To answer questions (if any) from members of the public pursuant to Rule 10 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure
The Chief Executive reported there was a question from Mr. Neill Hastie.
Question from Mr. Neill Hastie pursuant to paragraph 10 of the Rules of Procedure as set out in the Constitution.
“As portfolio holder for Boston can you tell me if Boston Borough Council has a realistic plan to revitalise the town centre and market with the intention to attract more businesses to the area, and what that plan would involve please?”
Response by Councillor Nigel Welton
“I thank Mr. Hastie for notice of his question.
Mr. Hastie will be aware that the Council, with the support of BTAC and our partners, continues to work hard to invest and support our wonderful town.
Despite the challenging financial circumstances there has been increased investment in events, additional town centre officers to support cleaning and improvement works as well as sustaining and retaining the facilities we enjoy.
Our partners such as the Boston in Bloom committee year on year achieve excellent standards, there is the recently announced multi-million Townscape Heritage Initiative attracting huge investment in the town, the continued freeze on parking charges remains despite the growing requirement to maximise fees income to maintain services, there is new street furniture and litter bins, a greater focus on tourism and support to our friends at St Botolphs and others.
Being shortlisted for a national award for our innovative ground breaking environmental and enforcement practices is a huge national recognition of Boston’s achievements and commitment. I could go on and on and on.
All of this said we all know and recognise that the retail environment is a challenging one and I’m sure Mr Hastie will recall my detailed response to Councillor Dani at the previous Council meeting following his question, which was very similar to this.
Boston town centre is the hub of enterprise where small businesses grow and local jobs are created, but as consumer patterns change as spending increasingly moves online, our expectations of high streets are changing too.
At the last meeting I called upon all of Boston to support our collective desire for a successful application to the Government’s High Streets fund to enhance Boston’s ability to bring about that transformative change. I am determined that Boston unites with a collective and constructive commitment to make our town as good as it can be within the statutory and financial parameters within which we all have to operate.”
Supplemental question asked by Mr. Hastie pursuant to paragraph 10.8 of the Rules of Procedure as set out in the Constitution:-
“Thank you for the in depth response, most of which I agree with. It is difficult to challenge the internet, but why doesn’t Boston go the other way and attract retailers whose products aren’t suitable for the internet to set up in Boston. The town centre needs to be revitalised, how are you going to promote the town to attract visitors and retailers and address their concerns?
Response by Councillor Nigel Welton
“Yesterday we held a Future of the High Street Stakeholder event was held, with 24 representatives from various organisations attending, including business, voluntary sector, public sector, housing associations, college etc. Last year we engaged consultants to work on a masterplan design before the government’s announcement on high street funding, we have been working hard behind the scenes and are ahead of the game.
I invited market traders to attend a meeting to hear their concerns, only 3 turned up and you didn’t respond. Everyone needs to be involved, talking on a daily basis, Officers are working hard on innovative ideas for the town. Hiding behind social media and not engaging is not helpful.
We could all say things could be better, but the council has to work within its financial constraints and balance its budget, we can’t promise what we can’t pay for. Boston is a small market town, ideas have been identified to improve the situation and we will be talking again next month. We all need to keep on working together for the town.”