It seems that Boston is always on the brink of getting something which never fully materialises – call it the “jam tomorrow” factor if you like – a rule invented by the White Queen in Alice through the looking glass...
A couple of these issues have recently raised their heads – the Boston Barrier and the ever decreasing possibility of some sort of by-pass for the town.
The issue of the barrier was raised at last week’s full meeting of Lincolnshire Clownty Council by borough and county councillor Alison Austin – who manages to speak at virtually every meeting … even though getting picked is supposed be something of a lottery. Her question was posed to the rosy cheeked executive councillor for economic development, environment, planning and tourism Colin Davie.
Noting that the Boston Barrier involves two sections – the actual flood barrier that can be raised in the event of a North Sea surge, with a lock alongside, she pointed out that the current proposal is initially to fill the lock section with rubble and complete it in the second stage.
She asked Councillor Davie to consider the business case for completing the lock while the expensive equipment is present in the river constructing the lifting barrier.
Mr Davie is apparently another of these people who fancy themselves as politicians – which means that their sole aim when asked a question is not to answer.
“Obviously the Boston Barrier is a strategic project for Lincolnshire,” he waffled – in a statement of the obvious.
“It’s vitally important for Boston and its people that it’s delivered as quickly as possible and we are working towards that with the Environment Agency and all partners.
“I have asked that the Boston Barrier project be looked at at the next flood and drainage committee meeting which will be held in Boston in April, so we can clear up any misunderstandings about how the project is going to be delivered so it can be delivered as quickly as possible.
“So you’ll have a chance at that meeting to clarify these matters.”
With all due respect to Councillor Davie – that was not what you were asked. Unfortunately, there is no right of response for the questioner, so Councillor Austin was unable to pursue the point.
The answer obviously is a clear “no,” though – were it not, we imagine that Councillor Davie would have said so rather than try to be a smart Colin (why should Alec always get the flak?).
So what we appear to be getting is a barrier and a load of rammel – the latter being a replacement for the £11 million promised by the County Council to maintain river levels and open Boston and the Fens up to more tourism.
Our questions about the bypass came after the announcement of more good news if you live in Lincoln – headquarters of Lincolnshire County Council. Work on the city’s “long awaited” £96 million single carriageway eastern bypass will begin in the next three or four months.
A bypass for Grantham is also underway, and given that Louth, Crowland and even Wainfleet all have bypasses, we would hope that such a crucial project for Boston might now be nearer.
But we were told by Councillor Richard Davies, the executive councillor for highways and transport, that the latest transport assessment shows inbound, not on-going through traffic using Boston’s roads.
When we pointed out that Boston is the main through road to Skegness which must count for something, as hundreds of thousands of people pay the resort a visit each year, he said: “I understand what you mean but surveys and sampling confirmed it. It's being looked at but traffic movements are key.
He added that the analysis of a survey for Boston Transport Strategy had shown 82% of vehicle movements ended up in Boston, with only 18% passing through.
Councillor Davies said that another other “huge” problem is low land values, which limit developer contributions but that he is working with our MP Matt Warman and Boston Borough Council on more options – something that we did not find especially encouraging.
We were referred to page 13 of the Boston Transport Strategy gives more detail as to problems financing a bypass, but this proved elusive.
However, page 234 out of 308 page subtly named “South East Lincolnshire Local Plan Strategy and Policies Development Plan Document Combined Preferred Options and Sustainability Appraisal Report Full Consultation Document (May 2013)” told us: “Whilst the Boston Distributor Road remains an aspiration, it is unlikely to come forward in its entirety in the plan period. However, there is potential for future development at Boston town to contribute to a ‘first phase’ of a new piece of highway infrastructure, although there is no underlying evidence to draw on relating to this at present. There is no evidence to suggest the implementation of a Boston Distributor Road is critical for the delivery of the growth strategy for Boston to 2031.
So as we said at the start – at the moment it’s jam tomorrow on the barrier – but not even a crumb of comfort about alleviating Boston’s traffic woes.
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