Colcestrian Q&A with… Isobel Merry

OK, Castle Ward again as promised.  Last time though, OK?

Please meet Isobel Merry, Labour Candidate for Castle Ward


Isobel says:

“My name is Isobel and I am 52 years old. This is the first time I have stood as a Councillor, so have a very steep learning curve ahead of me. I am Secretary of the Colchester Labour Party and a member of the party. I have lived in Colchester for 15 years with my husband and my 14 year old twin boys.

I was born outside Colchester in Great Maplestead, but left Essex to seek my fortune in London when I was 20. I have worked in media for my whole career. I now run a media consultancy with my husband, which has been in business for 12 years, we are based in Colchester but deal with clients all over the world.

I am standing as a Councillor because I believe that we need some fresh blood in the council with a fresh perspective, I believe I can look at the problems facing Colchester and come up with better solutions. My interest in Colchester were really piqued when I was involved in saving Colchester’s Roman Circus, raising nearly £300,000 in just 3 months.

Does Colchester look the way you want  it to? I don’t think so. I know Colchester deserves more . We are close to the population of a city but have NO powers over our roads and now NO power over our hospital. This has to change.”



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

Isobel Claire Merry, like to be known as “Is”.

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

Castle ward, is a beautiful and historical part of Colchester, It’s where I would chose to live if I moved.

3. If you don’t live in the Ward you’re standing for, why did you choose that Ward rather than your own?
If you do live in the Ward, what do you think about candidates standing in Wards they don’t live in?

Castle Ward is beautiful and one of the places I nearly moved to in Colchester. Colchester is a relatively small place, and I know the ward well, plus sometimes it is good to be slightly removed from situations to be able to act calmly, and logically.

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

The Labour Party. I have always been a committed Socialist. 

5. 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?

The National Party have had an enormous impact locally. I have been secretary of Colchester’s Labour Party since last June and In that time membership has grown from the low hundreds to well over 1,000!

Isobel hates having her picture taken

6. Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?

Travel, and history, I’m passionate about the Romans. Have recently visited Rome, to combine the two!

7. When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?

Running a media company with my husband Tony, and dealing with the trials and tribulations of my 14 year old twins, Alex and Ben, plus I like to go to the gym and keep fit.

8. How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?

I think it would do better if it had control of the road infrastructure. It makes no sense to me that a group pf people 15 miles away get to control our roads, the repairs (or lack of) and appear to make decisions which make no sense: turning off streetlights, making the entrance to Queen Street a bus lane and reversing the traffic flow along Priory Street.

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

The Roman history, I would make much more of it, have more on display, and show people how in fact Colchester is built on the same plan as Rome. If I could change one thing it would be to build more affordable homes in Colchester.

10. Who are your heroes?
Emeline Pankhurst, Tony Benn, and my Dad; Norman McAndrew
11. What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election?
I would meet with the disabled community, find out what the issues are, and then work out ways to action them.

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

As a woman, this is one of my big issues, women are still massively disadvantaged in the workplace, still earning less than men, and still making do with part time jobs, which are frequently well below their skill set, training and experience. I would look for ways in which we in Colchester could look to redress this.

13. What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?

I think penalising people for being homeless is frankly one of the most bizarre ideas ever dreamed up.  If someone is sleeping rough, I am sure it is not a lifestyle choice! Generally there are drug and alcohol problems at the root cause, and clearly these need to be dealt with, there need to be more rehab facilities available. I say deal with the cause not the symptom.

14. Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?

No I don’t. I think there should be a maximum wage that those at the top are allowed to earn. There should be an index linked pay structure in each company, so that if the boss wants to earn more, all the workers pay has to go up in proportion. Plus I think that more companies should look at their staff as stakeholders in the business, pay them more and involve them more. Happy, involved and motivated staff work harder.

15. Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?

Yes I am, I believe that Colchester is a compassionate town, and I believe in helping people who are less fortunate than myself, which is why I am a socialist.

16. What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?

The congestion in and around Colchester is becoming unbearable. This needs to be addressed including the proposed traffic reversal in Priory Street, which is a disastrous idea. I will do all I can to stop that happening, or reverse it, if it does happen.

17. Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?

I would like to see better more joined up public transport. For example provide commuter buses from key areas of Colchester to the station, to free up North Station from traffic and pollution. I would also like to see greener buses, and maybe bring trams back?

18. Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?

We need them both, I don’t think it should be an either/or. They both serve opposite ends of town. I believe that having both, and with our current population level, it would enable us to reapply for city status.

19. Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?

No I think proportional representation would be a fairer and more democratic way of voting. It is ridiculous that some  1.1 million people voted Green at the last election but that then only resulted in 1 of MP. Contrast that with the SNP who got 1.4 million votes and 56 MPs!

20. Are you having second thoughts?


Pretty cool, huh?

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

Get out there and VOTE!!!

The Colcestrian

Castle Ward, as if you didn’t know!

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