Wednesday, 5 May 2021


 

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Thursday, 15 April 2021


So now we know.
After all the hints and speculations and promises of a new look Lincolnshire County Council from Friday 7th May, the runners and riders are ready to race.
But before you rush to place your bet, look carefully – some of the steeds are pretty well knackered – there’s a few old nags in there … as well as an ass or two posing as a thoroughbred. 

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There will also be a by-election for the vacant Worst Street seat in Skirbeck ward and a contest for a Police and Crime Commissioner for the coming four years.

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It’s hard not to contain our indifference, as we had hoped for something – let’s say a little more exciting.
Having said that, the conflation of some contestants’ aspirations in some wards could point to an interesting, if not surprising outcome.

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To begin with let’s see who wants to keep the jobs they have held with so little effect in the outgoing county administration. 

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It’s mostly a round-up of “the usual suspects” as Captain Renault said in the movie ‘Casablanca” – with one exception.
Former Worst Street leader and councillor for the borough’s Five Villages ward Aaron Spencer is not seeking re-election for the county’s Boston North ward which he won four years ago.
By many accounts, he has been an all but absentee landlord at county level, so we expect little regret to be voiced at his decision.

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Otherwise, all the current councillors are hoping to work their old magic and make sure that their seat is re-occupied after 6th May’s round of political musical chairs.

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All told, thirty-one candidates are standing for the six seats that cover Boston – out of a total of 70 across the county as a whole.
The Conservatives, Labour and Independents have candidates in all six seats; “For the People not the Party” are contesting five, the Liberal Democrats, two and five other candidates are standing who give no political clue as to what they represent.

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Looking at the local contests ward by ward and in alphabetical order, we start with – 

Boston Coastal Division.

There are just three candidates vying for this seat – the outgoing councillor Paul Skinner, who’s also leader at Worst Street, Dale Broughton, standing as an Independent, and Carole Monkman for the Labour Party.
In 2017, Mr Skinner’s share of the voters was 44% and he won with a majority of 784 from the 2853 votes cast.

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Boston North

… will be busier – with six candidates.
They are: Benjamin Cook for Labour, Boston mayor Anton Dani taking the former Aaron Spencer party slot for the Tories, Neill Hastie standing as an Independent, Matthew Nicholson, who doesn’t name any political affiliation, Jason Stevenson for the Liberal democrats and Richard Thornally “For the People not the Party” – which appears to be the operating moniker for the Blue Revolution group set up locally in 2017. 
At the last county council election, Aaron Spencer polled 35% of the votes cast and won with a majority of 229.

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Boston Rural

…. has three contenders.
Outgoing councillor Mike Brookes, who has represented the ward since 2009, Tristan Gilbert “For the People etc, etc, etc…” and Tony Howard – who lives in Mablethorpe – representing Labour.

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On now to …

Boston South Division

… and another ward with half a dozen candidates.
Outgoing independent councillor Alison Austin is fighting to retain the seat that she has held since 2013.
She is being challenged by Tracey Abbott for the Conservatives – Mrs Abbott is a Boston borough councillor and portfolio holder.
Another Worst Street councillor – Alan Bell, representing Labour – is also looking for a move to the county league.
Also entering the fray are former Boston borough and county councillors Sue Ransome, standing as an independent and Mike Gilbert – “For the People, etc” a one-time Boston portfolio holder and founder of the Blue Revolution party, and independent Peter Watson.
The result here could be interesting,  as back in 2017 Mrs Austin's challengers were all from established political parties.
This time, she faces a horde of other independents, who may well have the effect of splitting her vote.
Last time she had a 42% share and a majority of 262.


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Next up is …

Boston West Division

… again with six candidates.
For the Tories, Paula Ashleigh-Morris – Councillor Paula Cooper  last time around – is seeking to retain the seat. Worst Street councillor Paul Goodale is standing for Labour with Ralph Pryce for the Lib Dems, Gavin Lee “For the People …” and another Worst Street councillor, Stephen Woodliffe, is an independent candidate.
Completing the set is Tiggs Keywood Wainwright – a one-time borough and county councillor – who  is seeking election on an unspecified ticket.
In 2017 the then Paula Cooper polled 36% of the votes and had a 263 vote majority.

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Last and by no means least – because it has more candidates – is Skirbeck  (for some strange reason not given the prefix Boston as all the others have) where seven wannabes will be slugging it out.
Seeking to keep the seat for the Tories is Martin Griggs – who is also a borough councillor and portfolio holder.
Then we have Jackie Barton for Labour, Chris Moore “For the People …”, and Worst Street councillor Anne Dorian.
As well as being the ward with the most contenders, Skirbeck also has more candidates who haven’t taken a political stance – instead leaving the space for their description blank.
They are: Christopher Cardwell, Harley Cook and Licia Pinto.
At the last county elections, Martin Griggs had a 295 majority and a 40% share of the vote.

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So, there you have it – a who’s who of candidates.
Impressed? 
No, nor were we.

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What we see here is a bunch of less than sparkling sitting tenants want to avoid evection if they possible can; joined by a cluster of Worst Street councillors of varied political persuasions, a litter of also rans, and others who are clearly no-hopers.

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In the run-up to the elections, we are seeing some token campaigning on our local social media pages.
Some candidates seem to think that filling a plastic sack with litter will see them elected – but we are sure that representing Boston at county level requires a bit more than that.
We have also seen some quite unsavoury sniping compared with previous contests – we would call it smudging rather than smearing – and we hope that it’s not a sign of the shape of things to come as the battle hots up

***

There are just two other elections left to mention.
The first is for the Skirbeck Ward at Worst Street, which has five people seeking election.
The same candidates are standing for Labour and the “For the People…” mob, along with the politically-unspecified Christopher Cardwell whilst the new entries are independent Dale Broughton – who is also seeking a county role in Boston Coastal Division, and Tory Katie Chalmers.

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And – last but by all means least – we have an election for the pointless but nonetheless expensive post of Lincolnshire Crime and Police Commissioner. 
The post has been held since 2016 by Conservative Marc Jones – who won an extra year in office due to the pandemic.
Also standing are Rosanne Kirk (Labour), David Williams (Lincolnshire Independents), Ross Pepper (Liberal Democrats), and Peter Escreet (Reform Party).
We’ve said it before, and we’re happy to repeat ourselves, that we do not think that responsibility for a police force should be a political one.
It will be interesting to see what happens this time, as an extra candidate has entered the fray, and in 2016 the political line up was a bit different.
Then, the candidates challenging Mr Jones were from UKIP, Labour and the Lincolnshire Independents.
As the clock ticks inexorably down, we also note a pledge by Mr Jones to create a new £250,000 anti-fly-tipping fund to support local councils and communities to tackle and prevent illegal dumping of waste.
Perhaps he also thinks that victory resides in the grubby world of littering!


***

Here ends the Boston Eye epistle to the voters.
Whatever you might think about the candidates and their qualities – or otherwise – it really is a duty to vote.
And if you don’t, then it’s no good blaming those who are elected if they don’t pass muster.

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Polling stations open at 7am and close at 10pm on Thursday 6th May – that’s three weeks today – covid precautions are in place, and you can also vote by post if you apply before 20th April.

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com  
E– mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com 
We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston 



 

Thursday, 17 September 2020


 

It looks as though Boston’s bid for up to £25 million of government money to give the town a much-needed boost may fall by the wayside.

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Last week’s cabinet meeting received an 11th hour report by Tim Leader, Worst Street’s Deputy Chief Executive for strategy, which included a one-minute-to-midnight plea to agree a deal with Boston College that was said to be the only thing that could give Boston a chance of laying hands on the cash using the PE21 Project as bait.

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PE21 was authorised in 2017, and a “masterplan” produced early in 2018.
COVID19 caused it to stall, and Mr Leader’s report said that critical design work, technical and viability studies have not been carried out.

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“If it is to deliver what was promised, pace and resources need to be injected, the concept needs to be validated by the market (or developed, so far as is possible, to ensure that it does “stack up”) and partners fully engaged.
“The project must also be managed professionally and be subject to rigorous performance management.
“First and foremost, the technical studies which need to be carried out to support the Towns Fund bid will need to be procured under the council’s urgency arrangements.
“Other work needs to be commissioned quickly. Progress needs to be made.
“Otherwise, there is a real risk that the energy which has been generated will dissipate and threaten any prospect of delivery in the short term or at all.

***

Whilst that report listed on the agenda as “to follow” for some while – arrived in time for the meeting, the real make-your-mind-up-stuff was saved for the night itself.

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Mr Leader said that the PE21 scheme hinged critically on a couple of flagship projects.
One was called the Mayflower Centre, to be developed by Boston College ... a “showcase” for the college, a “fantastic” piece of architecture, a “fantastic” educational facility and a “gateway” to PE21.

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“It sits on the site of the Geoff Moulder Centre; we have known this for a very long time.”
That very afternoon, the meeting heard, he met the college principal, some of her officers and architects, and she looked him in the eye and said: “I am about to spend tens of thousands of pounds into working up a notion into something concrete and I need the council to give me the confidence that if I press the button you’re going to allow me to do what you indicated in the past and allow me to take the site and do something fantastic with it.”

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Apparently, this fantastic idea involves razing the Moulder to the ground.
But have no fear.
A new leisure centre will be combined with the existing doctors’ surgery and car park in yet another “fantastic “notion.

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Both projects would be able to draw on Town Fund monies, and “frankly, if these two projects do not come off, it will be very difficult to put forward a credible Towns Fund bid, and frankly that would be a tragedy for the town.

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“So, having been put on the spot by the Principal of Boston College today I would invite you to consider this  – whether you are content for us to indicate firmly ... but not with finality ... that we are prepared to enter into firm negotiations for an agreement to lease and a lease for the Geoff Moulder site so that she can instruct her architects to spend a lot of money to produce for you a flagship development for PE21 Town Fund bid.”

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So that’s what the cabinet did.

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And after months of apparent inertia we were set to race hell-for-leather down the final straight and breast the finishing tape just in time to meet the government deadline.

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Never mind that we have had an age to do this, and that other local authorities have finished their bids and even invited the minister involved to visit them an discuss things.

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But ...
And in Boston there’s always a but ...

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Regular readers will recall the reaction after the Worst Street/Manby merger was railroaded thorough with little or no consultation of the non-ruling party members.

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Boston Eye understands that opposition  councillors have now asked for the decision regarding the Moulder to be “called in” – put on hold until it can be properly scrutinised.

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The request provoked a gritty response from Mr Leader, who made the outcome clear in no uncertain terms.
He warned that a call-in would prevent the submission of Boston’s Town Investment Plan at the end of October – which he said would destroy the council’s reputation with government, and create a significant risk that if the submission was delayed, fewer funds will remain in the Town Fund for Boston to claim.

***
As a sop for agreement, he pledged that he and other officers would immediately support a thorough scrutiny of the decision and, if requested, the progress of the Town Fund more generally in the near future.

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We have to admit to mystification at the mention of the Moulder site being a “gateway” to the 10-acre PE21 site.
According to the plans published by Worst Street, the site is clearly defined – and almost mirrors that of the ill-fated Merchants Quay development which crashed and burned more than ten years ago.


What it does not include – or go anywhere near – is the Moulder Leisure Centre.



Boston College has only recently done a deal for an £8 million-plus “public sector hub” with East Lindsey District Council

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And whilst we have no doubt that the Mayflower Centre,  would be a “showcase” for the college, a “fantastic” piece of architecture, and a “fantastic” educational facility ... a  “gateway” to PE21" it would not be.

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What Boston needs is a showcase for Boston. 
Nothing else will really do.

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Sadly, all of this – last week’s meeting and this week’s opposition reaction – was lost in the fallout from former cabinet member Councillor David Brown’s attendance at the virtual meeting whilst driving a lorry.


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But his subsequent resignation and other events have produced ripples for the beleaguered Conservative group – the most significant of which is that they seem to have lost control of the council.

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The cabinet is now back to seven members from eight, with Councillor Brown’s former duties shared among the rump. We wonder if the promised ninth – err, sorry eighth – extra member will now materialise, as Leader Paul Skinner must surely be running out of options.

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And to make matters worse, another former cabinet member, Martin Howard, who resigned his post a couple of months ago and said he would stand down entirely when a by-election can be held next May, has quit the Tories and joined the independent Independents rather than the Bostonian lot.

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This means that the political line-up is now: Conservatives – 14; Independents – 7; Bostonian Independents – 5; Labour – 2; and “Unaligned” – 2.



  

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com
E– mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston

Friday, 21 August 2020

Questions have been asked about the way that Boston Borough Council is handling its bid for up to £25 million in government funding under the Town Deal Investment Plan in the wake of a bid for accelerated funding of £750,000 to kick-start some of the projects.

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They come from a reader who is In The Know, has considerable knowledge of how all this works – and who feels that the public is being kept in the dark.

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He also believes that one bid – to evaluate the PE21 Project announced a year ago this month and apparently in hibernation ever since – may well be nothing more than a face-saving exercise to justify killing the project off.

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He told Boston Eye: “I read in the Boston bulletin that there’d been a full council meeting and that they were seeking this three quarters of a million pounds worth of accelerated project funding.
“That sounds like very good news for Boston, which is what we all want to hear.
“But I was quite intrigued as to how the projects had been chosen, so I looked at the full council report of 10th August, and the report said that the offer was made on 1st July with a deadline of 14th August to respond.
“Surely between those dates there’s ample time to call a Zoom meeting of the Town Deal Board and to have a proper discussion about which projects should be selected towards the £¾ million bit.

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“And that just didn’t seem to have happened, because reading further into the report,  it says at one point ‘there is an expectation that the council will consult or engage fully with the board of the Boston Town Deal in identifying the projects’ – and then it goes on to say that basically on 7th July the board was asked what their thoughts were  … and so there was no request for a Zoom board meeting.
“And, of course, we don’t know what members of the Town Deal Board actually responded because that’s not covered within the report.
“We then jump to the conclusion that we’ve now told the Town Board these are the six projects that are going forward.

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“Interestingly the most recent public meeting of the Town Deal Board was back on 29th February, but there are still no minutes published from that meeting.
“I also understand that there have been general calls for expressions of interest from anyone who thought that they had a worthwhile project to submit it to the board for consideration as part of the forthcoming bid for £25 million with a closing date of 13th March.
“But as far as I can see, there hasn’t been any publication of the expressions of interest that have been received.

***

“So, we don’t know how many there are; we don’t even know whether these six projects that have now been selected for the £¾ million actually formed any of the expressions of interest with the deadline of 13th March.
It’s not exactly transparent, is it?

***


The bids put forward to the council were for: The Haven High Academy 3G Pitch Development Project totalling £120,000, Boston College’s Digital, Transport and Logistics Academy – £182,976, Boston Town Heritage Projects – £277,700; Experience Boston: Travel, Trade and Influence – £80,000, PE21 Feasibility Funding – £50K, and The Sanctuary, Restore Church – £200,000 towards an inclusive community hub that will focus on supporting homeless and vulnerable people in the broadest sense
By our reckoning, this comes to £910,000 and a bit against a ceiling of £750.000.


***

Worst Street acknowledges this and says: “These projects will now be submitted to Government to ascertain their suitability for the accelerated funding.
“Whilst not all the projects will be able to access the funding, as their funding request exceeds the £750,000 allocation, there is still potential for those that miss out to be included in the Town Investment Plan which will submitted later this year.”
(This appears to say that some of them are not, which we thought would exclude them from the accelerated grant application -Ed).

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Our reader has views on some of these projects.
Of the 3g pitch, he says – “to be honest, they are self-funding, and really don’t need public sector funding for a school to get into this.
“And I also don’t see how hits the three strands that you have to meet for the town deal funding in the first place.
“That was a surprise one to me.

***

“Some of these are quite chunky amounts of money.
“In the council report, the football pitch, for example, is seeking £120,000 – but that is only really to top up the Football Foundation funding which is the main source of funding.

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“The Boston College project is £183,000, but I don’t think that I’d come across that before.
“But of course, in the public domain, we don’t know what bids or expressions of interest were received – as members of the public, we have never been told.
“We don’t know whether there were six of them; we don’t know whether there were 60 of them.”

***

He also has issues with the Restore church project.
“There is no mention of how that works with things like the night shelter at Centenary Methodist Church on Red Lion Street how it taps in to the Centrepoint Outreach facility – are they duplicating, are they working in partnership?
“We don’t know.”

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So – how does he think this should have been done?

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“For the £¾ million, my view is that they had plenty of time from 1st July to contact the chairman of the Town Deal Board, convene a meeting and should have looked at all the expressions that had been received.
“By this stage one would have thought they knew how many there were because the closing date was  March, and they also ought to have some idea as to how they ranked them in order of priority so they actually fit with getting a chance of the £25 million   and the criteria attached to it..

***

“So, they could have then said: ‘We think these are the top ‘x’ number’ – because as I say, we don’t know, so therefore, as we’ve got a chance of £¾ million  and we think that these ones are actually deliverable and we can start getting them off the ground, the town board should have been making that recommendation or that approval  of the projects that they wanted – but this has been flipped on its head to me,  where the borough council have  decided.
“… call them their pet projects … PE21; working very closely with the college.
“But are these the right projects in comparison with the others?
“Maybe somebody, somewhere, has decided what to take forward for the £¾ million.
“Surely, if it’s part of the town deal overall picture it should be the Town Deal Board that is having a greater influence rather than it just sitting at the borough council and the Town Deal Board being told ‘this is what we’re doing’”.

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“And this is my point:
“Who is the decision-maker?
“Who is the accountable body – because I don’t see that the two are necessarily the same?

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He said that although the councillors ultimately approved it … “The chances are that they had a couple of days at best to read it along with all the other things that have been put under their noses 
“It looks fantastic on the face of it, and I’m not saying that they are necessarily the wrong projects.
“What I’m talking about is the process to get there.”

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And he has an interesting point of view on the inclusion of funding to “evaluate” the apparently sleeping PE21 Project.

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“The PE21 project is a reincarnation of a project from the mid-1990s called the Modus Project.
The developer was Modus from Manchester, and they were into massive lending from the Irish banks, so when we had the financial crash, that scheme got put to one side.

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“This is really a resurrection of that – but when you read the report, it doesn’t mention the element of retail that is in there, nor the best type.
“It went out over a year ago and there was a feasibility report and a masterplan issued by the borough council which has basically sat gathering dust until now.
“So, it’s a year out of date, and in fact when you read the five elements of PE21, each and every one of those makes no economic sense whatsoever.

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“Some won’t, because you may be talking about NHS facilities, and there is also talk about a leisure facility.
“Is that to replace the Geoff Moulder leisure centre?
“But where will all the money be coming from other than through PE21?

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“One of the other elements was quite a lot of retail space within PE21 – but you can understand now, post-COVID, Marks and Spencer’s and Oldrids and the amount of retail space that we’ve got in the town centre … why on earth would you start building more off West Street?
“And the hotel.
“There’s no end user for it.
“Nobody wants it and again, financially, nobody in their right mind would ever see that getting off the ground.

***

“So, they’re going to spend £50,000 on a PE21 feasibility study – and I just wonder whether they’re almost looking for a way to say ‘you know what, this is dead in the water’.
“They possibly are looking for a way out, because they built it up, then it’s all gone very quiet.
“It didn’t gain that amount of public support in the first place with things like the relocation of the bus station – it takes the bus station potentially down to the railway station, so further out of town and loss of car parking.

***

“If there was a closing date of 13th March, what’s happened to all those expressions of interest?  Have they all just been thrown away because they’re concentrating on these six now?
“And have there been even any board meetings that are not in the public domain – because, surely there would have had been the usual public notice that the board was meeting … even if the first item was to exclude the public because of it being a confidential item.

***

“I just wonder whether there had been a further meeting that was a confidential meeting that maybe gave a bit of priority to all the expressions of interest but it’s still not in the public domain
“I accept that maybe some of these projects are commercially sensitive – but you can give it a one-liner so that people see the sort of magnitude or the lack of expressions of interest that have come forward.
“But there’s nothing.
“It’s just silence.

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“Contrast that with the Skegness and Mablethorpe Town Deal – they met on 27th January, 6th March, 20th May, 29th May and the 3rd June.
“You go on their website and all the minutes are there.
“Boston has a strategic partnership, so surely they should be aligning themselves to work in a very similar way.
“East Lindsey has been seeking public consultation on bids going forward and holding public Zoom meetings where you can join in the debate … what a contrast.”



You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com
E– mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

We are on Twitter – visit @eye_boston




Monday, 17 August 2020

So, what do we make of the new cabinet?

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Will it rise phoenix-like from the ashes of its predecessor …? 




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Or will it cast the leader in the role of Wile E Coyote and blow up in his face?


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Time will tell – but the fact is that the cabinet has now increased in size from six to eight members, with leader Councillor Paul Skinner hinting that another new cabinet position was “likely” to be created in September.

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So, who are the new brooms that will be giving Boston a much-needed clean sweeping?

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Let’s do this back to front, and tell you first what hasn’t changed.

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The leader is still the leader – with the Herculean task at the top of his list that of “Performance and Improvement”
The deputy – Councillor Nigel Welton (who actually seems to have been leader in all but name for some while) remains the deputy.
Councillor David Brown remains in charge of tourism, arts and culture – which peculiarly includes allotments as part of the brief.
Councillor Martin Griggs stays with housing – which once included allotments – and Councillor Yvonne Stevens continues with the portfolio for rubbish and death.

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So, who’s new?

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Enter Councillor Jonathan Noble – a one-time UKIPper who even stood for parliament for the party in Louth in 2017.
He takes on finance – one of the most important portfolios – from Councillor Martin Howard … and will doubtless find that 27 years as a history teacher followed by teaching the guitar between writing music, poetry, plays and short stories will stand him in good stead for overseeing a multi-million-pound budget.

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Interestingly, at the “extraordinary” council meeting which saw Councillor Skinner’s leadership challenged, Mr Noble was nominated by Councillor Stevens for leader in the event that the meeting’s choice – Councillor Stephen Woodliffe, failed to get elected … which of course, he did.
Pay attention, please – we’ll be asking questions afterwards.

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Next among the newbies is Councillor Tracey Abbott, who takes on the town centre portfolio previously held by Councillor Chelcei Sharman.

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Finally – and perhaps appropriately – a new cabinet role covering heritage has been given to  a member who almost counts as part of the borough’s heritage after so many years as a councillor … Richard Austin.

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So – will the new-look cabinet be Chippendale or IKEA?

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A number of things about it strike us as interesting.
The membership has risen from six to eight – with the hint that a ninth post will be announced next month.
If  that happens it will cost taxpayer an extra £16,830 in special responsibility allowances.

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We can take an educated guess at what the ninth  job might involve, since we understand that Councillor Peter Bedford – who told last week’s extraordinary council meeting that he had declined the deputy leadership – is also believed to have been offered a role dealing with the proposed Government reorganisation that would presumably come with the creation of unitary authorities.

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Whatever the job – we might soon have a situation where the odd man out at Worst Street will be the one who isn’t a member of the cabinet!

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Raising cabinet numbers to eight sees 26% of the 30 members in a commanding post – and adding one more next month will bring this to 30%
At last week’s meeting, Councillor Paul Goodale stayed awake long enough to express the wish that Worst Street would ditch the cabinet system in favour of the old committee structure.
At this rate his wish may be granted sooner than he thinks!

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Looking behind the job descriptions, we have to ask how the new cabinet members might get along.

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New member Jonathan Noble ought certainly to work well with Councillor Yvonne Stevens ... another former UKIPper.
Not only did she nominate him for leader last week, but we understand that she also circulated his name ahead of the meeting as means to allow Leader Skinner and Deputy Welton “to stand down with as much dignity as possible”.

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Oops – they’re still standing up – moreover, they haven’t budged an inch from the cabinet posts they held previously.
To us, it’s more of a surprise that Councillor Stevens remains in the cabinet.
But there you go.

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Councillor Tracey Abbott becomes the second consecutive town centre portfolio holder not to represent a town centre ward which – whilst it doesn’t make the job impossible – certainly must make the learning curve steeper.

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And a fellow cabinet member – David Brown ... another Kipper turned Tory – is the man she beat by four votes in Wyberton Ward 15 months ago, leaving him in political isolation until a by-election at the end of last year saw him make a comeback in Kirton and Frampton.
We seem to recall that he was more than a little miffed soon after he lost Wyberton in May 2019 when Independent Councillor Abbott subsequently announced her alliance with the Tories
So, can he forgive and forget?

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And now we come to councillor Richard Austin.
Leader Paul Skinner has reportedly said that Councillor Austin’s move had been planned prior to last week’s meeting but COVID-19 had delayed the changes.

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As he doesn’t mention dates, we have to stick with our thought that this appointment has the tang of a deal about it.

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It was only a month ago that Councillor Austin was stirring things up with the circulation of a letter signed by all non-Conservative councillors declaring: “We will not support any alliance without first having adequate time to analyse the proposals in depth.”
He was referring, of course to the alliance with East Lindsey District Council – which was a fait accompli even then … and is now meeting to plan a way forward.
Talk of launching a judicial review to challenge the way the alliance was created without much consultation with councillors at large turned out to be so much hot air.

***

Then – voila – Councillor Austin appears as a member of the cabinet.

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Heritage has always found a place on the portfolio list in the past, without the need to make it a specific brief.
And normally, portfolio roles cover a number of areas.
Paul Skinner has eleven, Nigel Welton nine, Jonathan Noble eight, David Brown eight, Yvonne Stevens seven, Tracey Abbott BTAC liaison plus four, and Martin Griggs covers eight areas
But Councillor Austin only has “heritage and conservation” – two words where really one will do.

***

But it puts him in the cabinet, and if you’re in the cabinet then you really have to go along with the leadership.
We are reminded of the impolite expression that says it’s better to have someone inside the tent pi**ing out than outside the tent pi**ing in.

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But Councillor Skinner shares none of our concerns.
His official line is: “I have been very lucky to have a vigorous and inspiring cabinet since becoming leader and the change of portfolios is intended to clarify roles as we come out of lockdown and into the recovery phase of the coronavirus crisis.
“We are a motivated council who deliver to all of our residents and I want to make sure that we continue to do this in an appropriate manner.
“I would like to welcome our three new members on board who will all bring their own special skills to their cabinet areas.
“This is a strong cabinet and we will deliver for our borough.”

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Clearly a Chippendale rather an IKEA man!

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Finally, our last blog struck a chord with former Councillor Carol Taylor – who quit the Tory group soon after her election in 2011 to become Independent – in the days when the name meant what it said.
She e-mailed Boston Eye from her new home in Cornwall to say: “I still keep in touch with what is happening in Boston. This is through my family who live there but also through your blog.
“I was a hopeless political councillor, but when I became an Independent, I worked so very hard to achieve many things with the people of Witham ward.
“When I decided to leave the Conservative group, some of them were so very, very cruel.
“I am saddened to see that some current councillors are suffering the vitriolic rants of their peers.
“During my time as an Independent, I wanted to be chair of one of the scrutiny committees, and I was convinced that I had a really good chance of getting this.
“I spoke to several other councillors who were more than happy to support my nomination.
“The night before the meeting, I received a phone call from a councillor to say that he was so sorry but I wouldn't be getting his vote because he had been offered a chairman’s position in the future.
“Another councillor, whom I had tea with the day before, assured me that I had their vote.
“The next day when the meeting started, this councillor came into the room and didn't acknowledge me at all.
“When it came to the voting......yes, you've guessed it, I didn't get their vote after all. 
“As it happened, the chair went to the best choice – but it was the sheer cruelty of other councillors which made it so hard for me to handle.
“It is very disappointing when councillors are offered sweeteners just to feed the egos of those in ‘higher office’
However, whilst they are self-adulating, the ones who accept these are worse than them, that they choose to take what they see as a better offer rather than go with their so-called strong beliefs and opinions and what is in the best interest of those who voted for them.
“Thank you for mentioning the ‘Maverick Incident’.  It’s good to see that my film is out later this year!
“Finally, I would like to appeal to all councillors to stop voicing your anger, spitefulness, disrespect for each other and ultimately betraying your constituents on social media. Use your qualities to serve the people of Boston,
“I'm sure you will find it very rewarding.”



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