SENTINEL: May Fair, retail, love locks, First World War



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

Be careful what you wish for. Sentinel has heard a fair few grumblings about the dear old May Fair as it rolls into town, ready to start tomorrow. Yes it may be frustrating that some shops will be shut for the duration and it may also be a hindrance to your five-minute trot through the town centre, but surely it is a tradition worth cherishing? It’s very easy to knock things – and Sentinel is no thrillseeking ride-goer – but the fair is a well-established chance for the town to let its collective hair down. For a sad lesson in the loss of tradition just look down the road. Saturday should, tradition accords, be the Spalding Flower Parade. But yet it isn’t because the floral floats have paraded through the town for the last time. Sentinel knows a good many people down there used to moan about inconvenience and lack of access to shops etc - but Spalding will surely feel a sadder place without its parade? It was an event that was failing to match the 100,000-strong crowd of the heyday but estimates varied between 20 and 40-odd thousand people descended on Spalding for an afternoon. It was debatable as to how many of those ‘spent money in the town’ etc but it seems to Sentinel that it’s better to be striving for a way to better capitalise on that crowd than simply turning them away by saying the show won’t go on. And surely that’s how we’d all feel without the May Fair? It’s something that Boston has that many other towns would love. Got to be worth clinging on to...

*And while we’re at it it’s worth sparing a thought for our church flower festivals. These events tied in with the parade and used to attract bus parties en route to the event. Several, including Sutterton, Donington and Gosberton up our way, are still soldiering on regardless. The churches put a lot of time and effort into their displays, let’s hope they don’t go the same way as the parade.

*Retail came to the fore this week. Sentinel couldn’t help but be a little worried by the suggestion that QD Stores is currently on the market. The budget chain says it is staying on but that’s not a great sign. We could really do without such a prominent shop in the town centre being empty. However it was interesting – and encouraging – to see that the council’s survey has shown there are more people shopping in town, with footfall up three per cent on last year and 14 per cent higher than in 2006-09. The trick is to make sure we are maximising those extra visitors. It does seem like the town is in a little bit of limbo at the moment. The Chamber of Commerce looks likely to emerge in Boston BID’s wake to take the lead for the business community but there will be a lot in its in-tray, not least what can be done to squeeze a few more pennies out of shoppers who are not exactly flushed with cash. Let’s hope people can rally behind this new group and put their expertise and knowledge into helping improve the town. BID, at the end, clearly lost the support of too many people and , as a result, the chamber needs a good start... and to take the council at its word and call on the support it has offered this week...

*Some people may be less than happy with the suggestion that empty shops might be better off as cafes, restaurants, bars or other ‘leisure space’. Sentinel would love to attract bookshops and music shops galore to plug the gaps on our high street - and many bargain clothes shoppers would love a Primark or similar. But times have changed and that dream doesn’t seem much like becoming a reality. We don’t seem too short of cafes and bars but, if the demand is there, then maybe it’s better than nothing to at least attract people to the town. Leisure could, of course, mean something more creative too. And what about using the space above shops? One person has suggested to Sentinel that rooms above town centre shops would make ideal small flats to help ease one part of the housing shortage - and maybe free up bigger premises for families etc. Could that work? Might well be worth a try...

*So the love locks on the bridge have caused tongues to wag. Are they a good thing or ugly? That’s a matter of taste but one thing that did upset Sentinel was the attitude of ‘it’s good for Paris maybe but not Boston’. Why shouldn’t Boston have a little bit of culture? With that defeatist attitude we’ll never get anything. Yes, the town has its numerous challenges but surely a default ‘down in the dumps’ outlook won’t help?

*Speaking of which, it’s good to see The Standard has been shortlisted for the ‘news website of the year’ at the Midlands Media Awards. The shortlist of contenders suggests it’s a tough old category but nice to see humble old Boston at least in the running eh?

*This week’s First World War tale of the trawlermen caught so early into the war that they didn’t even know it had started was new to Sentinel, and another example of the ways the conflict touched so many lives. Most families must have their own tale to tell of how it impacted on their loved ones. It’d be great to honour as many of those as humanly possible, especially now none of that generation are around to tell the tales themselves. If you want to share yours, feel free to pop an email over to stephen.stray@jpress.co.uk or andrew.brookes@jpress.co.uk - it’s easy to say ‘we will remember them’ but now, more than ever, it’s nice to show we mean it.

*It’s a shame that Coun Carol Taylor didn’t enjoy this week’s front page story. Sentinel knows some councillors get tired of what they feel are negative stories but it is worth pointing out that it really is not negative to highlight issues that people feel need addressing. It’s healthy for everyone to air and share their concerns on the town and part of our role in holding those in power to account is to put a spotlight on these views and opinions of people on such issues. If the news was always happy reading for the council then it would suggest we weren’t really doing our job. But there’s no hard feelings here towards the council and we really don’t go out to be negative. There is, after all, three pages of Pride Awards voting, a story on the council’s community awards, pictures of our church festivals, St George’s Day parade and medieval event all bringing cheer to the pages of your Standard this week, as well as reports on two impressive charity feats. Sentinel enjoys reading Carol’s blog though - it’s always entertaining and it is refreshing to see a councillor who is not afraid to have her say. And if we all agreed life would be dull wouldn’t it?

*So the ‘abduction’ fears of two children dressed as Batman and Spiderman thankfully turned out to be just the case of a dad picking up his children. Mind you - leaving the car running at the lights and nipping out to grab the pair? Either a superhuman effort of his own or a little ambitious if you ask Sentinel...

*It’s often said that it’s a small world, here’s a little bit of proof. The Standard had a message this week from someone who moved from Boston out to Ottawa in Canada. This year Ottawa set up ‘Ottawa Fury’ football team and its first ever captain is Ritchie Ryan...formerly of Boston United.




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