Monday, 30 November 2009

Highest Parking Charges in Essex

I went into town today by car, due to a need to use the car. For a little over 2 hours parking at St Mary's, I was charged £4. A similar visit to Chelmsford recently was under £2. The my old dutch had to call in at the court and had to pay £3 for her 15 minute errand. Either we want people to visit Colchester or we don't, but to expect them to pay nearly £10 to park for the day is a bit steep, isn't it? We must surely have the highest parking charges in Essex.

My lady will be shopping elsewhere she says as she refuses to have to pay to shop. Sudbury is free to park, apparently!

....and how many empty shops have we got for this Christmas?

....and why is that I wonder?

Christmas Market

Well, I went into town yesterday to visit the Christmas market in the High Street. Great atmosphere! We bought a few things and later repairing to a favoured hostelry for a cup of foaming ale. Well done the organisers and wasn't it a delight to have a traffic free High Street? Why can't we have it that way all of the time - and the market in its historic location - the High Street?

Friday, 27 November 2009

School Funding

£130 million on the table. In order to get it we must allow two of our schools to close and for a piece of green field land to be used for a new road. That will enable Philip Morant school to be made bigger and to ease traffic in Prettygate (allegedly!). It will also mean that the pupils from the two closed schools will have to travel (bus or Mum's car) across the town to their new, bigger, school, thus adding to the already bad traffic congestion in Colchester. It will also enable the land that the two closed schools occupy to be used for house building (at least that is what I guess will happen - rather than create green spaces for people to enjoy).

Now comes the bits that I don't understand.

1. Labour - are divided on the issue. Cllr Dave wants to save the two schools but Cllr Tim wants them to go. Why don't they agree? The money ultimately comes from their beloved Labour government. Isn't the provision of schools in local areas a fundamental socialist principle?

2. LibDem - are united in the view that the people of Prettygate want to keep their green space in Norman Way, but they would like to have the £130 million please. They naturally don't like Essex County Council (who are insisting on the closing of the two schools) as they are Conservative. So, are they doing this to support the people of Colchester or to stick two fingers up to the Tories?

3. Conservative - are united in their view that Norman Way must be sacrificed for this scheme and that the two schools must go, as nobody wants their kids to go to them anyway. Of course, the Conservatives have big posh houses out of town and there is no chance that their kids would go to the threatened schools anyway.

I have to agree that I wouldn't want my kids to go to the two schools either but, every area should have a school - shouldn't it? People don't want their kids to go to those schools presumably because they are thuggish and give a poor standard of education - due I suppose to the yobs intimidating the good kids and the teachers being powerless to control the situation. So what will the yobs do in a new school? Will they turn over a new leaf?

My biggest concern is that the main players are playing party political games, rather than doing the right thing. What is the right thing to do?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Heads in the Sand

I was interested in a bit of wisdom that I saw written on the Gazette's forum last week. A comment was made that Lord Hanningfield was anti-Colchester. This was answered with a statement that Colchester is anti-Colchester. Sadly, isn't this a fairly true statement of fact? Why is it that Williams and Griffin turned on their Christmas lights last week, the town centre turned on it lights this week and the Christmas Fair in the High Street is next week? Why is that there are so many factions and political groups that cannot get on together or agree on anything? This is all so bad for the town - and ultimately destructive. Yes! I have to agree that Colchester is anti-Colchester. What is to be done about it?

Christmas Lights

I managed to make the big switch-on of the lights at the Town Hall at 4.30pm, despite the hundreds of people that had gathered there to see the lights go on. Superbly done. Our joker mayor, Councillor Spyvee, put on a splendid performance - a credit to Colchester. I daresay that the usual maoaners will be whingeing about the lights tomorrow, but my old dutch and I thought that they looked good. A traffic free High Street was another delight. Why is it that we cannot close it to traffic permanently? Then on to Lion Walk, where they were having their own fun with their light switch-on. Not a bad word was heard. All good family fun. Perhaps the low-life were laying low until the bars opened!

Thursday, 12 November 2009


I read that a group are campaigning to stop the owner of Jumbo, Colchester's most prominent landmark, a long defunct water tower, from converting it into a luxury dwelling.

Jumbo is a much loved friend to us all. It has stood neglected for many years and a new life for it is needed. It has been an eyesore for too long. We trod the path that the Save Jumbo group are proposing, some years ago - and failed miserably. I do not believe that there is any alternative way forward, other than to welcome Mr Braithwaite's vision and to allow him, the owner, to convert it for a habitable use. Hopefully that would allow for some degree of public access, whilst preserving its history. There never was any public access before, so why should there be in the future. Sorry, but, apart from keeping a close eye on what is done with the fabric, I am (now) all for its conversion. Colchester should welcome it, as it should welcome any move to restore/preserve our heritage.

Freedom of Speech - Big Brother

The following was sent to me by a member of my church.

Do make gospel freedom a matter for urgent prayer as today the House of Lords votes on whether the free speech clause should remain as part of the criminal law. Lord Waddington’s clause protects free speech and religious liberty in the Government’s homophobic hatred office. This is an issue of freedom for the gospel. Julian Hurst, an evangelist in Chorlton, was handing out invitation cards to his church’s Easter services in a town centre when five policemen surrounded him and took away samples of his literature to investigate. The police had received complaints that he was homophobic. But neither Mr Hurst nor his leaflet had said anything about homosexuality. More recently many will have heard about the case of Pauline Howe who wrote to Norwich City Council objecting to a gay rights march. The next thing she knew two police officers called at her house to tell her that she had committed a ‘hate incident’. No action was taken against Mr Hurst or Mrs Howe. It is perfectly lawful to hold the Biblical view that homosexual conduct is wrong and also to preach it. But in practice the free speech protection is vitally needed to stop false allegations being made. So do pray that Lord Waddington will succeed in the vote today and that gospel freedom will be protected. Pray also that the issues will be fairly reported by the media.

A sad reflection of Blair's Britain?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Strippers and General Low-Life

Haven't we got enough rubbish wandering our streets of an evening without opening up a strip joint (lap-dancing by any other name) at St Botolphs? I thought that this area was destined to become a fabulous new development area. Has this town gone completely mad?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

World Heritage Site

Interesting to read the Standard last week with the call for Colchester to be become a World Heritage Site. What an odd suggestion for a town that clearly has quite the opposite ideas for itself. Our council has clearly demonstrated over many years that its only interest is building houses all over the place, clogging up our roads with more and more cars, having the highest parking charges in Essex to deter shoppers and visitors alike, closing down our schools, selling off our assets, giving nothing to culture or heritage - unless there is a profit in it, etc. etc. What have we got that might possibly qualify us as a World Heritage Site?

The largest Norman castle ever built, standing on top of a 2000 year old Roman temple?


The fact that we are the oldest recorded town in Britain?


The fact that Colchester was once King Arthur's Camelot?


The most complete Roman wall around any town in Britain, with the most intact Roman gateway as part of it?


The site of not one but two Roman theatres - something that occurs nowhere else in Britain?


The location of where the Roman emperor Claudius came in AD43 to the most powerful and influential location in Britain to take the surrender of eleven tribal kings?


The location of the only know Roman Circus - on a par with Ben Hur's Circus Maximus in Rome?

The birthplace of the discoverer of electricity, and who gave electricity its name?


Where 20 Colchester men lived and fought at the Battle of Trafalgar?


Where the jealous Tories in Chelmsford are doing its level best in gradually squeezing the life out of us in every which way it can, to finance its final salary pension schemes for its workers?

Now that's interesting!

Bah Humbug

We have witnessed some very public mudslinging recently concerning who said what about what for a planned Christmas extravaganza. We have accusuations that one of our cabinet councillors pledged public money to assist wealth creating businesses - and then welshed on the deal; was a liar even. Now, my understanding has been for many years now that there are no resources available for anything like this - unless it concerns cricket, in which case there is always plenty of funding available. So, my two questions to the businessmen who have so bitterly attacked our council is, 1. did you get it in writing (rule no.1 in my book - know your enemy/customer/supplier before you trust him)? and, 2. do you realise that you have shot yourselves in the foot with your very publicly reported actions? One of you, especially, manager of one of our principle shopping malls, must surely be in danger of losing his job. What do his bosses say about a manager who has made himself 'persona no grata' with the town's council? Another of you relies heavily for council support with staging profit making events in the town. Perhaps somebody has misjudged a situation; has not done their sums right and has looked for a scapegoat; has a good backup plan that will overcome any need for future working with Colchester Borough Council. I go for the scapegoat theory.