Where there’s muck
there’s even more
as well as garden bin price hike, replacement bin charges are sneaked in
Of all the many things there are to get worked up about in the saga of Worst Street’s greed and incompetence, it’s somehow not surprising that the stuff that many might regard as the least important creates the biggest waves.
Last week, we drew attention to the debate on the cost of collecting your garden waste – which seems almost certain to be soaring like the cloud of flies that emerges each time you open your wheelie bin at this time of year.
This week, there’s something new – but it’s all about wheelie bins yet again … and the charge for a replacement if yours gives up the ghost or ends up in one of our many local waterways.
A reader ‘in the know’ tells us that a proposal to charge £25 for a replacement wheelie bin came as a surprise to the Portfolio Holder for waste collection.
Quoted as her words were: 'I am not in the loop on this I'll come back to you, Councillor.’
We were told: “Given that many wheelies have now been sitting out in the sun for about ten years, and that sun and plastic are not the best long-term companions, this looks like a charge that will be seen, and probably challenged by many local community tax payers as a local ‘stealth tax.’
So, what’s the bottom line here?
For those of you with time to spare, Worst Street publishes a snappily-named brochure called: “Waste and Recycling Operational Procedures” – a list of 25 measures over 19 pages which points out that it has a legal right to charge for the supply of bins and will do so “in accordance with the prevailing policy of Cabinet [sic] at the time.”
As far as we are aware, that time has never come – until now … and it is this what is exercising the great and the good of Worst Street.
The first mention of charges was made and agreed in February 2013 … back in the days when Tory Councillor Raymond Singleton-McGuire held the finance portfolio …
... Not only that, but it was recommended for a 20% increase from the year 2015-2016 – from £25 to £30.
One problem seems to be that whilst the charges have been an option for the past five years, it seems that they have only just been introduced – as recently as the start of the month – with many councillors in the dark about what it going on and minded to oppose any such move.
Not only that, but waste collection in the borough is a game of two halves.
Worst Street is very proud of avoiding any of what it calls its non-statutory responsibilities – things that it used to do out of the kindness of its heart (!) but is not compelled by law to do.
But with the need for economies, scarcely anything of that nature happens anymore – except of course for things such as spending thousands of pounds on the office of Mayor, which confers great benefits on … councillors lucky enough to hold the post (which is most of them if they survive enough elections.)
Garden waste collection falls into this category – which is why we are expected not only to buy the bins we use, but pay to have them emptied … despite a cast-iron guarantee that the service would always be free.
Domestic waste is another matter.
Worst Street is obliged to collect this and can even specify the size and type of bin that must be used.
So, not unreasonably, people are asking why – if the council has to do this as part of its council tax ‘service’ – it apparently doesn’t have to provide the bins free as part of that package.
Whatever next – will we see a handling charge for the diesel expended to drive the dust carts – sorry, freighters?
We wouldn’t be at all surprised.
Meanwhile, some info just in …
We hear that there’s been a request for the bin replacement charges to be considered by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee – but when that will be is anyone’s guess.
Let’s hope that it’s sooner rather than later, as an estimate of the money being made from the replacement bin charges is of the order of £10,000 a year.
It was sad to read comments by traders in the once-thriving West Street that more and more shops are closing because business is in a downward spiral.
But the writer of the report found new leader Aaron Spencer in buoyant mode … as usual.
He was quoted as saying: “I think we need to be looking at making Boston a more cosmopolitan type of town.
The dictionary defines cosmopolitan as including people from many different countries – and we have them by the truckload already.
Councillor Spencer went on: “I was recently at the opening of Sam's Fish and Chip shop and it was great the amount of people who were there.
“As for West Street, we can only do so much as a council and I believe we have a prosperous future in Boston.
“Businesses will go where the popular area is in the town and we need to change people's perspectives of the town.
“We need to encourage entrepreneurs and business owners that we have a prosperous future.
“The problem of anti-social behaviour is one that is rife across the country and I believe it's a symptom of low-income housing.
“We're looking to find a way of addressing the symptom.”
This sort of response has already become something of a mantra with our leader.
But analyse what he says, and it doesn’t really bear close examination.
Of course, there would be a big turn out to the opening of a new shop of any kind – because people are specially invited.
We recall the opening two years ago of the mint supermarket by a former mayor amidst great fanfare – and the deafening silence when it closed a year later.
As for West Street – whilst we forever hear the excuse that the planning committee cannot reject applications to convert former shops into off licences just because we have too many of them – we are sure that a cunning planning mind could come up with an obstacle or two.
Allegedly, we have highly paid council officers whose job it is to encourage entrepreneurs and persuade business owners that we have a prosperous future.
So why don’t councillors ask them what they are doing – as they have produced little by way of results to date?
Whilst we asking questions, perhaps Councillor Spencer could clarify his phrase that the problem of anti-social behaviour is a symptom of low-income housing – because it makes little sense to us.
And whilst building better housing may be a partial solution is it not something for the here and now – and above all else Boston needs some quick fixes before the town goes down with all hands.
Something that was mentioned by West Street traders – and others in the town of course – was the issue of street drinking.
But you will be glad to hear that it is no longer a problem.
A report to this week’s Environment and Performance Committee on crime and disorder included the annual review of anti-social behaviour and Public Spaces Protect Order alcohol statistics for 2018/19 tells us that: “thus far in 2019 there have been 11 incidents reported to police by the public about street drinking.
“I am not saying that street drinking is completely eradicated, as clearly it does still happen, and probably always will to some degree. However, we have come a very long way indeed from when powers were first granted to address the issue.”
That may be true – but is it the case that so few incidents are reported to the police because potential callers know that nothing will happen.
That’s what many people say.
One small item of interest at last council meeting was a question about where the market stall covers that once graced The Green have gone.
The issue was raised by BiG Councillor Brian Rush, who was reportedly told by Councillor Nigel Welton that he was inclined to think they didn’t actually exist, and referred to them as ‘myths.’
Brian Rush insisted that they did exist – and we agree with him, having seen and admired them in the past.
Stuff does go AWOL at Worst Street from time to time – yet we would have expected a large organisation that spends our money to buy things might have devised the simple idea of an inventory that includes the location of items as well.
Which reminds us – never having seen them since they were bought for £15,000 to hold back the masses lining the route for the 2012 Olympic torch as it passed through Boston – what has become of the crowd control barriers that we could have hired for a fraction of the price?
Finally, our ‘Ideas Above Their Station’ award of the week goes to Worst Street for the following transparent piece of self-aggrandising tosh.
A community ‘leader?’
How on earth did they come up with that ludicrous idea?
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