SENTINEL: Post office, Mark Simmonds, council chief and more...

Sentinel
Sentinel

This week’s Sentinel column - revived last week to keep an eye on all matters Boston – looks at the post office news, whether Mark Simmonds’ Boston seat is up for grabs and more...

Sentinel can’t help feeling disappointed at the Post Office’s choice of WH Smith as a possible new location for the Wide Bargate branch. Although it means we should have a post office service on a Sunday it will mean a purpose built historic building will be left without its original purpose. And when we post our letters from now will we be offered a selection of £1 chocolates at the same time? In all seriousness either a curtailed post office space or a reduced WH Smith would be a bad for the town...

*It’s also disappointing that council chief executive Richard Harbord chose to say ‘no comment’ to accusations that he ‘flounced out’ of talks with the unions over changes to staff terms and conditions. There are two sides to every story and Sentinel believes the people who pay Mr Harbord’s £675-a-day wages deserve to hear his view, especially since he presumably doesn’t agree. Sentinel can’t help thinking Mr Harbord would head off a lot of criticism if he chose to take a cut to his considerable pay package in solidarity with the cuts apparently needed to the wage bill. How does it go? All in this together?

*This week saw the planters put up in the Market Place to mark out the open space and stop cars from parking illegally. Hopefully people won’t simply use them to park along side - or as Sentinel saw on Monday - we won’t just see vans pull up alongside the plants, blocking the whole thoroughfare. The planters could be a bright addition, but can’t be the end of the project. If you’re going to create a big open space you then need to use it properly. Only then will people be convinced fully that the loss of car parking spaces was worth the hassle...

*Is Mark Simmonds’ Boston seat really under threat? An increasingly held view after UKIP’s county council success is that the party may well topple the junior foreign office minister in 2015. But is that likely? Mark increased his majority in 2010 to 12,426 with 49.4 per cent of the vote. UKIP’s vote last time around was just 4,081 (9.5 per cent). Sentinel took a look at some of the biggest election swings in the last General Election (Ok, probably ought to get out more but stay with this...). Cannock Chase was the constituency with the biggest Labour to Conservative swing that actually resulted in a seat changing hands. That saw a 9,227 Labour majority turn into a 3,195 Tory majority. Electoral boffins – of which Sentinel isn’t – work that out as a 14 per cent swing. The highest second place vote in Boston in recent times has been 41 per cent so if Mark Simmonds’ vote was to fall to that level and UKIP got, say, 42 per cent then, by Sentinel’s maths (although may have ran out of fingers so apologies) it would have to be a 20.45 per cent swing to UKIP - ie much bigger than Cannock Chase and pretty much a record (20.83 per cent in Merthyr Tydfil from Labour to Tory since you ask!). That’s a pretty crude calaculation that doesn’t take into account the performance of the other parties (the polls suggest Labour would do a little better than last time out) which may mean the vote needed for victory doesn’t need to be so high. But, in a nutshell, and sensing you may be tired of the election geekery, all Sentinel would say is that it’d have to be an electoral earthquake for UKIP to win. And that’s before you consider that UKIP’s candidate last time has now been kicked out of the party...

*Still maybe the UKIP leadership row won’t dent their hopes too much. A recent by-election in Chapel St Leonards saw the party finish second to Labour with the Tories back in fifth, below two independents...

*It seems a former councillor was slightly peeved to see a message posted on social networking website being reported. Sentinel doesn’t really want to wade in to the dispute but would say that said former councillor might want to change their answer phone message. Singing messages? No thanks...

*Sentinel is waiting for the day when ‘Baby on Board’ signs in cars are out of fashion. But, like them or not, surely they’re designed to effectively say ‘ease off mate’ to the driver behind. That doesn’t really work when the person sporting the sign cuts you up and drives like they’re practising to take on Sebastian Vettel...

*The cat is out of the bag at last on Question Time then. Looks like the programme will be coming from Boston High School. The town and school should be rightly proud to host the show - let’s hope we get a decent panel and a good debate. Odds on Nigel Farage being on?

*What a shame that someone chose to complain about a forthright view in councillor Carol Taylor’s blog. Whether you agree with Carol or not, Sentinel thinks it is always welcome to see a councillor that is passionate and has something interesting to say. We don’t want our councillors to be cardboard cutouts. And who complained? Another member who disagreed with her views? Disgreement and debate are part of democracy - keep blogging Carol...

*It’s well worth doing our quick bit to remind businesses they’ve got until the end of the month to cast their votes to decide whether or not to get five more years of Boston BID. Sentinel hears that some businesses have had a leaflet urging them to vote no. A copy hasn’t passed by The Standard’s office so it’s hard to say how strong the ‘no’ feeling is but all we hope for is a fair, clean fight and a strong turn out.

*News is all doom and gloom eh? Well, never fear. Sentinel has heard of a cracking story of a cheeky little cat coming up in next week’s print edition of The Standard. We can always rely on animals to cheer us up right?

*What do you think? Post your thoughts below or contact the newsroom