Council leader: I’m proud of the ‘Boston effect’


Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford pens his latest column...

As many as three million people have now seen a good news story about Boston issued by the borough council.

At the end of last week the BBC YouTube channel alone had more than two million viewings. Add to that viewings on other local and national media organisation websites and YouTube channels and many social media sites around the world and it could be close to three million. I think that may well be a record for any news item ever issued by local government.

But the really great thing is that it has shown Boston in a good light and, equally importantly, it has shown Boston’s young people in a good light.

And we are now witnessing the ‘Boston Effect’ rippling out across the country. Other copycat groups are straightening and mending damaged street furniture up and down the country.

The footage also demonstrates how good our newly-revamped CCTV system is. The young men involved in straightening out a damaged bike rack could clearly be seen, despite the images being captured by our cameras at 3am. And those involved were very quickly identified to us.

On this occasion their actions were well intentioned. Had they been up to no good I am pleased to say we would have been able to quickly apprehend them.

Those doing nothing wrong have nothing to fear. In fact they can be reassured and have confidence that the cameras are watching over them. They have been used to get aid quickly to those in need of help or at risk. But those up to no good should be warned – we have 83 cameras in all areas. They are the newest and best available and are monitored 24 hours a day, all year round.

Plans are on target to refurbish the Cattle Market and Lincoln Lane toilets, delivering on a promise we made when the Assembly Rooms were sold and the public toilets there closed.

Congratulations again to the Boston in-bloom team. They were just a single point short of a silver gilt award in this year’s Britain in Bloom East Midlands awards. All of Boston’s entries progressed, and I want to thank, in particular, all the good-hearted and green-fingered volunteers who do so much to improve the attractiveness of the town. I am sure, with their continued help, we will go up to silver gilt next year.

The borough council is rising to the challenge laid down during a recent Government minister visit in order to make a claim for more funding to help cope with an increasing population.

We are now working hard to produce evidence for Brandon Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, to demonstrate that our population has been underestimated.

Recent Census results have shown Boston to have had one of the highest percentage increases in population in the country – up by 15.8 per cent.

But we told Mr Lewis that even the new population figure of 64,600 is an underestimate.

We now need to be able to evidence the unregistered foreign nationals who used council resources.

Boston’s well-used Into Town bus service will continue to transport passengers into the town centre. But an end of funding from Lincolnshire County Council means it will now operate as a commercial venture. The good news is that for those who have had to pay there will be no increase in fares.

There is no doubt this service is much needed as it carried more than a quarter of a million passengers in the past year and, despite travelling through the pedestrianised area, has never been involved in an accident.

Before the introduction of the service in 2007/08 town services carried 98,150 passengers. From July, 2012, to June, 2013, this increased to 257,910.