Week ending …
Boston Borough Council has moved quickly – for once – to cash in on Monday’s government decision to raise the cap on council tax.
Worst Street’s Insignificant Seven, aka the cabinet, originally had recommended an increase of 1.98% – another 6p a week for an average band D property.
Now, when the cabinet meets on February 24th it will consider raising that tax to 2.9% – an extra 9p per week … roughly 30%
Their obvious decision to vote for this will then go to the full council on February 29th .
Worst Street says: “You can still give the council your comments on council tax and the budget proposals by going to budget consultation 2016/17.”
But – as is so often the case with our “leadership” – there is a catch.
The closing date to get your comments in is today.
Apparently the council has refused to extend the original deadline because it needs to produce a report to the cabinet meeting – which is almost a fortnight away.
Worst Street says that if the deadline was extended, it would miss these dates and therefore the deadline to approve the increase.
This is not a consultation – this is Worst Street at its finest, putting the council’s interests ahead of those of the electorate.
It is unreasonable to expect people to read the consultation and comment in just a few hours.
And look at this so-called “consultation.”
Readers have to find the budget details themselves because there is no link provided – nor, incidentally, is there any mention of the closing date.
So few people will take the time and trouble to offer their thoughts on what is obviously a foregone conclusion that it would have been quite within the realms of feasibility to have extended the deadline for a few days.
This would at least have given people time for thought.
But then this is a Worst Street “CONsultation,” – which means: “You tell us what you want … and we do as we please.”
We hear that the Worst Street “leadership” is struggling with attendance problems after professional responsibilities have taken two Tory councillors outside the area.
One of the pair has a senior role – and rumour has it that ‘Nipper’ Bedford has had to take matters in hand.
We have had difficulties like this before in Boston with another party – the English Democrats. One was sacked from the council after failing to attend a meeting for more than six months. The second managed to turn up just often enough to avoid this official sanction and thus retain his allowances.
We hope that we will not see a return to the days of absentee councillors.
Our view is that if they can’t attend, they should step aside for someone who can.
We’re grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for the Tories – Marc Jones – for tweeting the highlights of last week’s Police and Crime Budget meeting, at which he was the only wannabe present.
Like us, he was stunned when the commissioner Alan Hardwick was challenged over his lack of public comment on Boston "murder capital" label. “PCC outrageous reply: ‘I've never been asked for a comment,’” said Mr Jones.
Mr Hardwick should not have needed to be prodded to comment – an allegation such like this required an unprompted response from the man in charge of the police. Mind you, having said that, why didn’t either of our two so-called local “newspapers” seek his thoughts?
Mr Hardwick, meanwhile, is not seeking re-election on Thursday 5th May leaving the field – at present – as a two horse race between Mr Jones, who is a Lincolnshire county councillor and portfolio holder for finance, and ex-Tory election candidate and fellow county councillor Victoria Ayling who defected to UKIP.
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick has said that he won't seek re-election.
Our view is that PCCs are an unnecessary waste of money. The first PCCs were elected in October 2012 by an average of less than 15% of registered voters - the lowest turnout since World War II.
Nationally, they employ more than 500 staff and cost around £50 million a year.
They even have an association – which is currently advertising for a chief executive at up to £99,000 a year.
Show the government a drain, and they’ll pour money down it.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, rumours about a Lincolnshire devolution deal having to include an elected mayor are gaining strength, we are told.
The proposed Greater Lincolnshire would restore the historic county borders from the Humber to the outskirts of Peterborough.
What it would cost to hold an election is anyone’s guess – but a recent estimate of a referendum on a mayoral appointment for Bath and North Somerset was put at £180,000,
Then there is the post holder’s salary – which we would expect to be at least £80,000 a year – plus a raft of support staff.
It takes little imagination to come up with a total in the low millions.
The devolution lobby talks of increasing the value of the Greater Lincolnshire economy by £8bn, creating 29,000 new jobs, and delivering 100,000 new homes.
But you can bet your boots that not many will be coming our way.
In a coals-to-Newcastle exercise, we are told that head-hunters from Pilgrim Hospital are visiting the Philippines to try to recruit nurses to ease staff shortage problems – something that occurs almost annually.
The trouble is the recruiting process is expensive – as it usually takes about four staff members to go abroad for the drive – and the benefits tend not to last for long.
In November 2013, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust hired nurses from Greece, Spain and Portugal to reduce spending on agency staff. But little more than a year later a third of the 99 recruits had left.
The Trust blamed the “locality of the hospitals" – and said that most of the nurses who left worked in Boston and wanted to move closer to airports so they could visit their families more often. Other countries have been visited with similar results.
Weather in the Philippines this week was mid-80°f with light breezes and plenty of sunshine – just right for a team of recruiters from chilly, windy Lincolnshire.
But although the head-hunters have travelled 6606.4185 miles from Boston to Manila, the Pilgrim Hospital remains in the same place – and it would be surprising if history doesn’t repeat itself.
After Tuesday’s piece about Worst Street’s refusal to help save the Witham Tavern from conversion to flats, a reader sent this extract from a 2008 report by Boston Area Regeneration Company in partnership with Boston Borough Council.
"The long term aim of the Boston Waterways Development Plan is to enable Boston to maximise the potential of the borough’s waterways.
“A key objective is to enable Boston Area Regeneration Company to demonstrate to potential investors, developers and landowners, as well as public sector funding partners, what can be achieved in Boston, and just how the borough can benefit by making better use of waterways and waterside sites.”
Our reader adds by way of comment: “Surely to allow change of use to flats goes against the aim of the waterways plan.”
On a disappointing political note, one of the people fighting to save the pub tells us: “Councillor Steven Raven is voting in favour of the application after having spoken to the landlord, but has ignored all emails from his constituents.”
Finally, an interesting new event is to be staged in Boston tomorrow.
It’s called Pancakes Day Together and is arranged by the local Lithuanian Community with funding from Boston Big Local to the tune of £1,500 – which is a lot of pancakes. What interested us in particular was the location of the event. It’s being held in Boston Market Statue Square. Is this an attempt to re-brand Boston that we’ve not heard about? “Statue Square” in case you’re wondering is the Ingram Memorial.
That’s it for this week. We’re back on Tuesday.
You can write to us at email@example.com Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com
We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston