Monday, 10 April 2017

The Lincolnshire County Council elections – as they relate to Boston … where on earth does one begin?
The headlines: 

  • There are 32 candidates declared for the six seats up for grabs – one fewer than four years ago due to boundary changes.
  • The division names that stay the same are: Boston Coastal, Boston Rural, Boston South, and Boston West
  • The names that vanish are Boston East, Boston Fishtoft and Boston North West.
  • The new names are: Boston North and Skirbeck.
  • The Conservatives, Labour and UKIP are fighting every seat – the Greens five, Independents four (three in the same ward) the Lib Dems three, and Lincolnshire Independents two.
So far, so prosaic.
But stir into the mixture the departure of Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford – who is standing down from the job after six years … but standing up as a county council candidate in the Coastal Ward that he has represented as a district councillor for a quarter of a century, and things become more interesting.
Councillor Bedford says that at 73 years-old he felt he had taken the council as far as he could and should step aside for someone else to take over.
So then why is he seeking to take on more work by standing for the Coastal Division at county council level – a seat he previously represented from 2006-2013 until defeated by UKIP’s Felicity Ransome, who is standing for re-election?
Not only that – the former true blue Conservative Councillor Bedford is standing as an unaligned candidate – i.e. an independent – in opposition to an official Tory to boot.
Councillor Bedford has said that he intends to continue to represent Coastal in Worst Street – but told a local “newspaper” “I think I will be resigning from the Conservative Group on the borough council.”
It is said that the local Conservative Party was unwilling to nominate Councillor Bedford which is why he is standing as an Indy (which would be an alternative explanation for his decision to quit as leader) – although he told Boston Eye that he could not comment further due to purdah … the period leading up to an election during which councils and candidates are banned from making certain announcements.

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What makes the Coastal Division campaign particularly interesting is the cast of characters taking part in the political drama.
Councillor Bedford must surely command a considerable personal vote.
His UKIP opponent Felicity Ransome was elected four years ago when UKIP stormed the county council to take 16 seats and leave the Tories three short of overall control for only the second time in the local authority's history … forcing a deal with the Lib Dems and some Independents to hang on to power.
Boston Borough cabinet member Paul Skinner is the official Tory candidate for the division which must make for some awkward conversations around Worst Street between now and 4th May.
Two more Independent candidates join Peter Bedford.
Barrie Pierpoint was elected to Boston Borough Council’s Old Leake and Wrangle ward for UKIP but jumped ship within hours to declare himself independent.
The other Indy is a familiar name in local politics – Ossy Snell, who represented Fishtoft at Worst Street and who now in his eighties is to have another go for office.
The final candidate in Coastal is Susan Walsh for Labour.

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Around the other wards, four of the present incumbents are seeking re-election:
Alison Austin, Boston South, an “Independent,” Michael Brookes, Boston Rural, Conservative; Sue Ransome UKIP, Boston East. is standing for the new Skirbeck Division, and Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright, Lincolnshire Independent, currently of Boston North West is standing for the new Boston North.
The third of the Ransome girls, Elizabeth, won Boston Fishtoft last time, but is not seeking re-election nor is Lincolnshire Independent Robert McAuley, currently representing Boston West.

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Across the election as a whole, as well as Councillor Bedford, three other members of the cabinet are standing. The non-players are Claire Rylott and Mike Cooper – although his other half at the Langrick Bubblecar Museum, Paula, is standing for the Conservatives in Boston West.
The shortfall in UKIP Ransomes is made up by patriarch Don, who is standing in Boston South – and doubtless hoping for umpteenth time lucky in his search for a political seat.
Labour veteran and two-time general election candidate, Paul Kenny is standing in Skirbeck. He is also previous county and Boston Borough councillor.
Another candidate in Skirbeck who caught our eye is Val Pain, who is standing for the Lincolnshire Independents. She and her son Chris – a current county councillor seeking re-election in East Lindsey – were candidates for An Independence from Europe in the 2014 European elections. Chris Pain joined the group after being elected to the County Council for UKIP – leaving after an party spat.
Finally – one of the earliest declarations for the County Council elections has come to nothing after all.
At the beginning of the year, former Boston Borough Councillor Yvonne Gunter was photographed alongside Councillor Barrie Pierpoint to announce that that they were standing for the Lincolnshire Independents.
However, the name of Ms Gunter – a former Boston cabinet bigwig – is not on the list of candidates … whilst Councillor Pierpoint appears as an Independent candidate, when Lincolnshire Independents are, contradictorily, a party in their own right.

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Back to where we started – and the resignation of Councillor Bedford as leader of the Tory group.
Although it was announced that he would step down the council’s annual meeting on 15th May, his successor has already been declared.
A statement from the Tory group named the aforementioned Councillor Mike Cooper who represents Five Villages ward as the new leader.
The council will also need a new cabinet member – but where to find one among the lacklustre remains of the Tory rump?
One final point of interest is that the Councillor Cooper’s address – whilst appearing as Langrick, Boston – is … according to the Write to Them website … located in the East Lindsey District Council area, where council tax is cheaper than Boston.
We have to say that a leader from elsewhere appears something of an incongruity – rather like a king in exile.

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Even though lighter nights make little if any difference to the problem, Worst Street tells us that now the clocks have changed the council and Boston Police have “stepped up” action to deter street drinking.
But their stepping up falls little short of what might otherwise be called vandalism!
“Notices have been posted around Central Park in English, Polish and Russian warning that consumption of alcohol and taking of drugs will not be tolerated and offenders will be reported to the police,” says the Worst Street bumph.
“The high-visibility presence of a mobile police station in the park … will underline the message.
Underlined – or understaffed?
Criticism has already been made that despite the “high-visibility” presence, answer came there none on at least three occasions when attempts were made to report drinking in a public place …

 “Owners of off-licences throughout the town have joined the campaign to reduce under-age drinking. 
“… A team of police and a community safety officers from the borough council were out in force spraying a chalk-based stencil outside off licences warning of the clampdown on under-age drinkers …"
Have the licensees really joined so enthusiastically – or have they simply caved in after the arrival of a tough-talking bunch of jobsworths and agreed to let the powers that be spray willy-nilly?
Nothing that this impotent bunch has come up with so far has made any difference – and we have little faith that this latest load of nonsense will do anything much either … aside from tuning the town into a graffitist’s dream!

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It also prompted an e-mail from our occasional contributor Boston Yorkshireman who wrote: “I couldn't help but comment on news in the Boston Borough Council's  'RagMag' (which I assume was not an early attempt at an April Fool’s joke from Worst Street!) regarding police volunteers and council safety officers no less 'out in force' chalking on pavements outside off licences in an attempt to deter underage drinkers purchasing  alcohol.
“I would think that this attempt will last as long as the chalk on the pavements!
“Why does everything in Boston have to be done at arm’s length instead of using valuable time and resources to stake out and ‘collar’ the guilty parties who sell alcohol and drink in the streets (many of whom are not under age) and make them or their parents pay a heavy fine and remove the drinks licence from the shops selling the alcohol.
“I suppose the problem is that most of these miscreants are nocturnal and hence avoid council staff and volunteers who only work in daylight hours.”

***

The bottom line of all this is that it makes us seem to be a town under siege – and amidst this comes news of another campaign that appears further to isolate the indigenous population.
Something called the Migrants' Rights Network is looking for migrants living in Boston who are “passionate about the rights and experiences of the members of your community”
Applicants will receive training, and work until the end of the year organising and campaigning as well as collecting the views and experiences of migrant communities, which will be used to shape local campaigns.
They will also be supported to “organise and mobilise local migrant communities to take action around common concerns,” and “build bridges between migrant and non-migrant communities, to share the positives of migration with the wider population.”
***

 

Our regular contributor Quadranteer has sent yet another of his observations – this time following the recent Look North report from Boston – delivered on the day that Brexit was declared …

M
ost of us will have witnessed the re-emergence of that never say die 'local politician' Paul Kenny, as he mumbled and bumbled through a largely incoherent, and unintelligible response to yet another immigration question, yet again posed by the irascible Peter Levy, of Look North fame.
The piece was 'tellified' near the entrance to the recently refurbished White Hart Hotel, and it looked really great, as it sits next to the Town Bridge.
But, two minutes later, the bold Mr Levy had changed location, and whilst staying on the W.H. site, treated the world and his dog (well Yorkshire, Nottingham, and the rest of Lincolnshire) to a 'fully loaded' camera shot of the rear of our once majestic Assembly Rooms!
Beyond the chatter we saw broken and bunged up windows, tatty blinds strewn across the panes, barrels and beer crates, unscreened, and openly displayed, some tossed aside, some leaning against the peeling painted walls!
As they say when describing disasters...it is not a pretty sight!
Nor, might I say, is it an awfully good view for guests, and visitors to the hotel.
As well as which, how will we ever never know how many visitors take one look at this mess, and carry on taking their pocket full of new pound coins to Skegness or Lincoln or Sleaford!

***

Boston Borough Council was recently left red-faced, when it sent out scores of duplicate stickers worth £30 a time to taxpayers wanting the garden waste collection service.
The usual “human error” excuses were applied, and doubtless the borough hoped that the cock-up would sink without trace.
A week ago, though a reader ordered a green waste collection service for the coming year – and duly entered his postal code in the drop-down box provided on the Worst Street website.
There then followed an e-mail telling him that he should leave his brown bin in the car parking spaces at the rear of 133-135, Hammersmith Road, London – 137 miles away from the house.


We wonder how many other Bostonians are heading for the city having been similarly misinformed.

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There will be no Boston Eye next Monday, as it is Easter.
We’ll be back online on Wednesday 19th April with a lot of good stuff. Please don’t forget to join us.


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