SENTINEL: Licensing, CCTV, tips, challenging the court



Sentinel casts his eye over events in Boston and beyond...

*Consultation has become a dirty word hasn’t it? Whenever a ‘consultation’ is launched it is normally by someone who has already made a decision and wants to pay lip service to people by pretending to ask for their views. But, Sentinel notes that the borough council did eschew that cynical stereotype with its consultation on landlord licensing. Coun Mike Gilbert wrote to The Standard in February to say of the scheme: “I think it is worth pointing out that the consultation process we are going through is an important part of the democratic process. A democratic council cares about the views of people and listens.” The consultation results came in and, to be fair to Coun Gilbert, when they showed big opposition to the scheme it was shelved. Credit where it’s due, that was a consultation that listened. However you wonder if the results of the survey may have a knock-on effect. It seems that 69 per cent of landlords say there is not an issue with anti-social behaviour in Boston. That may be fine for combatting the need for licensing but does it also impact on the need for proof for, say, a street drinking ban or extra powers for the police to tackle anti-social behaviour (which Mark Simmonds is meeting the policing minister about next week)?

*It’s important not to blow your own trumpet. That’s why it’s only in the final par of The Standard’s truancy court case this week where the issue of challenging reporting restrictions is raised. In the grand scheme of things it should always be the case in journalism that it’s the story that is important, not your account of how you got it. But it’s always a big moment for us hacks when you have to stand before the court and state your case. On this occasion The Standard had an inkling that there may be a request to impose a ‘section 39 order’ under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. These orders are designed to protect a child’s welfare. They are often used rightly and sensibly and do an important job so not to expose under-18s to attention. However the terms of the order mean that the name, address, school or any details at all that identify the child cannot be reported, making a truancy case before the court near-impossible to report in full and having the knock-on effect of giving anonymity to the parent as defendant. The Standard took a view that is important for the wider public to know about what goes on in these sorts of cases. Firstly, the police made a point last year of having a truancy ‘crackdown’ and warned parents they would face serious action. What’s the point of a ‘crackdown’ if the public don’t get to see the results? The old adage of justice must be done and seen to be done rings true here. Parents taking their children out of school for holidays are also being warned about future punishment so there’s undoubtedly a keen public interest in the issue of absence. This is not about ‘name and shame’ but also about reporting the defence of the parent and letting the public see what the court makes of what they say. Our reporter (take a bow Daniel Jaines) stepped forward and outlined the case against the order - to the apparent surprise of the magistrates - when one was brought up. We explained our case and also our pledge to provide a fair, balance and accurate account of the events of the courtroom. The magistrates considered the review, agreed to hear the case before they made a decision on the order and, thankfully, decided the order was unnecessary. Sentinel takes his hat off to the magistrates and reporter - let’s hope their good common sense allows you all to come to balanced conclusion about the merits of such cases.

*Are people in Kirton super thirsty? It seems so given that plans for a fifth off licence have been given the go ahead. Is it needed? Maybe not but then market forces will dictate whether the new shop is a success or not. It’s got to be better that the place is open and, of course, being a former car showroom the ex-DWM car site will at least have decent parking and access. This latest plan does show, however, that all that talk of the Big Society and ‘empowering’ communities to make their own decisions was nonsense. So far in Kirton residents have opposed two off licences that they did not want only to be ignored while meanwhile being told that if they want a decent library service they have to run it themselves. Sentinel is sure they feel really ‘empowered’.

*Is free or discount parking a ‘goer’ in Boston? Not according to an at-least refreshingly honest Coun Derek Richmond. The council needs its £1.1m car park income and anything that eats into that is off limits. Does it matter? Well, Sentinel is aware of one friend who this very week wanted to come into Boston for lunch with a colleague but did not have enough change on her so popped to a pub on the outskirts of town instead, where paying to park was not an issue. It can’t be the only case. If we are going to insist on charging then why not look into machines where you can pay by card to at least make it more convenient? It might not be viable for very small amounts but pretty much every shopping centre you go to doesn’t require you to fidget about in your pockets desperate for the extra 10p you need to afford to leave your car there. It needs to be as cheap and as easy as possible to come to Boston to shop surely?

*It could be rather embarrassing for someone if the council’s CCTV footage is able to conclusively show who scratched Coun Helen Staples’ car don’t you think? The old ‘honesty is the best policy’ adage might need to be wheeled out...

*As you may have guessed there are plenty of items on the ‘things that annoy Sentinel’ list. This week a friend of Sentinel (there are some...!) mentioned how they were in a restaurant in Boston and when the bill came, the waiter (who happened to be the manager) whisked away the cash and just presumed the change was a tip. Admirably the friend and their party stood firm and waited for the cheeky swine to return. The cheesed off group, of course, then left no tip. In fact, the only tip here is not to be so presumptious...

*Also on the list. People who sit on tables for four in coffee shops when they’re on their own. Infuriating.

*Currently in the Boston office - the mascot outfits for Boskat, Salty the Seal and Gruff the Dragon for our Boston, Skegness and Sleaford papers. The question is what to do with them? A fight? A race? A charity challenge? Endless Instagrams? Suggestions to Sentinel gladly accepted...




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