A unique entry for the blog series, this is a double act. These two Tory ‘sisters’ seem to have one area of Colchester pretty tied up.
Will you think so after meeting, Sue Lissimore & Beverly Davies, Conservative candidates & standing Councillors for Prettygate Ward…
Sue Lissimore is age 49. She’s married to David who runs his own local Electrical business. They have three children age 25, 21 and 16 and have lived in Prettygate since 1989. Sue was elected to Colchester Borough Council in 2005 and Essex County Council in 2013. She’s an Ipswich Town Football supporter who also loves Star Wars, Alien, Predator and most films with Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her best night would be in a caravan in a field with her pug drinking real ale and eating nachos! (An alcoholic pug!!??)
Beverly Davies declines to give her age but reveals that her professional background is funding. Before working for RCCE, she managed a grant for Essex County Council which enabled community projects. She loves theatre and live music but doesn’t feel as though she gets to see it enough! Her favourite festival is the Larmer Tree Festival which is near Blandford Forum and is a small festival, but almost a week long and includes music, craft and comedy. Second would be Cornbury. Beverly has three children, 27, 25 and 21 and her middle daughter and her pug, Jay, (ANOTHER PUG!) currently live with her. Beverly previously worked for CBC which makes things interesting sometimes!
Colcestrian – Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?
Sue – Sue Lissimore – Sue.
Beverly – Beverly Davies. Beverly (but I answer to all sorts!).
Colcestrian – What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?
Sue – I like most the residents who live here. Some have lived here since their houses were built in the 1950s and have married, had families and now retired. But they are here because they love Prettygate and they care for the area. We all now live such busy lives but when residents come out to see you during our street surgeries, most of them know one another and know the history of the area, which they pass on to us. I’ve lived here 27 years and am so proud to represent the area that means so much to me and my family. I’m standing because there is still work to be done – litter picking, helping residents with issues and helping Prettygate remain a great place to live.
Beverly – I was at an event a year or so ago and we were asked to draw our ward. I decided to do this literally, showing the main roads, schools, shops, doctors, dentists, hairdressers, pubs, churches, play areas, community halls, etc. People honestly thought I’d drawn what I thought a perfect ward should look like! We have everything – we are a microcosm where everything just works, people have chosen to come and live and stay here. I wanted to stand this time because, as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, we want to lead Colchester Borough Council and make it a better place.
Colcestrian – You do live in the Ward – what do you think about candidates standing in Wards they don’t live in?
Sue – What is important is how they work for the ward and how they work with other Councillors as a team. Our team in Prettygate work well and have different strengths – Beverly is an expert in funding projects whilst Roger’s experience as a Solicitor gives the team strength when looking in to property issues, for example.
Beverly – I have been a Prettygate councillor for 8 years now. When I was first elected I lived about 50m outside the ward, in Stanway. I then moved to All Saints Avenue and then Straight Road (both in Prettygate). When I was looking for a flat to move into, there wasn’t anything in Prettygate at the time which is why I am just outside the ward now (but still adjoining). My children went to school at Philip Morant even when we lived in Stanway and I have known Prettygate ward for the last 20 years. It’s a unique place and I love it.
Colcestrian – What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why? If Independent, why did you choose to go it alone?
Sue – I’m a Conservative and have been all my life – I started off helping my Mum who worked in the Clacton constituency office when I was 7. I believe in freedom to make something of yourself if you work hard but protecting those that are vulnerable and need help.
Beverly – I am a Conservative with a small ‘c’. I believe in the basic conservative principles where if you work hard you are rewarded but those that need help receive it. I also have a social conscience – some have called me a liberal conservative, but I’m not sure I like the ‘L’ word!
Colcestrian – Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?
Sue – We do not have many residents who come to our street surgeries to talk about national politics – it is normally local issues as these are local elections such as wheelie bins, roads and pavements and lack of infrastructure. I’ve not had any questions yet about national policies.
Beverly – Inevitably there are residents who just look at the political labels and have already formed their opinions. Nothing we can do will change their minds. This is why we like to get out and about to talk to people to impress on them that these are local elections and this is a chance to address those things people don’t like about Colchester.
Colcestrian – Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?
Sue – Love my caravan which is a little old and sad – my husband and I take it to music festivals and real ale festivals. Love growing vegetables but gave up my allotment as I didn’t have the time to look after it. Also have 3 dogs and do a little bit of running – done a half marathon but 10k is my usual limit.
Beverly – I discovered the art of felting (needle and wet) last year and would like to do more of this when I have time, as well as silver clay jewellery making. I started stewarding at music festivals many years ago and still like to do at least one festival in the year – in fact I got Sue into festivals! We have spent many an enjoyable weekend listening to music with a G&T or cider in hand. I have photos, but she’d hate me!
Colcestrian – When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?
Sue – Don’t get many days off but would involve dog walking, a meal and some Prosecco!!!
Beverly – I have a 9-5 job as Programme Manager for an EU fund and work for the Rural Community Council of Essex in Feering. The grant is to help rural businesses and farmers to increase their employment and grow their businesses. Two days a month I sit in Colchester as a Magistrate, which I really enjoy.
Colcestrian – How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?
Sue – Disappointingly. The lack of infrastructure following all the extra housing, the lack of new shopping opportunities in our town centre, the total lack of co ordination with Essex County Council leaves me very exasperated yet they take credit when it’s funded by ECC. There are some excellent Officers who work for the council but they need political guidance and I don’t think they are getting it at the moment.
Beverly – Frustratingly. I am finding so many barriers in the way of progress.
Colcestrian – What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?
Sue – Best thing is the atmosphere – I’m very proud to have lived her for nearly 30 years and I love it. It has the right mix of residents – those who have lived here all their lives and those that are new. I love it’s history and pageantry and I’m so proud to be a small part of that as a Councillor. I’d change our attitude to Essex County Council – when the Lib Dems were in Government and in control of the Council, the only authority they could blame was Essex County Council and they did for everything even when it wasn’t. We all need to work together if we are going to get anywhere near sorting out our Highways problems – not play the blame game.
Beverly – I love the history and sense of place we have. We have some very special areas in Colchester, from the town centre to Wivenhoe to West Mersea and Tiptree and the Stour Valley at Dedham. We really do have something for everyone but I’d like it all to be more inclusive. I know that some people find it difficult to get around the town and outlying areas and I’d like the borough to be seen as open to all.
Colcestrian – Who are your heroes?
Sue – Haha – I answered that question once before saying Arnold Schwarzenegger – he started from a very humble background to be a champion in three fields (body building, films and politics) with only an average amount of talent and a language problem. But he had huge drive. I admire anyone facing adversity who works hard to be the best they can.
Beverly – Whilst I don’t go in for hero-worship, I absolutely love Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Judi Dench. They just come across as professional and real but with a sense of mischief and style.
Colcestrian – What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election?
Sue – Protect disabled parking in town centre. I learned when the Lib Dems banned cars from the High St, that there has to be different parking for those with different needs. Some may be able to park on North Hill, for example, but some won’t and we need to protect the spaces we have so there is access for everyone.
Beverly – My sister has a friend who is partially sighted and has a guide dog. I think every councillor should accompany a person with disabilities around town to see exactly what barriers they encounter and then work to break down those barriers. Having been told ‘you can’t come in here with a dog’ even though it’s obviously a guide dog, is a horrible situation to be in. I hasten to add, this wasn’t in Colchester and hope it would never happen here, but we need to keep on top of it.
Colcestrian – What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?
Sue – I don’t agree with positive discrimination – we need the best PERSON for a job regardless of colour, creed, age or sex. However as a woman I would hope I would inspire anyone to stand as a Councillor and to get involved with their local community.
Beverly – Every person is equal. I don’t believe women should have any more rights than men, and vice versa, but they must be viewed equally.
Colcestrian – What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?
Sue – We need greater understanding of mental health issues as many homeless need extra help – fining them will not help.
Beverly – I do not believe in fining people for rough sleeping or being homeless. I don’t know of anyone who has been fined for being homeless? As a Magistrate, it’s always frustrating when we can only deal with someone by way of a fine when they obviously don’t have the funds to pay it. We always try to find another solution. Being homeless or a rough sleeper is not usually a choice.
Colcestrian – Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?
Sue – We all need a decent wage if we work hard but I’m very concerned about our children affording rent or a mortgage in the future. The Living Wage is not enough for this. We need further help with shared ownership.
Beverly – It depends on your circumstances. I rent my flat and with all the other bills, I would struggle to manage on the living wage.
Colcestrian – Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?
Sue – What they have been through is beyond our comprehension but we have to ensure they have the support in place to help them settle. As long as the funds are in place to ensure they get the help they need, I welcome them.
Beverly – Most of us are fortunate to not be in a position of civil war or unrest and I cannot comprehend the situations the refugees have found themselves. It is our human duty to afford whatever help we can to refugees and to offer them a warm welcome and a safe place to live.
Colcestrian – What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?
Sue – Parking. On pavements, near schools, across driveways, on junctions… We have to try and persuade those dropping off at schools that there are safer places to drop off and encourage walking trains and safe paths rather than getting as close as possible to the school gates. We need to be courteous as well and take in to account those around us.
Beverly – Inconsiderate parking which in turn leads to problems with kerbstones and pavements.
Colcestrian – Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?
Sue – Not introducing wheelie bins for a start. Start recycling from flats where it is not already offered and make it easier for everyone to recycle.
Beverly – Proper recycling facilities for flats and making it easier to recycle. If it’s easy, people will do it. We shouldn’t punish people for not recycling, but should make it easier to do.
Colcestrian – Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?
Sue – There is a place for both out of town developments and a prosperous town centre. We desperately need a new cinema as many, including myself, travel to Ipswich or Braintree. But we need to promote our town centre and make it a centre for family entertainment and a unique shopping experience with major chains but also quirky small businesses that will encourage visitors and residents to come to our town centre over and over again.
Beverly – The town centre is small, by way of it being a Roman town. We cannot expand the town centre and this is what makes it special. We can offer three things: a unique town centre with heritage, entertainment, eateries and individual shops; an out of town shopping area for the larger items; and an area for leisure. Colchester is a small town, albeit rapidly expanding. We need to ensure we can cater for all needs but must not try to put everything in one place.
Colcestrian – Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?
Sue – I would change to four yearly elections. The council is a multi million pound business and you can not run such a business on a 9 month business plan which is what happens at the moment. Every March/April/May the council shuts down in effect to deal with the elections and wait to see if a new administration emerges. This is not on.
Beverly – Borough Council elections should definitely be four-yearly. An administration needs a four year mandate to deliver its promises and to expect to turn things around on a yearly basis is not reasonable. Other than that, yes!
Colcestrian – Are you having second thoughts?
Sue – No. I’m so proud to represent Prettygate and we have a great team with Beverly and Roger. We bounce ideas off one another and find solutions to issues.
Poor Roger – he kind of got left behind, didn’t he?
Did Sue & Beverly nail it for you, or miss the mark?
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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!