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Half million pound boost for Boston tourism?

Promotion of Boston borough as a visitor destination could receive a near half million pound boost.

For a £30,000 contribution the borough could receive £465,000 towards projects over the next few years.

The initiatives will be linked to the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Pilgrim Fathers' Mayflower voyage to America and the 400th anniversary in 2030 of the mass exodus from Boston to found Boston, Massachusetts.

Boston Borough Council's Cabinet heard on Wednesday (February 21) that there would be potential levers for further investment in Boston's cultural offer beyond the Pilgrim Fathers' link.

A half million pound grant from Visit England has already been provided to promote the national Mayflower Pilgrims story overseas. Boston has benefited from this even though it has not had to make a financial contribution. International travel operators have visited the town and research in America showed Boston to be within the top three destinations that visitors would intend exploring in connection with the Pilgrim Fathers.

A further half million pounds has been secured from the Discover England Fund for a national project wider than the 2020 anniversary, which may enable Boston to capitalise on the foundation of Boston, Massachusetts. Again, no cash contribution has been necessary from the borough council.

The council will contribute £5,000 towards a bid for Arts Council England and Lincolnshire County Council funding for sculptures  costing £220,000 at the Pilgrim Fathers Memorial Site at Scotia Creek, and at RSPB Frampton Marsh, both sides of The Haven.

Cabinet also agreed to £10,000 cash match from the council to support a bid to the HLF for a project looking to incorporate reinterpretation and development at sites including the Fishtoft memorial, The Guildhall,  in and around Custom House Quay and more widely through the town and borough. If a bid is successful the bulk of the cost, £60,000 to £70,000, would come from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This would tell Boston's extended historic story featuring its maritime history and its Hanseatic connections as well as the Cotton congregation which founded Boston, Massachusetts.

Cabinet also approved involvement in the Illuminate events at Christmas lights switch-on time and other festival developments in the approach to the 2020 finale. The council's contribution would be £10,000 towards Illuminate 2019 and 2020, plus a further £5,000 for an alternative Pilgrim event. There would be £9,000 of admin expenses and £7,500 of resource costs over three years.

Cllr Richard Austin told Cabinet members: "What a great story Boston has to tell; greater than any other town in the UK. This is huge opportunity to increase visitor footfall."

Cllr Aaron Spencer, portfolio holder for finance, said the council's financial commitment for the return received was value for money.