP – and once again the name of clan Ransome was prominent in the list.
Felicity Ransome won a seat in Coastal Ward, whilst Elizabeth succeeded in Swineshead and Holland Fen.
Jodie Ransome failed to buck the Tory trend in Five Villages Ward, and patriarch Don Ransome – who also masterminded the  unsuccessful but impressive UKIP general election  campaign –  was out of luck in West Ward.

***

Labour lost two councillors.
Their biggest casualty was Paul Kenny who came third in the General Election vote for the Boston seat and locally lost his seat in Skirbeck Ward.
Paul Goodale – who had switched wards from Staniland to Skirbeck – saw Ukipper Stephen Ball score more votes.
One small consolation – Labour can at least still sign letters to our local “newspapers” with the sobriquet “Boston Labour Councillors”...
Somehow, “Boston Labour Councillor” wouldn’t have the same ring.

***

Amid the casualties, there were some councillors whom we had got to know quite well over the past nine years – and we are sad that those among them who put service to the voters first on their agenda are no longer able to continue.
But there were also those who were more concerned with self-service – and to see them vanish from the council is a piece of poetic justice.
When David Cameron was re-elected, he promised to “govern in the interests of all people.”
A similar promise needs to be made to the voters of Boston
It is not enough for Peter Bedford to gather the tattered remnants of his political crinoline around him, cajole his new councillors into putting him in charge yet again, and trying to posture on as if the election never happened.
That isn’t what people voted for.
With half the council from another party, it will not be enough to try to impose the mixture as before – it is simply not what the voters want ... as they made clear at the ballot box.

***

UKIP will of course, have problems of its own.
It is reasonable to expect that many of those who voted for the party in Boston did so with its immigration policies in mind – without realising that at a local level any action is above the pay grade of a district councillor.
Effectively, UKIP councillors are not whipped – which means they can vote as they please, and not follow a party line – but again, some of the promises that we saw in the run-up to the election extended to areas over which they had no control.
Hopefully, the new UKIP group will not go the way of predecessors at Worst Street, who deserted their party after petty fallings-out and skirmishes.
The party must surely have learned a lesson after its success on Lincolnshire County Council after which internal wrangling led to the party ceding its role as the official opposition.

***

A major question now will be the one of who is really running Boston Borough Council? There have been mutterings for some years to the effect that the officers are the real power behind the throne.
If that is the case – and if they are looking to extend their power base – then the time couldn’t be better.
So many councillors brand new to the business are sitting ducks for anyone who sees himself as an  éminence grise.
New councillors –  be on your guard.

***

After last week’s local election debacle there is always the question of apportioning blame.
But whoever would have thought of Boston Eye being among the culprits.
One failed Tory candidate went so far as to do exactly that.
Addressing the Eye and two other regular commentators on Twitter, he declared: “Thanks for giving us hell for the last six months. Now Boston has a UKIP borough council – well done.”
It was interesting that he thought that voters could be so easily swayed – and not that an incompetent leadership group might have contributed more to the Tory rout.

***

We have no doubt that Boston will be watched closely in the months ahead to see what sort of a fist the politicians make of their new look authority.
At a time when the powers that be are looking for economies, it might be worth bearing in mind that Boston is one of the country’s smallest councils by population –  it ranks  306th  of  326 –  which could make it a prime candidate for a merger with a neighbour.
Small is no longer beautiful – it is also expensive.

***

Meanwhile, we have to wait to find out during the week ahead what the plotters and schemers have come up with, and hopefully get a clearer picture of what’s going to happen in Worst Street
But at least one local politician has not had to wait long since Thursday’s general election




You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com


Friday, 8 May 2015


It was Oscar Wilde who told us to expect the unexpected –  but we think that even he might have been taken aback a little by the general election result for Boston and Skegness.
After the bluster of UKIP and its massive spending on publicity, we saw that when push comes to shove, Boston  stays where it feels safest –  and that’s with the Conservatives and their candidate Matt Warman.
The aptly named Warman won the battle with a majority of 4,336 – well down on 2010 ... but given what many pollsters were predicting, more than enough to hold the seat comfortably.
As the votes were being counted yesterday, the Daily Telegraph journalist wouldn’t be drawn on any likely outcome – saying only that “it looks likely to be a good night for Conservatives but let’s see what happens.”
By stark contrast, UKIP’s Robin Hunter-Clarke declared himself to be "quietly confident" of winning the Boston and Skegness seat and ready to shake up the “whole damn” Westminster establishment.
The full result was:
Robin Hunter-Clarke (UKIP) 14,645
Peter Johnson Independent) 170
Paul Kenny (Labour) 7,142 
Lyn Luxton (Pilgrim Party) 143 -
Chris Paine (Independence from Europe) 324
Victoria Percival (Green Party) 800
Matt Warman (Conservative) 18,981
David Watts (Liberal Democrat) 1,015
Robert West (British National Party) 119.
The turnout, at 64.83%  was even higher than at the last general election ... which was 61.1%
Then, 43,124 voters turned out compared with yesterday’s 43,339.
Tory Warman polled 43.7% of the vote against UKIP’s 33.7%.
UKIP’s Hunter-Clarke has declared “I’ll be back” – but we can't somehow imagine him sitting around for the next five years for a second crack at Boston and Skegness.
Until the surprise turnaround in the national voting this election had been roundly acclaimed as a disappointing affair, which failed to polarise opinion enough to create an overall majority.
Whilst things changed so dramatically at the 11th hour across the country, at a local level disappointment was a view which we broadly shared.
We have seen misplaced and unimaginative use of social media from both individuals and politicians alike ... and would have expected better of contributors at all levels.
This time around, there seemed a take-it-or-leave-it approach from candidates both national and local.
Number 1 Eye Street is a short walk from the town centre, yet of the nine general election candidates wanting our vote, only one took the trouble to knock on the door.
Clearly, it is impossible for every individual candidate to talk to every single voter.
But they have support teams – and we know from keeping track of events that local wards were ‘X’-bombed by the party faithful on behalf of their national representative to try to secure support.
Locally, things were even worse.
Not one of the seven candidates in our ward managed to find our front door.
Six had literature delivered.
One delivery – of three separate leaflets – included one from a West Street Tory wannabe which claimed: “I called to see you today and hear your views ...”
The clear implication here is that we were not in when this tireless campaigner for local democracy trudged his footsore path to our door.
The trouble is we were in when the leaflet was posted through.
No vote for him then.
Whilst we have grown used to local politicians treating us as fools for many years, the added impudence of one who takes us as gullible as well is a guarantee that we would salute Gessler’s hat before we would surrender our vote to him.
To make matters worse, a change of venue for our local polling stations – from one within an easy walk, to one a car drive away – was compounded by a lack of signposting, and the fact the venue was not easily recognisable.
Eventually, we joined a queue of lost souls travelling hopefully to arrive with the result that pitching up en-masse meant that all the limited parking was taken.
Nonetheless, is was good to see people queuing to vote rather than getting the feeling of stumbling into a meditation session  as has been the case in other years.
There was even talk of the powers that be having to send for reinforcements, so full were the ballot boxes becoming.
The matter of the ward venues is one we have mentioned regularly in recent weeks – particularly in light of the change to ward boundaries.
We are sure that had Boston Borough Council had the courtesy to give local voters more information ahead of the polls, many would have been grateful, and spared some hassle.
Something else that has baffled a number of our readers is the decision to use the same ballot box for both local and general election voting papers.
The first job once the polls close is to sort them out, then count the general election votes – with the result that counting for the borough and parish councils didn't start until around 7am.
We expect some surprises at Worst Street this time around and – assuming the count is completed by then – will give you our "expert" analysis in a Boston Eye extra on Monday.



You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com


Thursday, 7 May 2015

It’s election day

Over the years, we’ve covered more of these events than you can shake a stick at – both locally and nationally – and hope you will forgive us for not wanting to spend the night glued to a screen to publish at our usual time of 5am.
Tomorrow, Boston Eye will appear on-line at 11am with the election headlines, and will be followed on Monday with an in-depth assessment of what the elections will mean at Boston Borough Council.
We hope to see you then .

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com




Friday, 1 May 2015

6 days to the elections


We witnessed one of those strange moments on Sunday, when –  as the circus just outside town was  breaking down its tents and preparing to depart – another main ring event was being staged  in Boston town centre.
It took the form of a  metal cage made of pedestrian crowd control barriers containing several men – one of whom was holding what looked for a moment like a lion tamer’s whip, but which turned out to be a microphone on a cable.
The occasion – if so it can be described – was the arrival in town of the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, in which the forthcoming election in Boston, which the BBC reckons will be  “unlike any before” was debated by four of the main party candidates ... with the rest chipping in on video.
With the election so close, we tuned in with interest – only to be broadly disappointed.
Each of the four main candidates, Conservative Matt Warman, Paul Kenny for Labour, UKIP’s Robin Hunter-Clarke and Lib-Dem candidate David Watts responded robustly, but not impressively to the questions –  and the programme seemed to lack any depth, fire, or character.
Individually, the candidates seem scarcely to have warmed up, despite several so-called Hustings in recent times.
Matt Warman for the Tories came across as keen to please but focussing  too strongly on  the “Tories must win nationally” rather than “why this particular Tory should be elected in Boston.”
Paul Kenny got his points across, and has sharpened his delivery, which used to tend to ramble, although he is still entangling local and national issues in a mildly confusing way.
Robin Hunter-Clarke has improved his act since his earlier television appearances, but the range of subjects he is covering remains too narrow –  on Sunday he came across as a one note immigration  samba.
We had not seen or heard the Liberal-Democrat David Watts before – something we would be happy to do again.
As we said earlier the remaining candidates were given a minute or two to make their pitch, which given the tokenistic nature of the BBC’s  concession means that they might as well not have bothered.
Only Lyn Luxton tried to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, by telling her followers:
Crowds?
Addlethorpe?
Surely, she was dreaming.
Our Best in Show award for the BBC’s less than impressive production goes to Paul Kenny – who had far and away the best haircut.

***

A major criticism of the BBC’s coverage – and minor ones abound – is the way that the pre-filmed report segued seamlessly from mention of the  huge rise in immigration between 2001 and into footage of the protest meeting in the Market Place with no indication that this was well over two years old.
An uninformed viewer would have concluded that protests were still a way of life in Boston – whilst in fact things have calmed down considerably.
The poor visual presentation was compounded by staging the event inside the pedestrian cage and around the Five Lamps.
According to reports ahead of the broadcast, the show was being staged outside the Assembly Rooms, beneath the balcony.
The venue’s general manager was quoted as saying: “I have been working hard to ensure that there remains a balance at (the) Assembly Rooms, being both a popular night time venue, and a utilised community asset. Events like this ensure that we bring a total variance of different people through our doors,” whilst the Assembly Rooms owner Matt Clark declared: “This is an exciting event to be involved with, not only for the Assembly Rooms, but Boston as well.”
It was certainly exciting day for the night club, which got good television coverage and a name check or two as well – despite being completely uninvolved.
And certainly, no one came “through the doors,” as suggested.

***

UKIP was in for a disappointment from the BBC’s Panorama programme the following day.
In a cliché ridden snapshot of Skegness –    bingo, fish and chips, camel racing and the like – we heard Nate Silver “America's rock star statistician” predict that Skegness ... at one moment “the jewel of the English seaside” and the next “the most deprived seaside town in England”  ...  had to be retained by the Tories if they are to win an overall majority.
And according to one of Nate’s little helpers, UKIP has a one in fifty chance of success.
Not once was the name of Boston ever mentioned in the programme – but surprisingly, given the content and approach, candy floss never appeared.

***

For those of us in the less glamorous role of common or garden voters, the decision now  is – who do I vote for?
One thing that can be said for the BBC Sunday Politics show is that it offered no help whatever in this respect – but our instincts say that we are looking at a Conservative/UKIP contest, with Labour coming third.
The polls have been too close to call for a long while – but it’s being suggested that support for UKIP is running out of steam and that the party might not be the shoo-in that was first imagined in some areas.

***

But what about locally?
Last week we took a detailed look at the promises on offer from the ruling Conservative group and the UKIP candidates.
Just in the nick of time, a copy of Labour’s manifesto dropped through the door of Number 1 Eye Street.
Some of it includes echoes of the last local election in 2011 – such as the promise to introduce dog wardens and bring back the Party in the Park – whilst other parts seek to turn back the clock.
We’re talking about the idea of reintroducing Sunday bus services – many of which disappeared because of cuts in subsidies by Lincolnshire County Council, against a background of poor uptake by passengers.
Raising wages and lowering rents also feature on Labour’s agenda – as does the reintroduction of flood warning sirens, which were done away with some years ago ... notionally on the grounds that there were higher tech means of alerting people to flooding, but also because county hall didn’t want to spend the money.
Labour is also proposing sandbag collection points around the town  – which we are certain will prove so popular that there will be none left before the first rains even begin.
All this – plus  slashing car parking charges, which provide one of the few forms of income for Boston Borough Council –   suggest what could be a very expensive package for local taxpayers.
We would hope to see thorough and detailed costing before Labour started on this shopping list ... and want to know where the money will be coming from.

***

It’s now almost make-your-mind-up-time, and the box where you place your mark on  7th May will help determine who runs our country and our council for the next several years.
Unless you are party politically driven, it’s best to spend some time looking at the promises that are being made.
We’ve just looked at the Labour list which is interesting, but also impracticable in many respects and certainly expensive.
We mentioned the Tories last week –  and their five “priorities” don’t amount to much.
Delivery of a long term plan that will see a distributor road being built is not something for the coming four years –  but more  an uphill grind over the next forty.
Working in partnership to deliver the Boston Barrier is something that has been going on for years and barring any economic mishaps will now go ahead –  come hell or high water, if you will forgive the pun.
And a “Cabinet Question Time” sounds good on  paper –  but then so did the trumpeting that  council meetings could be filmed  18 months ago. Since then –  apart from a brief bit of filming for its novelty value –  nothing more has happened.
This council leadership  has been one of the least transparent and most secretive as far as things that matter are concerned  –  and whilst a “Question Time” concept sounds seductive, we have to remember that the meetings start at 10am and a recent one was over by 10-30am.
Who would seriously believe that someone would rate a meeting such as this so important that they will take at least half a day off work to attend a half-an-hour meeting.
Smoke and mirrors.
And whilst UKIP has a raft of broad local policies, individual promises need close inspection to ensure that they are deliverable.
A quick flip through the pledges on offer include many things that are simply beyond the pay grade of local councils – responsibilities of County Hall and national government or the NHS.
With election promises – as with anything else – always read the small print thoroughly before signing up.
We urge everyone who has an interest in Boston to turn out and vote – but to weigh up the promises of those who want you to hand them power and not to be taken for granted.
As Al Capone, the legendary gangster has been famously quoted as saying: "Vote early – and vote often."

***

Having raised the issue a few times in recent weeks, it was with a sense of schadenfreude that we noticed the laborious explanation issued by Boston Borough Council to try to clarify the effects of ward boundary changes on voters in the Fishtoft area.
Some people have received their postal ballot papers but – in the words of Worst Street – “may not realise that for electoral purposes the Fishtoft Parish Council area is split into two wards ...”
The reason for this is most likely because, the borough council has not bothered to try to make this information clear and accessible.
With a number of new wards popping up across the borough, and changes as to who votes where, we hope that the council seizes the chance to tell people where to go  –  in the nicest possible way, or course –  before it is too late.

***

A sympathiser with what some see as over-generous publicity for Boston’s mayor in the run up to the elections draws our attention to an interesting way of measuring the passage of time in the Boston Bulletin.
This exciting and vibrant publication tells us: “Centenarians are not known to be like London buses – arriving in twos – but recently in Boston no fewer than four came along at once.”
The item then went on to captivate us with no fewer than four pictures of the mayor exchanging wrinkly handshakes with the simultaneous centenarians.
Simultaneous?
Not quite.
There also appeared to be five, not four, when you delved deeper into the story.
According to the bulletin, the first of these “all at once” oldies was visited in January, followed by the next in February, the third in March and the fourth at Easter.
But we were also told that at the beginning of December last year, a 101 year-old also received a mayoral visit – although the excitement would appear to have been so great that she died not long after..
Not for the first time, we are reminded of the motto quoted by one of our first editors.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

***

Staying with the Boston Bulletin, after last week’s blog we received the following email from Boston Borough Council’s Labour group leader Paul Gleeson, which said:
“I noted your aside on my concerns about the Boston Bulletin.
“Section 28 of the Government's guidance on council publications states ‘... local authorities should not publish or incur expenditure in commissioning in hard copy or on any website, newsletters, newssheets or similar communications which seek to emulate commercial newspapers in style or content.
“Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, newssheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly, apart from parish councils which should not issue them more frequently than monthly.
“Such communications should not include material other than information for the public about the business, services and amenities of the council or other local service providers..."
“Whilst my view of the guidance is straightforward and means that the bulletin should only be published quarterly, this view is not accepted by the council's monitoring officer.  
“As the restriction is only contained in a guidance. my only option is to continue to pursue the matter with the monitoring officer, which I am still doing – as I am of the opinion her replies to me still have not adequately addressed the issue of frequency of publication.
“At present I am awaiting a further reply from the monitoring officer”

***

We now know a little more since last week's blog about plans to develop Haven Wharf alongside the river in the centre of the town.
click to enlarge
The application was made on 7th April on behalf of Hanseatic Developments Ltd, which at the time had not been incorporated at Companies House ... and wasn’t until 23rd April.
As a result we now know that the company lists just one company director – 48 year-old Simon George Brown – who has expressed the wish to “adopt entirely bespoke articles.”
The company’s registered address  is 5 Resolution  Close, on  Endeavour Park in Boston, which is also home to 33 other companies – 24 of them active, plus nine which have been  dissolved.
We believe that this is known as an accommodation address.
According to this week’s “exclusive” report in the Boston Standard – which appeared just a week after our own piece in Boston Eye, the scheme is set to cost £10 million.
Mr Brown’s background appears to be in transport and haulage.
We await further developments on the site with interest.

***

That’s it for this week.
Please make sure that you stick your ‘X’ in a box –  the worst you can do is to vote for monkeys and find that you are stuck with a bunch of clowns – but you can then at least say that you looked at what they said and took a decision.
Next week, we hope to publish the headline results on Friday followed by a more detailed analysis of what it might mean locally.

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com