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!
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