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.

12803111_1016738355068352_8923356525790514367_n-1
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
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