Worst Street buys new
rose tinted specs
In its on-going efforts to make silk purses from sow’s ears, Boston Borough Council is adopting a good news policy to distract potential visitors and residents from reality.
Despite the fact that the internet is not used by everyone, Worst Street is putting a lot of eggs into the social media basket – which apparently “allows the council to be more transparent so it can showcase the work different departments carry out.”
Quite what that means or how it works is not explained – and so some clarification would be a good first step on the road to transparency.
To further support this tosh, we are told: “We are now sharing events, videos and photos of interest …
“ … This increases our accessibility to users of different platform (sic) so we can inform and encourage stronger relationships.
One example is the Big Boston Clean-Up – and Worst Street says sharing photos of the volunteers’ hard work is a great way to say thank you “and encourage everyone else to engage in the good work.”
Somehow, we feel that this is unlikely – and that the message from the clean-up is and always has been to highlight how untidy Boston becomes in each solar year.
In a different website story – headlined “Give Boston a boost - and let us share it” Worst Street talks of the “great affection shown for the May Fair with many nice memories related on social media, together with some great pictures from this year's event.
“Some have also turned to social media to highlight other positive aspects of Boston - such as the short film posted by Hoppers Jewellers in the Market Place of a busy market day on a sunny day with free entertainment …”
Worst Street’s “communications manager” adds his sixpennorth by claiming: “Positive comments and contributions such as these help enhance the town's reputation."
Possibly – but only until people come here and see for themselves,
This has been a long standing problem with Boston Borough Council.
It displays its inability to deal with Boston’s problems by pretending that they don’t exist.
Last Monday’s full council meeting was a busy one for once because it was the annual dog-hanging which saw Councillor Brian Rush become the borough’s 483rd mayor, and the appointment of Councillor Michael Cooper as leader of the council to replace Peter Bedford, who resigned. Deputy Leaders are Councillor Michael Brookes and Councillor Aaron Spencer.
Councillor Cooper runs the Bubblecar Museum at Langrick which probably makes him Boston’s first absentee landlord – as his address is in East Lindsey. At least it may come in useful when those difficult decisions need to be taken. And as we pointed out in a recent blog, he now shares the distinction with wife Paula, who has become county councillor for Boston South.
The new cabinet remains at six members.
Outgoing mayor Stephen Woodliffe who was portfolio holder for licensing and community safety before his term in office, has not returned – but we note that Councillor Martin Griggs who recently became a county councillor as well – appears as portfolio holder for housing, property and community.
The rest of the cabinet comprises: Councillor Michael Brookes, portfolio holder for waste services; Councillor Aaron Spencer, finance; Councillor Paul Skinner, town centre; and Councillor Claire Rylott, grounds and open spaces.
One other change that we noted was the election of Wyberton Ward Councillor David Brown to become chairman of the Planning Committee to replace Councillor Alison Austin – a move that is quite interesting politically.
Councillor Austin, a so-called “independent.” threw in her lot with the Conservative group as part of moves to stymie UKIP at Worst Street – with the appointment of Chairman of Planning perceived by many as an appropriate compensation.
Councillor Brown – elected as a UKIP representative – ditched the party for the Tories at the beginning of the year, using the well-worn explanation that the Kippers had achieved their aims.
And now he has received what clearly seems to be his prize for defection.
We hadn’t realised that there was a hierarchical award system for political loyalties at Worst Street until now!
Monday’s appointment as Mayor was tinged with disappointment for Councillor Brian Rush after a less than sensitive handling of his nomination to serve on one of the many external organisations to which Boston Borough Council sends a representative.
Councillor Rush was nominated as one of eight potential candidates on the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board – when the required number was seven.
A little birdy tweets about what happened after that.
As Councillor Rush was putting in some time planning for the evening ceremony ahead, his concentration was broken by the UKIP group leader asking him to withdraw his nomination.
He declined the invitation – not least we understand because he had previously served on the committee and found it a refreshing change from other council business.
But as Worst Street can always be relied upon to turn a drama into a crisis, things did not stop there – nor apparently were efforts made to resolve a minor problem behind the scenes and with minimal ructions.
Instead, the matter was left on the table – and only resurrected at the full council meeting not long after Councillor Rush took office.
This time – in public – a volunteer was invited to give up his or her nomination ... but as no one stepped forward the matter was put to a vote.
And guess what?
Councillor Rush got the order of the boot.
A reliable source tells us that not surprisingly his feelings were hurt – with the vote coming as a rather thoughtless slap in the face so soon after receiving the highest honour that the borough can bestow on a council member.
Worst Street never fails to amaze us.
More news from in and around Monday’s council meeting ...
Once it was all over, migration to a local pub followed – and among those present was the newly elected leader Michael Cooper.
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When his appointment was announced a few weeks earlier on the Boston Standard’s Facebook page, the news attracted a comment from one of Worst Street’s most persistent critics – Darron Abbott –who remarked on “a leader that does not live in the ward he represents, a leader that does not live in the borough of Boston.”
As we see it there are two things that can be said about that comment – it is innocuous and it is truthful.
Councillor Cooper’s apparent reaction to this emerged in the pub some four weeks later, when he collared a friend of Mr Abbott who had attended the Mayor-making ceremony and reportedly said:
"The next time you see your f*****g mate Darron Abbott tell him that if he puts anything else on Facebook I will punch him in the f*****g face."
Someone who knows Councillor Cooper has described him as being “direct in his dealings with people, which not everyone appreciates.”
To us, this goes far beyond directness, and is completely out of order for a local politician in a senior position who should not only command respect but be able to deliver it as well.
Mr Abbott has made formal complaints both to Boston Borough Council and to Boston Conservative Association.
Early word on the street is that efforts are being made to sweep the whole affair under the rug – where things must be getting a little crowded by now.
Councillor Cooper was asked for a comment by Boston Eye – but failed to reply.
There’s little to report this week by way of election news – even UKIP’s Paul Nuttall seems to have survived unscathed.
The only cloud on the horizon came for Mike Gilbert – a former Boston Borough Councillor who has created his own political party A Blue Revolution.
BBC Radio Lincolnshire told Mr Gilbert that he will not be included in a candidates’ debate being broadcast from Boston – but can have a pre-recorded statement broadcast instead.
Mr Gilbert told Boston Eye: “I understand that I have been bracketed as largely a political irrelevance with little support and no national profile.
“My view of this is that if local radio won't support local parties then what hope is there of democracy being refreshed.
“Local radio should not be reflecting the ‘national scene’ as there are important pockets of diversity outside in the shires.
“I will be writing to the Board of the BBC making this point to them and seeking clarification of what their policy is – and if there is no policy, making the point that leaving the matter to producers like the producer of BBC Lincolnshire is probably not that democratic.”
We quite agree with the criticism of the policy to exclude localness from local radio – and are also amused by the irony of BBC Radio Lincolnshire appointing itself an arbiter of what it deems “triviality.”
In case you are wondering about the reason why a tumble dryer is in the forground of the photo from a previous debate – it's for listeners to post their questions to candidates. The radio stattion refers to it as their "spin machine."
Did someone mention triviality?
People who live in glass houses, etc., etc. …
Our nomination for election pic of the week was posted on twitter, purportedly showing a fox coming out in support of two of Lincolnshire's Labour Candidates – Jim Clarke of Sleaford and North Hykeham and our own Paul Kenny.
If foxes really were like that we can't imagine anyone objecting to hounding them to extinction!
A few days ago Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones noted his first year in office by tweeting the message below.
In the run-up to his election he highlighted six key plans – among which doing away with an official parking spot was conspicuous by its absence.
Item one on the list was the introduction of new “Parish Constables,” followed by a pledge to put crime prevention at the heart of policing.
Item three was to tackle rural crime to protect wildlife and rural communities, followed by a promise to tackle street drinking and anti-social behaviour.
The penultimate pledge was to treat crime victims as people not just a number, and last but not least was a promise to cut the “huge waste” in the PCC’s office and spend the savings on more police officers.
As far as we can tell, only item three has made the action list – with £100,000 being spent on fancy off-road vehicles and a drone to pursue hare coursers across the fields, and numerous photos posted of happy policemen posing with the crushed cubes of scrap that were once the coursers’ cars.
No sign so far of the parish constables, or much that we have noticed on the crime prevention front.
And if you live in Boston, you will know how successful tackling street drinking and anti-social behaviour has been.
We have no idea of any progress on the people versus numbers promise – but cutting the expense of the PCC’s Office does not appear to be getting anywhere.
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It’s not easy to find details of the previous PCC, Alan Hardwick’s, office costs – but as far as current spending is concerned a recent report shows that it will be going up.
The office employs nine people – ranging from a £100,000 a year Chief Executive to a couple of apprentices and an intern.
According to Mr Jones’s April 2017 – March 2021 Community Safety, Policing and Criminal Justice Plan for Lincolnshire the base budget of the OPCC in 2016/17 was £721,000 – and is predicted to rise to £732,000 between now and 2019/20.
Until a few short years ago, Chief Constables were responsible for their own accounting and spending, and there was no indication that they were incompetent at it.
Now, not only do we have a party political PCC as a nominal chief executive for the police force – but he has a chief executive as well.
According to figures provided by the police, the cost of recruiting and training a police officer is about £13,000, and the annual payroll cost is £30,500. That represents more than a dozen new police officers for Lincolnshire.
But at least the reserved car parking place has been done away with – although we are sure that Mr Jones is never stranded in a tricky slot on the far side of the car park and has to dodge the rain before arriving soaked and breathless in the headquarters foyer.
No doubt the day one gesture was symbolic – but were his outstanding promises just a collection of symbolics as well, we wonder?
A recent visit to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park near Boston had us marvelling at the ingenuity of Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways Department in turning the approach to the largest collection of tigers in the UK along Dickon Hill Road, Friskney, into the Lincolnshire Pothole Museum.
If you think we’re joking, pay a visit – it must be one of the worst roads in the county.
Somehow, we don’t think that an attraction of similar quality in the Lincoln area approached via a similar moonscape would have to wait five minutes before the tarmac repair squad moved in.
There's no blog next Monday – enjoy your Spring Bank Holiday.
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