LETTER: Responding to critics over finances

Opinion
Opinion

Sir, I hope I will be allowed, as the target for recent criticism in the letters pages, to respond and set matters straight.

Former councillor Richard Lenton, the ex-Boston Bypass Party’s finance portfolio holder, gave an ‘insight into where money goes’.

This is something I am still trying to unravel myself after the last administration’s term of office left a £1 million short-fall, repeatedly and unnecessarily overspent, closed the training pool and still could not afford to replace the long-overdue refuse lorry fleet. It also virtually placed Boston Borough Council into Government Intervention (bankruptcy!). We have:

l Run Boston Borough Council like a business since May 2011, with savings of £2 million;

l Benefited the public by not increasing council tax bills for the past three years;

l Despite a 25 per cent reduction in Government grants, all front-line services have been maintained, improved and new public services provided;

l Re-opened the training pool and have turned the Geoff Moulder Leisure Centre around from a reported £900,000 drain on public finances under the BBI (according to Richard Lenton) into an almost cost-neutral leisure centre with a waiting list;

l Boston Borough Council’s staff costs have been greatly reduced through careful negotiation and also not replacing unwarranted senior positions;

l PRSA’s wasted finances and haemorrhaging has been reduced under this administration and will shortly be cost neutral;

l We are committed to improving Boston’s car parking, investing £117,000;

l Improved and refurbished the Market Place in conjunction with Lincolnshire County Council at a cost of £2.5 million which has now shown an increased foot-fall helping local Boston businesses during a time of economic difficulties;

l Met public demand and introduced a kerbside garden waste collection service;

l We are one of the first councils in the UK to achieve Public Sector Network (PSN) Accreditation;

l We have gained accreditation to the Members’ Councillor Development Charter;

l For the first time ever we were accredited with the Charter of Excellence in customer service;

l We were voted the country’s top council winning national awards for its excellence in scrutiny (transparency, inclusiveness and accountability);

l Financed a new refuse vehicle fleet through service efficiency savings;

l Achieved our highest ever local collection rate for Business Rates;

l We have a new and improved performance management framework;

l Revenue and Benefits processing times have been slashed and are now better than the national average;

l New Boston Borough Council interactive website with high-tech help-lines;

l High levels of assurance from internal and external audit bodies;

l Accreditations from auditors for providing good Value for Money;

l Gained significantly lower insurance premiums;

l Implemented a local Council Tax Support scheme.

I am surprised that an ex-BBI finance portfolio holder who when in office had such marginal input and insight as to where the money went, now has an astounding ability to comment on ‘where the money goes’, something which would have been more helpful and constructive for the Boston taxpayer, during his time in office.

Coun Raymond Singleton-McGuire

Finance portfolio holder, Boston Borough Council