Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boston bypass campaigners head for Mars...?

The battle for a Boston Bypass has turned a tad ugly according to BBC Radio Lincolnshire this morning. Presenter Rob Whiting told listeners that he agreed that Boston’s traffic problems were “bad, bad”.

He interviewed a leading campaigner from the Boston Bypass Pressure Group who demanded Lincolnshire County Council is investigated for what he called a catalogue of errors and delays.

Rod’s next guest was Conservative Leader of the Council Martin Hill (picture from LCC's know your councillor website).

Martin brushed aside the claims and said £6 million was being invested to ease Boston’s gridlock.

Then followed this exchange:

Rod Whiting: All right. Well the protestors have gone to the Local Government Ombudsman, the Audit Commission, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, David Cameron. Are you concerned?

Councillor Hill: Well, perhaps they’ll go to Mars next…

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well Phil, have you heard of a local transport plan?

This is more dictat from comrade Blair. Unless a scheme for Boston is in the LTP we've got more chance of a bypass than John Hough has of growing hair on his head.The measly £71million each year allocated to the six counties in the East Midlands Region is like new labour( or should it be new failure) inadequate and pathetic.

Ms Merron has made it quite clear she will only be supporting the Lincoln routes.

So if you have as much influence as you pretend to have bring the ministers and their pot of gold into lincolnshire,so we can see bypasses for Boston, Lincoln, Grantham and even Skegness. But there again if everyone got what the County Council want to give them you would only claim the credit for comrade Blair and you would have nothing to moan about. You thrive on problems, you moan about everything but deliver nothing. Sounds like New Labour does it not.

fairdealphil said...

anonymous:

thanks for repeating the same comments you made a couple of days ago.

i don't pretend to have any more influence than anyone else, although i do think those who are prepared to stand up and be counted gain more respect and credibility than those who hide behind a veil of secrecy...

Liz said...

Yes, I have read the local transport plan and it does specifiy the chronic congestion in the three major connurbations in Lincolnshire. (I understand Skegness has been resolved). Anyway, I thought the issue from the pressure group related to how the County Council is handling the much needed bypass in Boston. That is the reason they have involved all the relevant government departments as well as the local authority ombudsman to ensure the Council are doing their job in an efficient manner in accordance with the rules.

It seems you do not read sufficiently "anonymous" or have a very poor memory of what this county was like in the 1990's. It is not helpful to any debate to just spout anti government propaganda. Lincolnshire has done well over the past ten years from Central Government. European funding has also been much in evidence particularly benefitting the coastal strip. If you want me to give you all the figures I will - although I am not sure it would be worth my effort. I also thought the Skegness Bypass had been approved and work started - I could be wrong but do recall reading that in the press.

The pressure group will have all these issues resolved independently of the council. The issue for me though is that the Leader of Lincolnshire Council used language such as the campaigners heading "for Mars". Highly inappropriate language and not the terminology I expect from someone holding his position. It is unworthy of a leader. Perhaps it was a slip of the tongue and Mr Hill will make the appropriate apology to the legitimate campaigners. Mr Hill perhaps should remind himself that we do live in a democracy and many of us mere mortals have access to the information that he has. We, who also pay quite handsomely for his services, do have the right to hold him to account.

Brynley said...

Councillor Martin Hill is perfectly entitled to say that the Boston bypass campaigners are heading for Mars.

This is a playful insult without swearing, without profanity and without anything excessively personal in the way of abuse.

He is also right if he is making the point that all his transport eggs are on the stilt viaduct across the Witham east of Lincoln, leaving loose change for bunged up Boston.

Anonymous is wrong. The local transport plan is drawn up by Martin Hill's lot and not by 'Comrade Blair'.

Bruno (Skegness) said...

Is there life on Mars?

fairdealphil said...

Liz:

thanks for your contribution to the debate.

the by-pass that has just been started is Burgh-le-Marsh, the last bottleneck on the road to Skeggy.

(No doubt bruno will be chuffed when it's finished...)

fairdealphil said...

anonymous:

you ask for the pot of gold for Lincolnshire.

as Liz says, Lincolnshire is benefitting enormously from the pot of gold that we never saw a few years ago.

a couple of years ago i asked a written question at a full council meeting about how much our county council received from Government in each of the previous ten years.

the answer was staggering. after cuts in the years to 1997, there has been a significant step change in increased funding to Lincolnshire.

i'm not moaning about the huge improvements we have seen over the past decade in Lincolnshire and across the country.

today, for example, we even had the Tory health spokesman admitting for the first time that the NHS has improved since 1997...

Bruno (Skegness) said...

"No doubt Bruno will be chuffed when the Burgh-le-Marsh road is ready.."



I've never been further than Anderby Creek and Gibraltar Point, but I hope to see Burgh one day.

Smash (Instant Potato) said...

We act for our clients, Smash (Instant Potato) Ltd.

You are no doubt familiar with our client's trademark martians.

These are copyright. The intellectual property of our clients, Smash (Instant Potato) Ltd.

We understand that Councillor Martin Hill of Lincolnshire, England is using our Martian images without the benefit of a licensing agreement with our clients, Smash (Instant Potato) Ltd.

Our clients, Smash (Instant Potato) Ltd, will have no hesitation in seeking appropriate remedy if these Martians persist.

liz said...

Smash (lol) - I love instant potato!

fairdealphil said...

instantly funny.

but i prefer the real thing, not the pretend stuff.

Anonymous said...

I really dont know what some of you people are talking about - investment in the coast - please quantify your statement and everyone forgets that money "invested" does not belong to the Government or politicians - it is the taxpayers and a rubbish deal they get for what they pay.What do the elderly in this country have to look forward to but the disgrace of selling everything they own so they can get the care to which they are entitled.NHS - free because you pay into it all your life is the biggest con ever played on the general public.
The reason Lincoln doesnt have its bypass,nor Boston or Skegness - all of which are worthy schemes is because Government centrally wants to hold on to the money so it can be piled into Labour strongholds in the Midlands.The truth is this Labour Government is only interested on one thing - Power and with it they have arrogance.The public punished the last Conservative Government for the same reason they will punish this Labour one.
PS - Im not the other anonymous from this thread.

Liz said...

Anonymous - I thought it strange the figures you have given on numerous occasions in respect of transport fund allocation to the East Midlands region and so I read up on the funding. The total funding for the country is £1.6b. Funding also depends on assessment of councils transport policy - the better the council the more funds allocated. The allocation for the East Midlands for 2006/7 is £141m + £9m capital works. I consider a total of £150m a rather more generous figure than the one you indicate. It looks as well as if the region recently benefitted from £135m to improve transport links. Lincolnshire has received £6.188m block allocation, Maintenance of £18.339 (highest in region) and finally, £4.331m for de trunked road (highest in region). A total sum of £28.858m. Considering the demands in the region I feel that Lincolnshire have fared reasonably well in the allocation. We do not have expensive motorways etc to maintain.

liz said...

Sorry - add million to the maintenance figure.

liz said...

anonymous no 2. An example of additional resourcing for the coastal strip and indeed all of Lincolnshire - ie £7m for broadband for rural business etc can be found at http://www.eplp.org.uk/em/Lincolnshire.pdf

This is the official regional government site which allocates additional funding. The above link is for European, Structural/Development/Social funding.You can also find additional government funding there specifically related to assisting coastal deprivation.

fairdealphil said...

Liz:

thanks for your weighty contribution and all the research you have done to 'fisk' our friend anon.

fairdealphil said...

anon (not sure whether that's new anon, or old anon, whatever..)

NHS: Yes, it's not perfect. But it's in a far better state than it was a decade ago with 85,000 more nurses and 32,000 more doctors since 1997 - thanks the the massive step change in funding that the Tories opposed!

Largest hospital building programme since birth of the NHS.

93 per cent more heart ops, 94 per cent more cataract ops, 43 per cent more hip replacements (mostly for elderly?).

Waiting times down, Cancer and heart death rates dramatically down due to Labour reform and investment.

Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley said on BBC yesterday:

"If you were to say to me is the NHS better now than it was in 1997, I think there have been improvements."

You don't have to look further than Lincolnshire to see what Tories mean for older people...

The Tory county council has just trebled home care charges for some people from £40 a week t0 £120 - yet Labour Derbyshire offer the same service for no charge at all.

By-passes: Liz has provided the figures. If you blame Labour for not giving Lincoln, Grantham and Skeggy a bypass a piece, why didn't the Tories provide them during their 18 years?

The most significant road improvement in Lincs for a generation is the A46 Newark to Lincoln - promised by the Tories, delivered by Labour.

Anonymous said...

Phil,you are so old school labour -you just cant admit that some things Labour have got wrong - its always someone elses problem and always in your eyes the Tories.David Cameron seems to admit and accept that the last Tory government made some serious errors - so in your eyes a sinner repents but you are just an apologist for your friends in London who simply cannot accept the other side of the coin.On Health lets look at the NHS in Lincolnshire and the crisis at ULHT which seems to be a train wreck waiting to happen - we can debate whether its political dictat or management failure that is responsible another time.It seems to be that with 3 of the non exec directors falling on their swords that they have accepted responsibility for their role in this shambles.The other 4 non execs should do the same without delay - do you agree??.At least then the chairman David Bowles will be able to try and at least restructure the organisation in an attemp to avoid the train wreck.
As for health we saw Panorama and the Pamela Coghlan case and all of us know others like her who are been forced to spend savings destined for old age on care which is clearly medical and the responsibility of the NHS.If Labour politicians actually stood up for the most vulnerable in society as they claim we actually would have a better country and not one as we have divided and angry at all politicians,no matter the colour.
Please stop apologising for Labour,criticise them where they get it wrong.We all know you have Tony Blairs picture on your bedside table and Labour runs through you but for good politics and this applies to whoever of whatever persuasion accept the good that is done by government past or present and lets have some more honesty.
Would appreciate your view on the chaos at ULHT

Mark said...

I am not a member of any party, but I have to step in here on the side of fairness and truth. I and my family have used the NHS a lot recently and have found it **massively** improved and getting better all the time, round here at any rate.

There is a huge backlog of work to do on buildings, so many stitches-in-time that were not made before 1997 and therefore are taking nine to put right, but the last op I had and the one my Dad just had were done with no waiting at all: at the first consultation (again within hours of the referral) we got our diaries out and booked the surgery at the first space in our *own* diaries, later than the surgeon could have made it in both cases!

The nursing care and the food were excellent (real potatoes, Phil!). Aftercare superb. I cannot think of a single negative comment to make.

So please, please, don't say it's got worse. It has got much better, and the money has been well spent.

I believe it could have been better still, but I also believe that the main problem was the years of underfunding which preceded 1997. Mistakes have been made since, of course, but it is easy for commentators, especially anonymous ones, to be wise afterwards.

Mark

PS Supporters of Tony Blair would be wise not to ask my views on the invasion of Iraq ....

liz said...

I would agree with the changes in the NHS including of course a much better rewarded work force. For years salaries in the NHS were abysmal and they are now much improved. Difficult to understand why the ULHT is in a mess. However,I am willing to give a stab at the reasons. In doing so, I am quoting from the Health Minister who responded to Mark Simmonds concerns in 1995 and also read the Trust's reports which are available on the web. Firstly, Lincolnshire has had a massive increase in population - 10% as compared to the national average of 2.7%. Many new residents are from the industrialised Midlands region and have long term health conditions and needs which they bring with them. There is also more elderly people in the county -therefore more demands on health care. Another major factor is the rural nature of the county - delivery costs are therefore higher because of the dispersed population. In response to pressure from the Lincoln and Boston MPs, the Government increased funding by £154m between 2003 -2008. And now for the negative.... It has been accepted by all involved in delivery that the service in Lincolnshire needs modernising. For examply, too many patients are transported and admitted to hospital. National practice is for individuals to spend 5.5days in hospital whilst in Lincolnshire it is 6.7 days. (Community care lacking perhaps?) The Audit Commission also states that resources are not managed well. Much of the debt locally is cumulative - it is not just for the current financial year. (£8.1m carried over from last year alone). There are historical issues over borrowing and I understand Trent region has wiped out quite a lot of this debt. The Trust also acknowledges a lack of financial expertise (unbelievable given the huge budget) and to this end appointed Pricewaterhouse Coopers to develop a financial plan. It looks like a combination of factors to me but given the huge additional sums provided I am inclined to favour not very able financial management and lack of strategic plans to improve how services are delivered. I have given it my best shot!!!!!

fairdealphil said...

anonymous (whether new or old...)

NHS in Lincolnshire: rated fair for quality of services this week but weak for use of resources after failing to come anywhere near balancing its books.

i'm delighted that ULHT now has David Bowles in the driving seat -to sort out the local mismanagement and spend the vast increases in Government cash on making the NHS in Lincolnshire even better.

David is a decent man with huge ability and integrity, as he proved when he was Chief Exec of Lincolnshire County Council.

since you raise the issue of David, you may not be aware that this is the same man who was hounded out of the county council...by the Tories.

His "crime" was having the balls to stop the Tory sleaze under Jim Speechley of Crowland.

The Tories couldn't forgive him for doing the decent thing and calling in the police, despite that fact that he was later jailed.

Lincolnshire Tories thought they could just have a vote of confidence in Jim and sweep the sleaze under the carpet.

David Bowles blew the whistle.

It cost the council (us) half a million pounds to pay him off - in addition to the costs of sorting out Speechley's antics.

And then we have his best mate Ian Croft of Bourne - also now officially banned as not fit to be a councillor.

Yes, the Tories have a lot to answer for - particularly here in Lincolnshire.

And you wonder why I bother?

fairdealphil said...

mark

Like you (and me) most people who have actually used the NHS recently had a good experience.

In 1997, more than half of the hospitals, clinics and other buildings used by the NHS, were older than the NHS itself.

Today, more than half have been built since 1997.

Of course, when you have a service that treats a million people every 36 hours, some things will go wrong.

As your experience shows, the waiting lists really have come down - in 1997 well over a quarter of a million patients had waited more than six months for their operation. Today, virtually no-one waits six months.

The Tories fought the very idea of an NHS at its birth, and the truth is they still hate it - you only have to look at the last Tory manifesto - written by David Cameron - to see that.

The Tory's problem is that the public still believe in the NHS - and most still think its the envy of the world.

fairdealphil said...

Liz:

thanks for your impressive research - can't argue with any of that!

Anonymous said...

Very Labour - I asked your opinion on the non exec directors who for some reason have still not resigned from ULHT (4 of them)and I got a diatribe and no comment on the point I raised - I believe David Bowles will be better off starting afresh with a full new board of non exec directors which will help give back to the trust public confidence that real change is happening under his mgmt.
I asked for your opinion and in the words of The Clash "Should they stay or Should they Go?" I will appreciate your learned opinion on this.

Brynley said...

Back on to the topic....

I understand that the Boston campaigners have the remedy coming up fast.

The Queen's Speech (15th Nov) will give local authorities powers to congestion charge.

They're thinking of Brum.

I'm thinking of Boston, Lincs.

Unfair, you cry!

Well, I say it's the only realistic way to by-pass Boston before 2076.

If these by-pass campaigners were for real, they would push at an open door for once, rather than trying all the bolted and barred doors.

liz said...

Anonymous, very difficult to get individuals to resign from the trust board. My understanding is that they are appointed for four years initially and if their annual appraisal is OK they can then remain for a further four years. Thereafter it is open to competition with individuals being able to sit for a maximum of ten years. I am hopeful that most people on the board have something to contribute. For example a few accountants and a few research fellows rather than elected councillors would be wonderful. I personally think it will take a few years of David Bowles' Chairmanship to turn things around and to ensure that all individuals on the board are able to hold the management to account. He will (I think) undertake appraisals on the Chief Executive and board members. I am optimistic that he will always be fair and honest and will only act in the best intersts of the ULHT. I sometimes think that members of the public on such boards are not strong enough nor indeed skilled enough to see the wood from the trees and challenge often powerful NHS figures. If you are unhappy with some trust members not fulfilling their role then you should write to the Chairman and say so.