SENTINEL: Hamiltons, highways, Flood Aid, pay-off, libraries


Sentinel returns to take his regular look at events in Boston and beyond...

A wrap on the knuckles this week for Lincolnshire County Council’s highways department. It chose to announce details of resurfacing works for three major routes in Boston this weekend about five minutes after we went to press. In some respects you might think that’s tough luck - any maybe you’re right. We don’t have a right to be told stuff but we do feel it’s our job and duty to pass on important information to our readers. It’s not as if this sort of thing gets planned five minutes in advance - telling people ought to be a key part of the planning process. By releasing the information when they did, they missed both print titles covering Boston and thus lost the chance to tell those readers when to avoid the area if possible. You’d think, on the busy first weekend of the school holidays when many will be passing through to Skegness and Flood Aid and Heckington Show are on then the more people that know the better. Sadly the Sluice Bridge roadworks were similarly poorly handled - with The Standard first - wrongly - told to contact the Environment Agency and then only finally getting confirmation of the works just over a week in advance. Scarcely enough time for those using such a busy road to prepare. Businesses in Main Ridge also told The Standard they were disappointed with the lack of advance warning for works which hit their takings for six weeks. Clearly highways’ report card should read ‘must do better’.

*It’s interesting to see the Stump’s £2m plans for the future. Some will bemoan the need to add a ‘commercial’ edge to a place of worship but when recently walking through Peterborough Cathedral Sentinel did wonder if more could not be made of the history of Boston – and The Stump – in a similar way. Tasteful and unobtrusive information boards alongside a celebration of the building’s great assets – Sentinel shamefully knows very little about the historic libarary there – would seem more than sensible. The team in charge (well, I guess that’s actually God but you know what I mean) seem to be savvy at trying to increase the Stump’s presence in non-religious spheres. Provided it’s done properly we should all support that.

*Fingers crossed for Boston’s Flood Aid event this weekend. Sentinel’s seen some suggestion that it may rain on the second day but let’s hope it all passes off successfully. This columnist has often said that the town needs a good party to look forward to - it’d be nice if this event could fill that gap in a diary that otherwise features the May Fair, bike night and not enough else.

*Sentinel can’t help but think, in the aftermath of the libraries consultation news of last week, how those who lost their jobs must be thinking. The council’s consultation has - embarrassingly - been seen to have been flawed by a judge. Might some people now have a rather decent case for action against the council for axeing their jobs on such a premise? And what about all the other consultations run at County Hall? We have come to know in recent years that the word ‘consultation’ has been a by-word for asking for an opinion that you won’t listen to. Were any others as poorly handled as this one? Fair play to the campaigners - a dedicated band of folk with a real passion for our libraries. You still fear that this may not save libraries in the long term but they have shown that the council will not be allowed to get away with such cuts lightly.

*What to make of the Hamiltons? Neil and Christine rolled into town last week on a tour of the ‘regions’ as UKIP gets its election strategy in order for 2015. And Neil was in cheeky form - getting his claws into MP Mark Simmonds as he talked up his party’s chances of winning his seat in May. Sentinel supposes there may be a contradiction in him claiming to ‘know nothing’ about Mr Simmonds while at the same time telling him to spend ‘less time in Central Africa’. It’s clear that Neil knows plenty about Boston - so what about his own prospects? Could he stand next year? Well, he certainly wants to stand somewhere and this will certainly be a target seat for the party. Hamilton himself ‘didn’t want to set the hare running’ when quizzed by The Standard on the subject - stressing it is up to the individual party branches who they choose. Of course they may want Hamilton - political baggage notwithstanding - although that would go against Nigel Farage’s desire not to ‘parachute’ in candidates from afar of course. Sentinel still reckons they might reward a loyal local candidate - but maybe party bosses fancy a bigger name to try to take on that 12,000-plus majority Mark Simmonds has?

*Away from Boston...heard the one about the Co-op chief exec who quit 10 months into his job after a row over high pay? That’s Euan Sutherland who, for his efforts, will get a £1m pay off. That’s the equivalent of 12 months salary as a pay-off for 10 months work. Not bad if you can get it eh? It might be funny if the Co-op weren’t losing up to 6,000 employees at the same time. The icing on a particularly sour tasting cake comes in Co-op’s response. It insisted such pay-offs are ‘routine’. Isn’t that the problem?