If it was a joke, it wasn’t funny.
If “Paul Skinner and his Amazing Magical Cabinet” was a musical hall act, you wouldn’t have been able to hear it for the booing.
Had last night’s Boston Borough Council webinar been staged at the Hackney Empire in its heyday, the participants would certainly have left the stage richer than they walked on – as the habit in those days was to throw coins at the performers as a way to show disapproval.
Last night’s webinar was more of a webinaren’t – and instead of boos, the air was littered with clicks, pops … heavy breathing at one point … and something that sounded like a large and demented budgerigar.
So bad was the intrusion at some points that efforts by members of the cabinet to speak were rendered inaudible.
And when silence reigned – it was usually unintentional … to add to the embarrassment of everyone concerned.
Not that anyone had much to say.
The item under discussion – the proposed merger between Boston and East Lindsey district councils – had been postponed from the previous week’s agenda because Councillor Skinner declared that it required “a lot more in-depth discussion”
As it turned out this was a major miscalculation, as last night saw the whole thing done and dusted in 19 minutes – a full five minutes less than it took to discuss the dodgy equipment at Boston Crematorium – and could therefore have fitted easily into the three hours allotted for the original cabinet webinar.
The few cabinet members who spoke – as usual – praised the idea to the skies.
As before, half of them appeared only in voice form … even though they all should have council-issued taxpayer funded tablets with webcams to be used at such times as this.
The only mutterings came in the form of questions from non-cabinet, non-Tory members.
Clan Austin lodged two easily parried queries – one concerning scrutiny and the other worried that East Lindsey as a coastal resort might be a dead duck to do business with after a report in The Times newspaper suggested that coastal areas will take longer to recover from the effects of COVID-19.
A third question came from Bostonian Independent Councillor Brian Rush. It sounded confusing – which is not surprising these days – but the apparently rambling style was made worse by the leader’s delivery
Indeed, he read it as though it had only just been handed to him. – and, overall, his contribution to proceedings owed more to rolling his eyes and pulling faces than to running and smooth, coherent and professional-sounding council meeting of great significance.
Small, but significant, things cropped up in the meeting that hinted at poor attention – a passing reference to ‘LDSC’ for East Lindsey, plus mention of Lincoln County Council.
And the report – a Boston Eye exclusive that has raised comment across the county – of a Lincolnshire County Council bid to become a unitary authority combined with North and North East Lincolnshire – earned a passing reference to “events that shaped last week” … as if they might have no bearing on the relatively minor merger being proposed.
All in all, the meeting did not impress.
We had hoped that lessons might have been learned from the cabinet’s first canter on to the internet course – but sadly this was not the case.
Perhaps it’s a sign of living in isolation for so long – but the tendency to shout at the screen and the performers was irresistible … as was the question: “are these really the best people we can find to look after the affairs of Boston for us?”
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