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MP backs council's case over funding

Boston Borough Council's case for increased funding from Government to better reflect the borough's growing population has received backing from the area's MP and a meeting is to be held with the Office for National Statistics.

The council has been making the case for some time for extra funding because of the increase in population primarily caused by the influx of migrant workers from Eastern Europe. It had been hoped that the 2011 National Census would prove the case. While it did show that Boston had one of the highest percentage increases in population in the country - up by 15.8 per cent - it was felt that the new population figure of 64,600 was still an underestimate. Government funding to local authorities is based on ONS statistics.

The MP agreed saying: "There is clearly a discrepancy and we must ensure that Boston is receiving its fair share of funding."

The council had suggested a meeting with the ONS and this has now been backed by MP Mark Simmonds.

He hosted a meeting at the House of Commons between the council's leader, Cllr Peter Bedford, the chief executive Richard Harbord, and Brandon Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Mr Simmonds said "I was delighted to arrange and participate in a meeting between Brandon Lewis MP and the leader and chief executive of Boston Borough Council to discuss flood relief funding and the population increase in Boston. I am encouraged that the Government has introduced a number of financial measures for residents and businesses who have been affected by the floods and, with the council's help, these will be administered as quickly as possible so that people can move on from these events.

"I am also pleased that the minister agreed to the council's suggestion that they meet with Office for National Statistics to discuss the population of Boston."

Mr Lewis had previously met with the council when he was told the borough needs extra funding to cope with pressures on services caused by its increased population.

Cllr Bedford said: "We were able to make a two-fold case to the minister - for urgent assistance from Government for people in Boston affected by the flood of December 5 and we re-emphasised our case for increased funding for our increasing population.

"Mr Lewis had, at our previous meeting when he came to Boston, stood by the funding formula used by Government, based on current best evidence available - from the Office of National Statistics - and challenged the council to provide evidence of a bigger population. So it is a move forward on this that, at our suggestion and with backing from the MP, we are to have a meeting with the ONS."

MS Bedford and Harbord Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Outside the House of Commons, from left, Peter Bedford, Mark Simmonds MP and Richard Harbord