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Working together to make Boston more prosperous

One of the most in-depth studies into what makes Boston tick is now underway. The 18-month Prosperous Boston project will take evidence from all who wish to offer it in order to produce a comprehensive report with far-reaching recommendations aimed at making the town better for residents, shoppers and for those who work and visit here.

The first six-month phase - looking primarily at retail provision in the town - is drawing to a close. There have been talks and consultation with retailers, hospitality providers, market traders and the public.

The consultation with the public will remain open until January 10. A questionnaire can be completed online at http://bit.ly/1NPwHKr or anyone can send comments and suggestions to the chairman of the cross-party group, Cllr Judith Skinner, Boston Borough Council, Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston, PE21 8QR, or email the task and finish group clerk karen.rist@boston.gov.uk

The full review will look at the provision of toilets, cleaning of the town, anti-social behaviour, car parks, signage, transport, accommodation, tourism, events and promotion of the town.

So what prompted such a significant enquiry? Cllr Skinner said: "It was prompted by the closure of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop. It made me look up and see several more 'to rent' signs. I wanted to investigate to see if the council could facilitate conditions to encourage more businesses to come to Boston.

"I believe in Boston and wanted to help the businesses and help the public to enjoy shopping in Boston, now and for future generations.

"There is no suggestion that Boston is not prosperous, however I would like to improve the climate for businesses and shoppers. We have some really fantastic businesses in the town, but we must not  be complacent."

Cllr Skinner has been looking around the country at what other thriving towns are doing to see if the best initiatives would work in Boston. 

She said: "We are listening to traders and the public about what needs to be improved. I would like everyone to work together, council, traders, community groups, police and Lincolnshire County Council to make Boston a better place.

"The main aim is to have a thriving town that people want to visit.

"Anyone can have input, I see that working together is the way forward. I want people to take ownership of their town and make it a vibrant and lively place.

"I do hope we can turn negatives into positives, challenge people to make a difference rather than just accept things that they do not like.

"At the end of the process we will use the information gathered to recommend changes that make a difference to the town. We will continue to work to make things happen. I don't intend to stop looking for things that can be improved - it should be an ongoing joint effort from everyone."

Cllr Skinner said Boston has a wealth of history which can be used to attract visitors to the town. 

"Boston has loads of good things about it, however too many bad things are highlighted. We need to reverse the trend and generate lots of good news and work on preventing the bad. My motto is cup half full, not half empty."

Message from Cllr Paul Skinner, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for the town centre, and Cllr Judith Skinner, chairman of Prosperous Boston Task and Finish Group

There are now literally just days left to do the final bits of your Christmas shopping. It's come on us all of a rush, and before you know where you are it will all be over for another year, it will be 2016 and time for New Year resolutions.

Can we make a request that when you step out in 2016 with a determination for there to be a new you - slimmer, fitter, nicer, whatever you wish for yourself - that you consider an additional resolution.

Make 2016 the year you Back Boston.

We try to do all our shopping as locally as possible, supporting local business whenever and wherever possible. We appreciate our local traders - both the tiny independents who offer such brilliant personal service through to the larger retailers that we have to use for bigger items. As long as they are all in Boston and the wider borough we feel we are doing our little bit to help them survive in the most difficult of economic times.

It is all to easy to bemoan another shop closure, a boarded-up window in the high street, a closing-down sale that, ultimately, will mean you will have to shop out of Boston, and the inconvenience that brings. What all shops need are customers - they need your support today, tomorrow, next week, next month.

Some may say Boston does not have the range of shops or offer of other centres. But it does have a full range of choice if you look hard enough. We are not pretending it can compete with Lincoln or Peterborough, but we are on a par with, and often better than, similar-sized towns. Historically Boston has maintained its enviable place for having low shop vacancies. We have fewer empty shops than most small towns.

We want to keep it that way. So please make a New Year resolution to Back Boston in 2016. In fact, there are still a couple of shopping days to Christmas, so don't wait until the new year. Forgotten something for the festive period, leaving it all to the last minute? Do it in Boston. Start Backing Boston NOW!

Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.