This time last week, Boston Borough Council was gleefully showing photos of our local police and firemen helping scrub the Town Bridge clean in time for the arrival of the Boston in Bloom judges. This time last week, some friends of our acquaintance whose relative in their nineties had been robbed of £50 for a second time by a doorstep conman the previous Tuesday were still awaiting a visit from a police officer – which they were told would be made no later than Sunday. But a badge from Britain in Bloom is obviously far more important, isn’t it?
Still with police priorities, we note an appeal to Lincolnshire Twitter users by a force Chief Inspector asking for nominations in this year’s Police Twitter Awards. Categories include sections for the Best Tweeting Corporate Police Account, the Best Tweeting Individual Police Officer, PCSO, Special Constable – and yes … even the Best Tweeting Account.
We note that the officer making the appeal has notched up 24,553 tweets since he started. Even at as little as a minute a time that represents 17 full days. Many officers tweet and there are 16 categories for the awards. How much expensive police time is being wasted nationally on this trivial pursuit, we wonder?
Why is it that so many people that think a trifling catchphrase lends a subject more credibility? Boston Borough Council reviews the risks it faces on a regular basis – some might think that daily would be insufficient – and identifies something called the “risk appetite.” The risk to the future of the town centre in terms of retail, housing and car parking was recently identified as “medium” – although given that is in the shaky hands of the Preposterous Boston task and finish group we would have imagined it to be in greater danger.
But it was the definition of the “risk appetite” that caught our eye.
“Projects and major change – Hungry.”
Of course we are hungry for new projects and major change, but no-one at Worst Street appears to have the wherewithal to come up with any ideas to turn the place around.
And daft buzzwords only serve to make things worse.
The pointless “Ask the Cabinet” session set for Monday night is paraded as a triumph for openness and transparency – but behind the scenes the story appears rather different. We hear of a gradual transformation process under which councillors have been advised to refer any questions asked of them to the Worst Street press office. We fondly remember the days when councillors were approachable and “independent” regardless of their party politics. Now an exclusive gang of six takes all the decisions which are rubber stamped by a full council meeting which tries to ban as much discussion as it can. When did you last see councillor quoted in our local “newspapers” on an issue affecting his or her ward? And we wonder how many of them offer local “surgery” facilities these days – but instead prefer the punters they “serve” to come cap in hand to them, and let a council officer put words into their mouths instead of answering personally and directly.
Which brings us neatly to Labour councillor and group leader Paul Gleeson, who has become something of a worldwide talking head on life in Boston in recent months.
His most recent outing was in the pages of the New York Times which tells its readers that migrants no longer feel welcome in the town.
“Something is broken in this town,” he is quoted as saying. “This veneer of propriety has suddenly disappeared.”
What is there to say about such as response? Councillor Gleeson has been at Worst Street for five years – and the problems in the town have been developing throughout that time. Yet the only time we hear his voice is when we read his assessment in the international press. It was Mark Twain who famously said that “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
But even that level of disinterest is overshadowed by the latest pearls of wisdom from Worst Street "leader" ‘Nipper’ Bedford, who has simply shrugged off the news that the most recent murder in Boston means that there have been at least 21 unusual or suspicious deaths in the town in 19 months.
“There are no unsolved crimes of murder.” He says. “The incidents we have had have tended to occur in domestic situations and involve people who know one another. The streets are safe. Any suspicious death in our town is a cause for concern and increases the perception that serious crime is on the increase.” He appears to ignore the reaction of people living in the streets where these unimportant expirations occur. Boston is no longer a happy place for many people and Councillor Bedford’s clear ignorance of the bigger picture shows him up for what he is worth.
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