Monday, 27 November 2017

Tongues will be wagging in Worst Street this morning after a major political volte face by former Labour Councillor and deputy group leader Nigel Welton – who has quit the party and applied to join the Conservatives.
Councillor Welton represents Fenside ward – which he won in 2015 – and is Chairman of the Boston Town Area Committee and Vice-Chairman of Environment and Performance Committee.
There were four candidates for the two Fenside seats, and he won the ballot by just one vote – 443 against 442 collected by a Conservative rival.


In one sense, this change of horses in midstream should make little difference in political terms.
Councillor Welton told Boston Eye: “I’m in the middle of both parties anyway – I’m on the right of the Labour Party and probably on the left of the Tory party, so it doesn’t really matter which badge I’ve got on so long as I do the job.”
He was a Labour councillor in Hull in the mid-1990s then left around 1998 and only re-joined the party just before the last elections on May 2015.
So is he worried about any political backlash from Worst Street council chamber colleagues?
“I’m not really bothered what people say, to be honest, I’ve got a job to do. It’s about getting on with the work, the things that need doing, need doing … and politically, they can say what they like, but I’m a politician so have got a thick skin.”
What if his change of parties led to calls for his resignation and a by-election?
“They can do what they want; I’m not all that bothered to be honest. I’ve got an agenda and know what I need to do, and I just want to get on with it really.”
Of  his role on BTAC, he added: “We’ve got until April to try to get as much going and doing as we can then it’s up to the committee to decide whether they want me to stay or not.
“They can put a motion of no confidence, they can do what they want – at the end of the day it doesn’t affect what I do. I think that the more people that shout at me, the more determined I am to make it happen!”


Whilst there will doubtless be noises for a resignation – simply because there always are – we think there is nothing much to fear, given that such calls have frequently been made in the past, as long ago as the days of the By-pass Independents, and always gone unheeded.
Frankly, it’s heartening to find a councillor who puts his ambitions to make Boston a better place ahead of politics – which is a fault of so many of his colleagues.


Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid has said that ‘non-mayoral combined authorities’ in rural areas might be allowed as part of a new devolution framework.
At the same time that we read this, we saw another local report which said that authorities responsible for things like planning applications and bin collections  – which in Lincolnshire means Boston and the six other district councils  should be abolished or merged with the county council.
Think tank ResPublica said the reform would create improvements for business, house-building and public services that are essential to avoid two-tier counties such as Lincolnshire being left-behind
Phillip Blond, director of ResPublica, was quoted as saying: “Single councils at the county scale are the future and we call on the Government to move rapidly to encourage them.”
This served to remind us that early in the year, Lincolnshire County Council called off plans for a referendum at the county council elections in May.
The idea was scuppered after chief executives of district authorities – doubtless fearful of losing their fat-cat salaries – sought legal advice.
However, at the time, it was said that there would still be a testing of the waters “later in the year” when residents’ views would be sought through options said to include a postal ballot, opinion poll or consultation through the council’s website or County News freesheet.
Cough, cough – the year will soon be over.
Has the idea been abandoned after all?


We mentioned the other week about the review of mayoral costs and the tightrope that some councillors are walking to try to save money whilst maintaining the “dignity” of the office.
As far as we are concerned, dignity is an individual talent, and over the years we have seen some mayors with more of it, some with less and some with none at all.
But here’s an idea …
It’s been said that the hoi polloi don’t have much understanding of the role of the first citizen; so why doesn’t Worst Street take a leaf from other authorities’ books – and publish a list of mayoral engagements on its website, which  would have the added benefit  replacing an irrelevant story in its so-called newsletter with something that is actually relevant to Boston Borough Council.
Then taxpayers could see for themselves what the mayor does and perhaps gain a better appreciation of the job.


Some interesting observations from former councillor Mike Gilbert and founder of the  Blue Revolution Party on last week’s piece about the metal fish sculptures adorning Irby Street, and our earlier comments on the  possibility of the council funding developments at Boston Stump.
He wrote: “I really don't understand the point of the fish.
“I walk past them every day and they have been placed on a wall that is generally in a poor state of repair.
“The scale of the fish is also a problem; they are too small, there is no context or story and there is a mix of sea and freshwater fish – one of which has its tail snapped off.  “Someone told me that the project cost the thick end of £10K which as a local resident I find it hard to believe.
“Anything on the Irby Place path has a scale issue  being flanked by the Stump and the police station … both in their own unique way impressive buildings. 
“There are also the Assembly Rooms and White Hart to contend with – so a few small silver fish lose relevance.
“I have said that the raised bed behind the police station could be used to excellent effect to tell a big Boston story – but there have been no takers.”
“The Stump is my local place of worship, so I have to declare an interest.
“However, I think the church, in general, has to define what it does in a way that makes sense to funding authorities and the public.
“A building will never be a substitute for personal action and contact.
“I have, as a local politician, gone out and knocked doors and talked to people.
“The church seems to avoid this approach to community cohesion.
“People don't come to buildings, even when invited, so activists have to go to them.
 “I'm afraid funding a building or institution and engaging with community cohesion are rather different activities.”


Another former councillor – Carol Taylor – wrote from her new base in the West Country to say: “I continue reading your blog which as always is amazing. 
"The latest blog talks about Matt Warman and his question about a teaching hospital in Lincolnshire.
“In the days of my blog, I talked about this on several occasions including the idea that Lincoln County and Pilgrim become satellite hospitals.
“This is what happened in Nottingham, when Queen’s Medical Centre became the main hospital and City and Nottingham General became those satellite hospitals specialising in area such as Orthopaedics for example.
With regard to the Worst Street calendar, which we mentioned last week, and which was the brainchild of Mrs Taylor and another former councillor, we were told: “We had to have all photos etc. in by the end of August to make print for November.
“I know this is the print way, but an online calendar will not work.
“It is just a case of lazy councillors etc. doing things at the last minute to attempt to show that they care about Boston.
But all it does is highlight their incompetence.


At last, a decent Christmas lighting event has materialised in Boston – thanks to the enthusiasm and tireless efforts of a “civilian” band of volunteers.
Here’s how the Christmas in Boston group summarised this year’s offer …

Aside from demonstrating the hopelessness of Worst Street’s feeble attempts in recent years, it bursts the bubble named “councillors know best” – which is the image that they most like to see projected.

And talking of projections …
Talk of Christmas returns us yet again to the question of what remains of the £35,000 gifted by BTAC-ky last year to the Boston Town Team.
The lion’s share of the cost apparently went on projecting Christmassy pictures on to a few buildings around the town.
Boston Town Team – for those of you who might recall the name but forget the details – claims to be “Working to enhance the vitality of Boston to ensure it reaches its full potential via the promotion, support and delivery of key initiatives as part of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce."  
It achieves beneath a blanket of secrecy by doing and saying nothing – its last Tweet was posted in August 2016, and its website invited members and non-members along to the team’s annual general meeting in September of that same year.
Since then … nothing.
The Town Team presumably delivered the £35k to its masters in Lincoln – and it wasn’t until one of our local “newspapers” filed a Freedom of Information request that we learned that the organisers had spent £18,500 on just one projection scheme in the town.
A further £6,000 was spent on the second one.
The costlier of  the two stunts used the former Exchange Buildings as its background, and included £14,400 for the projection, £1,350 for the lenses, £750 for the playback, £1,500 for the content creation and £500 to be installed.
An unanswered question remains:  Were the two projectors bought or hired – and if they were bought (which at a combined cost of £25k seems more likely) – then who owns them, and where are they?
Certainly there has been no mention that they might be used this year – although annual “on-costs” were mentioned by the town team on one occasion, plus claims that costs would reduce to £13,860 this year and still further in the following two years – so we really need to find out which black hole is now home to such a large sum of taxpayers’ cash or equipment.
The issue of the projectors found its way on to social media after Thursdays's lights switch-on, and as as result one reader e-mailed us to say that the projectors used last year were back in service that night – to project on to the Stump … this time with Transported footing the bill.
So … who were they hired from?
How much did Transported pay?
A lot of questions need answering here.


Still with the theme of where our money is going, we were rather taken aback to see that Worst Street council taxpayers apparently stumped up £5,650 towards  the cost of the recent beach event in Central Park – including  £4,800 to create the sandpit.

Repeatedly, we have been told that Boston Big Local – which has £1m of lottery funding to make the poorer parts of Boston a better place – was funding the event …supported” by partner agencies, listed as Mayflower Housing, Boston Children's Centre, Transported Arts and Boston United in the Community.
So we asked Boston Big Local to explain –  and  Plan Co-ordinator Rachel Lauberts told us: “Boston Big Local did sponsor the Beach Event 2017 in Central Park to the tune of £7,800.
“Boston Borough Council pay all of the bills up front and then invoice Boston Big Local for the total amount, which is why the individual items show up on the borough's accounts.
“Many other organisations along with the Borough Council make contributions to the event, both financially and in kind.”
Whilst this answers the question, it raises another – why does Worst Street act as banker for a separate, unconnected and independently funded organisation?
We understand it performs a similar function for Boston in Bloom.
Any answers from Worst Street, please?


As well as the Christmas lights switch-on in Boston, last week also saw the third Illuminate knees-up, where Boston Borough Council celebrates the arrival of the first settlers to America – known as the Pilgrim Fathers.
Even though our own Christmas celebrations should be the focus, they are overshadowed as the lights go on when they do it because the chosen date is US Thanksgiving Day.
And a yo-ho-ho to you too.
This year, £2,000 towards Illuminate came from Worst Street as part of a bid to run a project costing £24,000 – even though an appeal to another organisation  was turned down … and a second bid for Arts Council funding towards £8,000 for a “digital commission” to be projected on to Boston Stump was mentioned at the same time.
This would not now appear to be happening – but if the organisers want to try to rescue it, we suggestion that Boston Town Team might be able to tell them where they could lay hands on a projector.

With all this money sloshing around we were saddened to read the following tweet from BBC Radio Lincolnshire 

Whilst Worst Street has contributed to Christmas celebrations through BTAC-ky, we wonder why the simple gesture of doing away with parking charges proved to be beyond their grasp.
Three years ago, Worst Street Central made a big deal about abandoning charges for the Christmas switch on, when the then portfolio holder for the town centre proclaimed: “This represents a Christmas present from the council to Boston.
“The town has a tremendous varied shopping offer – from small family-owned traditional retailers through to main multi-nationals. With free parking located conveniently close there should be no reason to want to go anywhere else.”
OK, the parking is still free but no thanks to the popwers that bain't – but what a fine gesture and excellent piece of PR for the people if the council had decided not to adopt such a miserly attitude this year.

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1 comment:

  1. Dear team eye
    I wonder if through your blog, I can express my sadness on hearing the news of the death of former Independent Councillor Alan Lee. Alan was a kind, honest and devoted to helping his constituents in the Kirton area.
    A true gentleman. My thoughts are with his devoted family.
    Carol Taylor