COUNCIL LEADER: We have been ‘smart’ to solve the borough’s challenges

Peter Bedford
Peter Bedford

Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford outlines his views on the council’s budget and plans for a £3m marina for the town:

‘Working smarter’ is a sometimes throwaway phrase for these modern times which often doesn’t really mean an awful lot. But for Boston Borough Council working smarter is the reality which can lead to solutions to the challenges faced in these cash-straitened times.

The council has just produced another balanced budget and maintained and improved services without the need to increase council tax, frozen now for the past three years.

There has been some criticism of the council’s decision to ‘carve up’ differently for the coming financial year the cash it gives out from its community fund. The overall budget has not been cut by a single penny. But £20,000 has been moved from Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service to Boston Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

The CVS will still receive £31,000 from the borough council for 2013/14 and we remain the biggest local authority funder of the organisation which now covers South Holland, East Lindsey and South Kesteven.

This was not a decision taken lightly. It was an informed and educated decision by the responsible portfolio holders to best use funds which are not finite. They engaged in talks with the CVS and considered all the information.

The fact is that with welfare reform around the corner they considered that the CAB would be at the frontline dealing with problems which the new benefit rules will bring. However, the CVS works with voluntary groups which may be able to access grants and funding from other sources which the borough council cannot.

As an example of working smarter in this regard the council handed the Peter Paine Sports Centre over to Boston College on a 99-year lease. The college has been able to access £1 m in funding which the council could not and has transformed the centre into a first-class facility which is still available to the community.

The same is true of the handover of Garfits Lane Playing Field by the borough council to the Boston Town Area Committee (BTAC). BTAC, in effect a parish council for Boston, will be able to access grants and funding for this that the borough council cannot.

Whether we like it or not, things have changed. And things have to be done differently in the future if they are to be done at all. This includes continuing to work with our partners in the smartest ways that we can.

I am pleased to report that the council’s planning committee has approved an exciting multi-million pound marina development on agricultural land in Boston.

This scheme will mean a lot for the future economy of Boston and comes just at the right time. With the Boston Barrier scheme moving a step closer, primarily for flood defence but also as part of a bigger project to link up navigable inland waterways, the new marina will make the town an even more attractive destination for boat owners. It has already been calculated that the economic boost for Boston of the Fens Waterways Link project will be in the order of £19m a year.

The new development will include a marina basin, offices, shops, brokerage and chandlery, restaurant, workshop and boat yard/lift. There will be moorings for 161 narrow boats, yachts and cruisers.

It will attract boat owners wanting permanent moorings and short-term visiting boaters and is within walking distance of the town.

The family-style restaurant will be for both boaters and the public and will accommodate up to 80 people. The restaurant will be next to the marina and include outdoor seating. The applicants envisage that this development will provide employment for approximately 20 full-time staff and 33 part-time jobs. It will make the most of one of the town’s finest assets – the river - and be a jolly good addition to what Boston has to offer.