By a happy coincidence, we took last week off, in order to let the dust settle after the 7th May elections.
And it was just as well we did ... as the powers that be in Worst Street seem to have sunk into some sort of fugue state at around the same time, and only now seem to be awakening.
Whereas the immediate period after the 2011 elections Boston was awash with activity, this time around the reverse was true.
At the beginning of this week, we saw just one meeting for June listed ... and according to the council diary, there were no further meetings for the rest of the year – which of course is nonsense – and was followed (slowly) by additional information.
We can’t say why, but we are starting to get a feeling that information will become harder to get than previously.
As an example, only now is it becoming possible to discover the names of committee members – as the agendas start to appear online. A list appeared in one of the town's “newspapers” some days ago, but was not apparently shared with the taxpayers.
An alternative thought is that – as with the 2011 election – the leadership's continuation in power was unexpected and took them by surprise.
Perhaps history repeated itself at our recent elections leaving our leaders high and dry in terms of how to continue ... hence the soporific start to their new term.
The same sleepiness appears to have reached other levels within the organisation.
This time last year, Boston’s Christmas Market group – which had a sizeable input from council officers and members – had been meeting regularly, and plans for the event were taking shape.
But as far as we are aware no similarly early start was made this year, although the reason is unclear.
Does this mean that Christmas in Boston is cancelled for 2015? It’s come close once before with a couple of previous farces going back to the bad old days of Boston Business “Improvement” District and the year that we had no light switch on ceremony, which made us a county-wide laughing stock.
Last year’s council-planned Christmas event was a step in the right direction – although it was marred by “spoilers” from Oldrids and Pescod Square.
Perhaps this year the council has decided to leave it to them.
If so, it is a pity, as the council still has a stake in the event in the form of its investments in lighting – supposedly, £35,000 worth ... although you wouldn't think so to look at them.
This year should see them return for the fifth and final time – that £35,000 is just a hire charge.
Perhaps the Worst Street Scrooges think that this is enough and that the rest can be done by others.
What else appears to have fallen by the wayside?
As long ago as April last year, the pages for the first Boston “official” calendar” were all but sold to local sponsors – Boston Eye included.
It was printed around August and on sale in good time to head off the competition.
For once, things went smoothly, sales went well and the calendar raised a decent sum for charity.
We even heard talk of a second calendar while the first was still being prepared – but this year there has been a deafening silence.
Again, a cruise around the borough website during the week turned up further signs of information malaise.
Almost a month after the election there were no photos available of our new councillors, and links to their names produced nothing more than details of the ward they represent and an email address.
And the poor old Boston Daily Bulletin has transmogrified into the Goody Two-Shoes Gazette in recent times – with such a wide smile stretched across its face that its cheeks must surely ache.
It may be our imagination, but we believe that electors were far better informed about far more interesting things at this point four years ago than they are this week.
At least it has dawned a little late on Worst Street that there are now 30 councillors – and not the 32 being reported as recently as Tuesday this week..
Meanwhile, little else changes.
A month of road works begins at the end of June to replace traffic lights and improve the footpath at the junction of John Adams Way and Botolph Street, in Boston.
The work includes a temporary right turn ban in and out of Botolph Street so that existing signals can be turned off and removed “without the need for disruptive temporary signals allowing John Adams Way to flow freely.”
There could also be some single lane closures during off-peak times.
Our old friend County Councillor Richard “Bob the Builder” Davies tell us: “The traffic lights at this location have reached the end of their working life so we have tied this work in with improvements required to the nearby footpath ... to minimise disruption on this busy junction. It is important that we keep traffic flowing along John Adams Way.”
To regular readers this may have a familiar echo.
Similar promises were made when work was being carried out on Haven Bridge – which many motorists will remember to their cost.
And just one question...
Why does it take a month to replace a set of traffic lights and work on a footpath?
Talking of traffic, it still doesn’t seem to clear just what the traffic wardens who patrol the town have as their mission statement.
There was consternation recently and some debate in the social media after wardens were seen hunting in packs – three of them strolling past Iceland from the Spilsby Road end, and two others heading along Church Road ... where they have been noted more than once.
The Church Road sightings sparked a small debate – with questions being asked as to why they were so far out of town and in an area where the double yellow lines were clearly being obeyed.
A reply from Lincolnshire County Council made many laugh. The response – an attempt at a put-down but also with a snotty undertone said: “It’s just a picture of two traffic wardens walking down a road in which no one is parked illegally. Could be en route to a hotspot!”
But Clownty Hall backed down after readers pointed out that there were no hot spots in the area, which was well out of town, and retreated to referring enquiries elsewhere.
It’s not the first time we have seen parking enforcers hunting for victims anywhere other than they are likely to be found.
We’ve said it before, and it is worth repeating – the most blighted area of Boston as far as parking is concerned is the Market Place ... and the problem needs resolving.
Ever since the area was “refurbished” some years ago it has been beset by problems which the powers that be have chosen to ignore.
Most of the time it is now a mess with cars parked haphazardly and often illegally, no clearly defined areas for vehicles or pedestrians to use and a host of other inadequacies.
The nearest that we got to any comment on the mess was when the former portfolio holder for the town centre railed against motorists and generally slagged them off for not knowing where to park – even though it wasn't clear.
The previous leadership did nothing to help matters, aside from dumping a load of weed filled planters here, there and everywhere to try to create some form of delineation and protection for pedestrians.
Unfortunately for the Market Place, the previous leadership is now the new leadership – one or two old faces excepted – which raises the worry that we can expect nothing to be done for the coming four years.
The Market Place should be a focal point for the town – for locals and visitors, as well as for events such as Christmas celebrations ... which we may not now be getting.
As we said at the start of today’s offering, it appears that the powers that be in Worst Street seem to have sunk into some sort of fugue state.
But now it’s Wakey Wakey time, and time to get Boston up and running.
Still on the subject of traffic we note some worrying reports of increasing pollution from diesel engines.
It seems that the first three letters of DIEsel are not without significance!
Several recent reports have highlighted the problems caused to health by diesel emissions – the most recent of which warned of an increased risk of a stroke in inner city areas.
In Boston, the main through road – John Adams Way – is well monitored ... and we are told that aside from one or two “hotspots” there is little to worry about.
But one place familiar to us all which sees vehicles pass within inches of people is Strait Bargate – where the controversial decision to treat a pedestrian area as a rat run for buses allows scores of journeys in both directions every day.
We’ve all watched them grind their noisy, meeping path through shoppers for the slightly spurious reason that if they didn’t use Strait Bargate, the Into Town service timetable would collapse into chaos.
Young children in buggies and disabled people in mobility scooters are inconveniently placed with their heads not far above exhaust pipe level – and we wonder what the consequences for their lungs are as a result.
If nothing else, in the interest of good public health practice, the time is overdue to extend monitoring of emissions to include Strait Bargate to see if a problem exists of which we are unaware.
By an ironic coincidence, a non-vehicular source of pollution recognised by Boston Borough Council is also being adopted by it.
The leadership’s big rescue plan for the Princess Royal Sports Arena and the Geoff Moulder Leisure Centre envisages the installation of biomass boilers with a maximum output of 380kw for the PRSA and between 450kw and 510 kw for the GMLC.
The most recent local report on air quality identifies four local developments on farms around the area “which may impact on air quality.”
Their total output is 4,300kw.
The additional boilers proposed by Worst Street will increase this by more than 20% – and let’s not forget that one of these – at the Moulder – is in a densely populated area, and not on village farmland.
Not for the first time, we find ourselves misunderstood.
When we first started blogging nine years ago it was in the dog days of a heavily Tory influenced council that was theoretically under “no overall control.”
At that late stage they were well and truly mired, and we said as much.
When the Boston Bypass Independents surprised themselves and everyone else by seizing control of the council we took our time before commenting – but when it became clear which way the wind was blowing, we made our feelings felt.
This caused a number of Conservatives in opposition mistakenly to assume that we were anti-BBI and pro-Tory.
When the Conservatives surprised themselves and everyone else by seizing control of the council, we again took our time before commenting – no rush to judgment here at Number 1 Eye Street – but when it became clear which way the wind was blowing, we made our feelings felt.
The reaction from the Tories – unlike the BBI which took criticism on the chin – was to turn nasty.
We have always spoken as we find – and by and large we have found successive leaderships to be wanting, unimaginative and obsessed with being in control rather than listening.
Now, we learn “that the Eye wanted UKIP to win the council ...”
This stunning exposé has been penned by the twice failed Tory candidate Daniel Elkington – who blogs under the name of Boston Tory ... as if he is the only one.
The most recent tirade begins: “I've read the last Boston eye (sic) blog with interest as it's normally quite amusing, this time the only real joke was right at the end and didn't reward one for trudging through a half hour rant about the fact that the Conservatives have managed to organise control of Boston Borough Council.
“The main thing seems to be that the Eye wanted UKIP to win the council, ergo his comments on BTAC. I read several times that 'the electorate voted for'...
“I wish the Eye wouldn't be blinded by hate quite so often.”
Normally, we treat claptrap like this with the contempt that it deserves – but given that there are so many new councillors at Worst Street we think it best to make our position clear.
We do not support any political party on Boston Borough Council.
As our blog declares, we are “watching out for the voters of Boston.”
Boston Tory's gripe that the blog isn’t funny shows how little he understands its purpose – but then you can’t please all of the people all of the time ... as we have been proving for years...
Whilst we wouldn't have thought it possible, we note that the Boston Book of Days records contain yet another instance of history repeating itself.
Last week we brought you the account of the Conservatives regaining power in the council, alongside the evidence of tough choices in selecting members of the borough cabinet.
Historians have now uncovered yet another medieval manuscript showing a centuries old depiction of an early coalition.
Never let it be said that Boston Borough Council doesn’t seek the best value for money.
An £800,000 windfall from County Hall is being shared between Lincolnshire’s local authorities to help improve services.
The money came in through council tax charges on second homes to spend on “schemes which are of mutual benefit to both the county and district councils."
As befits the imagination of its leadership, Boston has received the smallest grant among the seven districts, and will invest around £31,000 in “third sector organisations which work to turn people away from a life of offending.”
Whilst we have no doubt that this is important work, we have to ask whether it is the most important use of £30 thousand.
For instance, Lincoln is to spend more than £90,000 to help build a multi-storey car park as part of the Lincoln Transport Hub Scheme., whilst East Lindsey will use almost £500,000 to help support local businesses and manage grants which are used to revamp homes for those with disabilities.
We have a sinking feeling that – not for the first time – the borough's money will vanish into a contract post ... either full or part time, and that no real benefits will be forthcoming.
By an unhappy coincidence, the launch of the Transported project to promote this part of the world with graphic illustrations on the side of FreshLinc lorries happened about the same time as an accident which saw one of the company’s vehicles burn out on the A1.
Fortunately, no-one was badly hurt – but it did make us wonder for a moment whether Transported had produced an alternative abstract illustration ... possibly with a Turner Prize in mind!
Still with alternative photos ... we note that the trend among our local newspapers to use whatever picture comes to hand, rather than the appropriate illustration is spreading.
Last week we highlighted two bizarre photos which appeared on the Boston Target website alongside stories of a major riverside development planned for the town, and an idea to reduce the number of whelks being fished to conserve stocks.
The first picture showed an empty waterside scene which might have been taken in Boston in prehistoric times had cameras existed, whilst the second implied that using a rod and line might solve the whelk over-fishing problem.
The Target continued on the same lines with a picture to illustrate a report headlined “Influx of migrant workers are driving down low wages in Boston.”
The picture – captioned “foreign workers” – looks more to us like a family outing somewhere in the south downs – perhaps pea-picking or something similar.
Certainly, it can be said with some confidence that it is not a typical fenland farming scene!
Not to be outdone, the Boston Standard report on the John Adams Way road works was accompanied by a photo that could have been taken at any number of places ... but none of them in Boston!
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