SENTINEL: Referendum, Weight Watchers, marathon, illegal cigarettes, US history


The Standard’s Sentinel columnist casts his eye over events in and around Boston...

*The people have spoken. Or have they? Yesterday’s Quadrant referendum came out as a resounding ‘no’. The turnout was pitiful - 18.76 per cent - leaving many to suggest that it is hardly representative of the whole of Wyberton. And what about those around Slippery Gowt etc? They’re nearer than many of the residents of Wyberton but couldn’t take part. The trouble is you’re never going to please anybody. The count was, be assured, handled in a professional way by the same sort of team that handles all other elections in the borough. It’s understandable that the referendum is only open to those within the actual parish - the trouble is there’s a blurred line on the Boston/Wyberton border. Sentinel supposes those discounted could still have their own say by responding to the planning application direct but it weas clearly frustrating and confusing.

*And what of the result? There are those who say that the turnout - or lack thereof - means the result should be discounted and the parish council can come up with their own view on the Quadrant. But where do you draw the line? What was the turnout for the election for each of the parish councillors and district councillors serving Wyberton? More than the referendum maybe, but not that much more. There’s also two ways to read the turnout. Either those who didn’t vote are in favour so don’t feel moved to head to the polling station and protest - or they simply did not care enough either way. They might be ‘sort of in favour’ but worried about the traffic or ‘sort of against’ but like the idea of new jobs. It might be said that it is easier to win this sort of vote - and rally the troops - if you are the ‘anti’ crew. Indeed the Quadrant developer Chestnut Homes’ own survey showed people in favour. So what to believe? Well, Sentinel thinks it would now be hard for the parish council to now back the Quadrant. Why have a referendum and discount it? Yes, the caveats should be in place for the turnout but it is worse democracy to discount a vote that you don’t like the result of.

*That, of course, doesn’t mean ‘no’ to The Quadrant. In fact, does anyone think that the council will turn down the money and jobs - as well as the long future of Boston United - it brings? Sentinel’s no betting man but certainly wouldn’t be parting with pounds on that...

*Was the Quadrant referendum ever in doubt? Well campaigner Sue Bell had prepared two speeches - one for yes and one for no - so presumably was hedging her bets a little...

*Speaking of Sue. Sentinel understands she was outside the parish hall with her horse box dishing out sausage rolls to the troops. An army marches on it’s stomach eh? Brigadier Sue has certainly won a battle, if not yet the war. Maybe if she loses her campaign the horse box could be a quirky refreshment van for the football fans? Sentinel’s not sure she’d like the suggestion.

*NHS-funded Weight Watchers classes seem to have proved popular in Boston as the borough aims to shake its poor image when it comes to health. There’s a common reaction to this story to say ‘they should pay themselves’ and, specifically, ‘i’ve had to pay for my Weight Watchers, why shouldn’t these people?’. As someone who has been on Weight Watchers in the past, and not NHS funded, Sentinel can sympathise a little with that view, but does disagree. The health benefits surrounding weight loss are great and, in a utilitarian way, can save cash for the NHS by preventing further problems down the line that are expensive to treat and manage. No-one should be ashamed of going on Weight Watchers or indeed getting help from the NHS to kick-start that. 12 weeks probably isn’t enough in total but it is a useful helping hand to overcome that all-important hurdle of starting out on a regime. If it works then it is £46.23 well spent. If you don’t agree with this spend then where else do you take the argument? No support for smokers who get lung conditions? No help for people who break bones with foolish accidents around the house? Both of these might be arguable ‘less worthy’ but the moment we bring worthiness into the NHS is the moment we kill its spirit. If Weight Watchers is helping - and the example in this week’s paper shows that it certainly does for some - then long may it continue.

*There was yet another case of a shop found to be selling illegal cigarettes in Boston reported this week. Sentinel can’t help thinking there are tougher sanctions needed for those found doing so. The impact on families can be devastating - as seen by a recent example in this paper - the punishments need to be tough enough to send a big message that they aren’t worth even attempting to sell.

*Regular Sentinel readers (are there any?) will have already seen the frustration of the attitude of those in charge of the Seabank Marathon. The organisers’ petty attitude dictates that they don’t bother to pass on the details to this paper. Apparently because The Standard had the audacity to help keep the marathon alive when it looked like folding we don’t now deserve the time of day. It’s pathetic and just serves to undermine the wonderful efforts everyone taking part puts in for a fantastic cause. So please, go along at 9am to the Assembly Rooms on Sunday, take part and raise cash in spite, rather than because, of those at the helm. It’s not about their egos, it’s about the cause.

*Sentinel was interested to read the renewed efforts to make more of the links between Boston and its link to US history. This is so often said but seems to have proved a tough nut to crack. Let’s hope Brian Rawsthorne can have some joy.