Letter: Opposition concerns over council budget

Boston Labour Councillors were busy last weekend looking at the proposals for this year’s Boston Borough Council budget. We believe that it is important to look at the key services we need in the future, however, every service should be under review. Interestingly, the Tory council has focused on the following three issues: property services, CCTV and car parking.

We are very supportive of the council maximising the use of its existing buildings and would welcome a proper use for the old bed centre which is now the Haven Gallery, and moving the library would give it a more permanent use. We also welcome maximisation of the Municipal Buildings in West Street, but it does not address the ongoing saga with the Assembly Rooms which has been blighted with a booking issue pending its sale.

We are very sceptical of the council’s proposals regarding Boston CCTV scheme. One of the favourite proposals at the present time is to move the CCTV room out of Boston completely. How would operatives in another location understand the layout of Boston, or how would they have the specialist knowledge that you would need to be a CCTV operator covering Boston? And how can councillors be expected to vote on this proposal when they haven’t been given all the options to date?

We are not convinced that the administration at West Street have understood the complex issues regarding parking, as parking is seen as the key to the success of most towns. In a recent report by Mary Portas, one of her recommendations was that - local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres.

It is also doubtful that they understand the full implications for ‘blue badge holders’. In other parts of the country free parking is available for people with severe mobility problems. Those who receive the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance/War Pensioners Mobility Supplement also receive a free tax disc for their vehicles because of the greater medical problems they have with mobility. This tax disc carries the word ‘DISABLED’ on it and the fee section shows ‘0:00’, so it is easily recognised. We suggested that Boston Borough Council could adopt the same scheme with regard to parking which seems to operate well along the majority of the south coast of England when it comes to parking for disabled people. This is very simple to use for both the disabled person and the council’s own traffic wardens - IF the blue badge holder/driver is in receipt of a ‘FREE’ tax disc then they don’t pay to park - ALL others DO pay. Disappointingly they chose not to take up this option. We don’t believe that they fully understood the recent case rulings in Lincoln and Norwich where disabled drivers successfully won their cases against the councils and forced them to change their decisions.

We would certainly urge disabled drivers who are unhappy with these decisions, to challenge the council if they intend to continue with these dogmatic views on parking charges.

Some of the things that are not high priority in this year’s budget include – new brown wheelie bins and new refuse lorries that are badly needed. However, we are disappointed that they want to charge an extra £150 for burial charges. We support the increase of £100 to cover essential upgrading costs, but we do not feel able to support the proposed further rise of £50, which we believe is just about making a profit from burying the dead.

We have previously questioned the need to pay £35,000 per year for someone to come in and oversee more cuts in the council, when we already have experienced people being employed by the council to manage and oversee the budgets.

Overall, we are disappointed with the way that the Conservative group have handled the parking issues. We feel they should have properly consulted with disabled people before they put their proposals forward. At this stage it is very unlikely that Boston Labour councillors will be supporting them with this year’s budget. We would urge members of the public to attend the meeting at West Street on 1st March at 6.30pm if they feel strongly about any of these issues.

Boston Labour councillors