Colcestrian Q&A with… Julia Havis

Time is pressing, so just time for me to say:

Meet Julia Havis, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Old Heath & The Hythe…

Julia says:DSCN0434

“A few things about me, I am 56 and live in Scarletts Road with my partner Clive, three rescue cats and a rescue tortoise.
I am a School Governor at Old Heath Community Primary and a trustee of the Roman River Classical Music Festival. I am
also a Council appointed trustee of Colchester Borough Homes and Colchester Arts Centre. I have just finished a six year
stint as a trustee of the Mercury Theatre.
I love travelling especially to slightly more off the beaten track places and am off to tour India for a second visit in October
which will also be a belated honeymoon as I am getting married in June.”

three rescue cats and a rescue tortoise


QUESTIONS

Colcestrian – Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?

Julia – Julia Havis but after 4th June it will be Julia Stephen as I am getting married.  Julia

Colcestrian – What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?

Julia – I love Old Heath, it is my home. Many of the people have lived here all their lives and are surrounded by their families
so it has a wonderful feeling of being a complete community not just another area of Colchester.

Colcestrian – You do live in the Ward, what do you think about candidates standing in Wards they don’t live in?

Julia – I feel that you really should live in the Ward you represent to give you a real sense of what needs doing. I stood again because I hope that I have been doing a good job in helping people and I want to carry on what I have started.

Colcestrian – What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why?  If Independent, why did you choose to go it alone?

Julia – I am a Liberal Democrat because I believe in fairness for all.

 going in to coalition with the Tories hurt us locally as well as nationally

Colcestrian – Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?  If Independent, do you think Westminster politics will affect your votes?

Julia – I feel that going in to coalition with the Tories hurt us locally as well as nationally and whilst I would have preferred not to it did mean that we could dilute some of the more extreme things the Tories tried to do.

Colcestrian – Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?

Julia – I am a big supporter of the Arts so relax by going to the theatre a gallery or to a concert, I am also a West Ham supporter so can sometimes be found jumping up and down at the Boleyn ground. I love to travel and will be revisiting India in October for a belated honeymoon.

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Colcestrian – When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?

Julia – Every day is different as I work part time but an average day could be sticking a casserole in the oven to slow cook for dinner followed by a work appointment in the morning. Going to an older persons group in my Ward in the afternoon to catch up with residents and have a game of bingo and a sing song then home to feed the cats before heading out again for whatever meeting I have that evening. If it is not a meeting to do with the Council then it could be a Board meeting as I am on the Boards of Colchester Borough Homes, Roman River Music Festival and Colchester Arts Centre. I am also a Governor at Old Heath School and attend events there.

Colcestrian – How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?

Julia – We do our best and try very hard to do what is best for residents within the confines of Government policy. I am very proud to have been Chair of the Trading Board for the last two years which we set up to make the Council more commercially minded. We have managed to save our residents over £600,000 without cutting essential services.

Colcestrian – What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?

Julia – I find it impossible to choose the best thing about Colchester because we have so many things to be proud of. The Castle, the Arts scene, the Recreation Ground, our Roman heritage and being a Garrison town. The thing I would change is to stop people constantly moaning when they don’t realise how lucky they are to live in such a great place.

Colcestrian – Who are your heroes?

Julia – My parents, because they gave me the confidence to believe that just because I grew up in a Council house didn’t stop me from trying to do anything I wanted to do and that it was ok to fail as long as I had tried my best.

I find it abhorrent that anybody would want to fine somebody at their lowest ebb

Colcestrian – What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election, and what would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?

Julia – I will continue to do everything in my power to stop anybody being discriminated against, if someone comes to me with a problem I will try to help them.

Colcestrian – What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?

Julia – I find it abhorrent that anybody would want to fine somebody at their lowest ebb. I am so glad that we have organisations like Emmaus, the night shelter and Beacon House in Colchester who try to help these people turn their lives around.

Colcestrian – Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?

Julia – I would like to see George Osborne get by on his Living Wage but I am very glad we became a Living Wage Council before it was law and expected our suppliers to do the same.

Colcestrian – Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?

Julia – I am happy that Colchester has a long history of being a welcoming place for refugees I just wish I could stop all the wars that create them. I feel that the different nationalities we have in our town enhance it, I realise of course that the Ghurkas are not refugees but I think our town would be poorer without them.

 I feel that proportional representation would be a fairer system

Colcestrian – What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?

Julia – Although my Ward is one of the lowest in the Borough in economic terms we really don’t have any major problems just the usual potholes and littering.

Colcestrian – Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?

Julia – I am a passionate recycler and would like to educate people to encourage more of them to reduce, reuse and recycle. I am so pleased that we put solar panels on loads of our CBH properties to benefit our tenants from getting cheaper, greener electricity. I get my gas and electricity from a small green energy company and do a lot of shopping in charity shops.

Colcestrian – Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?

Julia – As I sat on the 2nd Planning meeting it is probably best I don’t comment.

Colcestrian – Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?

Julia – I feel that proportional representation would be a fairer system then the country would not be run by a party that only got around 30% of the total votes cast but I thank my lucky stars that I live in a democracy.

Colcestrian – Are you having second thoughts?

Julia – Not at all, but I must have been mad to set my wedding a month after the election.

Hope you enjoyed meeting Julia 🙂

Please add your comments below?  Share on Facebook?  Or Twitter?  Or around town?

If you are a Candidate who hasn’t already connected with me, I have to apologise as I’m at capacity now.  Hope you still enjoy the rest of the blogs coming from the backlog I have collected.  Do please engage with the public yourself – get on Facebook, Twitter, etc – onwards to election day!

The Colcestrian


 

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Candidates for Old Heath & The Hythe
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Pay it forward

Colonel Camulos

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On a much lighter note my blog this week has been inspired by the Homeless in Colchester.

No, I am not going to rant on about the excesses of the Super rich and self-serving behaviour of the establishment as we cannot control this, however will hope to inspire you to have the opportunity for you to do a little something of your own.

The concept of Pay it forward or Random Acts of Kindness is as you expect a selfless act to brighten someones day in any aspect, with the reward for yourself being the joy it brings to others.

This is the most infectious and addictive feeling in the world, and I enjoy doing such things regularly and anonymously.

This behaviour struck me in the early 1997 when I was asked to review a book by an author called Tony Robbins, a self-help author from the US of A. Naturally I procrastinated…

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Colcestrian Q&A with… Dave Harris

If ever you were looking for a man with a mission in Colchester, Dave Harris is a great example.  As Borough AND County Councillor, Mr Harris is about as engaged as it is possible to get.  I first saw him at a Colchester Soup event, pitching for a youth centre in his Ward, and thought ‘just another local Councillor’ until I heard him speak with passion and saw how loved he was by those around him.

I have, of course, since changed my default position on Councillors! 😉

So meet the thankfully ubiquitous Dave Harris, Labour Candidate & standing Councillor for Berechurch…


Introduction

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Harris… Dave Harris
Dave says:
“As a Councillor for 12 years, I have learnt how to do the best for my neighbours, my constituents. 
I always listen to residents and therefore make it easy for people to access me.
By advice surgeries (last Wednesday of every month 2:30 til 4 at the scout hall Queen Elizabeth Way) with direct contact on regular doorstep visits, by walking the streets looking for problems to get put right, and regular litter picks with my team and me – it is a fact we make a difference as a community.
My Facebook, Twitter, and all social media with e-mail and mobile phone always running hot!  I am proud to represent the great community of Berechurch.  My fellow team members Chris Pearson and Martyn Warnes feel as strongly as I do about putting our area first.”
Some examples of how Dave and his team stand together with the community involve organising a campaign to keep their local Thomas Lord Audley school and to save a school crossing patrol.
Dave is also Numero Uno on reporting pot holes and road defects all the time and is passionate about getting our streets improved.  Check pics below for Dave Spotting!

 

Q&A time 🙂

 

Colcestrian – Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?

Dave – David Harris

Prefer to be known as Dave

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Dave clearing drains

Colcestrian – What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?

Dave – I know Berechurch ward well, and have lived in this area since the mid 80’s.  I am re-standing, as my team and I are passionate about our area and continuing the work we do.

I feel I have a lot to offer to the residents of Berechurch.

 

Colcestrian – You do live in the Ward – what do you think about candidates standing in Wards they don’t live in?

Dave – Where a candidate lives is important, but I do know very good Councillors who don’t live in the ward who represent their residents very well.  Its what a Councillor does is much much more important.

 

Colcestrian – What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why?

Dave – I am a Labour candidate, and have been a member since the 1970’s.

Why? anyone who knows me will testify I have strong sense of social justice, and I do community issues with a social slant. I also think Labour Councillors like myself always go the extra mile

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Dave and chum on rubbish pick-up

Colcestrian – Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?

Dave – Very little, where Councillors like myself work hard within the community as a whole, and give good representation without political dictat the national scene has little impact.

As far as I am concerned being a Councillor is about representing my neighbours and being honest, accountable, committed and available all times

 

Colcestrian – Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?

Dave – I have my wife, children and grandchildren to spend time with, who inspire me to be as good as I can for our area.

I also have a Triumph motorcyle – I like to ride when I can.  I am also a very active school governor in the area.

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Dave trying to make sense of the bus timetables – good luck!

Colcestrian – When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?

Dave – Family

Watching sport

Walking

Services run by the Council are under attack

Colcestrian – How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?

Dave – I think that we have done well considering the huge government cuts to Councils (over 40 percent).  We have managed to mitigate the impact to the Colchester residents of those cuts.  Services run by the Council are under attack… and we have so far been able to keep things under some sort of control.  The future may need us to be more creative in making the cake spread around.

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That is one heck of a haul!

Colcestrian – What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?

Dave – I love the heritage and history of Colchester.  We don’t sell it enough though compared to places like York.  I am a founder member of “Destination Colchester” whose aims are to promote our great Town.

I would certainly change the amount of litter I pick up with my team on a weekly basis, and secondly not squeeze in more housing without the correct infrastructure to support the community.

I love the heritage and history of Colchester

Colcestrian – Who are your heroes?
 
Dave – Martin Luther King for ciivil rights.
My late father and mother for trying to raise a family against a back drop of low wages, and illness.
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Dave cleans the street signs up too!
Colcestrian – What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election?
 
Dave – I follow the actions of Fair Access to Colchester, and have sought advice from a disabled Councillor friend.  For example he has visited my area to help me prove a footpath was not safe for a wheelchair.

Colcestrian – What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?

Dave – I have some very good colleagues within the Labour group in 3 female Councillors who keep me on the straight and narrow for such matters.

I trust them as they advocate more input from the women residents in council matters.

It is often left to the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces

Colcestrian – What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?

Dave – Not something I support, I think we have a number of homeless in Essex, and have seen the rise in the last 6 or 7 years as austerity measures bite.  It is often left to the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces as the process of Government fails to deal with this complex problem.

Thank heavens for the charitable and voluntary sector, without them, we would have a far greater problem.

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A dog joins the team!

Colcestrian – Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?

Dave – Most definitely not.

The living wage as I recently spoke on in Council was far higher, until the central Government imposed a ‘Living Wage’ lower than the original.

I try to think what I would feel if my home was destroyed by war, members of my family killed, and not being able to fight back, but few of us in Colchester can comprehend that

Colcestrian – Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?

Dave – Colchester has a long history over hundreds of years of supporting people of any nation who are in trouble.

Central government are renting private rented homes for people who are fleeing war.

I try to think what I would feel if my home was destroyed by war, members of my family killed, and not being able to fight back, but few of us in Colchester can comprehend that.

I hope the wars in Syria are soon curbed and to allow our human neighbours to re build their lives.

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Without Dave and team you wonder who would clean up the mess…

Colcestrian – What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?

Dave – Lots I’m afraid.

Pot holes… kerb stones… flooding due to poor drainage ….. lack of street lighting at night… poor footpaths … and inadequate parking on some of our estates.

 

Colcestrian – Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester Borough should instigate?

Dave – Getting the recycling rates up

Work with bus companies to get buses to be more green

More incentive for solar power in our homes

To continue to promote cycling

And to promote walking as an alternative

 

Colcestrian – Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?

Dave – I await the decision of the planning inspectorate appeal with interest.

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Dave has been known to don a complete Santa outfit for youth centre!

Colcestrian – Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?

Dave – Wish it was used more… we need higher rates of participation in the electoral process

Maybe someone in central government will make it as easy to vote online or by text as the X factor programme.  It cannot be that difficult, can it?

 

Colcestrian – Are you having second thoughts?

Dave – No way

I will serve my residents I share the streets with until my last breath, or until they no longer want me!


 

Well, by crikey Dave… that’s a great closing line.  Reminds me of Buster Keaton who famously told the director to keep filming until the film ran out or he was dead, whichever came first!

Dave is one dedicated Councillor and I wish him success in re-election this May 5th.  Can we clone him?

Please add your comments below?  Share on Facebook?  Or Twitter?  Or around town?

If you are a Candidate who hasn’t already connected with me, I have to apologise as I’m at capacity now.  Hope you still enjoy the rest of the blogs coming from the backlog I have collected.  Do please engage with the public yourself – get on Facebook, Twitter, etc – onwards to election day!

The Colcestrian/Iam Hanuman/Matthew Norman

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Candidates for Berechurch Ward

Colcestrian Q&A with… Vic Flores

How many of these have we done it now…?

A few, and they seem to be going down better than cod liver oil, for which I am glad.

This time we meet a chap who is quite active on Twitter and likes to engage politically – a good start for the job!

His name is Vic Flores. He’s standing as a modern Conservative Candidate for Shrub End Ward


I lived at home and travelled to the Cold War on my motorbike!

Introductionimage1 (1)

Vic says “Hi, I’m Vic Flores and I’m 51 years old. I have two children (Bobby and Alice) and I live in Straight Road.
I’ve lived in Colchester since I was 8 and went to St Teresa’s primary in Lexden and then the grammar school.
I joined the RAF as a reconnaissance photographer to see the world, and they posted me to Wattisham in Suffolk, 25 miles away. I lived at home and travelled to the Cold War on my motorbike!
I started my television production company in 1987 and have filmed all over the world for many different tv stations specialising in sport. I’ve filmed world cups, Formula 1 and worked with numerous celebrities.
I decided to take things easier about 2 years ago and to change career into travel. I now work part time for ROL based in Lexden as an ambassador, moving their clients around the world and for IT Fleet based at Raydon, delivering new cars to clients for Mercedes and BMW.
I met Will Quince around 2 1/2 years ago and I offered to help him campaign, which has led to my first campaign to become a Councillor with Will delivering leaflets for ME this time around!
I have a long record of volunteering in my local community and I would be honoured to represent shrub end on the council.”

Vic added later that he felt that the Lib Dem message in Shrub End was overwhelmingly negative.  He said “We have taken the view that people get fed up of politicians attacking each other all the time.  We are trying to focus on a positive message.  Pauline Hazell works tirelessly for Shrub End residents and sometimes even has her work claimed by other parties, which she takes with good grace.  I’m not sure I would in that situation!”


 

On to your questions then sir ☺

 

Colcestrian – Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?

Vic – My full name is Victor Robert Flores but only my mother calls me Victor.  I’m Vic to everyone else.  Robert is from my grandfather who painted Wellington bombers in ww2.

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Vic’s granddad used to paint these!

 

 

Colcestrian – What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?

Vic – I have lived in or very near this ward since I was at school.  My parents live in Lethe Grove and I lived on Shrub End Road for 15 years until I moved to Westlands and then Straight Road.  I love the Ward because it has such a varied population and it needs representing with enthusiasm, because there’s a lot to do.

 

Colcestrian – As you don’t live in the Ward you’re standing for, why did you choose that Ward rather than your own?

Vic – Technically I live now in Prettygate Ward, but my local is the Berechurch Arms and I still consider myself very much a local.  Sometimes with local elections it might be a matter of a few hundred yards.  I think as long as you understand the issues in a ward then you can represent that Ward very well.

the modern Conservative party is now a place where all are welcome

Colcestrian – What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why?

Vic – I am a Conservative, always have been to a certain extent, but the party changed about 10 years ago into a party I wanted to be more part of.  I have friends of all religions from many different parts of the world.  Some are gay, some are straight and the modern Conservative party is now a place where all are welcome.

 

Colcestrian – Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?

Vic – Yes, I think it obviously has an effect, especially if the party in power is unpopular nationally and the electorate want to show their anger.  But it’s very unpredictable this time as all the parties have national issues they are trying to deal with and with the Euro referendum on the horizon, many politicians of many parties are working together, both for and against.

 

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Imagine this is Vic – it isn’t, but imagine it!

Colcestrian – Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?

Vic – I love footy, Colchester and Liverpool and motor racing.  My son and I have a massive collection of old Scalextric cars and my daughter is showing signs of developing her photography habit, something I love too.

 
Colcestrian – When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?

Vic – I am either delivering people’s new Mercedes or BMW or helping people get from their cruise ship to their hotel or airport, working as an ambassador for Reader Offers Ltd, based in Lexden.

 

Colcestrian – How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?

Vic -I think the current administration is tired.  There is no co-operation between the Coalition and the Conservatives, so even though the Conservatives have the largest group, their voters are not represented or respected by the administration.  In so many respects Colchester is falling behind where it needs to be and its time for a change.  The handling of the Tollgate planning issue was local petty politics at its worst, with Councillors that voted against the administration being mysteriously unavailable for the following meeting, replaced with Councillors that by coincidence held the opposite view.  The town centre is dirty and seemingly devoid of strategy and a number of world class historical monuments are barely promoted.

The reduction in disabled spaces in the town has been a problem

Colcestrian – What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?

Vic – Colchester is the most wonderful mix of people’s.  You have the outlying rural wards, you have the suburban, swiftly growing areas and you have the military community.  You have an amazing night life and a compact uniquely historical town centre.  What it needs is a direction and a plan, to keep it vibrant, safe and appealing to visitors.

 

Colcestrian – Who are your heroes?

Vic – Kevin Keegan, Ayrton Senna and my mum.

 

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Shrub End Ward viewed from a flying machine

Colcestrian – What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election?

Vic – Protect the disabled spaces in the town, some of which have been removed.  Provide support for military injured as goodness knows they’ve earned our support and look at ways we can help create jobs for those that can work.

My mother is completely disabled so I have first hand experience of the problems entailed.  The reduction in spaces in the town has been a problem as my father is less likely to take the gamble on whether he can get a space or not.

 
Colcestrian – What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?

Vic – I am currently investigating what happens to ex military wives after separation and what support can be given whilst they rebuild their lives, particularly with children.

 

Colcestrian – What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?

Vic – Disgraceful and pointless.

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Pauline Hazell (Cllr), who Vic really rates

Colcestrian – Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?

Vic – Well, it’s a massive step in the right direction but am mindful that companies need to be able to afford to pay it.

 

Colcestrian – Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?

Vic – Yes, of course, but am also mindful that we already have a shortage of housing stock for people already here, some whom have been waiting a long time.

 

Colcestrian – What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?

Vic – The quality of the roads and kerbs in Shrub End estate is shocking and we need to keep the pressure on ECC to deliver.  There was uncertainty with Alderman Blaxil School which was largely answered at a public meeting.  I was surprised that there was a petition raised before the meeting and there was still one after.  I’d like to see more for the youngsters to do in the Ward.

 

Colcestrian – Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?

Vic – There has got to be a better integrated transport policy which encourages people living near the centre to use public transport and cheap parking for those in outlying areas.  Also buses that run earlier in the morning for earlier commuters.

Will Quince is delivering leaflets for ME this time around!

Colcestrian – Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?

Vic – I think turning away a thousand jobs and millions of investment was idiotic.  Now watch as reasons to refuse Tollgate are reversed for the Northern Gateway.

 

Colcestrian – Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?

Vic – Yes and yes.

 

Colcestrian – Are you having second thoughts?

Vic – No! I’m really enjoying my first attempt at becoming a Councillor (said with my fingers crossed behind my back!)


 

So there you have it – hope you liked meeting Vic!  A regular guy with a good bit of life experience.  Yet again we see that there is agreement that the situation for the disabled of Colchester needs looking at – pretty much unanimous.

Please add your comments below?  Share on Facebook?  Or Twitter?  Or around town?

If you are a Candidate who I haven’t already made contact with and you wish to engage with the public, take part in The Colcestrian’s Colchester Candidate Q&A!  Drop me an email on colcestrianperson@gmail.com – I might just have time to fit you in before election day!

The Colcestrian/Iam Hanuman/Matthew Norman

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The Shrub End Candidate list

Autism in Colchester

Colonel Camulos

imgres-1Autism, a provocative word, those who live with it want to be understood, those who have children with it want people to understand and those who don’t know about it thinks it does not exist.

I have children who suffer with this across the whole spectrum, you kind of get into a default circle of like-minded families as society does not fully understand.

It is utterly heartbreaking when you take your daughter out to build a bear to purchase a new dress for her huggle bear and her entire class are in there for a party (apart from her) when you realise that bullying by non-inclusion is a symptom of lack of understanding within the community of autism as a whole.

Keeping your head up when inside you are broken with pain, as the look on your 8 year daughters face when she realises is an awful feeling for a parent…

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Colcestrian Q&A with… Amanda Kirke

Well, I revealed today that I am this person for those who are interested.  It’s also there for those who are not interested.  To be honest, it’s just there, and I haven’t pressed delete.  It doesn’t meant that these blogs are stopping.  In fact today’s is with… A GREEN CANDIDATE!

Now this lady would be the first to say don’t vote for her, in fact she actually did say that to me, but what she means is Vote for Mark Goacher (watch this space) as he is the 1st Choice Candidate in the Ward she’s standing in.  The Greens have put up three candidates in every ward, I believe and they have helpfully graded them 1 to 3 so that you know who to vote for if you plan on casting less than 3 Green votes.  Kind of a cool system.

I should declare that I know this candidate in the real world, and she was the second person to guess who I was before today’s reveal.

And with that, please meet Amanda Kirke, Green Party Candidate for Castle Ward


 

IntroductionCGP candidates 2016 035

Amanda says: “I’m joint coordinator of Colchester Green Party and an active member of
the local People’s Assembly; a national campaigning group opposed to ‘austerity’ cuts to our public services and welfare state.  Until about 2 years ago I wasn’t really politically active, beyond shouting at the TV whenever Question Time came on.  The rise of UKIP and the slide to the right in the Labour Party at that time finally pushed me over the edge and I decided to join the Green Party.  I have been an active member ever since.

 Until about 2 years ago I wasn’t really politically active, beyond shouting at the TV whenever Question Time came on

I grew up in a council house in Newbury, Berkshire at the time of the Greenham Common peace camps and the Newbury bypass protests.  All of which left a lasting impression on me – a firm belief in truly affordable social housing as a bedrock for social mobility, and the power of popular protests to create change.  Because my mum was a single parent, I received a full grant and was able to study for a law degree in London in the early 1990s.

I graduated during a recession and after a year temping for Vodafone in Newbury I took the advice of my typing teacher and retrained to become an advertising copywriter.  After a few years in ad agencies (I’m ashamed to say I did a PG tips ad with the chimps) I somehow managed to get into the BBC and began a career in broadcaster advertising.  I am now self-employed, working largely from home or commuting to London (don’t get me started on the cost of train fares).

As someone who has benefited enormously from the safety net and support of the welfare state, I simply cannot sit and watch while the opportunities that were given to me are denied to others.

I’ve lived in Colchester for the past 13 years but am still finding new places to explore around town.  Colchester has a rich and unique past, I hope to contribute to a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for us all.


 

Q&A Time…

 

Colcestrian – Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?

Amanda – Amanda Jane Kirke. Amanda.  ‘Mand’ to a select few (mum and best friend).

 

Colcestrian – What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time? 

Amanda – Castle Ward is what makes Colchester Colchester.  It’s a special place that’s the heart of our town.  We need to look after it better. 

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Peoples Assembly protest with Labour activists – we’re a big happy family at Colchester PA!

Colcestrian – You don’t live in the Ward you’re standing for.  Why did you choose that Ward rather than your own? 

Amanda – I live just over the border in Mile End.  The Green Party are trying to make a break through in Colchester and Castle represents our strongest chance of a gaining our first seat on the council, so standing our most active members in Castle Ward was a strategic decision. 

 

Castle Ward is what makes Colchester Colchester

Colcestrian – What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why? 

Amanda – Green Party.  Has the most forward looking policies, and offers something radically different to other parties.  Often maligned, our policies then become mainstream- renationalising the railways and universal basic income are two which are now being talked about more and more.

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Amanda supporting the Junior Doctor’s Strike

Colcestrian – Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?

Amanda – No idea.

Often maligned, our policies then become mainstream

Colcestrian – Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies? 

Amanda – Going to gigs, bootsales!

 

Colcestrian – When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of? 

Amanda – Writing adverts for broadcasters or ad agencies.  Trying to complete a documentary about a miscarriage of justice in the 1960s that I’ve been researching.

 

Colcestrian – How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester? 

Amanda – Could do better.  But could do a lot worse – especially if the Conservatives have their way and tie us into long and expensive contracts with the likes of Capita.  ‘Commissioning councils’ are not the rosy model of success that the Conservatives glibly say they are.  Google Barnet council [OK I will – Colcestrian] and see here for more information on the kind of services/fiascos we might encounter.

Amanda provided this link – http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2013/08/nine-spectacular-council-outsourcing-failures

 

Colcestrian – What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could? 

Amanda – Best thing – Castle Park, it’s the jewel in our crown.  Thing I would change tomorrow- definitely the gridlocked traffic.

 

Colcestrian – Who are your heroes? 
Amanda – Kate Bush, Shami Chakrabarti
Maybe all Councillors should try and get around in a wheelchair for a day or two
Colcestrian – What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election? 
Amanda – Consult disabled people on what would make their lives easier on a daily basis.  Audit the town from the perspective of a disabled person; how easy or hard is to get around town, where are the pavements with no drop curbs or adverse cambers, public buildings with inadequate access (a disabled friend says that the job centre is not easily accessed due to the height of the curbs.)  Maybe all Councillors should try and get around in a wheelchair for a day or two.  I’m sure it would be an education for us all.

Colcestrian – What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed? 

Amanda – Make sure that funding for the women’s refuge is guaranteed and protected.

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Amanda – passionate about politics

Colcestrian – What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless? 

Amanda – Utterly wrong.

 

Colcestrian – Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage? 

Amanda – Are we talking about  the national living wage?  That was George Osborne trying to be clever.  It only applies to those aged over 25, it’s another example of the Tory party abandoning young people.

 

Colcestrian – Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees? 

Amanda – Absolutely.

 

Colcestrian – What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in? 

Amanda – Empty shops and decline in the east end of the town centre.

Electric buses for the town centre

Colcestrian – Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate? 

Amanda – Electric buses for the town centre. 

 

Colcestrian – Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views? 

Amanda – There’s a town centre that needs looking after first.

 

Colcestrian – Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose? 

Amanda – Not at all.

 

Colcestrian – Are you having second thoughts? 

Amanda – About this Q&A?  No.


 

Amanda came back with punchy responses and I like that – I wish her and her colleagues luck in Castle Ward – People Power!

Would you like to add your comment below?  Or on Facebook?  Or Twitter?  Or around town?

If you are a Candidate who I haven’t already made contact with and you wish to engage with the public, take part in The Colcestrian’s Colchester Candidate Q&A!  Drop me an email on colcestrianperson@gmail.com – I might have time to fit you in before election day!

The Colcestrian/Iam Hanuman/Matthew Norman

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Candidate List for Castle Ward