Friday, 30 September 2016


Quelle surprise that when Lincolnshire County Council blew the thick end of £5,000 on a promotional video the content was dominated by Lincoln.
The clever and inventive caption that opened the 1 minute 42 second epic told us “Lincolnshire is GREAT” (eat your heart out, creators of slogans the likes of "Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Go to work on an egg")  then went on to stress the delights of coast and county, the quality of education and the fast transport links (so long as you live in Grantham.)
Clearly, this was not a tourism video, but it didn’t prevent the great and the good from near and far leaping in to moan that their town or borough was absent.
What worries us most of all in this debate is the promise by Worst Street “leader” Pete ‘Nipper’ Bedford that Boston Borough Council will be producing its own video.
Readers with long memories will recall the last Boston video – produced by the hapless Boston Business “Improvement” District to try to win a £100,000 grant from the Mary Portas Town Team Project.
Our bid failed … probably due in no little part to the appalling promotional film that accompanied it – which you can no longer view, as someone has had the good sense to delete it.

***

Before we embark on any kind of promotion of this sort, we need to ask some big questions …
Most importantly, we need to know who we are trying to reach and how we intend to reach them.
The internet these days is littered with attempts to catch our attention – literally millions of them – and most fail because they are small fish in a massive ocean that fail to stand out.
And whatever we do, let’s not be stupid enough to think that it is something that can be done in-house.
We’re sure there are a few wannabe Cecil B De Milles lurking in the Worst Street corridors – but we need people who know what they’re doing for once!

***

Whilst county hall is a repeat offender when it comes to ignoring Boston – then so is the BBC.
Whilst Aunty’s East Midlands TV weather forecast covers this part of Lincolnshire – Boston doesn’t rate a name check on the map.
Skegness and Spalding however, do rate a mention – but only when the forecast temperatures are shown – otherwise they do not appear.
The first thing we need to do to put Boston on the map is  – to get these people to put Boston on the map!

***

A none-too-subtle attempt by Boston Borough Council to obscure its enthusiasm for the iron fist in the iron glove approach that it so enjoys came with the fatuous claim that “there is a growing appetite in Boston to vote.”
This was based on a record 60% response to the present canvass to “encourage” people to confirm or update their details on the latest electoral register.
Everything to do with the registration campaign is laden with threats – the warning that it is a legal requirement and that defaulters could be fined an initial £80 … reaching £1,000 accompanied by a criminal record for continued disobedience.


 Fortunately, there are no penalties for the abuse of the English language …
We always thought that an electoral role was the part played by the returning officer!
Whatever, so delighted is Worst Street at this new found enthusiasm for democracy that it is already making “personal” follow-up visits, followed by a third and final “reminder” visit in October to hunt down those who fail to embrace it!

***

We still find it frustrating that Boston Borough Council is investing so much in the Mayflower 400 event when it has so little to do with the town.
The date they’re getting worked up about is 9th November 1620 when the Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod and the group later dubbed the Pilgrim Fathers established the settlement of Plymouth.
As any fule kno, there was no one from Boston – or even remotely connected with the place – on board.
It was another ten years – September 7th 1630 – before the founding of Boston Massachusetts by a group that actually had some connection with our own town.
Even so they initially named their new settlement Trimountaine, because a hill nearby had three pointed peaks. That’s Boston thinking for you!
Representatives from so many councils and other organisations that have a direct interest the event were at a recent dog hanging in London that we fear that once again, Boston is riding on the coattails of others’ claims to fame, and will end more or less in the cold.
Still, that didn’t deter our leader and another cabinet member plus two officers enjoying the junket by joining 396 other guests in a talking shop.
Apparently, Boston Borough Council is looking at 2020 being a celebration to start a ten year countdown to 2030.  That, of course is after the current countdown to 2020 is over.

***

As an interesting aside to all this is that for the second year running Boston Borough Council is allowing the arty-farty Transported group to remove the burden of Christmas from its shoulders.
It comes as a major government review warns that traditions such as the celebration of Christmas are under threat and must be vigorously upheld.
Is the fact that yet again, Boston’s big celebration will be on American Thanksgiving Day the thin end of the wedge?

***

In the same week that Boston Borough Council waxes poetic over the success of its garden waste collection scheme comes news that neighbouring East Lindsey residents will have to pay £40 to have their weeds carted away next year – a stonking 60% rise on the current £25.
We suspect a bit of psychology has been exercised here, as one proposal was to increase the charge to £60, so ELDC is probably hoping that people will feel that they have been let down lightly.
This week’s Worst Street stroll down memory lane – aka the Worst Street bulletin – went to some lengths to report what a success the collection scheme has been.
With no sense of irony whatever, the council’s rubbish supremo Councillor Michael Brookes, told us: “The reasons for needing to charge to take away garden waste are well documented – central Government austerity measures, the council’s budget gap and the fairness of only the users having to pay.”
What he omitted to add was that his own promises that the service would remain forever free were equally well documented before being kicked into touch with a series of wily manoeuvres and excuses.
Worst Street tells us: “Details about how to register and pay for the new round of garden waste collections will be published shortly.”
As no mention is made of keeping the charges unchanged, should we anticipate Worst Street citing the East Lindsey experience as a reason to increase our fees from £30?
We would not be surprised.


***


Boston Police tweeted earlier in the week that the Lincolnshire Community Safety Partnership was hard at work this morning to tackle street drinking in Boston. This appears to involve tie-wrapping multi-lingual sighs on railings in Norman Avenue telling drinkers that their habits will not be tolerated,
Another tweet a couple of days later reported that the signs already seemed too flimsy to withstand the wind and rain, so it remains to be seen who successful this initiative will turn out to be.
Meanwhile, as Lincolnshire Police continue to bemoan their lack of funds, we read that they have issued body worn video cameras to all operational police officers across the county.
The issue is less one of finance – the scheme is partly funded by a Home Office innovation fund, – but that  only 500 cameras have been issued to officers on the front line – oit of a total of around 1,100.
What do the other 600 do, we wonder?

*** 

One possible explanation came in a job advert for an “opportunity” in the Local Policing Team at Boston for a “Performance and Policy Officer.”
We are told: “This exciting and challenging post will allow the individual to play a key role in developing and improving the performance framework within a specialist unit. You will monitor, analyse and collate a range of performance information and assist the management team by undertaking research and projects as required.”
Sounds like something that’s been sadly lacking to date.
And of course, meetings play a part.
The Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones – who’s probably attended more meetings since taking office than most of us will in a lifetime, recently tweeted: “For those interested in the process of governance & assurance in Lincs here is the framework laid out for the Police and Crime Panel.


***

There will be no blog next week, but all things being equal, we hope to be back on Friday 14th October.


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.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




Friday, 23 September 2016


One of our readers last week  threw down a challenge by asking what we would do to make things better at Boston Borough Council … rather than doing nothing except criticising.
“While your analysis of the shortcomings of the borough council is always informative and often entertaining, I do find myself wondering what your ideas would be for improving the quality of governance in West Street,” he wrote.
“A complete change of councillors..? – as the BBP showed in 2007, sweeping out the old councillors doesn’t necessarily mean the new ones will perform better.
“Targeted training? Increased funding? Better administrative support? A restructuring of local government..?
“Or is it all a lost cause because no-one with real talent stays in Boston?
“Highlighting shortcomings and hypocrisy is an important role, but if you genuinely care for the local area then you ought to help come up with possible solutions as well. “If those who are concerned do nothing to try and improve it, how are things going to get better?”

***

Well … if Boston Borough Council was a ship, it would be becalmed – stuck in the doldrums  … or perhaps stuck with dumb drolls!
It  would be dead in the water,  a phrase defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as meaning something has failed,  and has no likelihood of being successful in the future.
Frankly, we think it is now too late for things to get better.
Worst Street is lacking on two levels.
Among the councillors themselves, there is an absence of quality debate.
Repeatedly, requests are made in full council meetings to suspend a rule which bars members from speaking more than once during a debate – but invariably, on being put to the vote, the motion is defeated.
This clearly stifles discussion, and is done simply to block UKIP – a move which has also seen the Labour group and so-called independents vote with the leadership … selling their principles for a mess of pottage.
Having said that, UKIP doesn't seem especially put out at being robbed of a voice.
Adoption of the cabinet system of governance was a dreadful mistake.


It was introduced by the By-pass Independents, because their majority gave them absolute control over decision making – a right that was frequently abused. 
The succeeding Tory leadership was happy to continue the arrangement for the same reason – and we now have a situation where effectively just six people take the decisions ... many of whom have no real abilities or life experience to manage the portfolios that they have been given.
It creates a potential for mistakes to be made – and costly ones at that … as with the case of two major recent items of expenditure involving the provision of biomass boilers at the Moulder Pool and the PRSA.
In the first, the council had to approve a 64% rise in costs by from £456,000 to £749,000 – with a rejigged estimate of the so-called “profits” as a damage limitation exercise because of miscalculations.
Then, when asked who was paying for the fuel – whilst it was confirmed that we taxpayers were … we heard that the tendering process was “underway” – meaning that the boilers has been bought but with no idea of the cost of running them.
Our councillors are largely anonymous – unseen and unheard.
They need to communicate with us better – as does the council itself
In recent weeks we have heard more from former councillors Yvonne Gunter and Paul Kenny than we have from most of the “sitting tenants.”

***

But it’s not just the elected members – the council also has a team of officers.
It has been said for years that it’s they who take the decisions and the councillors who bend the knee – and this may well be true to some extent.
Many officers are long-serving – and we worry that this is synonymous with a lack of desire for change.
Boston is a nice quiet little backwater – one of the smallest local authorities in the country, where little ever gets done – and it may well be that this suits some people just fine.
One opportunity for change of direction was ignored when former Chief Executive Richard Harbord resigned, and was replaced by Phil Drury in an acting capacity.
Mr Drury began his career with the council in 1983 as a youth trainee, and aside from a brief departure has been there ever since – thirty three years.
He was shooed into the £95,000 a year post just over a year ago without the job being advertised or any other form of competitive process taking place – something that raised an eyebrow or two among a handful of councillors, whose thoughts were overruled by others more sympathetic.
Mr Drury may well be the best man for the job – but we will never know.
His length of service makes him senior to all the councillors … including the “leader” ‘Nipper’ Bedford who was first elected in 1991 – a mere quarter of a century ago. 
***

Try as we might, we cannot warm to the idea of a council packed with long-serving, stuck-in-the-mud  inflexible and unimaginative councillors and managed by officers who are similarly long in the tooth
As we have said before – Worst Street is now such a minnow in the local government pond that it budget is largely spent on paying its wage bill for collecting taxes for the county and police authorities, and little else.
A possible solution might be to merge Worst Street with neighbours South Holland and East Lindsey – saving millions in the process and introducing new blood which might at last see us moving forward.

***

This reminded us that even when Boston tried for some self-improvement; it fell at the first fence. Back in January, Worst Street advertised a newly-created £65,000 Head of Service: Economic Development and Growth – “a high profile appointment” … with responsibility for providing strategic, visionary and organisational leadership in all aspects of inward investment, growth and wider regeneration and economic development for the Borough.”
Worst Street appointed a high-powered recruitment firm to find the right candidate – but with the advert appearing so soon after Christmas, received no takers.
Undaunted, the council’s head hunters to sought a head with a smaller hat size – and produced three candidates who might do the job at a pinch.
After months of agonising, the chosen candidate changed his mind, leaving the council back at square zero.
Enter a new job advert for a lower grade post at a salary of £25,000 below the original – a paltry £40,000 …“to lead on economic development”
Closing date for applicants was midnight on 17th July – since when we have heard nothing.
But don’t worry – not everyone lost out – the recruitment company Veredus charged Worst Street more than £16,000 for advertising and its time.

***

Earlier, we mentioned the cost of the biomass project at the Moulder Pool and PRSA – and the longer this business drags on, the more confused we become.
In the list of council spending for July, we note “work re biomass plant room” costing  £3,477 and £1,939, along with “supply of woodchip for PRSA” of £840 and £420 and “supply of woodchip to GMLC based on 2 del per week” of £840.
So, as this is a monthly statement, what sort of costs are we looking at for the Moulder Pool?
Is the supply costing based on two deliveries a week the monthly figure –  or is it twice this, or something in between.
As this information is provided  for purposes of  “transparency” – could someone please make it less opaque?
Or is the intention to keep spending on the Moulder Pool and the PRSA (in particular) as ambiguous as possible?

***

Whilst Worst Street may be a heel dragger in the new blood department, not so Lincolnshire Police.
The announcement that the present Chief Constable is to retire next year was immediately followed by the statement from the publicity fond Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones.
He said that he would be open to receiving applications from the best candidates for Lincolnshire – from near or far.
“Only the National Crime Agency has advertised internationally for a leader prior to this, but the regulations allow us to advertise in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for a Chief Constable replacement so we will be promoting the vacancy in those areas as well as the United Kingdom.”
Obviously this is just a publicity stunt – and hopefully we will not see a force with a multi-million pound black hole in the budget paying to fly candidates from around the world to Lincolnshire for an interview.
Although some interesting candidates spring to mind …
McCloud of TV fame, Sheriff Lyle 'Cottonmouth' Wallace from “Convoy,” Marshall Matt Dillon of “Gunsmoke” or perhaps even Wyatt Earp (see picture.)
More likely, though, we’d end up with “Hopalong” Cassidy.

***

Last week we mentioned Boston’s gold badge from the East Midlands in Bloom contest this year – and asked what benefits if any it might bring to the town.
The answer would appear to be – not a lot!
Many people are under the impression that Boston will now become a magnet for visitors coming to see the marvellous floral displays.
But a close look at the East Midlands results show more than 30 Lincolnshire towns, schools, pubs etc., gaining awards.
And in the large town category, Boston shared gold with Louth and Spalding, whilst Sleaford and Gainsborough merited a silver gilt award.
Fairly soon everyone will have a badge – and what will we do then?

***

Another earner for  cash-strapped Worst Street looks to result from shoehorning staff currently at the Department of Work and Pensions into the West Street offices. It seems that the Treasury is willing to stump up a big wodge of cash for officer space.
But where are all these people going to sit?
A number of County Council staff are there already and the Boston Registration Office offers weddings in the council chamber as well as its other services.
At this rate, the Houses in Multiple Occupation – about which we read such toe-curling horror stories, will seem as luxury hotels by comparison.

***

Finally – do you remember Robin Hunter-Clark, the UKIP runner up for the Boston and Skegness Westminster parliamentary seat at last year’s general election?
Recently, we were told that UKIP spent more money trying to win our seat than any other in the country – almost £50,000.  
Since then, the young man who hoped to be the country’s youngest MP. has gone west – and now works in Wales for Neil Hamilton, the UKIP Group Leader in the Welsh National Assembly.
How small the world of politics is …
Last year Mr Hamilton – still best known for his disgrace in the cash-for-questions affair – was being touted as the Boston candidate, before Mr Hunter-Clarke suddenly assumed the role … to no small amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth from other would-be contenders.
Mr H-C has previously insisted that he will be stand again for Boston and Skegness in 2020.
But earlier this week, he tweeted: “Very honoured to have been elected as the Chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan UKIP Branch this evening!”
We somehow doubt that we will see him back in another four years – and if he does throw his hat into the ring, who will remember him?


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.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



Friday, 16 September 2016


It was interesting to see Boston Borough Council actually endorsing a personal blog beneath the faux chummy but tacky headline “My Boston - it's not half bad, y'know.”
Worst Street tells us: “Many will be familiar with those blogs and social media comments which are all too often down on Boston – commentators quick to highlight all they perceive to be wrong with the town.
“So how refreshing to find the antidote to those which only ever reflect all that ails the town …”
The borough’s move is one that we welcome – as for the first time it acknowledges that there are things wrong with the place … after years of denial.
Sadly, we note yet again that this view is tainted by the use of the word  “perception” – by which the borough means that it is not true regardless of however many people share that impression – and however clear the evidence for that belief. 
For a moment, we thought that Worst Street had Boston Eye in mind when this piece of desperation was published.
But as regular readers will know, our blog targets the ineptitude, incompetence and overall uselessness of the so-called leadership in Worst Street – and has done for a decade … regardless of the political colour of the ruling party.
We take the council to task and not the town itself – which is a victim of the people who are supposed to be there to serve it.

***

Meanwhile, the sunny side of the Boston street is highlighted on the Worst Street website – with success stories from the performance statistics for first quarter of the financial year between April and June.
Sadly the numbers quoted are without context, and therefore meaningless.
  • “Visits to the council's tourism page on the website went up by 23% …”
  • “The council has been generally much busier with the number of customers served at reception up by 17 % and phone calls up by 4%”
If you want to find out the precise numbers involved, it’s once again necessary to burrow through the online agendas and find the appropriate section.
So near … and yet so far,
***

Similarly, whilst it is encouraging to note that the latest figures for people participating in the council's healthy walking programme and for swimmers at the Moulder pool are improving, Worst Street has cherry picked the statistics.
Walkers increased from 2,423 in the same quarter last year to 2,449 this quarter … a rise of 26, which is less than one per cent. We’ve encountered these groups as they have shouldered people aside on their mass strolls and we think that the exercise has more to do with  the chanve of a lengthy natter than with a yearning to be fitter.
Swimmers increased from 41,727 to 42,720, “smashing” the 40,000 target – but representing an increase of only 2.3% … which we don’t talk about!

*** 


In the same week that these figures appeared, so did the Boston health profile, issued by Health England.
Their “perception” – whilst looking at different aspects of the borough’s health – was less sanguine.
Some town centre wards in Boston remain among the most deprived in England – and have been for years.
When we pointed this out to members of B-TACky recently, we were told to stick our heads up a bear’s bum.
More importantly, B-TAC – which now robs those least able to afford it to pay bills that should remain within the central budget – dismisses these ideas.
The Mayor went so far as to say that he thought an extra £1 a week was a “reasonable charge” to pay to bail out the cabinet’s bills.
The worst statistic by far is that for the number of GCSEs achieved – which in 2014/15 was the worst in England.
What hope is there for future generations unless something is done about this urgently?

***

Questions about whether the office of mayor was worth the £80,000 bill we taxpayers have to foot when the council is supposed to be on its beam ends financially – generated an unsurprising response from this year’s man in the Santa costume.
Stephen Woodliffe reportedly defended the role by saying: “you can’t put a value on it” and claimed that it brought “joy” to the town.
Mr Woodliffe said that it was an “amazing privilege” to be mayor – and that the role represented and advertised Boston at home and away.
“The role of mayor raises the profile of Boston. Since being mayor, I have noticed how much respect the public have for Boston elsewhere and how appreciative they are for our support.” – including memorial services in London.
Mr Woodliffe also attends events locally, including shop openings and says people are “truly appreciative” when he pitches up.
He added that he was not directly paid for his work apart from his member’s allowance, meaning that the events he attends he does for nothing and in his own time.
There was no mention of a chauffeur driven official car or a support staff which organises the mayoral diary.
Tough at the top, ain’t it?

***

The mayor’s pleadings did little for public opinion.
Comments posted in the Boston Sub-Standard’s Facebook page included:
  • The public should be allowed to vote on whether or not we 'want' a Mayor.At a cost of £278,530 I think he's an expensive luxury we can ill afford. Personally I'd rather have my bin emptied more regularly!
  • ''Since being mayor, I have noticed how much respect the public have for Boston elsewhere''....Exactly where is this elsewhere? Poland, Latvia?? 'cos my niece from County Durham who came for a visit six weeks ago thinks Boston is a disgusting, filthy, phlegm and litter-strewn town because people don't have RESPECT.
  • I have lived in Boston for nearly 15 years and this is the first time I have even seen a mention of a mayor, I knew there was one of course but I have never seen or heard of what he or his predecessors did or didn’t do for Boston. And if he does do a lot for Boston I would like to see what his role is doing to create a positive influence? Because from where I am he is failing miserably.
  • Bringer of joy. The guy’s insane!
 ***

The Mayor of Boston is also the Admiral of the Wash, and as such gets invited to a number of civic events around the country.
It’s yet another of those meaningless titles which butters no parsnips – but gets you a lot of party invitations by the sound of it.
There also appear to be two different post holders.
The position of Lord High Admiral of the Wash is an ancient hereditary naval office that in medieval times was held by a nobleman with responsibility to defend and protect The Wash coast. The post was granted to the le Strange family after the Norman Conquest, but became obsolete in 16th century when the the Royal Navy took the job over.
However, the post was never formally abolished, and remains an hereditary dignity that now has no responsibilities or privileges of any kind. The present Lord High Admiral of the Wash lives in Hunstanton, Norfolk, and inherited the Admiralty through his mother's line.
Most importantly one of the perks of the job gives gives the le Strange family the rights of the North West Norfolk foreshore for as far as man can ride out to sea at low tide and throw a spear.

***

The Boston connection comes via Queen Elizabeth I, who acted when the River Witham began to silt up.  Queen Elizabeth tried to help pay for its maintenance, by awarding the borough a charter for the Jurisdiction of the Admiralty for The Wash in 1573.  This gave permission for the borough to collect revenue from ships that were using the Wash to trade.
And as is so often the case with Ye Olde Worste Streete, nothing came of it – other than the retention of the title by the incumbent mayor.

***


Whilst Worst Street makes much of Boston’s history and heritage it always seems to be looking the other way when a window of opportunity opens.
Royal Mail’s issue of a series of stamps to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – the man who coined the phrase “you can’t see the wood for the trees” – has made national headlines. 
It is estimated that Brown was responsible for over 170 gardens surrounding the finest country houses and estates in Britain.
Less well known – although it has been mentioned in Boston Eye  – is that Capability Brown married a local girl … Bridget Wayet … who  was born in Boston on 26th  April 1718.


She was married to Lancelot in 1744 in Stowe, Lincolnshire, and died two years after him in 1787, aged 69. The Brown’s enjoyed thirty-nine years of marriage, and Bridget is buried in the church of St Peter and St Paul in Fenstanton. Cambridgeshire. The link may be slight – but is nonetheless something which we might have used to our benefit … if nowhere else at this weekend’s Lincolnshire Heritage open days, whose theme is “Natural Lincolnshire.”

***

One missed anniversary down – another chance still to go.
In 1517 Thomas Cromwell (think Wolf Hall) was approached by Geoffrey Chambers of Boston for help in seeking an audience with Pope Leo X to secure funding for the Guild of Our Lady in St Botolph's church.
Pope Leo was threatening to end the indulgences from which the guilds and the church received large sums of money from people who wished to pay for the safety of their souls in heaven.
Cromwell deployed an audacious plan …
He set up a meeting with the Pope during a stag hunt, during which and knowing of Leo’s sweet tooth persuaded him to change his mind by plying him with sweets and delicacies, and the guild’s finances were rescued.
If nothing else, it would make an interesting display somewhere in the coming year or two … as Cromwell repeated his visit to Rome on Boston’s behalf again in 1518.

***

The news that two town centre Co-operative stores in Boston – on West Street and Wide Bargate – are being taken over by McColls … a very similar sort of shop … is interesting due to the wording of Co-op statement.
The company said that the sale “aligns with their approach of having a proactive property programme in place to support its long-term growth strategy,” and that the company was continuing to acquire food stores that “fulfil our criteria of right range and right location.”
In other words … town centre shopping sites are no longer worth the candle.

***



Prepare for much back-slapping among the great and the good following the news that Boston has retained its gold In-Bloom award.
Apparently, the judges said the standard was the highest ever seen and only three marks separated all the gold award winners.
The transformation of the B&M area received the judge's special award – but most likely this had little to do with flowers.
Centrepiece of the display was a mosaic which Worst Street bought with £2,000 of taxpayers’ money.
We’ve said many times before that whilst we applaud the efforts of volunteers to improve the town, the In Bloom project fails in many other ways.
The judging route is pre-selected so that it can be tarted up to the max – with all the effort being geared to one half day exercise.
Whilst this may bring the desired result, it means that the rest of the town is ignored from one year’s end to the other.
And what does a gold badge mean?
Will it bring visitors to the town in their droves?
Whilst that’s highly doubtful, the least we should now be doing is drawing attention to the award, showing people where to see the winning areas, and making sure that it is maintained 365 days a year as an attraction.

***

We’ve nothing to say about this week’s Boston Borough Council bulletin – save to observe that once again, it is simply a compilation of the week’s stories from the Worst Street website, a number of which have nothing to do with the council, which makes it pointless, irrelevant and out of date, and therefore a total waste of time and money.

***

Finally, at long last the dead-slow-and-stop Preposterous Boston task and finish group has had its first list of vague ideas approved by Boston's Cabinet of Curiosities..
Be still, our beating heart.
They include a food festival in the town centre, and the exploration of potential for a young persons’ market.
If the latter sounds familiar it might be because the idea was first mentioned in March – in Boston Eye!


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.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



Friday, 9 September 2016

 

Amazing as it may seem, Boston Borough Council has a strategy for the future – but sadly, it appears to be more of the Baldrick cunning plan variety than anything else.
It covers the period from now until 2020 – when the next elections are due.
Despite the gargantuan scope of the task in hand, the report – a “broad framework” – runs to scarcely more than 1,500 words over four pages … a fifth is blank (doubtless reflecting the minds of the so-called “leadership.”)
The popular adage tells us that the devil is in the detail – but the problem with this report is that there are barely any details to bedevil councillors with.
Instead, we are presented with a resurrection of the same old slogans that have been used for years – plus a bleat about how tough things are for Worst Street’s finances. 
Catchphrases are down to four …
Prosperity:  “We need a strong economy which is growing which will generate more and better job opportunities and will attract people to the area.”
People: “We must support and protect the most vulnerable within our borough.”
Place:  “Boston is a very safe place to live and this is reflected in our low crime rates and our open, rural environment and historic market town which offers a quality way of life for residents.”
Public Service:  “The council has a key role to play in our local area to provide essential services and operate within the current financial context.
“Errrrm … and that’s it.
Each heading is supplemented by vague forms of wording that talk of much in the way of “seeking” but little that suggests any finding.

***

Perhaps it is as well that the council has between now and the next Olympic Games to get its act together.
A Tweet earlier in the week by former councillor Paul Kenny – the man who gave meaning to the role of mayor – lamented: “l went to listen to the debate on houses in multiple occupation at Boston Borough council … it was very disappointing after three years and still no action.”

***

Looking at the report, we noted the increasing popularity of the buzzword “perception.” 
People at the meeting were told that the reason for the report “stems from concerns arising from parts of Boston’s community and some elected members about the perceived negative impacts of HMO’s large and small.”
These “perceptions” included:  Increased levels of rubbish left outside properties; noise and disturbance; anti-social behaviour; increased traffic and more parked cars; change in overall residential character and over-concentration of HMO tenure type – for the worse.”
Our concern about the use of the word perception is in the context applied to it – for instance we are constantly told by Lincolnshire Police and their highly opinionated Commissioner that we “perceive” problems about crime that do not really exist.
In other words, “perception” = “imagination.”
Surely – if rubbish is being dumped, and anti-social behaviour and noise has increased, along with the litany of other problems listed – then this is a reality rather than a perception.
But then facing reality seldom appears on the agendas at Boston Borough Council.


Still with our PCC, we note that later today he will tell the county’s police and crime panel that without more money – £7.5 million is the figure in mind – we will see a reduction in the number of front line officers.
The obvious implication from this is that they will vanish behind closed doors to join the larger percentage of officers shifting paperwork from in-tray to out-tray and back again.
Apparently, PCSOs are not being replaced when they leave, and whilst we have never been fans of this particular role, at least in some places they are seen on the streets – despite being powerless to act if they stumble across a crime.


We agree that Lincolnshire Police could use more money – but a root and branch review of where the cash goes at present might well be worth making.
Certainly, there was plenty of loose change washing around to equip the Operation Galileo hare coursing squad with specialist off-road vehicles and a motorbike – plus an expensive looking drone to search from the sky.

***

Heading the list of “prosperity” priorities in Worst Street’s to-do (sometime in the next four years) list is to “promote and support inward investment into the borough.”
Unfortunately, while all this is being subjected to much deep thought, reports from elsewhere in Lincolnshire suggest that others are getting on with it.
We hear that in Grantham a £100million designer outlet village could be open within three years, creating 1,500 jobs and attracting up to 3.5 million visitors a year.
Lincoln, meanwhile, is seeing work start on a new £30 million bus station linked to the railway station, and in East Lindsey, a £5.7 million scheme of improvements to ease pressure on roads in the Skegness and Ingoldmells area has started – as has work on a prestigious new seafront hotel.
Meanwhile, South Holland District Council has produced a new, free mobile app to promote retail sectors in the district and give residents and visitors a quick and easy way to get the goods, services and information they want.
All this news comes as we hear that Boston has acquired its “first ever” pie and mash shop.
Well, it’s a start, we suppose.

***

This week’s Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regional TV programme saw yet another look at the problems of immigration and Boston. The preposterous Paul Hudson was joined for this exercise by Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, whose “Boston, Lincolngrad” feature five years ago agitated so many of the great and the good.
Unsurprisingly, the accusation was again levelled that the programme presented a biased and unbalanced portrait – but if so, we failed to spot it.
What concerned us more was the effort by Mr Hitchens to seem one of the lads by wobbling around everywhere on a bicycle.
He wouldn’t last five minutes on the roads of Boston with a saddle style like that!

***

Funding of the Mayoral office got a mention in one of our local “newspapers” this week – and the response from Worst Street raised more questions than it answered. We learned than since 2011, just one option has been adopted “looking to save £14,000 over the following few years” – a drop in the ocean when the annual cost is said to be £80,000.
And whilst the council claims that all spending areas are under review, we had a clear impression that the office of mayor would not be among them.
The issue was raised in the Boston Sub-Standard by local businessman Darron Abbott – who is to Boston Borough Council what thorns are to sides.
One suggestion from Mr Abbott was that the council should join him in a Market Place consultation to find out what the taxpayers thought.
Can you imagine that ever happening?

***

If a week is a long time in politics – then five years is an eternity.
This week the leader of Boston Borough Council’s UKIP  group was reported as saying that foreign nationals were putting a strain on Pilgrim Hospital as figures from by the Office of National Statistics showed that half the babies born in the town were to mothers originally from out of the UK – figures that have doubled in a decade as well as being double the national average.
Councillor Brian Rush reportedly said: "I am very shocked half the babies born were to non-UK residents. I am very annoyed services are used by people who have possibly not even contributed to it.
"The system is aligned on the fact our hospital is in dire need of finance, as all hospitals are across the country.”
Turn the clock back five years when the maternity unit was thought to be under threat of closure.
Former MP Mark Simmonds to the BBC in an interview: “If you look at the number of children who are being born in the maternity unit, a significant number of those are children of people whom we euphemistically call migrants, and there has certainly been a debate about whether the maternity unit would still be open at Pilgrim Hospital if it wasn’t for these additional people coming and using the facilities and services.”
Does this mean that Councillor Rush and the rest of us should be grateful rather than resentful?

***

Finally, that magical day has dawned.
No, not 7th May 2019, when Worst Street councillors face an election, but 7th September – when the “new reader-friendly format” Boston Bulletin arrived in our inboxes.
We’d expected to be disappointed … and our expectation was not misplaced.
The new edition was merely a compendium of stories from the borough’s website over the previous week – and amazingly, none of them had anything to do directly with Boston Borough Council.
We read our copy on an iPad tablet – and could not access any of the links on offer. After much laborious experimentation, we discovered that the best way was to copy the links and then paste them into our browser – but frankly the results that we got for our efforts was simply not worth the effort.
Access was slightly easier via desktop – but variable.
Whilst we managed to follow the links with greater ease, others were less lucky.


One reader encountered the message below with all but one of the links.
Clearly, there’s something fishy here.
Ironically, the image shows a dead puffer fish face down in the sea – perhaps depicting the bulletin as being dead in the water – and sinking without trace.
That issue arrived shortly after 9 am – and three hours later we received an e-mail headed: “Today's Bulletin redistributed – technology gremlin,” and saying “Apologies to all smartphone and tablet users of the Bulletin. Although the links to the full articles on the website works (sic) for those using computers they have not worked for those reading via smartphones and tablets. We have fixed this teething issue and so are redistributing today’s Bulletin so that all devices are able to access further content. This issue should not arise again.”
Aside from the fact that we are told the problem was not due to “gremlins,” there was one other thing to note about the replacement.
It.
Did.
Not.
Work.
Either.
Another Worst Street bullet-in the foot!


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.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



Friday, 2 September 2016


We note that a visit to Boston by Labour politician and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration, Chuka Umunna, has been and gone – which is so often the case in these days of “openness and transparency.”
Once upon a time a visit by such a figure would have been preannounced and facilities offered the local media to ask about local issues.
Now, we are made wise after the event, and told that Mr Umunna “met with councillors, council staff, community leaders, an over 65s group and group of young people” – in other words a carefully handpicked gathering of the great and the good. We wonder who chose them. Ahead of the visit – and beneath a picture taken in Boston’s West Street – Mr Umunna declared in a New Statesman article: “We must reassure those who have made Britain their home that they are welcome, but also ensure that they are integrated into our communities as we build a new immigration system. Politicians on all sides need to understand how estranged many people feel and we must also stop falling back on the ideological assumption that immigration is inherently good, and therefore anyone who thinks otherwise is closed-minded, bigoted or prejudiced.”

***

His quote on departing the town was about “learning about a community which is keen to better know the new people who have immigrated into their neighbourhood, but there are barriers with language and exploitation in the labour market.” If Mr Umunna came here expecting honest views, honestly expressed, he may not realise that he has been fed a party line from the local puppet show. One has only to walk around the town, see the problems and discuss them with others to realise that nothing in Boston will change or improve until the powers that ba’int face up to reality.

***

The proposed Boston Barrier has been talked about a lot on the last few days. When – and if – it is built, it will reportedly be the saviour of the town from flooding – but we are also wondering whether at the same time we may not be soon looking at an enemy within.


In the last week, there have been two episodes of flooding in the town due to the weather.
In our photo above, the scene on the left was taken at the junction of Norfolk Street and Tawney Street not far from the location of the £3.5 million Boston Sewerage Flooding Scheme project which buried a 3,650 cubic metre storm tank beneath Central Park – a capacity more than seven times that of Boston’s Geoff Moulder swimming pool – to prevent flooding
The 2007 project was beset by delays and engineering miscalculations – and Anglian Water admitted “quite a few problems” in terms of calculating what was required and even declared that it was “not an exact science.”
The photo shows just how inexact the science has turned out to be.
The photo on the right shows raw sewage on the road at Woodside in Boston  that was brought up during heavy rains on Saturday evening.
Apparently, although both Anglian water and Boston Borough Council council knew about the problems with blocked sewage pipes and drains nothing hadbeen done until after much adverse publicity and a visit from MP Mat Warman. Work was still going on to clear the mess yesterday morning.
We think that there is an easy answer to all this.
Many years ago, drains were regularly flushed using a motorised machine which resembled an elephant on wheels.
We seldom see this being done these days – doubtless for reasons of cost – and if you go for a stroll and glance between the gratings or almost any roadside drain cover there is a good chance that where you would expect to see water, you will find dry earth … sometimes with weeds growing in it.


***

A couple of weeks ago we had a brief debate on Twitter with the Boston Standard. It followed publication of a photo of the mayor of Boston clicking a piece of Lego into a model of Boston Stump.
We pointed out that the cost of the mayoral post runs at £80,000 a year – at a time when street lights are being switched off, grass cutting reduced and charges being unfairly shifted from the centre to grease the passage of the so-called “leadership” up the government’s backside. The bill for the mayoralty alone would more than pay to continue to run quality toilet facilities – and if we were to stop giving councillors and staff free parking worth £100,000 things might really perk up.
But the Standard remains pro-establishment, saying: “The problem we have is that you can see how much we spend on the role, but it’s harder to quantify in monetary terms what we get back.”
Perhaps one reason that it is hard to quantify is because it brings little – if anything – back.
When the mayoral budget was last reviewed – which was five years ago – one clever dick solution was to exclude the budget for two of the most costly events and merge the rest under one budget code.
The technical term for this is known as sweeping the problem under the carpet whilst making no financial savings.

***

A few years ago we would have expected better from the Boston Standard  on such issues – but this is no longer the case. Increasingly both our so-called “newspapers” have hitched their wagon to the Worst Street star because it provides them with content that requires no effort to obtain. The obvious pitfalls of such relationships are apparently outweighed in the name of economy and an easy ride – and sadly, we can no longer be confident that our local press is doing its job properly.

***

This reminds us that Boston Borough Council’s own propaganda outlet – the largely irrelevant bulletin – returns as a weakly publication from next Wednesday after a month long break.
We felt its absence as we might the death of an aged pet whose increasing cachexia would have generated sympathy were it not for the realisation it had become a  worn out and mangy old critter that was probably better out of its misery.
The latest threat from Worst Street is that the bulletin will appear in “a new, fresh format, easier to read and with more online content.”
Our fervent hope it that it will at least be about the goings on at Boston Borough Council – and not just any activity that fills a page.
In the days when Worst Street was concerned about letting people know what it was up to, the council employed a former journalist to attend key meetings and issue reports to local radio and newspapers which even then shamefully seldom turned up – at least providing.an account of some kind for taxpayers … albeit a “sunnier side of the street” version.
Now, the media never go to meetings, and the council never reports what went on – unless you want to wait weeks to read the minutes … which are doubtless sanitised for the benefit of councillors and taxpayers alike

***

Whilst the council’s cash is claimed to be tight, never let it be said that when money is available that Worst Street is slow to fritter it away.
This week the council told us that the Friends of Boston Cemetery had recently been awarded £8,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards their ambition to restore and conserve the original features of Boston's cemetery.
We were told that “in partnership” with Boston Borough Council – which is desperate to get the place off its books – a project “will update an earlier condition survey of the Victorian chapel, carry out a bat survey … and help the group gain official status independent of the council, putting them in a stronger position to apply for further funding as the project develops.”
So, when a chance at last arises to attack some of the dilapidation at the cemetery, the Worst Street solution is to blow a shedload on paperwork and use the rest to distance the cemetery from the council as quickly as possible to avoid any more responsibility.

***

On Wednesday Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tweeted a survey of 26,000 people, carried out for HM Inspector of Constabulary which claimed that more than a third of people in England and Wales have not seen a bobby on the beat for a year, whilst 36% had not seen a police officer on patrol over a period of 12 months.
We tweeted back to ask for his thoughts, but not for the first time he was too busy to answer – being up to his eyes in another event where the police mount exhibitions to show how good and how busy they are – which at the same time removes officers from the streets.

***

The location being mentioned for the proposed  multi-million pound “Lidl of the Future’ store now that it is no longer coming to Boston town centre would be a logical and sensible infill of the unused part of the Tesco/B&Q site off Westfield Road


The previous location in a part of Tawney Street bereft of any charm whatever saw councillors criticise the appropriateness of the design and hear the Planning Committee chairman Alison Austin go so far as to mutter: “I feel like everyone is sitting, grinning and bearing it but we do not have to do this.
"We should say what we would like done to our town as Boston deserves better.”
Whilst an out of town location such as the above would be hard to fault – it might perhaps cause traffic issues – so perhaps Mrs Austin’s distaste for Lidl may well get a new lease of life once an application is presented.
Let us hope not.

***

Finally, whilst people who live in glass houses should not throw stones, might we urge our colleagues at the Boston Standard to look twice when they offer video clips for perusal.


Quite what MP Matt Warman made of this offering is anyone’s guess!
  

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.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