Monday, 16 October 2017


An irony of the marathon task and finish group trying to come up with ways to make Boston more prosperous was that it was sparked by the sight of the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill Shop standing empty.
Two years on, nothing has changed – but at least the building has been tarted up under a conservation scheme partnership between Boston Borough Council and English Heritage which pays 50% of the cost of high quality repairs to historic buildings, 90% of the cost of reinstating architectural features – particularly the installation of traditional shop fronts – and at least 50% for improvements to signage.
Sadly, far too few businesses have taken up the offer, and Worst Street simply hasn’t flogged it well enough.

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Far and away the worst eyesore in the Market Place these days – and for the past five years – is the former Millets outdoor clothing company, which shut its doors sometime in 2012 and has been in steady decline ever since.
It is for sale at a price between  £150,000 and £450,000 a year depending on the bits you want to buy, or to rent for £25,000 to £40,000 a year – again accordingly … but excluding business rates et al, which will have to be considerable.
The shop is Grade II listed with consent for the conversion of the upper floors into six apartments.
Yet despite this it lurks as a foul monstrosity blighting the approach to the Market Place from Pump Square and Dolphin Lane – part of the medieval lanes that Worst Street has hilariously compared with The Shambles in York.
 A shambles it is.
York it ain’t.

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The best effort to beautify this eyesore has been to fill the windows with display material promoting Blackfriars – but this does nothing to solve the problem ... and that baffles us.
Repeatedly, Worst Street has boasted of its powers to force property owners to bring their neglected premises up to snuff – but for some reason this disgusting site has been ignored.
From what we can tell, Worst Street prefers to pick on the little taxpayers to force then to make improvements – and if ignored does the work itself and then drags the property owner through the courts to recoup the cost.

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The old Millets shop must be owned by someone with the wherewithal to make major improvements – but instead lets it languish on the market expecting whoever leases or buys it to foot the bill.
Boston Borough Council is pathetically neglectful in the matter of this property – and must take steps to enforce its upgrading to a point where … if nothing else … it is made presentable and no longer detrimental to the town’s shopping ‘offer.’
And it doesn’t need a task and finish group to debate it – just some effort.

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Still with empty shops – and further to our recent rant about the invasion of coffee shops,  Poundshops, phone shops, charity shops, betting shops, vaping shops and the like, we offer the photo below as proof in support of our argument that Boston will soon have no 'real' shops left.


Another of our little lanes with two shops to let, and a third – the former Boston Standard offices  –  set to reopen as yet another vaping shop.
Unless those in authority get a grip on this soon, the town centre will be a fit-for-nothing wilderness with nothing to attract shoppers.

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Details of the moves by BTAC-ky to rid Strait Bargate of the noise, pollution and damage being caused by the Into-Town bus service tend to confirm what most of us already suspected – that inertia rules the day at Worst Street.
Even though the route was imposed by the Lincolnshire County Council when the service started in 2008 at a time when traffic congestion was far worse, no-one has since bothered to question whether it is still necessary now that things have moved on.  
The initial idea was that all three buses would stop at one location so people could swap buses but they didn’t do so. In addition, the cross town traffic that had been envisaged failed to materialise.
It seems that the reluctance of the controlling Conservatives at Worst Street to challenge Clownty Hall over the route – Lincoln says ‘jump’ and Boston says ‘how high?’ – has let things go from bad to worse.
And to be honest, the bottom line appears to be that people are too idle to walk from one end of Strait Bargate to the other – even though the main purpose of coming into the town centre must be to shop.
Having read the report, there would seem to be no real reason why the services cannot make a U-turn at each end of Strait Bargate – aside from the fear at Worst Street Central of disobeying their Lincoln masters.

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Incidentally, it’s always cheering when a local council shows that it knows its own patch – and very disheartening when the reverse is shown to be the case.
The minutes of the BTAC-ky meeting on the bus service debate made no fewer than six references to ‘Straight’ Bargate – when for centuries it has been named ‘Strait’ Bargate.

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In a recent piece on Twitter, Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill said that important road projects were progressing well and whilst it could be frustrating if road works delayed journeys, they were a sign of the council’s investment for the future.
He cited Lincoln’s Eastern Bypass – “one of the single most important highways projects in the county in recent years” – and due for completion in winter 2019, adding that Clownty Hall was already working on a business case for the final piece of the ring-road around Lincoln – the North Hykeham relief road.
Other projects worthy of a name check included Holbeach’s Peppermint Junction improvements, and the two-mile southern relief road in Grantham.
“The first phase was finished in August 2016, and we’re now preparing for the second and third stages with completion due in 2020 linking the A52 at Somerby Hill to the A1.
“These projects, and future road developments, will not only help improve safety and traffic flow, but are also vital for economic development unlocking land for development, creating new jobs and boosting the economy.
At the bottom of the list was mention of a relief road for Spalding, “a distributor road for Boston” and improvements to the A158 Lincolnshire Coastal Highway, to tackle congestion at places like Horncastle.
We’ve written about this before.
Whilst everyone else gets bypasses, ring roads and relief roads, Boston is promised a distributor road.
And what exactly is that?
If ever achieved, it will be a forlorn patchwork of roads largely running through newly built housing estates.
The only section that we’re likely to see soon is part of the Quadrant housing development in Wyberton which will link London Road with the A16 – ironically running parallel with the existing rat-run of Tytton Lane East.

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After that, it’s all down to whether developers can be persuaded to build new housing in the right places to create a line for the road.
According to current county council documents, it is estimated that the entire distributor road would cost around £100m, and no additional funding is currently available.
Even if there were, the Boston Distributor Road would only provide a new route around the west side of the town, linking the A16 to the north, the A1121 Boardsides and A52 to the west, and the A16 to the south.
Clownty Hall is “looking for other possible funding sources” but points out that as part of the project’s proposed route, there are sections which would require major structures to be constructed over rail, road and water – and funding for these is not currently available.
Don’t hold your breath

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The Preposterous Boston task and finish group’s final report gave many of Worst Street’s so-called “managers” a chance to blow their own trumpets.
This included a plug for the weekly Boston Borough Council bulletin – unusually named … as so much of its content has nothing to do with Boston Borough Council.
A particularly proud assertion was that the bulletin boasted around 4,000 subscribers.
Whilst it’s a moderately impressive figure for something that is nothing more than a pointless piece of busywork, it’s worth remembering how so many people came to be e-mailed a copy.
When voters applied for a brown garden waste bin, they were asked for an e-mail address – with a promise from Worst Street that: “Your personal contact details … will be used … to contact you should we need to obtain further information … about your application and to notify you of the action we are taking following your application.
“Boston Borough Council may also use your information for other purposes such as to prevent fraud …”
What happened then was that Worst Street subscribed everyone who’d given their e-mail addresses for the garden waste service to the weakly bulletin – and claimed almost overnight to have thousands of readers ,., rather than the 784 it had enjoyed up to that point.
A complaint of a breach of duty under the Data Protection Act was rejected.
Worst Street weasely  claimed: “… you can only carry out unsolicited electronic marketing if the person you’re targeting has given you their permission …
“However, there is an exception to this rule. Known as the “soft opt-in,” it applies … where you’ve obtained a person’s details in the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale of a product or service; where the messages are only marketing similar products or services; and where the person is given a simple opportunity to refuse marketing when their details are collected, and if they don’t opt out at this point, are given a simple way to do so in future messages.
“Given a clear unsubscribe option in the emails, and this was used by many people, we deemed this strategy both legal and an opportune way to engage with the local community.
“This position is further supported in that organisations can re-use personal information for purposes other than what collected for where that purpose may be beneficial to the individual.
“Although a subjective view – it was the decision of the Garden Waste Project implementation team … that the bulletin was not considered ‘marketing;’ rather a mechanism to inform residents … about opportunities, events, and other council related activities to benefit the community.”
Whilst we suppose that contain loads of rubbish – we think that the readership claims made to Prosperous Boston show the true public reaction to the publication.
At the time Worst Street cooked the data books, 15,500 households were signed up to the garden waste service – and presumably most of these gave their e-mail address.
So what the figure quoted to the task and finish group shows is that the bulletin has managed to lose more than ten thousand readers in quite a short time.
How much longer, we wonder before it goes back to its roots, and a circulation of 784?

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Were we alone in being disappointed to see that among the first duties of Lincolnshire Police’s ‘Mini Police Project’ was a session on the streets with council staff and members of  Mayflower Housing collecting litter along Carlton Road, Taverner Road and around the Fenside Community Centre.
We were told that the youngsters collected a dozen bags of rubbish ranging from empty beer cans and cigarette butts to discarded clothes and crisp packets.
The project leader told a local “newspaper” that: “One of the Mini Police aims is to make the area they live in a better place to be.
“By going out and clearing up litter, they are working with partner agencies to improve their locality, not only for them but other pupils and members of the local community.”
Recently, local council taxpayers chipped in more than £850 towards the cost of establishing the mini police project in two town centre schools.
Somewhat naively, we thought that this was a laudable way to increase understanding of the role of the police at an early stage as part of a child’s education – and we’re sure that many others did too.
Now, it turns out to be an expensive way to clear up litter.
Will we soon be seeing officers and PCSOs on patrol wielding a litter picker and black bin bag rather than batons and tasers?
Somehow, we doubt it.

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The Boston beach party in August again cost taxpayers money even though it was supposed to have been fully funded by other organisations.
As with last year’s event you and I stumped up £700 for donkey rides – which with no sense of shame, Worst Street charged as “sports development.”
Will they fund the dodgem cars thus for next year’s May Fair?
We think it’s called creative accounting.
In another slightly obscure entry, we paid almost £450 to an outside contractor to water the hanging baskets around Boston Stump – an item charged to “Public Health and Environment.”
Given that the borough employs its own grounds staff, who ought to be able to undertake jobs such as this, we wonder why outside tendering was necessary.

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Speaking of the war on litter, we were told of a second incident in the Market Place which appears to use a costly sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Yet again, a reader told us of  a case where someone dropped an item of litter as they parked their car – and within seconds were confronted by a Worst Street litter squad rushing to the scene in a Worst Street car to ticket them.
The only way this can happen is if the car is lurking elsewhere awaiting a tip from the CCTV, which we have to say seems to be a serious abuse of resources – not to mention a waste of money.

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But as we’ve said so often before, Worst Street does enjoy criminalising the people who pay its bills.


Witness the above idea of a ‘quiz’ from the council’s Twitter feed.
It’s really rather sad, isn’t it?

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This week, we’re grateful to the Boston sub-Standard for our unintentional funnies.


Which heroine did the thief have in mind, we wonder – Jane Eyre, Elizabeth I, Scarlett O’Hara, or Joan of Arc … the list is endless.

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And here’s a reminder not to turn your back on the vet next time you take Tiddles in for a health check.


It’s enough to make your eyes water, isn’t it?
  


You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com   
E-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com  

We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston



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