SENTINEL: Booze ban, Elvis, HS2, emu, budget, shelfies


Sentinel returns for his weekly look at events in and around Boston...

The thorny old issue of street drinking returned to the fore this week. This time because a change in the law does now mean Boston can have the ban on boozing in public that people had hoped the current rules would be. Fans of jargon (who isn’t?) will be delighted to know that the DPPO will be replaced with a CPO. Sentinel misread that at first and thought the daft gold robot thing from Star Wars was coming to persuade tin-wielding revellers to down their drinks and move on. This writer got carried away and dreamt up the ‘May the sauce not be with you’ catchphrase to accompany the campaign. Sadly C3PO isn’t being deployed here but it will be interesting to see what the new rules will mean. We’re told they ‘can’ be used to make an outright ban IF the public calls for it. There seems a pretty strong sentiment in favour of a ban – albeit with exceptions for special events in the park etc – let’s just hope people don’t already presume the case is clear enough without their input. And if it doesn’t work? Maybe R2D2 is free?

*Lib Dems beware - Elvis-dressing ‘Lord Biro’ is out to beat you...and fancies his chances in Boston. Given the party’s pitiful performance at last year’s county council elections here then Sentinel’s pretty sure he could well do it as well. David Bishop – his slightly less glamourous real name – actually also talks about some policies that the main parties would probably think beneath them. Vets fees, dog licences, public toilets, rural buses – all issues real people do care about on a day to day basis. There is a danger of the parties continuing to drift away from the real world – helping to drive ever-lower turnouts and dissatisfaction. That TV ad that gets trotted out at every election about not being able to moan about the issues around you if you don’t vote is true...but maybe it is time for the parties to ‘lower’ themselves to address things people care about as well as the usual grandstanding. As for old Lord Biro legalising brothels with a 30 per cent cut for OAPs? Well, Sentinel knows George Osborne is supposed to have been keen to secure the elderly vote but maybe not this one eh?

*Lord Biro is one of many politicians across the country to call for the scrapping of HS2 - the shiny new controversial rail line. Recently campaigners here called for the money to instead be used for a motorway for Lincolnshire. The problem the Government has now is that everyone thinks there is a £50bn pot sitting around waiting to be spent and, in austere times, has their eyes on a Robin Hood ‘redistribution’ to their own particular cause. If it wants to plough ahead with its souped up train set it’ll have to explain why the other toys are not worth investment instead.

*Don’t you just love budget week? It’s the one time of the year where we are treated to an appearance from the otherwise-locked-away chancellor. Quite why such a charismatic man of the people should be in the public eye is a mystery isn’t it? But, credit where it’s due, he did a good job this time. He sidestepped the caravans, dodged the flying pasties and seemingly managed to steer through a set of announcements that were pretty well-received, if not relatively obviously aimed at shoreing up the core vote. Aardman Animations’ Ed Miliband stood up with the look of a man desperately trying to think of how to spell ‘annuities’ in his head while trotting out a set of sentences that bore no real resemblance to what he’d heard but did at least contain a few soundbites for the cameras. Probably not a great sign for him that a more powerful and erudite case against the budget came from Gillian Guy at the Citizens Advice Bureau. Still, the boy George must have considered it a job well done when he sat down on Wednesday night. Only he must have then choked on his nightcap at the sight of ‘that’ poster which made its way on to Twitter, claiming that the Government had helped ‘hardworking people’ with the things ‘they’ like to do. Apparently ‘they’ like bingo and beer. This patronising guff was suitably shot down in flames by all and sundry and – predictably - has spawned hundreds of parodies. Grant Shapps seems to have been blamed – probably because he looks like the sort of plonker who would do that sort of thing. An over-hyped sideshow? Possibly, but it did end the day with many feeling talked down to, re-inforcing the ‘out of touch’ toff stereotype that Cameron and co are desperate to shed. Never mind George, there’s always next year...and that’s the big pre-election one.

*Budget day is always a favourite for Sentinel when it comes to buying a national paper. The work they do – particularly The Times, Guardian, Independent and Telegraph – to get such a comprehensives roundup of what was said and how it impacts on us all is incredibly impressive. There are those who knock the ‘dead tree press’ but, frankly, that coverage in that format is unparalled.

*Crime is on the up. Well, at least one particular crime definitely. Sentinel can confidently claim that the number of emus who have resisted arrest in Lincolnshire has now risen 100 per one. One troublesome bird got into something of a flap in Coningsby this us all an ‘emusing’ tale to get our teeth into. Can you beat an angry bird on the loose story? When it ends in it being transported off in a police car then probably not. Maybe the suggestion in well-ahead-of-the-times political comedy The Thick of It of ‘pet asbos’ needs looking at?!

*So Boris Johnson probably needs a safe seat to join the Commons and Sir Peter Tapsell is standing down from the Louth and Horncastle post at the next election. Two and two together? It’d certainly spice up Lincolnshire politics to have BoJo on the doorstep...

*A slightly grim suggestion made amid the dark humour of the newsroom. What if the current trend for selfies in favour of good causes moulds into a ‘shelfie’ - a picture of ones toilet ‘offerings’ to raise aware of bowel conditions. If it happens Sentinel is coming off Facebook for a while...