2017: We had some victories
by Cllr Michael Cooper, Leader, Boston Borough Council
It is always surprising, when you look back over 12 months, to see how much has happened. We quickly move on to deal with the next important matter and past victories can quickly fade from the memory.
I want to start at the end of 2017 and not the beginning. The year drew to a close with two major items of good news for Boston.
No prizes for guessing correctly that one was the announcement that the long-awaited £100 million Boston Barrier flood protection scheme was given final approval by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Readers can be forgiven for thinking they've heard this all before - it has been a subject of discussion for a long time. But this achievement should not be underestimated. It is the culmination of years of intensive lobbying by the council at the highest levels of Government.
This announcement really was a great Christmas present for Boston and all who live and do business here under the constant threat of flood. This is a truly massive investment in Boston, and a truly massive investment in confidence in Boston as a place to live, do business and grow families and businesses. Work starts in January and the Barrier will give us the best protection from flooding outside London and is a huge green light for growth and the future prosperity of Boston.
The other big news was that we had been successful in a bid to the Government's Migration Impact Fund. Thanks to the hard work put in by volunteers and partners, elected members and officers, Boston borough is to receive £1,387,503.
This will be used for a programme of projects aimed at bringing people together through sport, events and community assets, extending the availability of advice services, tackling rogue landlords and anti-social behaviour, strengthening community leadership and whole community volunteering opportunity and supporting the development of English language skills.
These are all reflective of the main concerns people have been expressing about the impact on Boston of rapid population change.
It has been pleasing to witness business growth in the past 12 months. Our success at growing our own and encouraging new businesses to start up here and existing businesses to relocate here will be essential as we move towards the end of Government financial support and into a new era of dependence on revenue to pay for essential services raised through business rates.
A revised management structure has taken into account the requirement to focus on economic development and regeneration and there have already been some early successes, brining in extra business rates revenue for the borough, including:
- Duckworths Landrover and Jaguar car showroom at Kirton Distribution Park;
- Howard Tenens warehousing and distribution extension;
- Pilgrim Foods extension;
- County Hall Apartment Hotel;
- Boston Bowls Battle Centre;
- Lidl, Westbridge Centre;
- Co-operative Group Wyberton;
- Sportsbikeshop extension, Kirton Distribution Park;
- Trade Windows manufacturing warehouse, Kirton Distribution Park;
- Lincolnshire Co-op Swineshead;
- UK Capacity Reserve electricity storage infrastructure.
We have had the culmination of a council task group's work to help maximise Boston's prosperity and new initiatives to ensure markets and events are well run and are developed to maximise income opportunities. And a new bid to welcome more through the www.visitbostonuk.com website
It was another good year of the community coming together for all the right reasons. Once again the Big Boston Clean-up was held, marking its tenth anniversary and this year supporting the Great British Spring Clean campaign.
Councils continue to be pressed for cash, with austerity measures still bearing down on us all. The council continues to balance its budget and is actively pursuing its transformation programme to find new ways of saving money and working more efficiently. So it is timely that I congratulate all those willing volunteers who turn out for Boston's Big Clean-up - now a local institution - to do their bit. The schools clean-up also goes from strength to strength.
I want to also praise all the volunteers who turn out all the year round to do their bit to keep the borough clean and tidy.
Once again in 2017 we claimed a gold in-bloom medal - Boston's third. I hope you agree that the efforts of all those involved in this year-round campaign really show. In my eyes the town is cleaner, tidier and generally a nicer place to be thanks to the efforts of all those involved in Boston In Bloom.
Please don't be persuaded from what you may, from time to time, see on social media. A photograph of a lone drinks can or crisp packet abandoned in a gutter does not indicate streets knee deep in litter. There is an ongoing battle with litter of all descriptions which may never be truly won while some in society continue to refuse to use the many litter bins we have provided. But Boston is no worse, and better than some.
In fact, we have been leaders in the field - first to introduce street drinking controls, first to use anti-social behaviour legislation to deal with persistent offenders, first to use new laws to deal with those who won't clean up after their dogs. We have also formed a partnership with a third party environmental enforcement agency to deal with littering at no additional cost to council tax payers.
They have been particularly successful this year in helping reduce incidents of deliberately dropped litter, discarded cigarette ends and spitting in the street.
With all that in mind can I wish all readers a merry Christmas and a happy and PROSPEROUS new year.