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.
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!
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