SENTINEL: Flooding, A&E, legal highs, UKIP


Sentinel returns – after a flood-affected week – to cast an eye over all matters Boston...

Well, what can you say about the flood? Sentinel was certainly caught by surprise at the severity of the events of last week. Is that really anyone’s fault or is it a- because the tidal surge was even higher than expected and b- because we live in a world of weather warnings (there’s one every day in the Daily Express if you’re that way inclined) and so become a little numb to these sorts of things? Whatever it was it certainly goes to show these sorts of events aren’t ‘the sort of thing you see on the telly’. We’ve just got to hope that this much talked about tidal barrier is actually all it’s cracked up to be. The politicians are laying all of their eggs in that particular basket at the moment so lets just hope it is the right basket. And that between now and when it is finished in 2019 (if on time) we don’t suffer the same combination of high winds, tidal surge and high tides again...

*There are 15 pages on the flood in this week’s paper but it definitely isn’t the end of the story. Sentinel understands that questions are being asked about the questions readers have raised about sandbags, flood sirens and the response. It is without doubt that the individuals involved in the recovery have done a cracking job but, after something like this, lessons can always be learned just in case we do suffer again. Maybe it’d be nice if we could bottle a bit of that Boston spirit too?

*Speaking of those 15 pages...the paper’s hat must go off to the unsung heroes that helped that coverage hit the newsstands. With the newsroom flooded and everything within it a complete wreck the team did what it could but relied on some big favours to keep running. Firstly, the paper was able to operate froma desk at Thomas Campbell Estate Agents thanks to the kind offer of director Harry Drury. The paper also called upon the editor of the Market Rasen Mail and Horncastle News Paul Fisher to help upload pictures of Friday’s recovery to the website. Then there’s the army of volunteers who, unannounced, rolled into The Standard’s offices and cleared enough of the mess so that the editorial team could decamp upstairs. Many of said army didn’t waste time on introductions so go unnamed but were expertly marshalled by the tireless Carol Taylor. Sentinel wants to know where she finds her energy! Credit must also go to designers Duncan Jackson and Richard Hampson for putting together the content onto the pages as well as web guru Richard Kendall who helped keep the flow of videos going on Friday. Sentinel raises a glass of something suitably strong to the unsung bunch.

*It was interesting to note how the national media tackled last Thursday night’s flood. As the Haven burst its banks Boston – and the other flood-affected areas – became the centre of attention of the rolling news channels, with Standard editor Stephen Stray even finding himself on Sky News, live from the evacuation centre. but the moment it became apparent that Nelson Mandela had died the plug was pulled and the attention virtually solely on that story. Now Sentinel is not about to argue Mandela’s death wasn’t an important story but the extent to which we didn’t even get a look in was surprising. The TV crews came back in abundance a couple of days later but you do wonder if the flood had been in London or the south east if it’d have been a different story...quite literally.

*Speaking of Mandela, it seemed something of a Twitter gaffe of our MP Mark Simmonds to tweet about his death before mentioning the floods affecting his constituency. Sentinel appreciates Mark has a foreign office role but maybe a few social media lessons are in order? In fact some of the tweets surely don’t come from Mark since the other week his account managed to tweet at the same time as Sentinel watched him live on BBC Parliament talking about Gibraltar. He didn’t have his phone in hand while speaking (pretty sure the speaker would have something to say about that!). Still, Mark has now been selected to stand again in Boston in 2015 and it’ll take some effort to topple his strong majority. Sentinel can’t see the election being decided on Twitter prowess...

*While we’re on politics it is worth mentioning Victoria Ayling and THAT Mail on Sunday front page. Her statement in reaction to the racism claims certainly pulls no punches and it’s probably fair to say it’s going to be a bit of a scrap in this neck of the woods politically over the next few years. If the Ayling case is anything to go by it could be a fairly bloody scrap too...

*...meanwhile the breakaway group continue to try to stay in UKIP. You’d have to think that both sides want them to stay really it’s just a question of whether that particular hatchet can be buried by the parties around the table. Surely the party would quite like its ‘official opposition’ status at the county council though?

*One pre-flood story that is a bit of a worry for Boston is the plans for an A&E shakeup in the county. The Clinical Commissioning Group (yep, another daft name for jargon fans out there) met to look at major overhaul that could mean just one A&E for the whole of Lincolnshire as opposed to the three that currently exist. The meeting also led us to believe that they are ‘yet to work out the detail’ of this plan. Either this is a pretty stupid overhaul and they haven’t bothered to think about important details for the consequences of their proposals or the public are not fully in the picture. Either way it’s not good enough. Could we really cope with just one A&E which would, lets face it, inevitably be more likely to be in Lincoln than anywhere else? People already travel pretty large distances to get to the Pilgrim any extra sounda pretty dangerous gamble with people’s lives. Sentinel agrees with whoever it was at the meeting who asked for the changes to be spelled out in plain English. Stop talking nonsense and be honest with us, And be prepared for a battle - we won’t be letting our hospital services slide away without attention.

*The police are keen to act on so called ‘legal highs’. One way they are trying to combat the dangers of such substances is through awareness leaflets. Sentinel notes it didn’t work in one case, however, where said leaflet had been rolled up and smoked outside the library! Cheeky or a statement of defiance? You decide.

*The Assembly Rooms finally opens tonight - it’ll be interested to see how it has been transformed. Many people are still miffed about the sale and the loss of the public toilets, but we shouldn’t let that judge the view of the venue. Let’s hope it’s decent and worthy of a town landmark.

*Sentinel still keeps hearing rumours of a possible BID recount...maybe it’s too early to consign it to the history books just yet?

*Just one final thought - hats off to the lads from 50 Sniffs. Their Christmas song has brought a smile to some faces after a pretty traumatic few days. Let’s hope they get plenty of downloads, especially since the cash will go to flood victims.