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Population change progress

Boston's report into population change passed another test of public scrutiny on Thursday when progress on its 28 recommendations was debated at an open meeting.

Members of the public attending at Boston Borough Council's offices heard that progress had been made in advancing recommendations relating to alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, sales of alcohol, migrants not exercising their treaty rights, rogue gangmasters, employment of migrant workers, licensing homes of multiple occupation, promoting career and employment opportunities with local companies, school places, litter and street cleaning and health and social care issues.

Phil Drury, Boston Borough Council's deputy chief executive, said the report had been published on behalf of Boston and was not just the borough council's.

Chief Insp Paul Timmins gave an update on recommendations made to the police. On street drinking he said a record was now being kept of every occasion when police confiscated alcohol, moved people on or dealt with alcohol-related anti-social behaviour issues within the DPPO area. The DPPO area gives police powers to act if there is drink-related anti-social behaviour, or they believe there is a risk of drink-related antic-social behaviour.

He explained that in those circumstances it was an offence for anyone in the DPPO to fail to give their name and address to a police officer, or hand over their alcohol if requested or refuse to move on. He stressed the DPPO was not a drinks ban.

Central Park is covered by the DPPO order and signs at the entrance advise that those continuing to drink alcohol when asked not to do so by a police officer or accredited person are liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of £500. There is also the warning that you face arrest if you fail to surrender intoxicating liquor to a police officer or accredited person in the area.

An offence involving alcohol would only be committed in Central Park if associated with anti-social behaviour or a threat of anti-social behaviour.

Chief Insp Timmins said the police were working with partner agencies to divert street drinkers away from their habit. He said cooperation from businesses would be sought to control sales of super-strength beer to potential nuisance drinkers.

He reported figures which showed a significant drop in incidents of street drinking in the town centre.

Rob Lauberts, from the community forum, asked that the DPPO be extended so that street drinking problems did not simply move from the town centre to other areas.

Chief Insp Timmins gave figures to show that around a third of all drink-drive offences were committed by Bostonians, with mainly Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish drivers accounting for the rest.

Cllr Mike Gilbert, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for community development, said those who broke the law had to all be dealt with in the same way, wherever they came from. He said incidents of anti-social behaviour has fallen by 90 per cent in areas where the council had acted to dissuade drinkers gathering by removing public seating.

Policing the drinkers was made easier because they now congregated in more central areas where it was easier to keep an eye on them.

He wanted to dispel the myth that visitors to the country had a six-month grace period where documentation for using a foreign vehicle was concerned. He said if they intended staying here permanently there was no grace period.

Cllr Derek Richmond, portfolio holder for the town centre, said the answer was for vehicles to be recorded at the point of entry. He said that would assist police all over the country.

Cllr Patricia Bradwell, Lincolnshire County Council's children's services executive member, said £8 million will have been invested in schools in Boston  in the past three years, with £1,000 per year for two years for every pupil who did not have English as a first language.

She said 833 extra places had been created in primary schools  and 92.9 per cent of children got their first choice of primary school place, rising to 97 per cent for secondary schools.

She said no child was transported any further than 5.38 miles to school, not including excluded children or those with special needs.

Cllr Bradwell said apprenticeships for 16 to 19 year olds had been promoted and the uptake in Boston was higher than anywhere else in the county. Some 14-year-olds not interested in going on to higher education had shown interest.

Chairman, Cllr Paul Kenny, said education secretary Michael Gove was to be asked to establish the East Midlands as a pilot area for assisting pupils with English as a second language.

Cllr Stephen Woodliffe, portfolio holder for regulatory services, said the best performing primary school in the area had a high percentage of migrant children who were aspirational and held the potential to be an asset for Boston in the future.

Member of the public Rachel Bull suggested that an NHS walk-in centre in Boston was needed and would help reduce waiting times and take some of the strain off accident and emergency departments.

Cllr Kenny said the suggestion would be passed on to the clinical commissioning group. He suggested that it would help make the case if members of the public also passed on such comments to other agencies.

Cllr Carol Taylor said a society had been created in which people could not look after themselves at a very basic level. She said there was health care provision available and she spoke with 42 years experience as a nurse.

Wes Shelbourne, general manager of JUST Lincolnshire which runs Boston's Alchemy project, said they were hoping to launch a community news sheet and had generated good news stories, but stressed it was important that Boston did not become a single issue town.

Cllr Bob McAuley said he thought integration could take place over time and would develop with migrant children making friends at school and forming relationships.

Support was expressed for more powers, not less for the Gangmaster Licensing Authority, and Cllr Richard Leggott, a farmer, said no farmer wanted to employ people who were exploited, or wanted to deal with gangmasters who exploited staff. He urged anyone aware of exploitation to report it.

Cllr Kenny said another public progress meeting would be held in six months.