Monday, 28 August 2017

Once in a blue moon, the idea has been trotted out that Boston should have its own town council … comprising the eight wards that currently make up the Boston Town Area Committee – BTAC-ky for short.
The last time this idea raised its head was getting on for five years ago, when councillors heard that the benefits would include increased self-determination   whatever that means.
BTAC has special area expense powers and a precept, and a town council would be similar, but would run its own services in its own way and employ its own contractors.
It would have its own clerk, and the head of the town council would have a civic role.
It would make its own policy decisions – which would dilute the borough council’s power and influence. (chortle)
The bottom line of the debate was that the formation of a town council would make matters more complicated for the borough council and that BTAC would have to voice very positive views for it to go ahead.
On the introduction of a town council, BTAC would cease to exist. The town council would start from scratch and could choose its powers and would not automatically assume the same responsibilities.
But another interesting claim was that forming a town council would give people in the town “fair and equal democracy” to those in rural areas of the borough, “as they were disadvantaged at present.”


Since that last discussion, things have gone quiet, and the general assumption has been that the status quo was the best thing all round ... and so the taxpayers of the area remaian disadvantaged.


But now comes proof that it is possible to have your cake and eat it, as – at its meeting on Wednesday evening – plans are outlined for a shoal of new powers, funded by another bumper council tax hike.
Beneath the seemingly innocuous headline “BTAC financial position, and future resource allocations, including possible further support to help protect valued local services” comes a list of other areas which have been identified for the megalomaniacs on the committee to think about.
These are:

Fenside Community Centre
Culture and Heritage related services
Town Centre maintenance
Play area equipment

Events are currently fully funded by the borough and this year’s budget is £86,000. But BTAC-ky wants to look at providing funding for this, together with an increase in the budget of a further £40,000 p.a. to support new initiatives in the town.
Spending would include funding an events assistant post to assist the £60,000 a year Town Centre Services Manager (what does he do, we wonder?) The cost of this assistant would be £19,500.
Let’s not forget that the Town Centre Manager’s empire already includes officers for arts, heritage and tourism, leisure services, partnership and sustainability, sports and play development and town centre services.
Other areas to which costs can be allocated include £57,000 for Environment and Health initiatives, £50,000 for healthy walks, holiday activity programmes and brochures, sports club and playground development and the loan of sports equipment in both the town and the wider borough, £31,000 for town centre and tourism projects, £12,000 for the Fenside Centre and the same for town centre maintenance.
BTAC-ky is also considering another two general staff to work on various tidy up/maintenance/ward level tasks costing £41,000 a year.


The total bill would come to almost a quarter of a million pounds – and if everything was approved from 2018/19, would mean an increase in the band D council tax of approximately 13%.
Doubtless, the power-crazed Tackies will tell us that we are being let off lightly after an increase of 94.6% in 2016 followed by a rise for the current year of 185%.
Words seldom fail us, but we think that the blatant virement of funds from the central budget using the fictitious pretext of doing more for the BTAC-ky constituency (when in reality being a puppet of the leadership to make it seem prudent by keeping its share of tax increases down) is one of the most reprehensible and dishonourable stunts that Worst Street has come up with over the years – and we’ve seen quite a few.


Add to all of the above the point that we touched on last week, which is the skimpy attendance some of the committee members, and the disdain with which the Tackies hold the taxpayers shines dazzlingly through.
When people stand for election as a councillor, they have no idea – if elected – where their talents … if they possess any … might find a home.
But if you are standing for one of the town centre wards, then membership of BTAC-ky automatically comes with the territory.
Candidates would know this before they stood – and it therefore might be reasonable to expect that they would turn up to represent the folk whose vote they so earnestly courted at election time.

It doesn’t take a minute with the above list to see just how seriously some of the committee members are thumbing their noses at the people whose vote they offered an arm and a leg for just a couple of years ago.
But now they’re in power and on a small, but steady income from their allowances, they couldn’t care less about the voters and their needs.
If  BTAC-ky is to continue in its chosen direction the wayward members need a lesson from the chairman regarding the direction known as up – and the need to respect the people who elected them.
Hands up if you think that this will ever happen.


Better late than never, Boston Borough Council’s website began its 
‘Countdown to Central Park film nights’ on its website on Wednesday – just one clear day before the film was to be shown.
We mentioned the event  last week when – not for the first time – we criticised the advertising of a fully licensed bar at an event essentially aimed at children, and also asked why the council was running up a shedload of expenses when it was being claimed that a local legal firm was “sponsoring” the two nights’ screenings.
We are pleased to note that someone who reads Boston Eye has taken our comments on board and acted upon them.
Two paragraphs in the “countdown” stuck out from the usual dross that Worst Street posts to make its website seem busy …

This is a family-focused event and there will not now be a licensed bar and patrons are reminded that consumption of alcohol in Central Park is not permitted.

And …

This event is supported by Chattertons Solicitors and Wealth Management.      

There is also a clear difference between to two promotional pictures …

Aside from mention of the bar, the original advert above said tickets were available from Worst Street, by ‘phone, or from the Guildhall.
The replacement had the ambiance of the bottom of a barrel being scraped …

Additional outlets listed for tickets were at the Moulder Leisure Complex and – that dreadful give away – “on the main gates on the night” … which has the deadly ring of desperation about it.
The Boston film festival might never have been likely to rival Cannes or Sundance, but without any decent pre-promotion the level of “success” could have been reasonably predicted.
Worst Street has – or rather copies – good ideas but repeatedly fails to follow through and deliver the goods.

Less than an hour before the start on Friday night, the turnout wasn't looking good – with around 30 people in the audience, and the setting sun almost behind the screen. However, it looked as though about 100 customers were there a bit later.
A photo posted on Twitter  also captured the luckless candidate employed to pose as Mary Poppins for the night –  at least, we assume so.

In a break with the accepted image, this  Mary carried a golf umbrella and what appeared to be a sports bag rather than a carpet bag.


From what we read after the showing, the start was delayed – perhaps because it was still too light – although as one attendee tweeted it was "well worth the wait."
But before the Saturday night showing, Boston Borough Council announced that "We have decided to delay the start for Saturday night due to light levels."
Without wanting to seem smug, we have to say that we highlighted this a month ago, when we drew attention to the start times of outdoor screenings in Woodhall Spa which were dependent on light levels
We even pointed out that sunset in Boston on Friday 25th August was at  8.05pm – 35 minutes after the show was due to begin.
However, it seems that the experts knew better.


Given the unambiguous statement from Worst Street that “consumption of alcohol in Central Park is not permitted,” we wonder what the future holds for the planned Oktoberfest booze up in Central Part on 27th and 28th of that month.
Whilst it is a ticket-only event for over 18s and will be in a contained area, the rules are the rules.
We await the announcement from Worst Street to say that  the beer festival will be going ahead without beer!


Was it only last week that we reported that Boston’s community police inspector had “reassured” councillors that street drinking was not being reported as often, saying it had been pushed away from the town centre … but acknowledging that  it still existed.
How unfortunate then that one of our local “newspaper” websites broke the habits of a lifetime and published a story about Boston for once.
A picture of three men slumped on a bench appeared on the Boston Bible Facebook page to highlight the issue in the town. 
Unfortunately, the scene was captured just yards from the police station and the job centre in Boston town centre.
A police spokesman was quoted as saying: “Thanks to the introduction of mobile data terminals, police officers and PCSOs are encouraged to spend as little time as possible in the police station as they can now do a lot of their work on the move.
“This increases the time that officers can spend out on patrol and they will focus on areas known to have problems but do have large areas to cover and other demands for service to respond to.”
A splendid explanation – were it not for the fact that several of these officers heading out on patrol must surely have walked past the bench on their way to focus on “problem” areas.


A bank holiday message from Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill, rightly recommends looking close to home for attractions and entertainment.
His list spans the entire county – ranging from Lincoln Castle, The Collection museum in Lincoln, to Gainsborough Old Hall, Skegness and Mablethorpe, the Wolds and Fens, and even Bourne outdoor swimming pool, where he loves cooling off on a hot day, apparently.
Looking ahead, the Stamford Georgian Festival and the South Lincolnshire Walking Festival both get a name check.
No mention of Boston at all … oops, sorry. We’ll be lumped in with the Fens, won’t we?


Only last month, Boston – not for the first time – was  named and shamed for being  the most overweight place in the UK, with 34% of residents classified as obese … in a study by fitness app WE:BO, using data from the Office of National Statistics.
We know that the problem has long exercised Worst Street, which has gone to great lengths and expense to encourage people to take more exercise and live healthily.
But has the council now thrown in the towel? 
 Amazingly, it devoted space on its website to tell us that  last Thursday was National Burger Day “when households across the country will be preparing to 'fire up the barbie' in anticipation of a classic August bank holiday weekend.”
But the glee at a chance to gorge didn’t end there.
WorstWeb went on to throw down the gauntlet with the news that: “Takeru Kobayashi of Japan holds the Guinness world record for 12 burgers eaten in 3 minutes, with each burger weighing 4oz!”
Perhaps this could form the basis for another Central Park “event” organised and paid for by the long-suffering BTAC-ky residents – the “Big Boston Burger Barbie  Bash … stuff yourself until you burst and win a year’s supply of pies.”


A comment about our mention of the Boston sub-Standard in last week’s blog prompted this response from a reader: “I cannot believe that anyone bothers to buy the sub-Standard these days, let alone read it on-line even. Surely the worst example of 'copy and paste' journalism in existence.
“They do not even take the trouble to proof read nor edit the rubbish they regularly plagiarise.
“Well done for your crusade against the lazy, trashy and clearly uneducated local media. Keep up the good work.”
Whilst we couldn’t possibly comment, we were surprised this week when we tried to buy a copy of the Standard in W H Smith.
“Sorry, we don’t sell it any more – and haven’t done for weeks,” we were told.
The same appeared to be true in Marks and Spencer, where there were ample supplies of the Target, but nothing else.
Is this the writing on the wall …?


Better late than never, we note a word of praise from former Prime Minister David Cameron for our MP Matt Warman.
Cameron was acting in his capacity of chairman of the board of patrons of National Citizen Service which gives 15 to 17 years-old the “chance to embark on exhilarating challenges, make your mark and build skills for work and life” – which apparently includes varnishing wooden benches.
Pass the sal volatile!
Cameron tweeted “It's great to see MPs getting stuck in and supporting @NCS in constituencies across the country.”
His comment that it’s great to see MPs getting stuck in might have more to it than face value  as Mr Warman’s right hand seems well attached to the arm of the bench!
At least it’s an improvement on the last time he took part in such a stunt just over a year ago, and pictured right, when he turned out to bend his bristles on a paint job at the Blenkin Memorial Hall – looking more like a crime scene investigator than a decorator …


Finally – do you remember our piece from six weeks ago, when we showed video of a spin dryer being launched into the air and roundly trashed on the garage floor at BBC Radio Lincolnshire in a stunt to demonstrate the power of an entry in the Robot Wars programme?
Well, last Friday we were taken to task by the station editor Charlie Partridge, who e-mailed to say: “Always enjoy reading Boston Eye!
“Just for clarity our BBC Radio Lincolnshire “Spin Machine” was an old tumble drier (sic) donated by a member of the team.
“So cost to the licence payer was precisely zero.
“I’m sure you would expect nothing less. 
"BBC Local Radio is parsimonious as ever.”
We're pleased to hear it.

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1 comment:

  1. "Given the unambiguous statement from Worst Street that “consumption of alcohol in Central Park is not permitted,” we wonder what the future holds for the planned Oktoberfest booze up in Central Park ..."

    In the light of Worst Street's volte-face over the Outdoor Cinema bar facility, it would seem to me that they now have a conundrum on their hands concerning the Oktoberfest event.

    Waiting with eager anticipation to see the duplicitous explanation they come up with to justify this glaring contradiction.