But there are also a couple of newcomers.
The more important of the two is the signing of the Mayflower Compact … whose partners – mainly a bunch of councils – will work towards the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower on the shores of America in 2020.
The original Mayflower Compact was signed at sea on 11th November 1620. It set out how the New World colony of Plymouth would be governed – and would later form part of the US constitution.
The wafflers tell us: “The Mayflower 400 vision and goals is a programme of events on a transformational scale that is being led by Plymouth UK and Plymouth Massachusetts, and is a platform for a national celebration of the remarkable relationship between the UK and US, which began with the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620.
“It will once again place them, their heritage and its contribution to world history, on the global map.”
“The arrival of the Mayflower is celebrated by many in the US as “the beginning of a national legacy, and in the UK as the beginning of one of the most enduring alliances the world has ever known.”
In Boston, we make much of this – and the words Pilgrim and Mayflower litter the directory of local businesses and the like.
But the fact is that none of this has much to do with Boston.
Some careful economy with the facts appears on Boston Guildhall’s webpage,which says: “So far as can be trusted from historic records there is no doubting that the Pilgrim Fathers sought to make their first escape bid overseas from the Lincolnshire coast, close to Boston in 1607, were betrayed, arrested and locked up in the Guildhall. Escape from religious persecution was their aim; their crime was seeking to leave the country without the permission of the King.
“It is this first recorded act of defiance, and the first recorded steps along the path which was to eventually take them to America to become an important part of the founding fathers, that forms such a close bond with Boston for Americans.”
That’s about the most you can say …
Although the website refers to them as the Pilgrim Fathers – they were then known as “Separatists” and their plan to escape England was with the end destination of Holland as their target.
Not only that, but Boston’s so-called Pilgrim Fathers tried to escape thirteen years before the real McCoy sailed from Plymouth.
And the people of the town that eventually settled across the Atlantic sailed to America between ten and 14 years afterwards – in 1630, 1633 and 1634 – supported as New World development assets by the Massachusetts Bay Company.
To make things even worse, these very first settlers from Plymouth, were initially referred to as the Old Comers and later as the Forefathers, and did not become known as the Pilgrim Fathers until two centuries after their arrival.
But, over time, Boston’s place as a footnote to the pages of history has been greatly aggrandized.
Our illustration at the top of the page shows how this was traded upon – with a heavily romanticised railway poster showing the PFs setting sail from the Guildhall gazing misty-eyed toward their destination.
At least two prominent historians have looked into any possible links between Boston and the Pilgrim Fathers.
In his 1856 immensely thorough History and Antiquities of Boston and the Hundred of Skirbeckundred of SkirbeckH, Pishey Thompson – who also spent time in the US Boston in the 1840’s, and so might have had greater reason than most to look for ties to the original settlers had this to say …
And 130 years later, local journalist George Bagley came to the same conclusion in his excellent book Boston – its story and people.
But venture across a couple of county borders, and our claim to have played a major role in all of this is put into perspective in not-too-distant Bassetlaw – where they have much to shout about.
The Nottinghamshire district council offers a Welcome to Pilgrim Country, with a well-planned circular tour of key visitor points for those wanting to learn all about the Old Comers … errr … Forefathers … err …Pilgrim Fathers.
You can find out more by visiting their site here
Plans are well advanced to develop a currently disused barn at Scrooby – described as the spiritual home of the Pilgrim Fathers.
If you have taken a look at the Pilgrim County leaflet, you will note that Boston barely rates a mention.
Not only that but a footnote declares “The Mayflower Trail may be extended from Gainsborough, via the A156 to Lincoln (18 miles) and Boston (52 miles.)”
So what do we have? The mayor’s ‘X’ on a “compact” which will benefit most of the other signatories far more than it will Boston.
The place with most to gain will be Plymouth, doubtless followed by Bassetlaw and after that …
All the we have is a shaky connection between a group of people who were thwarted in their attempts to flee to Holland thirteen years before the Pilgrim Fathers (none of whom were Bostonians) set sail from Plymouth to the New World.
And what can we offer?
About the best we can muster is the Puritan Path” at Boston Stump – a memorial to 12 men and women who sailed from our Boston to found the other Boston in Massachusetts in 1630.
But that’s another – and completely different – story.
We suspect that the most likely impact of the Mayflower 2020 celebrations will be the excuse for a Worst Street civic party of some sort to enjoy a freebie in America – which won’t do the rest of us the slightest bit of good.
None of this seems to deter Boston Borough Council’s plan to change the way we celebrate Christmas with the introduction of Illuminate – a planned annual ceremony on US Thanksgiving Day which will be used to to mark the anniversary of the Mayflower landing in four years’ time.
Perhaps the reason for this is because Worst Street can get the luvvies at Transported to build a model Mayflower for them – this year at least.
They might then hope that moving the celebratory goalposts will persuade businesses to stump up money to fund this on-going novelty for another four years – which would take matters beyond the next elections and therefore make them someone else’s problem.
The Thanksgiving holiday tradition seems most likely traced back to a “poorly documented” celebration held in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts when the Old Comers … errr … Forefathers … err …Pilgrim Fathers and Wampanoag Indians had a harvest feast.
We’ve looked at this from all directions, but still can’t see why we will no longer make Christmas the main focus of our commemorations at this time of year and instead mark American Thanksgiving Day – especially as the evidence of a Boston connection is so flimsy.
All this moves us seamlessly to Boston’s other big cunning plan – membership of Die Hansa – a form of resurrection of the Hanseatic League of which Boston was a member along with around 200 other medieval ports and cities in medieval times.
Unlike other former league members, Boston has absolutely nothing to show that it was once a member – other than an artist’s impression of the “steelyard” where goods were once weighed and stamped.
History tells us that Boston’s part in all of this was less than glorious.
There were problems with wool being smuggled locally without duty, the decline of the salt exporting trade, and then, in about 1470, a foreign trader was murdered by Boston merchant Humphrey Littleburye – which led to the ending of the Hansa link when the Esterling family quit the town.
And we’re celebrating this …?
Daft as all the above mentioned stuff is, we don’t expect anything by way of public reaction.
But what does set local opinion alight is … toilets – especially when they are under threat.
And that now looks to be the case in Boston.
A report to this week‘s Environment and Performance Committee reviews the operation of the five public toilets still run by Worst Street at the inordinately high cost of £200,000 a year, with income from the three which charge expected to be around £21,400.
Ominously, beneath the heading Future Provision the report notes: “There are a number of local authorities across the country who have made the decision that, as a Discretionary Service, they will cease to provide public toilet facilities and have looked at private provision i.e. working with partners in the commercial sector to enable them to open their facilities to the general public, whether they be retail outlets or public houses, or hotels, for example.
“As part of the Task and Finish Group looking at the town centre, this option may well be discussed as a potential solution for the borough council to consider, as there is no doubt that, even with an income stream arising from charging, the costs of provision will always be considerable.”
We think that this can safely be taken to mean that Worst Street will ask local businesses to throw their toilet doors open wide to all comers whilst the council pockets the money it had previously spent and brags of yet another partnership.
Of course, most shops, pubs or hotels don’t currently charge customers to use their facilities.
And if the Worst Street idea were to be adopted, they would presumably absorb a large amount of the £200,000 bill.
But worse might be on the cards for them
A year ago, Boston’s Goody Two Shoes News (circulation 783) presented readers with an album of nauseating photographs in a so-called attempt to explain away complaints by council-run toilet users …
Beneath the heading DEFILED – DEPRAVED Would you clean it up? GTSN told readers: “Images connected with this article come with a warning: They show graphic scenes of the disgusting condition some have left Boston’s public toilets in. If you do not have a strong stomach then do not look at them.
“They are used to demonstrate that, despite the best efforts of council staff, some people persist in leaving visitors with the wrong impression; that public toilets in Boston are neglected and not maintained.”
Might this explain Worst Street’s enthusiasm for the possibility of dumping the problem on someone else? No pun intended.
GTSN’s policy of ramping up any possible detrimental news for Boston had a field day this week supporting Hate Crime Week.
Another sizzling headline read: Help stop Hate Crime before it ends in murder and went on: “This was brought home to Boston when Sophie Lancaster’s mother, Sylvia, came to the town as a guest of Boston Borough Council to speak about the tragic way in which her daughter had become a victim of hate crime.”
Sophie was attacked and subsequently died because she wore Goth style clothing.
The incident happened in Bacup in Lancashire in 2007, and Sophie’s mother was invited to Boston to talk about it in 2011 as part of a previous awareness week.
Overall the impression given by Worst Street’s coverage of this suggests a serious problem in Boston.
But – whilst local figures aren’t available – the total of hate crimes in Lincolnshire in 2014-2015 was 243 … or 0.03% of the population
This doesn’t mean that it is not important – but it ought to be seen in perspective, and not over-promoted in a way that bangs yet another nail in Boston’s coffin by making it sound a bad and dangerous place to live when it isn’t.
Incidentally, Lincolnshire Police statistics tell us that since January 2008, the number of hate crimes directed at members of the punk and Goth community has totalled precisely – NIL.
Mention of GTSN reminds us … a reader who queried the cost of the production of the council’s daily bulletin received the precise – but we think implausible – answer that it worked out at £11.06 a day … an annual cost of £2,867.60.
Either these figures have been calculated in a way to avoid criticism or the two people who produce it must be among the lowliest-paid in Worst Street.
We have been critical throughout the long winded process of naming local “heroes” whose unsung generosity and service to the community has been recognised by a cack-handed “salute” on the borough’s dustbin lorries.
Worse still, now that the giant posters are on display, a sinister picture has emerged of “faceless” people.
Take this one for instance…
Take this one for instance…
Tea is being served – for some strange reason in the middle of a field that is energetically being harvested – by a featureless waitress to an equally blank-faced clutch of customers.
However, it’s not all eerie …
In another illustration – depicting Boston’s fishing fleet – again, whilst without expression, there is a hint of humour in that one of the sailors appears to be dancing a hornpipe …
Or so it seems.
Don’t forget that this coming Monday 19th October is your first chance to publicly question members of the Worst Street Cabinet of Curiosities at a special session starting at 6pm.
It’s dead easy – all you have to do is initially submit the question in writing, and then be prepared to attend the session in person to ask your question and receive the answer.
Your questions must be relevant to the council’s duties and responsibilities or issues that affect the borough, and the sessions are exclusively for members of the public resident in Boston borough.
Rumours that a family pet had to be surrendered as a hostage appear to be unfounded.
In our earlier piece about public toilet provision for Boston, we noted mention of Worst Street’s latest Task and Finish committee – this time to “look” at the town centre.
Sadly, Boston Borough Council devotes an unhealthy amount of time to navel-gazing whilst neighbouring districts cut to the chase … they come up with an idea, develop it and then put it into action.
Last Friday, for instance, saw the annual Spalding Pumpkin Parade, which has been running for several years, and which is sponsored by a local grower who claims to be the largest pumpkin producer in Europe.
It provides entertainment throughout the day and draws visitors from a wide area.
And last week also saw the first Made in Sleaford exhibition taking place over two days across three Sleaford venues.
Richard Noble – who held the land speed record between 1983 and 1997 – was a guest speaker.
The Bloodhound car he is behind is designed to achieve 1,000 mph – and is sponsored by Sleaford-based SHD Composites.
Councillor Marion Brighton, leader of North Kesteven District Council, said: “It is not only the nose cone of the Bloodhound supersonic car which carries the name and reputation of Sleaford around the world, but many other world-class products which we are proud to say come from this town ...
… “I defy anyone not to discover something new in the wealth of Sleaford's extensive productivity, from flour to films, pianos to ploughs, violins, vegetables, and even an engine featured in a Bond film."
Made in Sleaford was staged last Friday and Saturday between 10am and 5pm and included a free family-friendly fun day with entertainment, music, an aerial dance rig and food producers’ display.
And what was Worst Street doing last weekend?
No doubt thinking about taking a look at how to make something of the town centre.
It’s not even a start.
Traffic wardens seem to be more in evidence in Boston these days – although they are often spotted in the out of town areas where the job is more like shooting fish in a barrel than preventing problems cause by illegal parking.
Recent figures from Lincolnshire County Council tell us that so far this year Boston’s Market Place is where you are most likely to receive a fine, with Sheep Market in Spalding second and Wide Bargate in Boston third.
Silver Street and Portland Street in Lincoln complete the top five locations.
The enforcers’ diligence in Boston has helped Lincolnshire County Council make a £50,730 surplus on £1,110,277 in fines from 35,517 tickets as part of its professed determination to reduce inconsiderate parking and congestion across Lincolnshire.
Our roving cameraman recently caught this candid picture (above) of a warden at work in Boston …
Whilst Boston Borough Council is getting its knickers in a twist about Hate Crime, far more serious is the day-to-day way of life in the town which Worst Street chooses to overlook.
Lincolnshire Police imposed a dispersal order in Boston Town Centre last weekend between 9pm on Friday and 6am on Sunday, covering roughly the same area as the current Public Space Protection Order – pronounced Spo.
The cops said this was part of general procedure, and was looking to relaunch its OpNova campaign – an acronym for No to Violence and Abuse.
So … what is a dispersal order?
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 gives the police powers in designated areas to disperse groups of two or more where their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being harassed, intimidated, alarmed or distressed.
Lincolnshire Police say that the idea of OpNova is to reduce alcohol related anti-social behaviour and reduce the violence in the night time economy.
It also seems to suggest that the PSPO is not working – hence the need for the dispersal order.
Sorting this out seems to be a more important target than the one currently being rolled out by Worst Street through the GTSN.
But because it might be more controversial and harder to achieve might be why it is being side-lined.
Time and again, we hear mention of the imminent arrival of a new Lidl store in Tawney Street.
But as the months have gone by, the rumours that it might not happen have been mounting …
We thought that the best way to get to the bottom of all this would be to go to the pferdemaul – the horse’s mouth.
So we sent emails to Lidl asking about their plans for Boston … not once … not twice … but three times.
But antwort kam dort keine – or to put it another way … answer came there none.
Finally, the BBC if no one else seems to have fallen in love with the idea that an “Illuminate” festival should replace recognition of Christmas in Boston.
However, they so beefed it up in a Tweet to readers that we felt obliged to add a comment.
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Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com