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Ask The Cabinet round 2

Boston Borough Council's executive members were on air again on Monday night to answer questions set by residents who attended the second Ask The Cabinet event.

Questions and answers were screened live via the council's website and the variety ranged from the Boston flood barrier to litter picking.

Mr Paul Kenny received an assurance from council leader, Cllr Peter Bedford, that the barrier to be built in the Haven was to be located in the best position for flood protection, and the only position to allow for future water level management. This is an aspirational project to allow the tidal water level in the river through town to be held artificially high to improve its attractiveness and help riverside regeneration and improve navigation, but needed to be studied further.

Cllr Bedford made it clear that the first priority for the scheme was flood protection and urged no delay in order that work could begin next year and be complete in 2019.

He said water level management had not been forgotten about.

He said a tidal lock was never a part of any worked-up scheme, it was dropped from early discussions because river users said it wouldn't work and detailed studies showed no economic benefit. The barrier would allow for a bigger scheme of water level management which might require a lock in the future, but much more detailed work on that needed to be done.

He said this was not a reason on which to base any public inquiry.

Cllr Kenny questioned the regularity of publication of the council's Boston Bulletin Daily residents' newsletter, and its political impartiality.

Cllr Bedford said it fell outside Government rules on publication timings because it did not meet the definition of publications covered. People choose to receive the information, there is no commercial advertising, no fee is levied and cost of production is minimal. He said all offers of material for publication would be accepted from any party so long as statements were not political and were aimed at informing the public.

Mr Joe Nash asked why the council continued to support the Princess Royal Sports Arena, taking revenue from the Geoff Moulder complex which has developed its disability facilities.

Cllr Aaron Spencer, portfolio holder for finance, said the two centres were in different geographical locations, appealing to people living on either side of town and offered different facilities and were complementary to one another.

He said the council was investing in the PRSA in order to save money, by installation of efficient biomass boilers for instance, and to provide a better level of service for the people of Boston. But he said there would be significant reductions in investment in the future.

Cllr Paul Skinner, portfolio holder for the town centre, responded to a question by Mr Nash about disabled access to buses at the town bus station. Cllr Skinner said the revamped bus station had been designed in consultation with the Boston Disability Forum, which agreed ramps for disabled access were not absolutely necessary at every point and new rules will oblige bus operators to provide ramps for disabled passengers.

Mrs Sue Bell and Mr Dennis Bell both posed questions about progress on the Quadrant housing, commercial and football stadium development scheme at Wyberton, especially adherence to planning conditions.

Cllr Bedford said the conditions, such as provision of community-use leisure and sport and health and education facilities were more than a promise; they were legally binding and there was no suggestion that anything would be waived.

He said highways works in connection with the project were due to begin at the end of February or the beginning of March.

Mr Rodney Bowles was not present but his tabled question about more powers for litter wardens was answered by Cllr Michael Brookes, portfolio holder for waste services. He said he knew the tidiness of the town meant a great deal to Mr Bowles who volunteered as a litter champion and worked in other volunteer capacities to help improve appearances.

Cllr Brookes said the council was not in a financial position to be able to afford to take on additional litter wardens. He outlined the 362-days-a-year cleaning regime practised by the council staff but said it was a "never-ending battle". In addition the council's environmental crime team spends time each week to educate people and campaigns were in place to combat dog fouling. Police, PCSOs and some council staff have the necessary authority to serve fixed penalty notices on littering offenders. He said other staff, in town as part of their normal duties, such as car park enforcement officers, could have powers to serve fixed penalty notices for littering.

He gave the example of some parishes where litter collectors had asked for powers to serve fixed penalty notices and suggested this may be possible and could be something adopted also by the Boston Town Area Committee. Street cleaning and enforcement is being examined by the council's Prosperous Boston task and finish group, and Cllr Brookes said he would pass Mr Bowles' comments on.

Questions from the floor included one about changes of use at commercial premises and sales of alcohol. Further investigations will be made to provide answers to the specific cases raised.

A suggestion that "ammunition" could have been sought from Lincolnshire County Council highways to raise objections to off-licence applications met with the response from Cllr Stephen Woodliffe, the council's portfolio holder for licensing and community safety, that it would not be appropriate for the council to try to manipulate the law, and such action could prove costly to the public purse if challenged in the courts.

Watch the full Ask The Cabinet session yourself at