‘Most murderous and least integrated’ comments by Boston vicar were ‘serious point highlighting work to promote integration’ says diocese

HRH Princess Anne speaks to Alyson Buxton during her visit at the end of last year.
HRH Princess Anne speaks to Alyson Buxton during her visit at the end of last year.

The Diocese of Lincoln has said comments made to Princess Anne’s office by the Rector of Boston, the Rev Alyson Buxton, which said Boston was the ‘most murderous and least integrated’ were a ‘serious point’ which emphasised the need to ‘promote integration’.

The comments came to light from an FOI request by Boston resident Andrew Hoyle, who was trying to find out more about plans for Boston Stump, which last year received £160,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop its Passion for People project to promote the town’s history. The hope is to apply for an extra £1.2million funding by the end of this year and raise £2.2million for the project as a whole.

By securing the patronage of the Princess Royal, the Rector has been able to continue the work already begun, and maintain the profile necessary to make this work a success for the benefit of Boston.

Diocese of Lincoln spokesman

In a number of emails sent to the Heritage Lottery Fund last February, Mrs Buxton reels off a list of successes for the church including securing £155k towards match funding, the Lego Stump project, becoming an Arts Organisation and other funding developments.

She then sends a second email celebrating Princess Anne’s renewed patronage saying: “Sorry, I also forgot to say that, after some to-andfroing to the Palace, HRH the Princess Royal has also agreed to be The Restoration Trusts patron for another 5 years: – this is almost unprecedented. (But I did say we were the most murderous and least integrated in the UK and needed her gravitas – aka latest news stats.)”

Mr Hoyle said he had made the request following ‘various rumours that the Stump is to be turned into an arts venue’.

He said: “When I saw the comment about murderous Boston I was absolutely staggered that such an insensitive remark should have been made by a senior community leader.

“It shows a contempt for the people of Boston and damages the town’s reputation.

“By making this comment Alyson Buxton has talked down the people of Boston to two of the country’s most important institutions – The Royal Family and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The Parish of Boston is supposed to be supporting the Boston visitor economy, not wreaking it.

However, the Diocese of Lincoln has defended the Team Rector of Boston and said she was ‘making a serious point’ by highlighting the ‘negative media attention’.

A spokesman said: “Clearly the Team Rector of Boston was making a serious point when pointing to the fact that Boston had already received much negative media attention for some appalling social statistics.

“By quoting directly from reports from The Independent (January 2016) and the Policy Exchange (January 2016), the Rector was clearly emphasising the urgency of the task taken on by the Parish of Boston to help transform the town through a huge amount of good work actively to promote integration, as has been frequently evidenced in the press and on national television.

“The correspondence between HRH Princess Royal’s office and the Rector of Boston is private. However, there is a long association between the Princess Royal and Boston, and a good understanding of the issues facing the town and the parish is vitally important.

“By securing the patronage of the Princess Royal, the Rector has been able to continue the work already begun, and maintain the profile necessary to make this work a success for the benefit of Boston.”

The Diocese pointed to the ‘extremely hard work’ Mrs Buxton had put in to ‘celebrate and serve their local community’.

They said: “Their vision for the parish is ‘A Passion for the Possible’, and just this week they have launched ‘Boston Connected: Community Table’.”

“Thanks to this project there is to be an open invitation for people to gather for a free lunchtime meal each Tuesday in February, encouraging the formation of new friendships and sharing together.

“Also this month, Mrs Buxton was quoted with regard to community integration in the Church Times, saying that the ‘sacred space of our buildings is to be truly the sacred space for all’.

The spokesman added: “This emphasis lies at the heart of continued efforts in the parish to celebrate the beauty and glory of their surroundings, sharing this with others, and also going out and loving and serving their local community.”