It’s the same with buses – you wait an age for one and then three come along at once.
Our last issue came out on the morning that the full council was due to meet to give most members a decent pay rise while trying to make it look like a freeze, and councillors were being asked to approve borrowing £20 million over fifty years for the benefit of us – the common herd.
Also on the agenda for approval was a revised code of councillor conduct – which we interpreted as calling them more to account than previously.
So how did it all go?
Well, we understand that the first two items were approved – but the conduct issue was put on hold because some members felt that it was asking a little too much of them.
Bless the little snowflakes.
Boston Borough Council is rapidly becoming a law unto itself these days, with little if anything by way of challenging or questioning decisions in the council chamber – and even less outside of it in our so-called local “newspapers.”
We are told that they were not in attendance for the full council meeting, and … search as we might … we can find no sign of anything picked up after the event to let the taxpayers know what is being done with their money – which in some cases is funding rises in allowances of between 30% and 150%.
Nor can Worst Street be relied upon to keep us in the picture – despite all its hollow promises of openness, transparency and communication.
We’ve made our thoughts about the borough’s website more than clear in the past.
Whilst it purportedly exists to tell us about the goings-on in the council, it mostly carries lightweight stories which are often completely unrelated but serve as pabulum to make the place look busy.
No mention appears of the outcomes from the April full council meeting – but then you would expect WorstWeb to keep as quiet as possible about how our money is being spent.
However, it did deem it important to blag a couple of free goes on the May Fair’s “scariest ride” so that a couple of members of staff could share their opinion of it with us.
The lack of communication and information from Worst Street – coupled with the indifference of the local media is surely just what this council wants.
The only way to discover what the council is thinking is to scour the agendas for its meetings – which appear just a few days in advance.
Then, unless you attend in person, you must wait until the minutes of the meeting are published with the next agenda – with the exception of the most recent full council meeting that we have been talking about.
That meeting was held on 30th April.
The next one – the Annual General Meeting – is on 14th May – but there are no minutes being made available.
Instead, you must wait until at least 9th July, when the next meeting is provisionally scheduled.
That’s ten weeks before Worst Street is prepared to tell you what happened at a quite important meeting.
And don’t forget the minutes are scarcely comprehensive – more like a few scrappy scribbles in crayon on the back of a fag packet which are sure will delight future historians.
Even changes to the way the council is run are dropped into WorstWeb without anyone feeling the need to draw attention to them.
The last full council meeting recommendations on councillors’ allowances recommended that there should be just one deputy leader – on a much bigger allowance, of course.
Apparently this is going to happen as – on the agenda for rubber stamping at next week’s council AGM – is a revised cabinet structure.
Not only has the role of deputy leader been allocated to Councillor Aaron Spencer, but the man with whom he used to share it – Councillor Mike Brookes – has completely fallen off his perch.
The new cabinet member is Councillor David Brown, who is also chairman of Planning Committee, and represents Wyberton Ward:
Councillor Brookes (remember him?) has been a Boston councillor since 1997 and a Lincolnshire County Councillor since 2009 … almost ten years.
Whilst the recent goings-on have been kept from the public at large, our regular readers suffer no such deceit.
One of them – using the appropriate pseudonym Grumpy after the allowance disclosures – said: “My girlfriend, a career NHS nurse, saw this and could only muster a ‘glad to see that we are all still in it together’ remark as she collapsed onto the couch after another debilitating day spent on her feet.
“These worthless petty bureaucrats really need to wake up and smell the coffee – and stop feeding from the trough they continually seem to be enlarging at every opportunity.”
The deadline to bid for a £100 million share of the government’s billion pound pot for road improvements has now passed and again as far as we know – because Worst Street has stayed stumm – the only action apparently forthcoming has been from the Boston sub-Standard.
Its petition received 1,281 signatures – which whilst it is better than previous efforts by the paper – represents around 2% of Boston’s 2011 census population estimate of 64,637 … and suggests that Frank Lee and Mai Deere don’t give a damn.
Worse still, the petition was not a Standard-alone affair.
For want of doing little else, Worst Street sent at least one senior manager and assistant to stand in the Market Place and beg for signatures to the Standard petition, whilst MP Matt Warman also piped up – meaning that the efforts of three hands to the pump produced a result of impressive paucity.
Certainly, it’s somewhat at odds with the message from council leader Michael Cooper when he said: “It is vital that we send the biggest, loudest message we can to government that we deserve a share of this new money.
“We tick so many boxes – an opportunity to deal with traffic congestion, a plan for that already at an advanced stage, better transportation in an area vital to the nation's food security, a boost to economic development and job creation, more much-needed housing and a chance to address long-standing air quality issues.”
Such high-flying phrases are all very well – but it would be interesting to know just what Worst Street has been doing apart from waffling.
Last week’s bank holiday delivered a harsh lesson about the need to plan properly for new shopping developments.
Although we make it a general rule never to take the car out during these holidays, we had to break that edict for once to head to Boston’s B&Q, on the site it now shares with Lidl and Tesco.
It then took about an hour to get out of the car park!
The reason – which no-one apparently took account of at the planning stage – was that traffic for all three stores enters via Westbridge Road off the A52.
A left turn off this road takes you to B&Q and Lidl – and the way out from them is to turn right across the inbound Tesco traffic.
The result of all this on the bank holiday was that traffic leaving B&Q blocked the traffic trying to leave Lidl – in some cases trapping cars in their parking bays – whilst the right turn across the road leading to Tesco was almost impossible to access because of the incoming traffic flow.
A sensible thing to do would be to turn left as if going to Tesco and then follow the road in a complete circle but on the day that we were there it didn’t appear to occur to many people.
Having said that, it’s not a driver’s job to find a way around the pitfalls created by the planning system – and we hope that someone thinks to take an early look at the problem.
A simple solution is to create an additional exit from the Lidl car park, which would solve the problem in a jiffy.
As we reached the closing date for Lincolnshire County Council’s good citizenship awards, Boston Borough Council was talking about doing away with our local equivalent – which has been on the go for almost forty years.
A report to the corporate and community scrutiny committee wailed that the number of nominations received has declined in recent years … from more than ten each year to two or three.
According to Worst Street, nominations are sought from the public, parish councils and borough councillors to recognise the work of individuals or groups who make a significant contribution that has made a difference to their local community.
Yet again we are forced to the conclusion that the root of the problem is Worst Street itself as the problem suggests that councillors are hopelessly out of touch with the grass roots.
How many readers can remember seeing much by way of publicity for nominations?
What form does the request for nominations from parish councils take?
We have eighteen of them, and a number have borough councillors as members.
Despite the growing lethargy within local communities – it must surely not be beyond the powers that be to come up with at least 20 nominations a year.
And let’s not forget our local charities – they must surely be good for a few names.
Events such as these encourage and empower our communities, and need encouraging rather than disowning.
We wonder whether the £20 million loan that we mentioned earlier indicates a change of direction for Boston Borough Council.
It seems that Worst Street’s Cunning Plan is to become a property investor as it believes that there are “significant upside forecasts” towards financial benefits associated with such a strategy.
“These would arise through revenue returns, capital appreciation and the avoidance of future inflated borrowing costs.
“These are prudently valued at approximately £86m over 50 years.”
Borrow £20m over fifty years at 5% … repay £1m a year in interest over that time and presumably the principal at the end of it … and theoretically have £16m ‘profit.’
It sounds too good to be true – and historically, whenever Worst Streets embarks on something that sounds too good to be true … it usually is.
An appendix to the report proposing the loan stunt gives vastly disparate examples … and then only two of them.
West Lindsey District Council has bought an hotel in Keighley – which is outside its district – using its own money and not a loan, and which it reckons will bring in £90k a year.
The second example is of Spelthorne Borough Council – which bought the BP campus in Sunbury-on-Thames in September 2016 for £358m.
How on earth can that be anything by way of help or guidance to Boston?
If the idea of Boston Borough Council running an hotel or something similar stretches your credulity, then how about something different?
The council meeting before last which baulked at the idea of Worst Street’s leaders flogging off Boston’s leisure and tourism assets to a private operator saw the suggestion withdrawn pro tem.
But whilst the principle of the proposal was accepted, most councillors thought that alternative options and service providers should be considered – including “an in-house company”
This from a council that cannot organise a brew-up in a brewery!
News now of our erstwhile MP Mark Simmonds – the man who quit parliament four years ago complaining that his combined salary and expenses of almost £120,000 weren’t enough – has just got another job.
Investment company Vertu Capital has appointed him a non-executive director.
Simmonds was foreign and commonwealth office minister responsible for Africa, the Caribbean and UK overseas territories international energy and conflict prevention when he quit.
Currently he holds a number of international roles, including chairman of the Global Advisory Board of investment platform Invest Africa – and is also chief executive of Mortlock Simmonds … his estate agency company.
Hopefully he is making ends meet by now.
His latest job is the ninth or tenth that he has taken on.
The record temperatures of the past few days tend to make us forget that it’s not so long ago that parts of the county were buried beneath snowdrifts, trapping many drivers in their cars.
Reports at the time praised the farming community in particular for turning out to help plough the snow away – and the overworked word heroes was used time and again to describe their contribution.
So we were surprised to see an analysis by BBC Look North last month which told us that whilst …
The amount paid to farmers was getting on for 40% of that.
Certainly, it’s an heroic payment if nothing else!!
Finally, the annual hoo-ing and haa-ing about this year’s Boston in Bloom competition is gathering pace.
And whilst it’s nice to see carefully chosen areas of the town receiving colourful and fragrant embellishments – even though many of them are ignored once the judges have visited – we again feel the need to highlight what life is like for our taxpaying residents unfortunate enough to live more than a fag end’s throw from the town centre.
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