Last week’s prediction that today’s full council meeting might be a little lacklustre may not after all be the case.
Whilst UKIP has eschewed submitting its customary mound of questions, we know of at least one – from a member of the public – that will be of interest.
It concerns the £1 million loan taken out by Boston Borough Council 25 years ago for a term of sixty years at an interest rate of more than 11%.
This means that by the time repayment is due, Worst Street will have forked over more than £6 million of our council tax in interest.
Despite attempts to find out what all this was about, the history remains obscure.
No one knows who authorised the loan or who – if anyone – approved it.
Apparently the rules regarding this sort of thing were far easier going in those days – although some might prefer the words lax and inefficient.
However, a little more light was shed on this murky transaction after a Freedom of Information request asking for all the documentation regarding the loan turned up 51 items – before that it was always claimed that there was nothing more than a receipt.
Tonight’s question asks where these documents have been all these years and when they were found.
The questioner adds: “The documents quite clearly have names of the people who have knowledge of the loan; these people are still alive and contactable. “Would someone from the council like to take the opportunity to update the Chamber, the press and the public on how the investigations are going in the light of the new documents to give us the answers we have been searching for over the last 25 years?”
Although the question was initially directed to the council’s “leader” ‘Nipper’ Bedford, he has been let off the hook, as it has been decided finance portfolio holder Aaron ‘Frank’ Spencer would be a more appropriate person to respond.
This is despite the fact that Council Bedford was elected in 1991 – the year the loan was taken out, and might even remember the event – whilst Councillor Spencer was a babe in arms that year.
The reply on Monday night will be interesting as will any supplementary question that is raised,
Sadly, we hear that another planned question – from a senior UKipper – was not pursued after the would-be interrogator learned that a member of the public had put one forward ... which seems peculiar, to say the least.
But despite the reluctance of the powers that be in Worst Street, one councillor is determined to get to the bottom of this tawdry tale.
Councillor Doctor Gordon Gregory, who represents Trinity Ward for the Tories, also has concerns about the loan.
“When I was appointed to chairman of audit and governance committee after the election, I too found the lack of evidence odd and suspicious,” he told Boston Eye.
“The newly ‘found’ (material) was sought at my request and somewhat assisted by a FOI request … When I have completed my investigation I will write a publicly available report.
“I have no reason to defend an administration elected when I was 10 years old, so I have no conflict of interest.
“Any information would be thankfully received and would contribute to my investigation and report.”
We are sure that many readers will join us in saluting Councillor Doctor Gregory decision to investigate the loan and make his researches public.
However, we fear that the Worst Street political old guard as well as many officers will do everything they can to hinder his efforts.
Footnote: It seem that Boston is not alone when it comes to being indifferent to such a footling sum as £1 million.
A FoI request to Thurrock District Council – which bought the loan from Scottish Provident 22 months after it was issued to Worst Street and three months later transferred it to State Street, who have held it ever since – received the response that the council held no information about any of this..
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