Monday, 5 August 2019


We’re hearing reports that Boston County Councillor Paula Cooper may be the subject of an investigation by the Conservatives – but details are sketchy at the moment. Councillor Cooper, who represents Boston West at County Hall has courted controversy several times in recent weeks.
At the beginning of July campaigners took photos of her seemingly using her phone and doing crosswords during a meeting.
A local news website reported that Councillor Cooper said her son had been trying to reach her after his car broke down in France, but that she had declined the call – messaging him to text instead.
She said she only returned his call after leaving the meeting between items.
She denied doing a crossword, but said she had a number of brainteasers in her folders to do during recesses or outside of meetings – along with a newspaper.

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More recently, she made the headlines in a BBC Scotland interview about Brexit  in which she said the Scots could ‘jog on’ if they wanted to go it alone.
She was also challenged about the sale of golliwog dolls at the Bubble car museum near Boston that she runs.

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But it was the ‘jog on’ quote that we were told had caused the problem – and it was even suggested that she had been suspended from the Tories because of it.

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When we put this to Councillor Cooper, she responded: “I think you have been misinformed” – and the Boston and Skegness Conservative Association, which we asked as well, believed that the issue concerned something different.

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Councillor Paul Skinner told us: “I have heard the same comments but it wasn’t with regard to BBC Scotland.
“I have had nothing in writing but I believe an investigation is to take place.
“I am Boston Branch Chairman; at my level, as I say, nothing been notified to me officially.
“If there is an investigation it is inappropriate to comment until I have some facts.”

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Boston Eye contacted Councillor Cooper for a second time in case she wished to comment, and she told us“I honestly don’t know any more than you.”

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Try as we might, we simply can’t keep wheelie bins out of the news.
This time, there’s a plan to try out purple bins in the borough as part of a pilot scheme to boost the quality of recycled paper and cardboard.
More than 7,500 homes in Boston, North Kesteven and South Holland will take part in the year-long trial run by the Lincolnshire Waste Partnership.
The scheme was announced on the BBC TV news programme Look North last week – which we hear is the first time that many councillors knew about it – unless they missed the programme for some reason.

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Selected areas of Fenside, Wyberton, Frampton and Boston town will be the lucky winners of a purple wheelie bin, and a separate schedule for collections.

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Councillor Yvonne Stevens, Worst Street cabinet’s Head of Rubbish – a hotly contested title – said: “This scheme gives us the opportunity to do something differently so we can improve the quality of our recycling so it can be properly recycled, as our residents expect.
“By having a separate bin in the Boston trial area, we will be able to collect dry paper and card, and avoid it being contaminated by other items in the recycling bins. Mainly this is broken glass, liquid left in tins and food waste. These contaminants have been affecting the fibres of the paper, making it really difficult to recycle.”

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Aside from the fact that we doubt many residents have great ‘expectations’ for their rubbish once it hits their bin, we are staggered that the problem described has taken so long to impinge on to the Worst Street consciousness.

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How long have we been recycling? Ten years? More?
And has it only just now dawned on our so-called leaders that broken glass, liquid left in tins and food waste find their way into the recycling chain.

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Worst Street has warned of this sort of thing before, so was clearly not unaware.
And is it any surprise that broken glass is found in the mix – as the ‘dustcarts’ … sorry, ‘freighters’ ... that collect it compact the contents of the waste container every so often to make room for more, which may well be the cause of that particular problem.

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No, we suspect that until now, Worst Street hasn’t given a monkey’s about the state of the waste – but is only ‘acting’ now that someone else has come up with the idea … and of  course the funding.
After the 12-month trial is over, a decision will be taken whether to extend the scheme countywide.
Worryingly for those of us strapped for space, this pilot is the second run by the Lincolnshire Waste Partnership, following a very successful year long trial of food waste collection in South Kesteven – so we might be asked to do that soon as well.

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One interesting point to emerge from the Look North piece was that Boston and North Lincolnshire councils do not recycle juice cartons.
But everywhere else in Lincolnshire does.
How daft!

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The vexed issue of charging for replacement bins cropped up at last week’s meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny committee for environment and performance.
A report of the meeting said that Councillor Yvonne Stephens, portfolio holder for environmental services “sitting on the side-lines” told the meeting that the information had been there for six years – implying that anyone who was ignorant of the charges had only themselves to blame.
Is this the same portfolio holder for environmental services  whom we reported last week had been asked about the issue and replied: “I am not in the loop on this I'll come back to you, Councillor.”
It surely is.

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As it turned out, common sense prevailed, and the meeting was said to have voted to ask officers to report back on the original decision, why the changes are being implemented and why it's being approved for green bins when councillors say it was for brown bins.
This was despite a warning by officers that re-discussing the issue would involve costs!
Meanwhile, there is no suggestion that charges will be suspended in the interim.

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After reports on CCTV and drinking in the town, the committee was reported to have agreed to set up a task and finish group into the “night-time economy” – that’s when people come town in the evening, get drunk and forget the potty training that they learned at their mother’s knee.

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As a rule, task and finish groups tend to be all mouth and no trousers – a lot of talk with little to show for it.
Worryingly, we note that the chairman of the committee that agreed it is Councillor Judith Skinner who has a certain fondness for secrecy where these dog-hangings are concerned.
Three years ago, she came up with the idea of a group to be called Prosperous Boston – but better known by our readers as Preposterous Boston – and appointed herself to head it.
After 18 months it came up with a series of recommendations and the committee now headed by Councillor Skinner was charged with keeping tabs on how things were going.
Among those proposals was one to use redundant shipping buoys as ornamentation around the town. That was in a report dated April last year – yet a planning application to locate some of them has only just been submitted.
Just a sign of how thorough the following-up has been.

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But back to the hush-hushness of it all.
When Preposterous Boston got underway there had only been two task and finish groups in previous years – one on population and one of the ill-named Boston Business ‘Improvement’ District.
Both of these were held in public – but not PB.
The meetings were held behind closed doors with seemingly reluctant reports to selected meetings.

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When a former fellow councillor raised the matter of banning the voters from her meetings, and reporting to fellow councillors verbally, which meant that the public had to attend if they wanted to know what was going on, Councillor Skinner brusquely retorted: “The Group will be making available a full report of its findings and recommendations in due course.
 “If you would like to put forward any points please feel free to email me ….”
 “… I thought as a former councillor you would remember that task and finish group meetings are not made open to the public (sic) and are A political (sic). As I stated the results and recommendations will be made public.
“We did hold a public consultation in the market place (sic) in December which was well advertised in the press.”
As we said at the time, we remembered it well – a four-hour session on a rainy Saturday two weeks before Christmas.

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It is to be hoped that Councillor Skinner has moved with the times since then – and heeds the pledge made by her new leader to greater openness and sharing with the people who elected her.

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Talking shops seem to be a bit like buses – you wait ages for one to come along and then two arrive together.
Another working group is to be set up to look at the climate change motions. It is to be chaired by Anne Dorrian  another BiG party member – and if we had to guess, we would bet on this one far outrunning the night economy investigation.
  
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After we mentioned last week that we also recalled the smart new stalls which graced The Green and then vanished, we heard from the man who raised the issue at the full council meeting   Councillor Brian Rush.
“I was so pleased to read that both you and I remembered those rather attractive liveried stall covers," he wrote.
“Indeed, I want to thank Councillor Welton for taking my question. Such generosity, to my mind, makes a refreshing change in the chamber.
“Sadly, however, it seems when one’s municipal memories are jolted in such a fashion, we find that in Boston, there are more questions than answers!
“Nevertheless, one is still left to ponder: -
“What became of these covers?
“How many were there?
“Who purchased them?
“Why?
“They most certainly cannot have been cheap ...
“Such questions, and carelessness, I believe is deserving of a review by the Corporate and Community scrutiny panel”
  
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Since Councillor Rush first raised the issue, and Boston Eye asked similar questions, some answers have been forthcoming from one of our readers who knows a lot about the issue.

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He told Boston Eye: “About seven years ago Boston Borough Council obtained a grant for £50,000 to regenerate The Green with the idea of starting a co-operative with new stalls and advertising.
“This went all the way through the system to say that everything has been accomplished – but they never did achieve a co-operative.
“Not only that but they bought 25 of these pop-up stalls complete with covers – the lot – and two trailers.
“They’ve lost all but about five of them; they’ve been lent out, stolen by traders or anyone else, and some of the stalls that they used for the recent event in the Market Place looked like the same carriages that they used in the trailers but they weren’t the same tops.
“They’re now using the old stalls on The Green as well as the pop-up stalls because they haven’t got enough and they haven’t replaced them – so rather than make it look better, it’s gone back to looking worse,
“They have not done what they said they have done; it’s all been recorded but nobody seems to any to do anything about it.”

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If that’s the case, then we find ourselves in total agreement with Councillor Rush and  totally endorse his idea that the overview and scrutiny Corporate and Community Committee must mount a thorough investigation.

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In a week in which severe doubts have been expressed about police claims to have tackled street drinking – and in which photos appear of a man urinating on the War Memorial in broad daylight and another injecting drugs in West Street – a tweet by Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones caught our attention.


If the 20,000 new officers promised by Boris Johnson do appear, it’s been reported that Lincolnshire would like about 200 of them.
If we were that lucky, we would urge Mr Jones to read the writing in the tweet that he plugged.
The important word to note is ‘see’ – “Want to see more police in your area?”
At present we see scarcely any police officers around the place, which is why the things that happen such as those mentioned above continue unchecked.
We are familiar with the argument that putting police on the streets does little if anything to deter crime – but it is psychologically a good move that reassures the public and their perception of safety.
Who knows, they might even prevent an offence from time to time?
But all too often police numbers are diverted to tasks that many of us feel are unconnected with what officers should be doing, and if would be a shame if a huge influx of new officers were to disappear  down this route.

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Finally, a reader has been in touch to suggest that the photo below – which appeared on the local Tory Facebook page – would be an ideal choice for a caption competition.


It shows Worst Street leader Aaron Spencer and town centre portfolio holder Alistair Arundel at the recent cycling event in the Market Place.
Whilst it’s good to see them being taken for a ride for a change, we are sure that there are a few inventive minds among our readers who can think of a caption or two.
Ideas worth pondering as starters for ten could involve the words ‘steering committee’ or perhaps ‘being saddled’ with councillors, ‘driverless’ and ‘hands not on the wheel’
All contributions gratefully received.

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Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

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