Thursday, 11 December 2008

A Sign of the Times

So our Woolies (Woolworths) is going the way of all the others. Sadly, the writing has been on the wall for many years for certain businesses where their product is either too expensive or is no longer wanted. Why should I travel into town in my car, pay a high price for parking and enjoy the traffic congestion that inevitably comes with a trip into town. Then to dodge even more traffic once in town, put up with their noise and air pollution, the foul mouthed utterings of all ages of people, etc. When what I could simply do is (as so many people are increasingly doing) get onto the internet and do my shopping that way. We hear cries of concern about Woolworths closing or the latest of our pubs that find they can no longer afford to trade. Of course it is sad when shops or pubs close but it is a symptom of the times. People don't want broken biscuits any more. Messrs Sainsbury/Tesco/Asda sell beer at a fraction of the cost of a pint of beer in the pub and Sky telly provides the entertainment at home. Until our borough council wake up to the fact that they are driving people away from the shops by their failure to offer free car parking or a Park and Ride or a traffic free town centre, then things are going to get worse and worse until we are all voting with our feet, staying at home and shopping by the internet. In 20 years time, Colchester will have become a very depressing place, unless something positive is done to reverse the trend. What do you think?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

It wasn't me!

The public bloodhounds are homing in on exactly who it was who agreed a contract without an agreed price to build the VAF. We now learn that the price that we thought had been agreed has turned out to be over £7 million more than thought. We are slowly learning too, exactly who wasn't responsible.

Who has to pay this amount? It looks as if you an me will have to pay for it, presumably through yet more cuts in services and sale of assets - such as our school land. All I have to do is put in a low starting price, start the work, get a few stage payments, stop work, and then ask for more money. It's a breeze. All supported by the good old Colchester taxpayer.

What I would like to know is who I should apply to to do work for Colchester Borough Council at a price that I can name at a later date. Presumably, my firm will not have to go through the tendering process, as has clearly been the case with Banana Holdings. Presumably I will have to join some old boys club to get the work - but it will be worth it, if it means I can name my price.

Perfick! Early retirement. Here I come.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Colchester's Heritage Assets

I can't say that I will shed any tears over the fact that Taylor Wimpey have financial difficulties, as I read in last night's Gazette. It is that company who own the land on which our unique Roman circus lies and who have refused to allow us to have full and free access to it. Their concern was profit, pure and simple, to enable future owners of the land to have a nice garden rather to enable visitors to Colchester to see the circus starting gates remains. Our council clearly don't appreciate the archaeological importance of this piece of land, otherwise they would have made a bigger fuss about it. The missed opportunity for tourism is immense. But then, Colchester has long failed to capitalise on its heritage assets. We can only hope now that whoever acquires Taylor Wimpey will have a better regard for the only Roman circus known in Britain and will allow us full unrestricted access to its remains.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Armistice Day

I went in to town today to pay my respects at the war memorial to those that gave their lives for us. There were a lot less people than on Sunday but we had a good turnout. Colchester lost a lot of men, including two 16 year olds, in the first war. Was their sacrifice appreciated by our modern day, money grabbing, dog eat dog, atheistic society that we have today? I think that you could safely conclude that the majority couldn't give a damn!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Call for money to maintain our heritage

All credit is due to Cllr Willetts who has called for funding to protect our heritage monuments in the press today. Sadly, I do not believe that the will is there to promote our heritage, let alone look after what we have. See all the weed growth on our Roman walls that is destroying the ancient masonry. Go take a look at the Balkerne Gate, which I noticed today has yet another chunk of Roman material missing, presumably gone for a souvenir. It is also a travesty that, almost 4 years since the Roman circus was discovered, there are no directions or markers to say where the circus lies. What a missed opportunity!

If ever there was a case for renaming the road that runs along the circus from Le Cateau to Roman Circus Way, this has to be it. A bit of signage, a cut of the grass, a general tidying up of the area, etc. would not be expensive. Whilst Le Cateau Road commemorates an important battle in our proud military history, its relevance now is reduced since the military barracks have been moved away. Surely a renaming would be more relevant and a positive step for encouraging visitors. Will it ever happen? I don't believe that the will is there but I wish Cllr Willetts well with his quest.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Very Best of Colchester - A Credit to us all!

Together with my family, I attended Colchester's service of remembrance this morning. This marked the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in 1918. I never fail to be moved by this service, the sight of our old soldiers, the military band, members of the British Legion with their standards, the modern representatives of our armed forces including our Gurkhas, Sea Cadets, the Town Watch, Aldermen, Councillors, MPs, etc. But of special significance for me this year was to see our mayor, Mrs Margaret Fairley-Crowe, doing the job that fell to her following the sad loss of her husband during his term as Mayor of Colchester. I was also pleased to see the new plaque that has been added to our wonderful war memorial to remember those that have lost their lives in the armed conflicts that have followed after 1945. The only downside for me is the continued presence of the traffic lights that completely mar the appearance of the war memorial, as they do all over our town, to cater for the never ending procession of the cars that are a blight on us all.

There were hundreds of people at the service, one of the biggest gatherings that I have seen in all the years that I have been attending. Young and old, all gathered to remember those that gave their lives for us and to help bring peace to the world.

Their names liveth for evermore!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

School Land Wanted for Building More Flats

The Tories at Chelmsford need more land to sell off to their mates so that they can build more flats, the slums of the future. What they need to do is to find schools that don't do as well as others, close them down and grab the land. They have earmarked two in Colchester for the chop and have recently renewed their attack on them. Lord Ninnyfield wants the children to go to other schools so that he can lay hand on our assets.

Sadly, this situation is a sign of the times. It's all about making money, rather than providing essential services for the people of Colchester. By measuring school's performances, comparisons can be made with others. It can come as no surprise that a school in a poorer area will not perform as well as a school where the student's parents are more affluent. By closing these schools down and selling off the land for the building of high density, gardenless rabbit hutches, Essex County Council are in breach of their duty to us.

Society needs schools that serve local communities, just as it needs children's play areas, post offices, shops, etc. If a school could do better, then those in power need to make it happen. Profiteering from their removal is corrupt.

Traffic in the Town Centre

I want this council of ours to get up off its backside and do something positive about traffic in our town. I want them to:

1. close the High Street to all non essential traffic from 9.00 am to midnight, including buses and taxis and disabled badge holders, but not cyclists. This will enable the High Street to be developed as a place where pedestrians rule, not selfish car drivers, where the market can regain its rightful location, where cafe type activities can spread out and where live street entertainment/festival activities are possible.

2. to restrict access within the historic core, ie inside the walls, for access only of delivery vehicles, buses, taxis, disabled drivers, residents, etc. If people cannot get off a bus in Head Street or Queen Street and walk into town, then they need a wheelchair, which could be provided as a service also. We don't need a central bus station. Layovers in Head Street and Queen Street are perfectly adequate.

3. to actually provide a Park and Ride service from the Stadium and/or Stane Park. This will be used and the buses will be laid on due to demand. There is no demand at the moment because the car driver believes it is his/her God given right to drive into and clog up our town. Has the council got the balls to do it or are this lot just as bad as the last lot?

Added to this, the totally unnecessary St Botolphs development should be abandoned as irrelevant and - totally unnecessary. We simply do not need it. If people were to use it, it would take shoppers away from the town centre - and what is the point of that then?

(The Stane Park development, between Tollgate and the A12, is a waste of space and would be better put to use as a Park and Ride area. It was a dodgy deal anyway, the old pals getting together from the old regime, to convert farm land into very valuable building land. Nothing new there then! That land is best placed for our much needed Park and Ride.)

My Mission

I shall be making my views known on aspects that concern life in Colchester, especially social, historical and political.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


I created this blog on 1st November 2008