Thursday, 11 February 2016

Worst Street Beano
rapped after complaint

We became especially agitated after an article last year in the increasingly irrelevant Boston Borough Council Bulletin (circulation 783) and on the council’s website, allowed a sight impaired individual to try to persuade councillors to vote for garden waste collection charges on behalf of the disabled – ahead of the meeting where the decision was to be taken.
You can read the blog here 
We regarded this as an interference with the democratic process – such as it exists in Worst Street these days – and we said so.
We also decided to take things further, with an email to the council headed “Informal complaint” – in which we asked for this nonsense to be drawn to the attention of those concerned so that it would not recur.
However, Boston doesn’t do informality, and we were effectively told to put up or shut up – and so we lodged a formal complaint instead.
After an internal investigation, the council concluded that the complaint could be partially upheld on the grounds that “it would not be normal for the Council to use its facilities to allow one individual to promote their views on a policy decision and that we should not do so in the future.” – but that “the outcome of the decision was not influenced by these articles.”
We were also promised that “Officers involved in the matter have been made aware of my findings on your complaint and the need for consideration of these findings when managing future communications matters for the council.”
We also asked for the finding to be published in the Boston Beano to make people aware of it, but this request was turned down.
Whilst the judgement is a sensible one, it should not, of course, have been necessary had ordinary common sense prevailed in the first place.
But common sense appears to be in short supply at Worst Street.
It may be coincidental, but within days of our report, we found that Boston Borough Council had blocked our access to its Twitter page.
Whilst this is an impotent gesture as it can easily be side-stepped, it is usually reserved for serious cases of trolling or other abuse.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
Whilst we seldom communicate with Worst Street for information we had to do so twice within a couple of days last month.
One the first occasion our email was forwarded to an officer for reply – as happened again with the next one.
When we asked why – after years of civil and helpful intercourse – we were being treated thus, we were told: “As you are not a bona fide press representative your enquiries should be treated as they would for any other member of the public, addressed by the relevant officer best placed to assist. If you are unsure who to contact please contact customer services via 01205 314200 or email”
As with the Twitter ban, this is not an insurmountable problem – but it strikes us as odd that the reaction from Worst Street to criticism is to try to make life more difficult for the critic.
Just more interference with the democratic process.

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We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston

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