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SENTINEL: Twitter, housing, poverty, drainage, bizarre court case

Sentinel

Sentinel

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

*Maybe it was just an unfortunate wording but Sentinel failed to be roused by the director of public health’s grand plan to lift the 2,400 children in Boston borough living in poverty out of their circumstances. Dr Tony Hill, director of public health at the county council, said: : “An action plan has identified priority areas over the next 12-18 months involving community groups, charities, district councils, children’s centres, job centres, health visitors, GP surgeries and schools. We want to support families to maximise their household income, reduce levels of debt, increase parental skills, improve educational attainment and access to employment. For example IT hubs are being located within communities for those who don’t have computers to help them access information and services.” Not exactly going to give Churchill a run for his money with that one Tony. Now, to be fair, grand speeches are probably not what we need, it’s action. But Sentinel fears this feels like ‘more of the same’ from a county council that, granted, has had its budget ruthlessly hacked at by the Government for several years now. Sentinel stands by with fork and knife ready to eat these words if proved wrong, but it’s hard not to fear that little or nothing can or will be done to help those in desperate circumstances.

*The front page story of Sandra Walden was an example, if you needed one, of the way some of Boston’s poorest citizens live. Sandra quite clearly lives in a house not suitable for her needs. It’s up to you whether you think Mayflower is right to stick to the letter of its contract and demand work is carried out before she can head to a smaller, more suitable property. However, it’s clear that that home needs to be used for a family and that Sandra needs somewhere without stairs that is more suited to her limited mobility. The family are particularly upset to be asked to look at asbestos sheds on the site of the Amber Hill home. They must have been there before Sandra moved in so why weren’t they sorted before? Rules are rules but Sentinel wonders how long a situation like this is allowed to continue when one woman is living in poor conditions and a family sits waiting for a home they need. We’re always told of the lack of housing in and around Boston - maybe those rules need to be more flexible to help make best use of what we’ve got.

*Twitter. The home of hate, bile and abuse right? Well, that’s what some would have you believe. Of course some people use and abuse the ability offered by social media by, for example, sending obscene messages to celebrities. But, this week in Boston we saw the lighter side of Twitter. Amid all the doom and gloom of the working week came cheeky accounts sending messages ‘from’ the town’s bridges. It all started with @thebostonbridge and it’s tongue-firmly-in-cheek comments ahead of the structure properly opening to pedestrians this week. Then, not to be outdone by this flashy £750k upstart, came @townbridgereal to assert its authority, followed by @sluicebridge and @haven_bridge. Sentinel’s sure some Twitterphobes think it’s a load of daft nonsense but reckons it actually offered a cheeky bit of amusement – some witty, harmless fun that proves Twitter at its best can entertain and inform. What next? The @bostonbarrier bemoaning not being built yet, the @bostonbypass also bemoaning not being built yet or even the @bostonmarketplace bemonaing not being built properly. As one bright spark also quipped, let’s hope there’s no ‘trolls’ under the Twitter bridges...

*Coun Mike Gilbert was spot on in this week’s Standard, without our drainage boards we might well resemble Somerset right now. He didn’t, of course, mean we’d all be quaffing scrumpy, but that our flooding could have been much much worse. The excellent drainage boards deserve better praise than can be articulated in this blog but we should certainly raise a glass – cider if you like! - to the work they do to keep us dry...

*A bizarre and frankly disturbing court case cropped up for The Standard’s sister title the Louth Leader this week. You may have seen/heard of the ‘man who had sex with girlfriend’s dog’ case but if not this was the chap caught out after his lady friend went through his phone and found a video of him performing ‘an act of sexual penetration’ with her Staffordshire Bull Terrier. His punishment? A four-month suspended prison sentence, suspended for two years, and being told register as a sex offender for seven years. He will also be under supervision of the Probation Service for 12 months, and will not be allowed to own or keep any animals for two years. Sentinel reckons he was pretty lucky to be honest. It’s a despicable thing to do to a poor dog. Emotion aside, would his sentence have been potentially tougher for ‘damaging’ another piece of his partner’s ‘property’? Of course in theory if the offender steps out of line again the suspended sentence should hang over him. All too often it seems these threats simply don’t work and aren’t carried out. Sentinel just feels sorry for the poor pooch, which is apparently, and understandably terrified, after the ordeal.

*The case clearly got people talking. Sentinel was told that one solicitor was overheard suggesting the culprit should be placed on the ‘rex offenders list’. Poor taste or just poor pun? You decide...

*Let’s hope the county council’s defeat in court over its bid to sue architects overthe design of Boston Grammar School’s science block doesn’t prove too costly for taxpayers. The judge was pretty damning of the council’s failure to act quick enough, not a glowing endorsement of the council. And, of course, the real losers are the school who seem unlikely to get the money needed for any work needed for the science block. It appears a costly mistake in monetary terms, let’s hope it’s not too costly in educational terms for Boston pupils.

*Interesting to note that former Boston Borough Council chief executive Mark James, now Carmarthenshire council’s chief executive, has stepped down while police investigate payments to him described as ‘unlawful’ by a spending watchdog. Mr James maintains he is ‘absolutely certain’ he has done nothing wrong. One to keep an eye one...

 

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