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Warts-and-all: Our performance report

Latest performance information gathered by Boston Borough Council for the first quarter of the year (April, May and June) shows that footfall increased in the town centre by 26 per cent, reversing a three-year downward trend.

The quarterly reports records the ups and downs of trends in the town and borough and measures the performance of the council in a large variety of areas.

The warts-and-all report also shows that unemployment in Boston fell from three per cent for the same period last year to two per cent. There was an 8.6 per cent decrease in overall crime.

Recycling and composting from garden waste went up to 48.36 per cent, exceeding the target of 43 per cent.

In a bid to help Boston residents get fitter numbers of people joining in organised healthy walks increased to 2,037 compared with 2,011 for the same period last year. The target was 2,050. Swim sessions shot past the target of 36,500 to 40,500.

On the downside there was a reduction in car parking tickets sold - down by 4.35 per cent.

Cllr Mike Gilbert said the expectation that Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) would drive more motorists into the council's car parks had not been met. He said he did not think that enforcement officers were as evident as they had been.

Cllr Derek Richmond agreed, but said there was a constant conversation with Lincolnshire County Council about parking enforcement. "Unfortunately we don't have any control - that's Lincolnshire County Council," he said.

Market occupancy had dropped - down to 86.8 per cent against a target of 92 per cent. A study is underway to analyse market occupancy to improve management and take-up.

New benefit claims took 11.12 days to process, against a target of ten days, but an improvement on 17.82 days for the same quarter last year. Cllr Raymond Singleton-McGuire said a backlog had been tackled in the first quarter and in June 46 per cent of new claims were processed within one day.

He said the claims time for Boston Borough Council was now the best in Lincolnshire and better than the national average.

Cabinet approved release of £322,000 from housing reserves to support Waterloo Housing Group's affordable housing programme in the borough

Cabinet heard that £42,000 is to be spent improving the PRSA for any future use as a flood evacuation centre. Other flood money is to be used to improve the council's telephony system, to help support flood volunteer agencies, to improve river level monitoring by CCTV and to make IT systems flood resilient.

A total of £191,000 was allocated in quarter one for flood-affected businesses and those businesses indirectly affected by the flood.

Managing the aftermath of the flood has incurred extra work over and above the routine work of the council. Some staff have been taken off other duties for a period of at least a year and some extra staff have been employed in order to manage this additional work. This includes assessing and managing all applications for flood support, including work involving council tax and business rates support and some elements which may not be covered by the Bellwin scheme.

To prepare for this £100,000 has been allocated, but the Local Government Association is making representations to central Government for additional funding to cover the cost of extra work incurred by local authorities in administering the various schemes central Government has made available to flood victims. If this is successful and covers all the extra admin costs, there will not be a requirement for the costs to be taken from the flood monies received. Provision needs to be made in order that these costs are not met from within the council's budget set for all its more routine work.