Monday, 17 December 2018

This year – instead of our usual card – we’ve produced the Boston Eye Christmas guide to films on TV with our own take on the Worst Street perspective.  It's produced in conjunction with BBC WAN and Wetflix.
As this is Worst Street, nothing is in black and white, and some scenes may be a little off-colour …  and it goes without saying that there will be a lack of focus.

It all began in the days of silent film when a movie about Boston Borough Council  entitled 'Flogging a Dead Horse' was shown in the town's Scala Cinema in the Market Place.





Our  star movie choice for the holiday is WORST SIDE STORY: A classic tale of love and hate – mostly hate in this version. Rival gangs the Sharks and the Jets become the Kippers and the Wets in this take on the story. And watch out for the new gang in town – the BiGs. This is a musical – and because of Worst Street’s ability to make a song and dance over nothing at all, is a must for all couch potatoes. And again, because this is Worst Street, expect a lot of people to get their toes trodden on – but don’t expect anyone to say excuse me.


Because so many cuts have been made as part of the council’s transformation programme it’s inevitable that there should be one or two slasher movies in the selection.
Topping the list is Nightmare on Worst Street.
When the need for cuts becomes overwhelming, Worst Street decides to call in a professional named Freddy – who seems to have all the right credentials … not to mention some awfully sharp nails which looked ideal for the job at the 
interview stage.
But Freddy’s idea of cuts and those of the council do not see eye to eye – and soon, things start to go terribly wrong …



Another slasher movie – which could have been made with Worst Street in mind as anyone who has attended a meeting will tell you – is the aptly named Chamber of Horrors. 
 
 In this film, Freddy’s obsession with making cuts rubs off on to one of the members whose reaction is to carry an axe of his own to meetings. 
Viewers will note the gimmicks that go with the film – the Fear Flasher and the Horror Horn – both of which prove so effective as a warning about the perils ahead that we understand Worst Street is thinking of installing something similar  in its own chamber … just so long as it doesn’t wake the councillors.


As a nod to the season – and still in keeping with the transformation theme – we present the epic movie The Five Commandments. It started life with ten but these have been whittled down to save money – whittling being what Worst Street does best.
The commandments now stand at...
1: Thou shalt hold as few meetings as possible.
2: Those that must be held must finish as soon as possible.
3 Hold meetings in secret if you can.
4: If not, make sure you tell the voters as little as possible about what went on.
That brings us to number five which is the great Worst Street catch-all commandment …
5: Thou shalt NOT ...
This covers whatever Worst Street wants – and will rigorously applied by the council’s 3GS enforcers … with fines of £1,000 and a criminal record if you fail to comply.


This film includes the famous parting of the waters scene – which we understand was overshadowed during the making when it was discovered that a couple of councillors were walking on the waters at the time – and sadly (!) have not been seen since.



Another famous title is the Turn of The Screw.
This scary tale concerns an ambitious small time committee that thinks big. We’re talking about BTAC-ky of course. Within a short space of time the committee transforms itself from a parish pump affair to a powerful big spender. In doing so it ignores the people it is tasked with representing – until it wants more money




Then, each turn of the screw on its mostly poor constituents brings about howls of pain from the taxpayers … all of which fall on deaf ears.


Some films will need no explanation. A title such as Up the Creek will instantly resonate with viewers – each of whom will have their own ideas about how far up the creek Worst Street is and whether or not the council has a paddle.
A sequel to this popular British comedy called Further up the Creek opens endless more doors to the imagination.



To continue the theme of movies with an oblique reference to Worst Street, a clutch of other titles will be shown.

The Invisible Man tells the story of an experiment that goes terribly wrong. After an inventor achieves his ambition to transmute himself into the world of politics, he realises that he has made an awful mistake. He subsequently avoids all but the minimium number of meetings he must attend to keep the allowances tap flowing – thus becoming the Invisible Man of the title.
Another similar theme will be shown on Boxing Day, when we screen Brief Encounter.


The same author brings us The Man Who Could Work Miracles – in various versions depicted as the Leader of the day or the finance portfolio holder. At the end of the day the hero of the story realises that there are no such things as miracles and rejects the gift from the gods that was bestowed upon him – lumbering some other poor devil with these poisoned chalices.




Finally, last but by no means least, we have this little gem ...


What can this have to do with Boston Borough Council, we hear you cry?
Well, if you do a headcount of the characters in the poster you will see that there are seven stars of the show.
Exactly the same number as the Worst Street Cabinet of Curiosities!
And as the only alternative  choices for a movie about the cabinet would have been The Magnificent Seven, or  The Boston Strangler, it's not hard to guess why we chose the one we did!
Your Christmas starter for ten is to put names to the faces.


We're taking a seasonal break now and will be back on Monday 14th January. Our best wishes to all our readers for Christmas and the New Year –  and our thanks for your loyalty ... viewings of Boston  Eye are now regularly in four figures each week.


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

Monday, 10 December 2018


Last week among other things, we touched on staff appointments at Worst Street. Given that we are on the brink of another round of cuts for the next financial year – the budget setting meeting is on Monday 25th  February next year – services can be predicted to be pared still further and now that Worst Street it looking at ‘privatising’ large chunks of its operation – you might think that staffing would have taken a hit. 
Not so apparently.

***

A comparison between the numbers over a couple of years shows a sharp contrast between the borough’s estimated staff levels and  reality.

***

Back in April as Worst Street looked ahead to the financial year looming up, it published what it called assumptions for the coming five years.


These conjectures reckoned that full time staffing equivalents for the year 2018-2019 at 271 – and estimated that they would remain little changed in the medium term which ran until 2022-2023.
The budget setting report also declared: “It is recognised that some projects within the Transformation Programme could potentially further affect future staffing numbers. Until business cases are worked-up it is not possible to make further assumptions on any changes.”
This we took to mean a heads-up about a possible decline in staff numbers if a deal is done to  hand over services such as the Moulder Leisure Centre and the Guildhall to an outside operator – who would take on responsibility for the staff.

***

Every year, Worst Street publishes an up-to-date tiered management structure, and the one below portrayed 2015 – a when Chief Executive Phil Drury was in the interim post created by the departure of Richard Harbord.

click photo to enlarge
As we reported last week, it was said that he would combine his Chief Executive role with that of his old job as Strategic Director which it was claimed would save the council around £105,000 a year.
This chart disclosed that there were around 290 staff in all – but specified no officer salaries.
It also included a ‘Sport, Play and Leisure Manager post shared with South Holland District Council.


A year on, and we still have a strategic director and a corporate director on a level tier below the Chief Executive, with a line of five senior roles below them, including the former shared post now entitled ‘Town Centre, Leisure, Events and Culture.’

***

By the following year we have some salaries to go with the three tier list headed by a Chief Executive at the top – then a Strategic Director (now in its second year of not existing as a separate task) and a Corporate Director … both in a £70-£80 thousand band.

The remainder are in a tier below – finance, housing health and communities, environmental operations, human resources and transformation, plus town centre, events and leisure all commanding salaries of £55-£60 thousand.
The number of staff has increased dramatically – up from 290 to 331 … which is a rise of more than 12%.


***


And so we come up to date – and there are now six tiers below the top line for 2018-2019, and staffing is still listed at 331.

click photo to enlarge
The Corporate Director is now also the Deputy Chief Executive on a salary between £75 and £85 thousand a year.
The former housing health and communities director on £55-£60 thousand is now Head of Regulatory Services on £60-£65 thousand, as are three other officers whose tenure goes back to the 2015 chart.
The people stay the same – only the job titles and salaries have changed … adding thousands to the salary bill even as Worst Street slashes services year upon year.

***

In the circumstances, we might have expected both hands-on staff and their masters to have diminished in numbers – and we wonder why the reverse is the case.
We suspect that for some, a day at the office is probably a welcome respite from work!

***

The whole issue of appointments is wrapped in mystery.
The council has a Chief Officer Employment Panel, which last met on 28th March and for which no other meetings appear to be listed. Pressumably the last time it met was to appoint  Phil Drury  three years ago.
According to the Worst Street constitution, the panel is responsible for recruitment and appointment of ‘Chief Officers’(note that this is plural) – which are defined as the Chief Executive, Chief Finance Officer and Monitoring Officer.
The March meeting contained just one agenda item – a report by the Chief Executive on the senior management structure which was discussed after the public and the press were ordered to leave the meeting.
Whether this included new appointments and a promotion is not known – and because of the secrecy order is unlikely to be.

***

So – summing up, we appear to have a top-heavy management structure compared with a few years ago in which many of the names remain the same whilst their titles change (along with their skills, we assume) and their salaries are bumped up – possibly by as much as £10,000 a year.
Meanwhile, overall staff estimates are hopelessly wide of the mark with 41 full time equivalent posts more than the assumption made for the books to balance.
Forty-one jobs at an average of £15,000 a year is a grand total of £615,000 – and we are sure that some posts pay more than that.

***

Even though we appear to have more staff that you can shake a stick at, shortages in some areas are proving difficult to fill.
The borough has been advertising for a refuse lorry driver at £20,700 a year, and loaders/drivers at £16,399.
The shortage has been lgoing on for some time – as the figures below show ,,,


The total for this lot is almost £22,000 covering only a six-week period.

***

Credit where credit is due and this year’s Christmas lights in Boston are the best we have seen for years – perhaps because for a second year running, they have had little to do with Worst Street.
The only thing that we think is a shame is the timing of the event with the American Thanksgiving as part of our tenuous link with the Pilgrim Fathers.
Having said that, this year’s event got the date wrong  so perhaps we can look forward to the continuing separation of these one-time Siamese twins.

***

Regular housekeeping is essential to run a neat, and tidy and responsible website – but sadly it’s something that Worst Street fails to do.
A couple of pieces that caught our eye recently are well beyond their sell-by dates – with the example below being the more glaring.


According to WorstWeb – the council’s website – “One of the ways the council engages with residents is through consultation which gives you the chance to 'Have Your Say' on the local issues that affect you.


“You can participate in decision making, and tell us how you think we are performing.
“When we carry out consultations we want to encourage as many of you as possible to take part and give us your views on services that may affect you. Consultations can include surveys, questionnaires and focus groups.”

***

Not any more – not since 25th May in fact – when the council told participants that it was doing away with its Viewpoint Panel.
“We have been reviewing all the personal information we hold as a council in light of the data protection legislation coming into force on 25th May 2018.
“We have weighed the benefits of having a dedicated consultation panel against the privacy impact of holding personal details and we have looked at the alternative methods of informing you about consultation.
“We have concluded that it is not necessary for us to hold your personal information so we will be removing all of your details from our records in relation to consultation.”
On the one hand, Worst Street nibbled away at voters’ rights with the flimsiest of excuses – as most websites managed the arrival of the new rules without emptying their databases.
On the other hand, readers of the site will assume that the council is still actively encouraging consultation – when the opposite is the case,

***

Another little nibble  in recent weeks is the apparent removal of yet another platform for public opinion.
For many years Worst Street has provided space on its website for taxpayers to launch an e-petition.
A few weeks ago – according to WorstWeb two petitions were still on the go.
But as all petitions have an expiry date, and whilst none was mentioned, the page was last updated on 10th August 2015 – more than four years ago.

***

That was then. This is now.
Search for a link to the Worst Street e-petitions page on Google  and up comes this link …


But when you follow the link,  you get this message ...


Having said that it may be that petitions are falling out of favour.
Recently, political wannabe Neill Hastie, who plans to stand as a Boston Borough councillor for the Bostonian Independent Group in May’s elections, posted a petition on the government’s parliamentary petition website. 
It says that “It should be illegal to drink alcohol or have an open alcoholic beverage within any public spaced (sic) protection order so that the police can arrest anyone breaking the PSPO as a deterrent.


“Street drinking is increasing month on month along with the by-product of it such as litter, people going to the toilet in the streets, threatening behaviour and ASB.”
Bear in mind that this petition is a national one which between the lines is aimed at solving a local problem.
But what chance has it of success?
The petition runs until 12th  May next year – and the government promises that once it reaches 10,000 signatures, it will respond.
And at 100,000 signatures, a petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.
Sadly, after a number of weeks ... just 55 people have signed it.

***

Of course, the petition that really matters if you live in Boston is our bid for cash from the government’s National Roads Fund which is giving up to £100 million per bid to projects which it likes the look of.
A consultation period started on 23rd December last year and ended on 16th March.
Worst Street’s cabinet of curiosities posed for a photo showing them signing a petition in April, and an announcement from Worst Street said that local MP Matt Warman handed it over to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling during the first week in August.
Sadly it contained a meagre 1,700 signatures – we say meagre given all the hoo-ha about Boston’s traffic problems and the need for a bypass.
Despite his previous supportiveness we wonder how much ice this may have cut with Mr Grayling – which perhaps explains why we’ve heard nothing more since.

***

We heard some rumblings from the great and the good of Spalding after the airing of a Radio 4 programme called The Patch, which  headlines the content as ‘One radio producer, one randomly generated postcode, and an unheard story unfolding in a corner of Britain we would not otherwise know about.’
We dipped in and out of the programme and as we supposed, it’s getting the curly-lipped treatment because of a tendency to depict Spalding in the way that Boston has been portrayed in the past.

***

A request from the Department of Give and Take …
A recent tweet from Worst Street declared: “We cannot collect bins if the road is blocked by inconsiderate parking.
“Please bear in mind when parking, especially on narrow roads, that our refuse vehicles and emergency vehicles are wider than your average vehicle”
Point taken – but it’s worthwhile bearing in mind that many residents of these narrow streets are using the only parking available to them … and there may not be anywhere else for them to go. To call them 'inconsiderate' on that basis is unfair as they have no other choice.
Back in 2015, when Worst Street was boasting about its ‘new and shiny-white fleet of seven vehicles’ costing £137,000 each it claimed that ‘being slimmer, they are able to access narrow roads that the wider-bodied old fleet could not.’
Perhaps the parked cars are getting bigger?

***

It was interesting to note a recent poll which listed three roundabouts in the Boston area among the seven worst in the county.
They were the Sutterton/Algakirk roundabout, the roundabout to nowhere at The Quadrant, and Bicker Bar.
The fact that three out of seven in a county the size of Lincolnshire is disproportionate says much for the interest shown by Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways Department.

***


Times may be tough on the Worst Street wallet – but one tradition always beats the cut – the annual mayoral bash.
The last such dog-hanging cost  the taxpayers the thick end of £700, and although the mayoral budget has been slimmed down recently it still seems to be a piece of over-indulgency that we could manage without.in answer to a question at a full council meeting.
“The Mayor’s Christmas Party has been a tradition of not just Boston but mayoralties throughout the UK.  It is a small gesture of thanks to those in the voluntary sector, charities and partner organisations who support the work of the council during the year.  As such it should continue as one of our old traditions as long as mayors’ positions exist.”
This year we supported the work of the council to the tune of more than  £1,000 by way of council tax – though given a choice it would not have been voluntary.
But our invitation appears to have been lost in the post!

***

Finally, Christmas turns us all into children once again – and we all know how fond kids are of gadgets.
Our boys and girls in blue have been particularly fortunate this year – with a £6 million toy from Motorola that's claimed to be first cloud-based system of its kind used by a UK police force.
Notebooks and pens are to be replaced with a mobile phone and access to the police database which it’s claimed will save front line officers an hour every shift as they will no longer have to head back to base to file a written report.
The ten year contract has been awarded by G4S – the controversial security company formed by a merger between Securicor and Group 4  which now runs the police control room.
It’s claimed that the new system will save around £1.8 million a year in officer time.
Lincolnshire Police must be the most top-heavy  force for gadgets in the country – and we hope that this one will prove its worth as predicted.
We fear that in the three years it will take to recoup the £6 million investment many things could happen to the equipment concerned.
Mobile ‘phone users know well enough that their pride and joy can get lost, stolen, become redundant or superseded, and unless the deal calls for the unspecified number of handsets to be updated on a regular basis we can see any financial benefit gradually disappearing.

***

Next week will be our last blog before Christmas – and we’ll be doing something a little different.
Instead of our Christmas card we’ll be bringing you our TV film guide – our take on some famous titles adapted for Worst Street.



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


Monday, 3 December 2018

It’s the same with buses – or so we’re told – you wait ages without any, and then three arrive at once.
Last week saw a full council meeting – the first for nearly four months – plus meetings of the cabinet of curiosities and BTAC-ky.
But excitement there was none.
We’re told that the full council meeting made watching paint dry seem like an athletic pursuit.
Attendees who tweeted during the meeting noticed several absentees – but interestingly the appearance of others whose presence was enough to secure their allowances for six more months despite a poor attendance.
It was also remarked on that a number of Tory councillors couldn’t resist tapping at their keyboards even whilst prayers were taking place.

***

We mentioned last week the sterling efforts of the officer/leadership cabal to ensure that several interesting questions were rejected on a technicality – but despite that some people managed to raise what they felt to be important points.

***

In last week’s Boston Eye, we drew attention to questions posed by Councillor Barrie Pierpoint – one about staffing appointments, and the other concerning officer conduct.
Both questions were directed at council leader Michael Cooper – but rejected on identical grounds: “… your question has not been accepted as the subject is a matter for the Head of Paid Service (aka Chief Executive Phil Drury) not the Leader of the Council.
“If you wish to discuss this issue with Phil, he would be more than happy to do so.”

***

This raises the issue of officer accountability.
Why is it that a councillor who wishes to ask a serious question of a top officer is told that there is no such facility – unless it takes the form of a cosy chat in the boss’s office, which might not achieve the desired result?

***

The first of Councillor Pierpoint’s questions asked: “Considering that Boston Borough Council, as far as we can establish has never had a ‘Deputy Chief Executive’ then on what firm basis has this position been created, and arrived at?
“If my concerns prove correct, was the position advertised nationally, so as to encourage the best talent, skillset, qualified and experienced person to take on such a role, with a view to bringing more added value, expertise and knowledge to the council?
“If not, why not?”

***

We think we know the answer to this as we can find no trace of any advertisement for a deputy chief exec – which means that the job was a shoo-in for the new post holder Michelle Sacks.
Move on – nothing to see here – as Mr Drury was appointed in almost the same way.
He began his career with the council in 1983 – 35 years ago – or 1988 (depending on which page of WorstWeb you’re reading … as a youth trainee in the housing department; left briefly before returning to the housing team and from 1992 held various senior management positions, securing the post of strategic director in 2006.
He finally got the post after deputising for ‘temporary’ Chief Executive Richard Harbord for five years until November 2014.
Interestingly – as it relates to Councillor Pierpoint’s other question, which we’ll come to in a moment  – Mr Harbord was not directly employed by Boston Borough Council – but as a consultant via a private company, which meant that he wasn’t charged tax or national insurance as an ordinary council employee would be.
Mr Harbord’s contract cost £108,000 a year for 15 days a month at £600 a day – a full-time equivalent of £216,000.

***

Mr Drury was appointed after a meeting of the chief officers’ employment panel (an internal committee of councillors) recommended the nomination and an amendment to the council's management structure to merge the roles of strategic director and chief executive.
The then leader Councillor Peter Bedford said the panel had full and frank debate about other options– but it seems that none of those included looking beyond the staff list at the time and advertising the post.
He said it was important that the borough had leadership of high quality and was backed by Labour … Independent these days … Councillor Paul Gleeson.
Boston Chancellor Aaron Spencer said the appointment – which it was claimed would save the council around £105,000 a year was financially prudent.

***

Councillor Pierpoint’s second question was one that was also worth asking …
“It is my understanding that several officers have their own private consultancies or are directors of their own business, as well as acting in specific management roles for Boston Borough Council.
“Is this information transparent and made public, i.e. through the Boston Borough Council website? On what basis are these officers operating when they have their own private companies or directorships? These details should be made available to all councillors immediately.

***

This matter first raised its head back in late 2015, after a Freedom of Information request identified at least three senior officers who were charging Worst Street for their services through their own companies.
Response to the request also disclosed other companies whose ownership was harder to trace – and for some reason, given that the information showed invoices which ought to have been ‘transparent’ – considerable portions of the bills were redacted.
All of the employees were listed as interim – one had been so for as long as six years
And in one blatant example, whilst apparently working full-time for the council, an officer also added charges for 14 days in a single month at £325 a day for his company services to the authority..

***

We raised the issue with Mr Drury in January 2016, and his reply was encouraging: “Two down one to go. Discussions continue in respect of the outstanding direct employment position, but that said I do remain very confident of resolving this before the end of the financial year.”
That would have been by April 2016.
We checked back on the companies named in the original FoI response, and found that one is still active and has a very senior officer as a director, whilst a second was only dissolved in January this year even though a solution was expected a couple of year ago,

***

If council staff are paid through external companies for work they do for the council, then the issue is highly contentious as it allows them to pay reduced income tax and national insurance and enjoy benefits which workers on staff do not.
And even where a company operates independently of the owner’s council role, there must surely be the risk of a conflict of interest on occasion.

***

It appeared that this practice was no longer operating at Boston Borough Council – but only an answer to Councillor Pierpoint’s question will tell us.

***

He has arranged to meet Mr Drury in the near future, and told Boston Eye: “I think that this information that we know about should be on the website.
“People ought to know this, because my argument is if anyone is running a private company they shouldn’t be able to trade in the borough of Boston, because that’s a conflict of interest.
“What are they being paid – a salary – or are they being paid a fee?
“I want to see whether these officers are running their own businesses and invoicing the council – it’s all about transparency in my view.”

***


Last week’s BTAC-ky meeting included an update on the work of the extra staff hired by the committee to keep Boston looking shipshape.
The list was a long one – including graffiti removal, installing signage and 25 new litter bins, chewing gum removal, street vacuuming, pathway maintenance and – a brush with glamour here – helping to put up fake stalls for the film company making Wild Bill.
What isn’t being said it that this was formerly the work of Worst Street in any case – until it ceased due to economy cuts before being reinstated by imposing swingeing tax rises on the poorest wards in the borough.
As we have said before – it is good that the town centre is getting some attention at last.
But it’s not so clever if you live a little further out.
The comparison that springs to mind is with a dictatorship that is staging the Olympic Games.
It creates a glittering core that is the envy of the world whilst within a short distance the squalid suburbs remain dismal and desolate no-go areas.

***

Talking of the TV drama Wild Bill reminds us of a recent item in a national newspaper which again makes us wonder exactly how Boston’s portrayal might look.
The interview in the Sunday Times magazine with actor Rob Lowe who plays the eponymous hero told us: “His role is as an American law-enforcement analyst who is headhunted by the police force in Boston, Lincolnshire, which in 2016 was named the murder capital of Britain.”
We really thought that one had died the death – but it seems that someone has resurrected it. Only time will tell.

***

Council leader Michael Cooper has hit out at a critical tweet that accuses him of continuously swearing at a voter asking him questions. 


Councillor Cooper said that he knew the complainant – who is a long-term critic of Worst Street – and is unhappy with the account presented.
“I was in a cafĂ© at the end of West Street having my breakfast when he came in and just barracked me for 20 minutes – obnoxious and aggressive and even if there was anything that I could answer, if I answered him it was ‘No! That’s wrong, you’re talking crap.’
“It just went on and on and in the end I’d had enough of it because I thought, I’m trying to have my breakfast, I’m not at work I’m merely doing my own stuff – and I said ‘just f**k off’ and leave me alone – because  I’d had enough … which I think actually was quite reasonable.
“I’ve known him for a long time and he’s pretty aggressive at the best of times but he was particularly obnoxious that morning.
“It’s hardly fair.
“Yes, we’re in the public eye and we’re doing our job and all the rest of it, but I don’t think it’s really fair that we get a kicking when we’re just trying to have our breakfast or go shopping or anything else. We have a life outside of the council, we really do. “We all see things differently and at the end of the day if we just talk to each other, it’s easy. But when it’s like that, it’s not easy for anybody, and no good comes out of it – if you sit down and talk to people you can often see a way forward between you which is the way to go.”

***

Worst Street last week reminded us of the deadline to nominate Boston in the voting to find for Britain’s favourite market in a contest run by the National Association of British Market Authorities.
As a way to win support, the council tweeted “There’s just a couple of days left to show your support for our market traders who brave all weather conditions to bring their weekly bargains to you. Vote for Boston in the national search for Britain’s favourite markets.”
They really ought to get out of the office a bit more – as it has long been a cause for complaint that when the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, and too windy many traders stay away in droves … giving the market a less than impressive look.

***

Another of Worst Street's big ideas has fallen by the wayside, it seems …


Note the date – a month ago – and the promise to update us weekly.
Five weeks on and we don't seem to have heard another peep from our ‘transparent’ council.

***

Rip-off of the month came into effect as the latest round of price hikes to park at the Pilgrim Hospital came into force.


Why do we call it a rip-off?
Well just look at the charges for the various time bands.
The first hour at £1.70 could be thought reasonable – but as all regular outpatients at the hospital will attest no one gets away with parking for such a short time.
Our typical experience, for example is that it is necessary to arrive and park at least 15 minutes before the appointment time to allow time to find somewhere to park and check in.
After that, the appointment is never on time – with delays ranging from half an hour to an hour and a half.
What this guarantees is that your parking charge will fall into the second tier – and leap from £1.70 to £4.70 … and the £4.70 charge represents a 10½% increase on the previous charge.
It’s what they call shooting fish in a barrel.
The health trust also brags that along with this less than petty larceny, improvements also being made to parking provision for staff and patients.
This takes the form of an automatic number plate recognition system normally used to trap criminals behind the wheel, which can calculate the length of stay to the second – thus making sure that everyone pays as much as possible.
And further to treat us as if we are simple-minded, the trust calls the increase in the cost of parking for patients and visitors an average rise of 10p per hour.
What made matter worse last week was that the equipment failed to work at Boston and Grantham, resulting in lengthy queues and angry patients and visitors

***

Finally, after his listing as one of Lincolnshire hottest 50 Yellowbellies (see last week’s edition) our MP Matt Warman’s charms seem to have won him a big prize in the House of Commons.
We imagine that particularly for newer MPs, getting a decent seat can prove something of a problem – and keeping it even more so – remember when the SNP fought and lost a battle to oust Labour veteran Dennis Skinner from the corner seat he has occupied for decades?
How about this, then?


It’s not the first time we’ve spotted Mr Warman in what some might regard as a prominent front bench position – and could explain which he is so often lucky getting an answer from PM ‘Daisy’ May at Prime Minister’s Question Time!



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