Now that all the bluffing and waffling has been turned into numbers it’s at last possible to find out how much council tax we’ll be paying in the year ahead.
Until the final figures are known the tendency is to tell voters that their contribution will only be x-pence a week – and pitching the number as low as possible.
And in Boston – as with all other councils – for some complicated reason the proposed increase is always given as that for a Band D property … whilst most Boston taxpayers are in Band A.
Tax rates vary between the parishes and the Boston special expense area – aka BTAC-ky – where a Band A property will pay £1,136.33 for the year ahead.
That’s an increase of £52 – or 4.5% – compared with an inflation rate of 2.7% in January.
We already know that we will get little or nothing for the extra money – Worst Street has pared its responsibilities to the bone and will soon be looking at the idea of hiving off its leisure and cultural services (along with at least 70 jobs) to a charitable trust.
But at least BTAC-ky residents have got off a little more lightly this time after the two previous years which saw hikes of 182.5% and 94.6%.
Around the county, Boston Borough Council’s tax rate is the third highest of the seven districts – coming after Lincoln in top place with West Lindsey second.
Quite why it needs all this is something of a mystery, since it has adopted the policy of charging more doing for less for quite some time now.
And despite the fact that the least most of us can hope for is another £1 a week overall, Worst Street still loves to demand money with menaces …
Accompanying the council tax bill is a leaflet produced by Boston Big Local – which is of course not supposed to spend money on tasks which are the job of the council – that fairly bristles with threats in the name of Worst Street’s waste and environmental crime departments.
At the cheap end of the penalty scale we’re warned that dropping a fag end will mean a fine of £75, moving up to £100 for not tidying up after your dog, £300 if someone you pay to cart rubbish away dumps it instead, and at the top of the list £400 for fly tipping.
All of these are, of course, anti-social acts whose perpetrators deserve a penalty. But the warnings are insensitive to say the least when they accompany a demand for hundreds of pounds for a decreasing level of “service.”
This is, of course, the Worst Street way of doing things – what we have previously called the iron fist in the iron glove approach.
The building in question is the middle of the small row in this photo from Google street view.
Cases such as these crop up from time to time and have a language all their own.
We were told that the UPVC windows were “an unsympathetic alteration” and that traditional timber-framed windows were required “in keeping with the special historic and architectural character of the listed building.”
The building was listed in 1975 and is one in a terrace of the shops. It was built in the mid-18th century with alterations in the 19th and 20th.
Yes, we know that alterations were made without permission sand that the building is listed.
But can anyone point out its special historic and architectural character to us, please? The windows of the shops on either side are indistinguishable from plastic – and one has been filled in.
If the look of the buildings is so important, then why have the powers that be not addressed the issue of the signage on them – which could scarcely be said to be “in keeping” with much at all.
This is a building that is beyond the pale as far as we are concerned – but that won’t get in the way of Worst Street when it comes to being big, bold and brave instead of commonsensical
Ironically, we hear that at the same time that Worst Street was getting heavy with one of its taxpayers, it was also treating a councillor similarly.
A little bird tells us that an important councillor – well, a member of the cabinet, anyway – was incandescent with rage recently over an episode on the Worst Street car park.
This particular councillor has, we were told, long been an advocate of allocated parking places at the rear of the council offices for the senior officers and leader of the council – and recently spaces were allocated to these various lofty holders of office.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when some interloper had the temerity to park in one of these places without holding the required senior office.
The order went out to send for a Civil Enforcement Officer (traffic warden to the uninitiated) and a penalty charge notice (ticket) was issued and slapped on the vehicle.
Ironically, we are told that is then emerged that the owner of the car was none other than the campaigner for the issuing of exclusive parking rights to those on high – who had nipped into town for a bit of shopping, so could not even claim to be on council business at the time ...
It’s five weeks ago today that an extraordinary council demanded the resignation of the mayor Councillor Brian Rush following a kangaroo court that had made its mind up before the meeting even started.
Last week a story appeared yet again with copies of the various undated Facebook entries that prompted this demand – and again reminding us that they were “revealed” by Boston Borough Council leader Michael Cooper.
The previous time it appeared was a fortnight before on 26th February – which itself was a fortnight on from the original meeting date.
Surely, it’s now time to consider the case closed on this unfortunate business – which has done more to damage the image of Boston Borough Council than anything else.
The publication of KPMG’s external Audit Plan for Boston Borough Council features what the powers that be probably assume features an impressive cover which is presumably intended to be interpreted in all manner of inspiring ways
Our interpretation was that some wag with a slightly perverse sense of humour was trying to imply that the bottom line at Worst Street was that you can’t see the woods for the trees!
Even though it’s getting a little late in the day, next week’s meeting of BTAC-ky is expected to discuss how to move forward on the success of last year’s Christmas lights display.
The item has been postponed twice already – and next week’s meeting could well prove interesting.
We expect that a long running internecine war between members of the original ‘civilian’ group that delivered last year’s lights to come to a head.
In a nutshell, a row broke out after some members of the group felt that they should share the money left over from the project – something that others said was contrary to the group’s constitution.
The wannas then effectively declared themselves a separate group which voted to expel all the people who didn’t agree with them.
Since then matters have advanced apace.
A letter from local businessman Darron Abbott who was – and considers that he still is – the Christmas in Boston group’s treasurer has been sent to Boston Chief Executive Phil Drury, summarising events.
Updating matters, he claims the group’s bank was persuaded to remove him as a signatory, and that Boston Borough Council has since paid an amount equal to the surplus repaid to BTAC-ky under the heading of a “loan” to one of the newly-created committee members.
How on earth next week’s BTAC-ky meeting will tiptoe through this minefield is anyone’s guess as we have been told that no decision has yet been on who is to be tasked with the job of lighting the town this year – even though monies appear to have been paid to a new group that has been created without any discussion with or authorisation from BTAC.
Meanwhile, as the Santa Claws are flexed by the ghost of Christmas Farce, we understand that all this to-ing and fro-ing has meant a tough time for the BTAC committee chairman Councillor Nigel Welton – who is also the portfolio holder for Boston town centre.
We understand that he has been subject to a barrage of bullying, harassment and threats but has taken this as part of the ‘rough and tumble’ of politics.
We think that bullying and threats go far beyond what might be defined as rough and tumble – and that Boston Borough Council in recent months has descended to the lowest level that we have seen since we started writing about it all those years ago.
It looks as if poor old Boston has been left in the cold once again – and that it has nothing to do with the weather either
Beneath the headline Lincolnshire will receive a slice of £1 million to enhance its tourism offer to European visitors a recent news report told us that following a bid for funding, the East of England Touring Route project – which includes Lincolnshire – has received £1 million from Discover England.
The new East of England Touring Route is a 300-mile journey that spans the length of Eastern England from London to Northumberland.
And where will it take us?
“In Lincolnshire it will encourage overseas tourists to visit Lincoln Castle and Cathedral, Doddington Hall, Stokes Coffee at The Lawn, International Bomber Command Centre, take part in the Mayflower Trail and visit Gainsborough Old Hall, as well as other attractions and accommodation close to the A1 road in Sleaford and Stamford.”
The bid to the government’s Discover England Fund was supported by the Visit Lincoln group.
What, we wonder, were members of the Visit Boston UK doing while all this was going on?
Boston Borough Council has more than its fair share of well-paid officers who are supposed to be across this sort of thing – but yet again, we a left out.
And when we do get a bit of wide-scale publicity, things seem to backfire.
A recent item in the Sunday Times – titled 50 cool cottages – included The Flour Mill …a one bedroom holiday spot to rent in the Maud Foster.
It was described thus …
What on earth are they talking about?
If you have a long memory, you’ll recall that it was two years ago this month since the Sunday Times last featured the Flour Mill – when it said …
At least Boston is no longer referred to as small.
Whilst it’s tempting to regard the Times pieces as inaccurate and lazy, the true culprit is the holiday website whose descriptions of the area should also be taken with a pinch of salt!
Finally, we bid farewell to Sir Richard Body, who has died aged 90, and who represented us in parliament as MP for Holland with Boston from 1966 to 1997, and then for Boston and Skegness from 1997 until he stood down in 2001 – bequeathing us Mark Simmonds as his successor … although we were told that he had serious misgivings about this choice.
Sir Richard was a great character who knew and spoke his mind and wouldn’t kow-tow to the Conservatives’ every whim despite being a dyed in the wool Tory.
Would that we had more MPs of his character in parliament today rather than the Walter-type softies to whom he then played Dicky the Menace.
We well remember a day back in the early 1980s when a colleague at Radio Lincolnshire thought that he had cleverly cornered Sir Richard into admitting that he wrote the controversial farming column Muckspreader in the satirical magazine Private Eye.
Sir Richard’s response was to tell our hack that he was banning the radio station from talking to him for six months.
When the news editor called him to try to persuade Sir Richard that this would be a bad move in PR terms, the MP doubled the penalty – and stuck to it!
You would expect nothing less from a descendant of the great agricultural reformer, Jethro Tull. Another ancestor was a 17th-century MP who was hanged for rebellion.
Sadly, poor old Sir Richard will more likely remember by an insulting quote from Sir John Major who said: “Every time I hear the name Body, I hear the sound of white coats flapping.”
Sir Richard, of course was famed as a loyal; supporter of Margaret Thatcher.
Easter falls a little early and a little awkwardly this year – so we will be taking a two-week break and will return on 9th April – unless something important happens.
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