SENTINEL: Pathetic Ministry of Justice, Big Local concerns, school madness


The Standard’s Sentinel columnist takes a weekly look at events in and around Boston...

Another week and another pathetic display from the Ministry of Justice. Despite being asked twice by The Standard they decided not to bother issuing a public apology for the case of Nicky Suddons. This was the notorious rapist who found his way to North Sea Camp open prison. Suddons, who was thought to have an ‘extremely high risk of reoffending’ when found guilty of his offence, was able to contruct a ‘rape kit’ and carry out an attack on a woman in a park while out on day release. The offence he committed bore resemblance to one of the ones he was found guilty of originally. Sentinel, as stated previously, has absolutely no problem with the idea of an open prison, and thinks they play an important role in getting people ready for the real world again after time behind bars. But how was Suddons – one of a growing number of sex offenders at the prison - deemed suitable? And, even if he was risk assessed properly, should there not now be an acceptance that that process totally and utterly failed. Sentinel is not one for hyperbole but let’s not forget this was a man who could well have been out and about on day release in Boston. This was a person unsuitable for open prison, wrongly deemed free for day release work and not closely monitored enough while on his work placement. Three abject failures from the authorities. People in this town were at unneccesary risk from the ineptitude of the Ministry of Justice and they don’t deem that worthy of an apology. That’s, frankly, a disgrace and shameful. They haven’t even bothered to say whether they will apologise to the poor victim. She’s been left traumatised by the incident and you can’t help but feel so sorry for her given her horrific ordeal. For her sake – and all of ours sakes – this must never happen again. It is, sadly, a struggle to trust those responsible to ensure that it won’t. Sentinel only hopes the Ministry of Justice, justice secretary Chris Grayling and prison minister Jeremy Wright haven’t been so poor in their dealings with that woman as with the wider public.

*What a worry the Boston Big Local now is. This is the project to spend £1 million of Lottery money on giving a positive lift for the whole town. Only what should be a bright spot is now a major concern. As previously mentioned in this column the paid for ‘facilitator’ Rachel Lauberts has resigned and today her resignation letter has been revealed. In it she describes how she has been ‘met with obstruction and dismissal’ in her time. The whole thing throws real questions over whether the group can ensure the money is spent in a positive way. It’s a huge opportunity and needs to be grasped. Let’s hope someone can offer some clear assurances that the Big Local can get back on track, and quickly. Big Local representative Ivan Annibal seems to want to park the problem until after Easter given that he wasn’t keen to talk to The Standard today. It would have been interesting to see what he has reaction was to the clear and serious criticism raised in the letter. Oh well, enjoy your hot cross buns Ivan...see you on Monday.

*Is anyone else a little disturbed by the way primary school places are handed out these days? Sentinel has read several accounts of parents desperately sitting by their computers and logging on at midnight to find out if they little treasures are getting into their first choice school. Some parents seem to have worried themselves sick about this choice. You can’t blame anyone for wanting the best for their child but is this healthy? And how will they feel when they grow up and its ‘university place day’? Sentinel can’t help feeling that the system has created unneccesary stress. Yes, parents should be able to make a choice but surely everyone should be safe in the knowledge that the school round the corner would be a decent place to nurture their child? Instead the system imbues a sense of paranoia that puts schools and parents on edge. The Government should concentrate on helping every school do the best it can and stop scaring parents into treating their child’s school place like a car insurance policy. Next they’ll be handing out meerkats once you’ve made your choice. Barmy.

*It almost goes without saying that the Boston Stump burglary was sad to see. Sentinel thinks it is even more frustrating to think that the raiders caused £1,200 of damage while probably making off with about £30 or so. Let’s hope they pause and reflect on the fact that the money they took was often the change paid in by grieving relatives who were somberly stopping by their memorial candles.

*A warning from the Government should the borough council ever decide to expand its news empire into print. The council currently sends out a daily bulletin of news. Thankfully not the grand pseudo-newspapers produced - at taxpayers expense - by some town halls. New government guidelines aim to restrict these printed ‘pravdas’ to four publications a year and those who defy that have been warned by local government minister Eric Pickles: “It is scandalous that bloggers have been handcuffed for tweeting from council meetings, whilst propaganda on the rates drives the free press out of business. Only Putin would be proud of a record like that. Localism needs robust and independent scrutiny by the press and public, and municipal state-produced newspapers suppress that.” The borough council here has, credit where its due, allowed tweeting and filming from meetings recently and has shown to be ahead of the likes of Stamford and Louth where councillors have made laughable comments about restricting press access.

*It’s now seven days since MP Mark Simmonds was asked for his views on the campaign against library cuts in Lincolnshire. Campaigners went to Downing Street last week and invited all MPs to meet them. Mr Simmonds was unavailable but did send an assistant to meet the and discuss their views. We asked for what he thinks on the library campaign but, a week later, we have heard nothing. We appreciate he’s busy but still...

*Good luck to Boston United. It’s easy to sneer at football but a good, successful team does the town good and puts a few much-needed smiles on faces. Football these days is the master of the well-worn cliche but it really is true that this weekend is ‘make or break’ for the Pilgrims. The action starts with a trip to Leamington tomorrow and then is followed up by the visit of North Ferriby United to York Street on Monday. United sit three points outside the all-important play-off places but have a better goal difference than their immediate rivals. Monday’s game should be a real test, with their opponents sitting in second place before the weekend’s action but, given the free-scoring football Dennis Greene’s men have played this season, the Pilgrims will be hoping for a bumper Bank Holiday crowd to roar the side on. Sentinel’s looking forward to a footballing summer with the Brazil world cup and what better way to start it off than a bit of success on our doorstep. Fingers crossed.