Boston Borough Council leader reflects on the past year in Christmas message
“Normally at this time we reflect on the events of the previous year. Over the past couple of years events that we have faced across the community have been incredibly challenging.
Despite being another tough year through Government funding cuts and challenges facing many of our residents our council has continued to deliver core services to the community and working with partners to deliver consistently.
Here are just a few of those things we can look back on:
Our Partnership with East Lindsey District Council and South Holland District Council better known as the “South and East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership” has now been going for 14 months and already proving a huge success with sharing knowledge, expertise across the councils. Proof of this was winning a Local Government Chronicle Award for the formation and early success of the South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership. The Councils won the award in the Public/Public category. The judging panel was impressed by the Partnership's ability to "demonstrate tangible improvements to local communities with a clearly articulated ambition for the future, despite being a relatively new partnership". The Partnership Councils were also acknowledged for their significant work in bringing the three councils to work together cohesively in such a short amount of time.
Boston has also started to see the benefit from over £36M investment that is bringing transformational improvements to the town. This was highlighted in a recent Boston Town Deal annual report bringing together the £21.9M Town Funding that was awarded to Boston in 2021 together with £14.3M in match funding. Progress is now being made in delivering this investment through a series of targeted projects built around the themes of skills and aspirations, sustainable economic growth, and pride in place. In the last few weeks, work has been completed on the repair, renovation, and redevelopment of the Blenkin Memorial Hall, and on the refurbishment of St Botolph's Library with more information coming out early in the New Year on these. The Centre for Food and Fresh Produce Logistics has been created and is working with Boston food-related businesses, and a consultations with local residents has taken place about the Mayflower, Boston's new learning and development facility and the proposed Boston Leisure Project.
A funding application as part of the second round of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund has been submitted for the site, better known as PE21, to Government to support the ambitious plans seek to regenerate and reinvigorate a large brownfield opportunity in the centre of the town. Working with partners, the scheme will bring forward several strategic interventions which will collectively increase activity, footfall, and improve the image and vitality of the area. At its heart is a significant investment in public realm, along with the redevelopment of adjacent sites for a variety of commercial, residential and other uses. The proposals will address the vacant Crown House and B&M buildings, and the proposal is intended to be high-quality and high impact making a visible positive difference for the short and longer-term. The proposals will then compliment the wider regeneration ambition for the area.
Not forgetting the amazing work that went into the application for the National Portfolio Organisation Status (NPO). The Partnership was delighted to be awarded National Portfolio Organisation status for the first time - securing just under £2m to support art, culture and creativity across the Partnership. The prestigious status awarded by Arts Council England has seen funding of £1,955,799 allocated for 2023-2026 to help support arts and cultural organisations across Boston, East Lindsey and South Holland. It will also support the creation of cultural centres at The Guildhall in Boston, Ayscoughfee Hall in South Holland and the Colonnade in Sutton on Sea and fund a programme of art and culture across the Partnership centred on the rich heritage and stories from each district. Education, research and skills programmes will also be developed, giving more people access to culture on their doorstep. The NPO comes after Boston and East Lindsey adopted a new cultural framework which sets out an ambitious vision for culture, connecting heritage and the visitor economy while recognising the health and wellbeing benefits culture brings to people's lives. The Partnership is committed to extending the Cultural framework into South Holland too.
Following the success of the Boston Heroes Campaign last year this has been brought back for the second year and supported by all. We were amazed by the number of nominations last year and the support this campaign received by our community so it was without a doubt that it was something that we needed to continue with. This campaign was created to inspire positivity across our diverse and vibrant community. We saw a flood of support for Boston and we've witnessed the pride that so many Bostonians feel for their community. We received over 240 nominations which spanned a variety of backgrounds from all walks of life, with each submission detailing the impact so many people have had on the lives of the community during a challenging period. At the heart of this campaign is that very same sentiment, and we want to give the people of Boston the opportunity to shine a light on their unsung heroes who have created a lasting-impact on Boston - from the smallest acts of kindness, to life-changing support. Nominations are still open for your Boston Heroes of 2022/23 and close on Friday 6th January 2023.
A local lottery was also set up for the Partnership in a bid to raise money for charities and good causes throughout Boston Borough, South Holland and East Lindsey. We are now entering into the fifth week of this lottery with winners across the partnership already benefiting from taking part not forgetting that every ticket they purchase, not only gives them a chance to win prizes but they are supporting a local good cause of their choice by 60% of that ticket price going directly to them, which of course will help support in the community.
The town has seen an increase in footfall over the past few months which is a promising end to 2022 and start for 2023. However, challenges remain with energy price increases and the cost of living overall. Consumer confidence has been greatly impacted by rising inflation. More information on this rise in footfall will come early in the New Year.
Not forgetting all the other bits that help work towards our Corporate Strategy:
· SELCP Peer Review;
· Adoption of a SELCP Community Safety Strategy for the next 3 years https://www.boston.gov.uk/commsafetystrategy;
· David Medlock to be awarded Honorary Freeman of the Borough in the New Year; https://www.boston.gov.uk/freedom
· Continued support to the NHS with Covid-19, flu, vaccination and booster ongoing for the safety of our residents;
· Reaffirmed our commitment to the Community Trigger process; https://www.boston.gov.uk/communitytrigger
· Summer events hosted in our green oasis, Boston’s Central Park;
· Welcomed The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay supporting local batonbearers Peter Ward and Linda Baxter; https://www.boston.gov.uk/batonrelay
· Approved £2.2m UK Shared Prosperity Funding to support projects in Boston, more new coming on this in the New Year; https://www.boston.gov.uk/ukspf
· Considerations of City Bid by the Government which was part of the Queen Jubilee Celebrations in June;
· Huge business expansions including McDonalds, Travel Lodge, Aldi application currently being determined and prime inward investment applications which will come in 2023;
· Continued housing growth such as MagnaData site on Norfolk Street, Quadrant link road has been opened between A16 and London Road with further housing still being built;
· New Sustainable Products Policy approved to help Partnership reduce single-use products; https://www.boston.gov.uk/SPP
· A fantastic Boston in Bloom 7th Gold award; https://www.boston.gov.uk/bloom
· The continued work against dealing with fly-tipping in the area, issuing FPNs and education where needed;
· New Tree and Hedgerow strategy to help tackle challenges faced by climate change https://www.boston.gov.uk/treehedgestrategy
· Delivery of Green Home Grants working with residents to save them money on their utility bills while also helping them to reduce their carbon footprint - https://www.boston.gov.uk/GreenHomesGrant
· Working in partnership with F1 in Schools to engage young people in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) subjects to inspire more school leavers to pursue careers in engineering, technology, manufacturing, digital and design, helping to maintain economic growth for employers in our area with challenges in skills gaps;
· The first ‘Skills in Schoolz’ has commenced across the Partnership and we are looking forward to schools in Boston joining to raise student’s awareness of careers with local employers and sectors. Workshops are joined by the NHS Talent Academy, Eurovia, Ark ICT, Boston College’s Green Curriculum Area and SELCP.