Boston Borough councillor Carol Taylor took to the town with Boston’s street pastors recently.
She expected to see violence, drunkeness and trouble, but instead she was pleasantly surprised. Here, she gives her account of the evening....
On October 6 I went out with the street pastors, not only to see how they work but also to see for myself the state of decline in those affected through excess alcohol intake. I was expecting fights, arguments, drunken people everywhere giving up their stomach contents. How wrong can you be?
I met with the pastors at 10pm in the CCTV suite at the borough council offices at Municipal Buildings. The pastors that night included Mike, Steve D, Ros and, back at base, Helen and Phil.
We set out with two rucksacks containing fresh water, tissues, vomit bags and the now famous flip-flops. Together with Steve, I had a radio so that I could listen to all communications.
We walked around the town visiting pubs, wine bars and nightclubs. I was completely bowled over by the very happy atmosphere in all these establishments and also out in the town itself. Also on duty were Justin and Aaron who are employed by Boston Borough Council, as evening wardens, the police and all the doormen, located at every entrance to the pubs and nightclubs. The communication with all these people provide a very safe environment, not just for the Saturday night revellers but also for other members of the public visiting nearby restaurants or just passing through.
We have so many beautiful young women here in Boston who clearly spend hours to look absolutely lovely and finally wedge themselves into shoes with the highest heels I have ever seen!
At the beginning of the night they all walk in them very nicely and confidently but by the time 12.30am arrives, their shoes are thrown over their shoulders or their boyfriends are giving them piggy-backs to relieve the pressure on their feet. It was absolutely hilarious to see. This is a situation calling for the now famous flip-flop provision as many of the girls were walking in bare feet.
This very vital service is gratefully received, not only by the girls but by their boyfriends who don’t really want to carry them! On a serious note though, it does stop the girls from cutting their feet and also help prevent then getting too cold.
Early on in the evening one man in particular was being watched very carefully as he is known very well to the police and all the doormen as being the instigator of much trouble. It was amazing to see how all the security services were able to locate this man at any one time due to their communications with each other so that any potential trouble would be nipped in the bud… more about him later.
We continued to visit clubs and bars and it was clearly evident just how professional the doormen are, not just preventing admission to those under age, for example, but also suggesting where they could go as befitting their age. The doormen were all very kind and understanding towards the revellers, promoting a calming and safe atmosphere for all of us.
All of them have completed in-depth training to obtain their security licence and will make sure they keep it, all sharing a goal of promoting safety for the revellers as well as other members of the public - absolutely brilliant!.
The police, while present, were very much in the background but knew exactly what was going on at all times.
Gradually as the night progressed the Saturday nighters were becoming more and more relaxed and happy, with a little help from their favourite alcoholic tipple of course.
They went from bar to bar and then on to a club. Everyone was happy and talkative in what was now an amazing Saturday night atmosphere, present in most towns and cities around the country. The pastors were always on hand to help those needing a bit of help with advice and support, with the safety of these young people being the utmost priority.
I spoke at length with the doormen and also Justin and Aaron who said that although at times there was trouble, tonight’s atmosphere was the more common. It was great to see people sitting under the Five Lamps chatting happily, with the occasional couple who were clearly just in love. The Five lamps look beautiful now fully lit up and I did hear on two occasions people shouting to say they would meet at midnight under the Lamps... fabulous.
The time was moving towards 3am when it was nightclub chucking out time and it was here that I thought I would witness trouble… not so. The police appeared, seemingly from out of nowhere, but spread around to make sure that any trouble makers were dealt with appropriately.
Enter our well-known-to-the-police trouble maker who was clearly agitated. He was swiftly escorted away with absolute minimal fuss from the gathering young people getting into their taxis. He took off his shirt and was shouting and becoming aggressive, but to no avail. He gave up and went home.
The police then continued to assist with people by helping them with directions, etc, and clearly a most welcome presence by all. I spoke with an officer who said that putting the taxi rank to the other side of the square was one of the best things that has happened as it stopped so many people gathering in such a small area, when trying to buy a takeaway and while others were trying to get into a taxi. If trouble did break out, it was difficult to disperse those causing the trouble.
While out and about I put my head around the door of a pub on West Street to listen to a band called Bullet Tooth - absolutely brilliant and I forgot just for a little while that I am fast approaching 60. I felt like a 20-year-old. Only for a few minutes though!. Apparently in this pub, up and coming local groups can play free on a Tuesday and if invited back on a Friday they get paid. But if invited back for a Saturdaym they have surely made it! A great idea. The venue was buzzing and the atmosphere electric. No trouble here, just a large group of people clearly having a great time.
I am under no illusion that my night on the town was perhaps a lucky night to choose, but the presence of the street pastors, the doormen, the evening wardens and the police served only to provide a safe environment for people to let their hair down on a Saturday night while making sure that the law was upheld. All the above groups of people provide this service at weekends especially.
Perhaps one of the saddest parts of the evening was to learn from the doormen of the nightclubs that business is not so good now and what used to be crowds of people in the clubs and bars on Fridays and Saturdays has now been reduced considerably and Friday nights have a very low turn out of potential revellers. It must be those words that we hear all to often: “People just don’t have the money any more.”
I arrived home around 4am after witnessing a night of events I never expected to see. A night of very happy, fun-loving people supported by the street pastors, security doormen, evening wardens and the police.
Would I go out on the town again? Absolutely. And if I attend the pub every Saturday night for the next six months, maybe I will be 20-years-old for the whole of the night.
Thank you and congratulations to all of the above. Thank you also to all at Fen Road for the amazing clean up of the streets on Sunday morning.