SENTINEL: Question Time, BID, off-licences and balance

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This week’s Sentinel column looks at last night’s Question Time, the BID result and more...

*Sentinel watched last night’s Question Time with keen interest. It certainly seemed that the rest of the panel (well maybe except Benjamin Zephaniah), had come with a plan to take on show regular Nigel Farage. The UKIP leader didn’t necessarily get as much support from the crowd as you may expect given his party’s county council success here, although he’ll probably take it as a compliment that the others were gunning for him. It all made for a pretty feisty debate on the impact of immigration. It is just a shame that the final two questions didn’t really catch fire. Sentinel understands the burkha question was bumped up the pecking order during the show - with the audience expecting a question on education. Maybe that would’ve got things going more? Question Time is always at its most sluggish when the debate centres on something where there is an ‘accepted view’ by the mainstream parties. The standard line on the burkha is ‘people should be allowed to wear what they want - but there should be exceptions under certain circumstances’ and that’s pretty much all we heard. And e-mail snooping? The spooks are welcome to some of the tripe press releases that land in Sentinel’s inbox...

*Sentinel will let you make your own mind up who won the political arguments on the show but when it comes to points for the arrivals the winner was Benjamin Zephaniah. While the others were ushered in by hangers on the poet strolled in casually with a broad smile and big wave to those outside. Like him or not, he’s too cool for school...although not Boston High School, which deserves plenty of praise for its excellent hosting of the event. A real feather in its cap. Nigel Farage’s arrival? Fashionably late and in a vehicle sporting UKIP car flags.

*Sentinel understands David Dimbleby impressed the audience too. The just-turned-75-year-old oozed charisma and enthusiasm for his show. Some may tire of having to explain the same rules to the crowd each week – but not Dimbleby. He was also said to be superb with the students earlier in the day. And what about that tie? Sentinel was a big fan...although probably couldn’t afford one!

*It’s amazing how much the action on Question Time polarises people. Nigel Farage was anything from a raving racist to the messiah depending on who you believe. But what could people agree on? Well, Anna Soubry a- wants to be Margaret Thatcher and b- looks like Jennifer Saunders. And that’s about it. Oh and Vicky Pryce will have to put up with a lot of jokes about speeding points if she wants to be in the public eye. And the format didn’t allow for enough spotlight to be shone on Nigel Farage’s trousers...

*What a shame, given the interest in the show, that the PR people promoting it were so poor. Sentinel notes they were hugely reluctant to confirm to The Standard that the show was even coming to Boston and have been as useful as the proverbial chocolate teapot since. A PR person who never answers the phone? An interesting concept. Not even a sniff of a pre-promotional photo and the requests for a photo on the night were, Sentinel understands, not answered until about five minutes before it could be taken. Other media had the same grumbles. Come on Beeb, sort it out. The local press love the show and only want to help promote it to our readers and your viewers.

*Last week’s BID result came as something of a shock in the town. Sentinel supposes we shouldn’t really be surprised by Bostonians’ capacity to deliver a bloody nose at the ballot box. In recent times we’ve had the bypass party both in and out on landslides, UKIP’s county council success and now this. Russell Brand take note, it is worth voting...

*There’s an interesting trend in this neck of the woods regarding BIDs. Spalding rejected one and Sleaford, like Boston, said no to a second term. Maybe that mandatory levy is just too devisive to make it work here? No-one doubts the need for businesses to come together and try to improve the town. The smart money is on a Chamber of Commerce group...that is unless the people counting really couldn’t handle 239 votes and the promised recount reverses last week’s anouncement!

*Sentinel does note though that Nottingham has a BID and has just employed someone to do what our town rangers were employed for. It’ll be interesting to see if they are missed on the streets.

*Localism and the Big Society...remember them? Sentinel notes its one thing telling people you want them to have a say in their community and another passing two unpopular off-licences this week. You can’t blame the council for not wanting to waste taxpayers’ money on a fight it knows it won’t win but maybe both of those stories are examples of why those grand national promises are yet to bear any real fruit. Market forces must dictate that these businesses can be set up so maybe it will always be a case of ‘money talks’...

*What upset Coun Peter Bedford? Sentinel understands he make a cheeky jibe about the lack of ‘balance’ in last week’s paper at the end of this week’s 12-minute cabinet meeting. Despite another look, Sentinel couldn’t find anything too negative about the council in last week’s paper which, in fact, featured a column penned by, you’ve guessed it, a young chap by the name of Peter Bedford! Maybe he was annoyed by his own words? Still, Sentinel understands it was all good natured, and Coun Bedford did raise a smile when reminded that the paper probably isn’t doing its job if he’s entirely happy.

*Good luck to Boston Town’s new boss Nathan Collins. After 22 goals conceded in the past three games he probably will need it but those in the know reckon there’s plenty of talent to fire them up towards mid table.

*What do you think? Post your thoughts below or check out the ‘contact us’ section to get in touch with the team at The Standard.