Now you CCTV it
– now you don’t!
Our piece last week about the on-going problems of drinking in Central Park and the potential risks of non-official action raised another debate – this time about closed circuit television coverage.
In particular, concerns were expressed about lack of coverage in Fenside, where a reader reported that cameras had been removed.
This struck a distant chord with us that went back six years to a budget setting meeting.
A report quoted the former Boston Borough Council leader, Peter Bedford, saying that the council needed to cut spending on CCTV provision.
He also urged more businesses in the town to stump up some money if they wanted the cameras to remain in place.
The report went on: “He singled out housing association Boston Mayflower as a ‘big user’ of the cameras and said that they had ‘never paid a fee’ to help with the upkeep – but still reaped the benefits of surveillance on its properties in Fenside.”
A council spokesman said at the time: “As part of our on-going efficiency programme, the council is considering the future of its CCTV coverage of the Fenside estate. Fenside has the highest level of CCTV coverage of any residential area in the borough which, as a consequence of our on-going review, has prompted us to question the value for money these cameras return.”
He added: “We are currently seeking the views of a number of key organisations including Lincolnshire Police and Boston Mayflower about our thoughts.”
Fenside received ten cameras in 2000.
One possible reason for so many is that is listed as among the worst deprived areas in the county, and has a fairly steady crime rate.
So why would CCTV camera coverage be removed?
The Worst Street CCTV control room also monitors cameras for South Holland District Council, East Lindsey District Council and North Kesteven District Council as well as its domestic role of monitoring Boston and Kirton – around 200 live cameras.
Selling services to other authorities makes money; giving it away does not.
Because Worst Street now apportions value to everything it provides it comes up with the idea that anyone apparently getting something for nothing – in this case Mayflower Housing – has to be jumped on at the earliest opportunity.
Yet how – if Fenside “reaped the benefits of surveillance” can there be any question about “the value for money these cameras return.”
Also, who foots the bill for the town centre coverage – it is the local businesses?
We don’t believe that is the case.
But because Fenside appears largely to be a Mayflower housing estate, the association was apparently expected to pay.
Our readers say that the cameras there are conspicuous by their absence – there is no mention of CCTV provision on the Mayflower website and a question directed to the organisation went unanswered.
When Twitter users asked Worst Street whose responsibility it was, they were referred to Mayflower.
So there you have it – a tightly closed circle where no one will offer an explanation … although a final word from a reader said: “I have spoken to Mayflower and the chap I spoke to knew nothing. Didn’t even know they’d been taken down!”
As is so often the case with Boston Borough Council, a stroll down memory lane produces distinct feelings of amnesia.
Whilst the initial meeting that discussed charging Mayflower called for a report to the scrutiny committee’s corporate and community committee which met at the end of 2015, it made no mention of the Fenside CCTV coverage.
Latest score: Worst Street Black Holes United 1 – Communication With Public 0.
Speaking of black holes in communication …
It’s now six months since Boston Borough Council's cabinet of curiosities agreed to organise a meeting with Brylaine Travel and Lincolnshire County Council to discuss rerouting the Into Town bus to avoid pedestrianised Strait Bargate following a recommendation by BTAC-ky – the Boston Town Area Committee after talks with Brylaine's Operations Director.
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And in the same vein …
Whilst it’s still early days, little has been heard of much by way of progress in the Boston sub-Standard campaign for the town to receive government money from a £100 billion kitty for road improvements to create the “distributor” road that will apparently solve all our traffic problems.
It’s a couple of weeks or so since the campaign was launched with “support” from Worst Street – though after an initial announcement the council has had nothing more to say.
The Standard meanwhile has been chasing up hauliers for their support – but so far there’s no news of how many signatures have been gathered.
And it’s not as though time is a luxury, as announcements about selected projects will be made in the summer.
Meanwhile, the hilarious official view remains … that most of the traffic heading into the town, does not come out the other side – a view that anyone monitoring traffic beside John Adams Way or Sleaford Road for a few minutes could quickly dismiss as nonsense.
Whether a few signatures on some scraps of paper are enough to persuade the government to hand over £100m for a road scheme is anyone’s guess.
What we do know is that past efforts by the sub-Standard in this area have not been a glittering success.
When Royal Mail decided look for alternative premises to relocate the post office the Standard launched a petition and subsequently told us that it had garnered “more than 150 signatures.”
At least that was better than another effort when Boston Borough Council announced its intention to charge disabled blue badge holders to park.
Without even a blush of embarrassment, a reporter presented just 27 – yes, 27 – protest coupons from readers ... and if that wasn't bad enough, three were from people living outside the borough – including one from as far away as Kent.
We wait with bated breath.
King George V’s last words are widely, but incorrectly reported as being “Bugger Bognor” – and we are beginning to wonder whether similar sentiments are being expressed by today’s great and good about Boston.
As some not very forceful efforts are taking place to prise money from the government for a road to bypass half of Boston, Lincolnshire County Council continues to bang the drum for a by-pass just about everywhere else.
A recent report quoted County Councillor Colin Davie, who is responsible for Lincolnshire’s economy, saying that that any future Lincolnshire Coastal Highway should include a bypass around Horncastle.
The planned highway would run from the A1 at Newark via the A46 to Lincoln, before heading east along the A158 to Skegness.
In a quote that says much about Clowntly Hall’s attitude to Boston, Councillor Davie – who incidentally represents Ingoldmells Rural – said: “We have so many visitors coming to our part of the world and I don’t want them to be stuck in traffic jams anywhere. I want them to move fluidly through the county. If they want to visit Skegness and then visit Mablethorpe and then visit Louth and come back to Lincoln, then I want them to be able to do it at their speed.
“The A158 is what I consider to be the most travelled route. Quite clearly in peak times, there are logjams in Wragby and in Horncastle. I think we need to alleviate those.”
And as Boston nibbles at the edges of the issue, the county council has already held events with councillors, businesses, bus operators and other organisations, asking for potential areas of improvement to the road network.
The road debate prompted a pertinent comment from the pseudonymous reader Frontliner, who e-mailed to say: “There may well be some modicum of truth in the suggestion that over past years our farming industry has carried a great deal of blame for being less than ‘encouraging’ towards alternative inward industries.
“Even now, there are very few ‘food providers’ who use local labour and still very little acceptance of alternative inward investment in our borough.
“However, every project offers lessons ... it is clear now that ‘Farming’ has morphed into an Industrial Project – much like car manufacture, or furniture production.
“Sadly, some farmers, and dare I say ‘supportive’ politicians failed to see that the efficient transportation of goods from field to factory and distribution point, and onward to the supermarket, has become an integral part of that industry, which is also reliant upon a ‘speedy and efficient, road structure’ ... and that for Boston, this is now the missing link!
Reports last week announced that a group of Eurosceptics intend to record the story of Brexit for posterity in a Museum of Sovereignty.
An ideal and obvious location immediately springs to mind – but according to the Daily Telegraph’s political correspondent it is likely to be built in the nation’s “leave capital.”
And where might this be, we hear you cry?
You may already have guessed – Lincoln!
The report explains that along with neighbouring constituencies the city recorded “one of the highest leave votes in Britain.”
Not only was Lincoln bottom of the Brexit vote in the county – it was almost 150 places below Boston nationally.
Yet Lincoln may get the museum – although perhaps it may not be the greatest tourist attraction of all time.
But where are the protest voices from Boston Borough Council and our local members at Lincoln?
Silent as usual.
Even our own representatives say Bugger Boston.
Last week saw the Boston Big Clean Up – when for a single week of the year the town looks spruce and sparkling.
But what caught the eye of one of our readers was a photo on Worst Street’s Facebook page showing thee members of the council’s staff picking up litter.
Our reader observed: “Interesting to see the big clean-up is being rolled out as a big volunteer success story as usual. What a shame one of the pictures shows members of staff who are being paid for ....er collecting waste when they should be working in their full time paid posts.”
OK, they’re helping make the town cleaner – but we still feel that our reader has a point.
The big clean up followed hard on the heels of the appointment of three more members of the town centre maintenance team funded by BTAC-ky to keep the town tidier.
Support was also forthcoming from Boston Big Local which is helping to fund a chewing gum removal machine at a cost somewhere between £2,000 and £4,000
We hope this latest efforts is more successful than the last.
Ten years ago Boston Borough Council spent £7,000 on a machine to remove chewing gum from the town’s pavements.
After a photo opportunity, it disappeared from the public gaze – to appear just one more time before it was found broken at one of the Worst Street depots.
And in yet another example like the previous one of robbing Peter to pay Paul we noted that almost as soon as the extra maintenance staff were in place than they were hijacked by the “voluntary” Boston in Bloom group to do some seriously heavy spadework.
Lincolnshire County Council was first to tell us that a new £1.75m household waste recycling centre is open to the public in Bittern Way in Boston.
The official opening ceremony took place last Friday 13th and it opened to the public at 9am this morning.
The former site at Slippery Gowt Lane – a stone’s throw from the new one – closed at 4pm yesterday.
Some Lincolnshire websites, BBC Radio Lincolnshire and MP Matt Warman were quick to share the news.
Not so Boston Borough Council’s website.
Of the 22 stories headlined on WorstWeb none mentioned the change of location for the tip when we looked after close of business on Friday – and detailed information elsewhere said that it was in Slippery Gowt Lane.
The absence from the Worst Street website may also be the reason that the story had not appeared on the Boston sub Standard website either – as Worst Street writes most of the paper these days.
Hopefully the new tip will get a mention when the powers that ba’int totter into West Street later this morning.
Another triumph for the Bugger Boston brigade.
Finally, we received an e-mail from a regular reader to say: “I was looking forward to seeing mention of Councillor Mrs Cooper’s court appearance in today’s Eye, shielding someone else in a driving case.
“I suppose it is a difficult one, and I have not seen much reported anywhere apart from a few lines in the Target.”
Reporting court cases is not something we do – but out of interest, we took a look around and sure enough found the following on the Boston Target website.
We could find no mention in the Boston sub-Standard.
Mrs Cooper was elected to represent Boston West on Lincolnshire County Council in May last year, and is the wife of Boston Borough Council leader Mike Cooper.
The case has probably given rise to endless speculation in which we will not participate – although some possible explanations are reasonably obvious.
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