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SENTINEL: Mayor, Quadrant, rail, ‘Boston Banksy’, elections, national press

Sentinel

Sentinel

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

*Hats off to the outgoing Mayor of Boston Paul Kenny. There may have been those who doubted how a man so politically passionate – even his specs are Labour red – would get on with a position that is non-partisan. However his term of office was an undoubted success. His dignified, heartfelt and tireless response to December’s flood has been well-documented but Coun Kenny was the consummate professional throughout his term. He may sound like a brummy but there’s no denying his love for Boston and he can certainly look back with pride on a job well done. And now the chain is off Sentinel is sure the political gloves will be off too - there’s probably a few cabinet members who are sitting a little less easily now he’s been let loose again...

*The ‘Boston Banksy’ images cropping up around town have certainly proved a talking point. Many people might feel they should be treated as graffiti, washed off and the perpetrator(s) sought out for punihsment. Sentinel can’t help but admit that they don’t actually look that bad though. A series of quirky little Banksy-style images hidden away in our characteristic passageways might well be no bad thing. The only issue might come if they became too commonplace or if others attempted to produce ‘copycat’ images. It’d be difficult to say ‘we like the first one and that can stay but this new one is rubbish and has to go...’. The compromise solution of a ‘graffiti wall’ seems wholly unsatisfactory. The fact these images are of mysterious origin and hidden away adds to their allure - the real ‘Boston Banksy’ is surely not going to want to sit in full view in Central Park and have people gawp at him/her. Common sense should, Senitnel reckons, dictate that we should be happy to cherish these little additions to the town and be relaxed about having them and only step in if it ever becomes a problem.

*Another week and another piece on Boston in the national press. Sentinel is thinking of setting out a template for any hacks wanting to write about our town, since they all appear to follow the same format. The latest came in The Times. The template almost always involves a condescending name reflecting the Eastern European link. This time ‘Ukipshire’, following from Lincolngrad, Bostongrad and many others. Other elements for our story template: walk down West Street and describe the foreign shops, speak to a farmer who claims that the ‘foreigners do the hard work the locals won’t’, speak to an old-timer who bemoans ‘the town isn’t what it used to be’, mention the immigration protests, speak to some foreigners who ‘feel at home here now’. It’s all pretty generic. Throw in the not-really-related-to-the-piece Euro 2004 violence and your piece is almost finished. The trouble is we are being sneered at. For whatever reason and merit Boston’s population has risen massively in the past ten years. This was allowed and tolerated by the authorities who seemingly did not understand that a bigger population must have more services. Forget where the people have come from for a minute, if they were all from Spalding, Sheffield or Scotland the point would be the same. To allow a population to rise without proper care, attention and investment was negligent. We are owed some support now by the authorities to reflect that. Sadly you fear we might just get written off as ‘that place that moans about migrants’. Maybe we’ll ditch that template after all...

*The European elections. No, don’t nod off just yet. It was interesting to see what all the parties had to say but what Sentinel enjoys most is seeing how politicians get on with a word limit. They could waffle on forever and a day about their grand plans but there’s something of an art to being able to sum up your message clearly in 150 words. Of course we should all look into the policies and detail but beware the party that can’t clearly get its basic message across in a short sharp fashion, it probably means they aren’t sure themselves. And no, Sentinel isn’t thinking of anyone in particular - it’s up to you to judge how well they’ve done...

*The elections are on Thursday. Only a fool would make a prediction so, here goes. UKIP should do well again, although bosses will surely be peeved to see Chris Pain up against them for ‘An Independence From Europe’. A clunky party name that does, at least, get it to the top of the ballot paper. Sentinel has seen some pretty grim predictions for the Lib Dem vote and so, despite MEP Bill Newton-Dunn’s campaign, you’d think he might well lose his seat. UKIP should at least hold its two (albeit one held by a Tory who crossed the floor), Labour will probably keep one, it’ll probably then be a straight fight to see if UKIP can snap up a third seat or the Tories can ‘get back’ the seat that they technically won at the last election to take their tally to two. It’s worth remembering that votes depend on a massive region, so the people of Nottingham, Kettering and Boston may well all have different taste. If Nigel Farage really wants a political earthquake though you’d think he’d be wanting that third seat here. You wouldn’t bet against him getting his wish...

*The Quadrant plans are finally with us. It certainly looks like 2014 may be dominated by talk of the plans which must, as others have suggested, be the biggest lodged for at least a generation. Whether you like them or not, it is good to be thinking and talking about investment. It’s vital to get this right - the size and magnitude of it dictate that and we don’t want to be stuck looking back on ‘what if’. Of course the lure of jobs and investment may well prove too much for the council to overlook.

*It’s great to see the county’s big cheeses coming together to fight for investment in transport to the county isn’t it? But while Martin Hill and the business bigwigs might want to add their weight to a campaign to get better links between Lincoln and London it’d be nice if they also did something to fix transport within the county. You know Martin, that’s the rest of the bit you’re in charge of, the bit outside Lincoln’s many bypasses. Yes, it does exist. It’s with some irony that the strong call for better rail links came a week or so after this paper pointed out that it’s barely possible to commute from Boston to Lincoln on public transport. Any better transport for the county would be welcome, but there’s an awful lot of food manufacturing and haulage firms in this part of the county that would benefit as much from being better connected.

*What do you reckon? Have your Sentinel’s thoughts by posting a message below or emailing stephen.stray@jpress.co.uk

 

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