It’s not that long ago that the great and the good of Boston Borough Council were warning us of tough times ahead as government cutbacks dictated the need for further reductions in services.
Worst Street’s finance portfolio holder, Aaron Spencer, told taxpayers: "Let's be clear – there is no place to hide. The challenges that lie ahead are unprecedented. Tough decisions will have to be made about the services this council provides ... This council can no longer afford to fund all it once could. Residents will see a change to what this council does and how it provides its services.”
Well, that’s true enough, certainly.
In the interest of transparency, Worst Street published a list of its monthly spending which tells us a little – but often not enough – about where our hard earned wages are being spent.
Which is why we raised an EYE-brow when we saw the spending figures for June.
Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce received nearly £5,400 from Boston Borough Council for the street party to mark the Queen’s 90 birthday on 12th June. The Lincoln-based chamber oversees the Boston Area Chamber of Commerce, which is behind the comatose Boston Town Team – which is the group that organised a private street party for specially invited guests, and a handful of other activities.
At the time, Phil Drury, Chief Executive at Boston Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to support Boston Town Team on this event.”
Did he know at the time that this support would be measured in terms of thousands of pounds?
And who authorised this in the first place?
A few days before the event, Boston Borough Council paid the Anglia Motel at Fleet Hargate – a 30 minute, 16 mile drive away from the town – more than £3,000 for accommodation.
The motel’s typical nightly rate is £50– so what was Worst Street putting up perhaps as many as 60 people for?
Another item on the list is £2,000 for a Boston Mosaic – created by Carol Parker, who calls herself “a socially engaged artist delivering and developing creative sessions with social benefits.”
The mosaic – pictured here – has been placed on the link between Boston station and the Stump.
Meanwhile, the borough employed outside agency staff to man its refuse collection service – costing the thick end of £20 thousand for a single month.
“Security” for the May Fair cost nearly £16,000 – whilst on a much smaller scale a charge against “civic functions" billed an evening buffet at £450. Doubtless this is part of the annual £80,000 cost of the mayoral offices, which is somehow too important to consider cutting.
Finally the long awaited answer to the question of how much it costs to feed the biomass boilers that heat the Moulder Leisure Centre and the PRSA has emerged.
A single month’s payment came to an eye-watering £64,000 – and if that wasn’t enough the council paid a further £3,000 for the fuel to be delivered from Nottingham.
Around the time Councillor Spencer was telling us how tough times were, the so-called “leader" Pete ‘Nipper’ Bedford added: “We simply cannot afford to do all we once did. The stark choices now are to stop doing some of the things we have always done, do them differently or find new ways of paying for them.”
So when does it all begin, eh, Pete?
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