Not long now!
He only lost out by a weeny few votes last time he stood – here he is again! Meet Lee Scordis, Labour Candidate for Old Heath & The Hythe…
“I was born in Colchester and have lived in Colchester for the majority of my life. My family has lived in Colchester throughout my whole life, and even when my parents moved to Harwich when I was 13, I would still find myself spending the majority of my time in Colchester. A lot of my childhood was spent in Shrub End, where I was looked after by my Grandad and Grandma. My first school was Kingsford in Shrub End and I am happy to say that it is still standing. I also attended Essex University and have a degree in History. I have worked several different jobs. I first worked in Morrisons as a shop assistant throughout sixth form and university. I then worked many office roles, including customer services for Essex County Council (that was certainly interesting). I then tried my hand at teaching History as I had always wanted a job that made a difference. Sadly I decided to leave teaching as I felt it was not the right profession for me. I guess sometimes a job differs greatly from how you imagine it in your head. I am now currently a community organiser for a charity, where I have been empowering young people and showing them the importance of voting.
I only joined the Labour Party in 2013 but became immediately involved in the election of the phenomenon that is Dave Harris. I joined Labour as I wanted to make a difference but also out of anger. I was angry at all the lies, scandals and incompetence from all parties and I want to change this. After working with Dave Harris I saw how that could be achieved and saw the type of Councillor I wished to be. In 2014 I stood as a candidate for Old Heath, worked throughout the year, copying many of Dave’s initiatives, and I made what was a safe Lib Dem seat a marginal, losing by only 69 votes. I am in this to make a difference, not that I don’t love a litter pick in the rain, and hopefully the people of Old Heath and the Hythe (including Rowhedge) allow me the do that.”
1. Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?
I’d like to say it’s something cool like ‘o captain, my captain’. Instead I’m known as Lee or Les.
2. What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?
I like how different my ward is. Firstly you have the village of Rowhedge, that has a great community spirit, good pubs and lovely housing. You then have the Old Heath that has it’s own separate identity. Then there is the Hythe that is regenerating each day, with new housing and new businesses looking to invest. The diner and Old Heath cafe are also two of my favorite places to eat in Colchester. I am standing this time as I only lost by 69 votes in 2014. Since then I have been working hard at a grassroots level by organising litter picks, reporting issues to the relevant authorities and hopefully I can perform this in an official capacity.
3. If you don’t live in the Ward you’re standing for, why did you choose that Ward rather than your own?
In 2014 I decided to stand in Old Heath as it was an area that I saw as neglected but with plenty of potential. I still think this is the case currently and I hope to change that if elected. My father also has connections with Old Heath as he used to work at the Co-op on Cavendish Avenue in his younger days. Many people attack candidates for not living in the ward. However if you live in Colchester (as you will be representing Colchester also), know the ward, know the issues and spend time working in the ward; like my litter picks; I don’t see the issue. There are plenty of Councillors who do live in their ward and are not the best representatives by any stretch of the imagination.
4. What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why?
I am affiliated with Labour. It has to be said that before 2008 I was not political at all and I did not vote. After the recession I saw the error of my ways and how selfish I had been. In my personal views I had always been to the left of centre. In 2010 I unfortunately made the mistake of trusting in Nick Clegg, as he was promoting a left wing agenda and a vision of hope. I had been sympathetic towards Labour in 2010 but i felt that Gordon Brown had had his day. However once the Lib Dems stabbed their support in the back I saw that Labour was the party for me. I don’t agree with all Labour policies but regarding my values they were certainly the party closest to them. I believe in equality and everyone having a fair share in life. I believe in workers rights, fairer taxes, council housing, strong public services and also many green issues. I had also grown up under ‘New Lanbour’ and I saw the difference a Labour government could make. I still remember going to school when there were buckets in the corner catching water. When my cousin went to the same school years after, this was no longer the case and the school had been renovated.
5. Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?
Unfortunately this is the case with some people. For years I was associated with the ‘bacon sarnie man’ and now anything Jeremy Corbyn does that they do not like I will also be lambasted for this. However there are some who appreciate the work you do locally and will give you a personal vote rather than for just the party.
6. Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?
Lots. I am a big film fan and tend to watch a lot of cult films. Although I love the occasional action film I also love films that are real and gritty like ‘This is England’, with excellent acting and great dialogue. I’m also a big Tarentino fan. I’m a big football fan. Despite being a Tottenham fan I like watching all football and watch it for the beauty of the game. Music is a big part of my life. I’m mainly into Classic Rock but also love power ballads. I also like to read, keep fit, go to the pub and go to gigs when I can afford them.
7. When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?
The one thing I hate most about politics is how much time it takes up in a day. Firstly you have to create and deliver leaflets. Then canvass, put up garden stakes, pick up casework, follow through on the casework and keep up-to-date on emails. Once I’m out of politics mode I tend to sit watching Netflix, meet up with friends or have a night out.
8. How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?
Considering the cuts it has faced I think it has performed very well. The budget is secure, new council houses were built recently, vital services are protected, my rubbish gets picked up on time and the anti-social behaviour team have helped me in the past. I would like to see the wardens taking more action on dog fouling and littering but a lot of this is not helped by cuts.
9. What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?
Colchester has so many things to be proud of. You have the park, Rollerworld, an excellent zoo, good schools, good pubs. a good nightlife and Colchester Castle. However I would say the best thing about Colchester are the people. The people make a town; they give it the atmosphere, keep it clean and make it a welcoming place.
What to change? Possibly go back in time and create houses in New Town with driveways? In all seriousness one thing I would like to see is for the town to build a stronger relationship with the University. Currently the majority of students spend their whole time at university inside the university. Few rarely visit Colchester or experience the nightlife. At the same time Colchester has the biggest roller skating rink in Europe, Colchester zoo and a castle that all students should be taking advantage of. We also have a town centre that needs business and has the opportunity to attract over 4000 students. Nightlife is also an issue. In most university towns pubs will do special deals on weekdays to attract students to the town centre. Surely this is guaranteed business for local Colchester bars and pubs that they are not currently taking advantage of.
10. Who are your heroes?
Being a History graduate there are so many to choose from. However one would have to be Martin Luther King. He changed the face of America, using peaceful tactics and managed to unite a nation at a time when racism was at it’s peak. At the same time he faced death threats and his family was harassed but he still ploughed through.
Another would have to be Noel Godfrey Chavasse, the only solider in World War One to win 2 Victoria crosses. Noel was a British medical doctor who became famous for running across no-mans land to save the wounded throughout the night. For his second Victoria Cross, although wounded, he refused to leave his post until he was replaced by another doctor as he refused to let men die. Unfortunately no replacement came and his bunker was hit by a shell ad killed everyone inside. He worked 2 days straight before this happened and also again ran into no-mans land to rescue wounded soldiers.
11. What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election?
I think disabled access has to be a priority. I know that Colchester station is terrible for this, as are some restaurants in Colchester due to the age of the buildings. Access on buses can also be an issue as not all kerbs are raised to allow wheelchair access. Disabled people deserve the same rights as anyone else. I also strongly support equal opportunities when it comes to employment. Something else I would do is strongly oppose the ‘Bedroom Tax’ that affects many of our disabled people in Colchester. One couple I have met have to pay the tax as they are both so disabled that they can not sleep in the same bedroom. How did this bill get passed!
12. What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?
Similar to above, everyone should be treated equally. I am disgusted that in some areas of employment women are paid less than men in the same role. How is this still occurring in 2016? I would also like to promote more help for first time mothers, whether it is for maternity leave or family support.
13. What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?
When I saw that this was going to be implemented in Chelmsford I was disgusted. People sleeping in the street do not do this by choice. Many are fleeing an abusive home, suffering from mental health issues or addicts. What homeless people need is support. There are charities out there that are doing their best and for me people need to recommend homeless people to the relevant charities and help them get their life back together. It’s amazing that a human being can treat another human being this way. It would also be interesting to see how someone is homeless is supposed to pay a fine.
14. Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?
No. Under 25s are not eligible for this so called ‘living wage’. As is known the Chancellor’s living wage is lower than the recommended living wage by independent bodies. I always welcome a pay increse for the lowest paid but I still think the chancellor’s living wage is a con.
15. Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?
I am delighted that Colchester is doing this. Tina Bourne and Rosalind Scott have been tremendous in welcoming refugees to Colchester. I know there are many who are not happy about this but my feeling is very different. As far as I am concerned the world let Syria down. The world sat back as a dictator gassed and murdered his own people. The same happened in Rwanda and Bosnia and thousands of innocent people were ruthlessly murdered. It breaks my heart because the collective strength of the UN could have stopped this escalating into the tragedy that we have now. Britain, and the world, has to do its part in helping these people fleeing war. These are human beings. Just like us they have families, smile, laugh, love and cry. Just because their ethnicity is different or their religion is different does not mean they are not human. Many of them, children included, have seen more horrors than we ever will in our lifetime. The camps on their own are likely to run by underground gangs. Colchester has given these families a chance to rebuild their lives, which is an incredibly powerful thing, and we should all welcome them into our society and show them the good side of Colchester.
However some people insist on demonising some of the most vulnerable people in the world. It is amazing that some people can not put themselves in someone else’s shoes. My view in life is that you treat people how you would like to be treated.
16. What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?
Where to start?, flooding in the Hythe, illegal parking in Cavendish Avenue, dog poo etc… But the biggest problems I have are deprivation, neglect and apathy. All three seem to be linked. the Speedwell, Barnhall and Ladbrook estate have some of the highest deprivation in Colchester. This can be seen when you walk around the estates. There tends to be flytipping, litter, dog mess, broken windows, fences knocked down…and the majority of this comes from neglect by the current borough councillors. For over 10 years the same party has run this ward and nothing has changed. This then leads to apathy as people see that nothing changes and think ‘what’s the point?’ This has to change.
17. Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?
I already like the emphasis on recycling. It would be good to see more cycle routes and more eco-friendly buses. However as many now the biggest issue in Colchester is traffic. Reported recently Colchester is the worst town for people driving shorter distances and because of the bad traffic buses are unreliable and fewer people tend to stick with buses. When I worked in the business park I once had to wait 2 hours for a bus. Something has to be done to convince people who live 2 or less miles away from work to walk or cycle. Whether this can be done through some sort of ‘green benefit’ scheme or workplaces charging those who use their car parks, I’m not too sure. Having low emission areas like London would also be an idea we could pursue.
18. Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?
Living near the Northern Gateway it is certainly handy for getting in and out of Colchester. It wil be interesting to see how this area develops in the future. With the football stadium there it has some real potential for local businesses.
Tollgate is a very different issue for me. Although the plans for the village look great my big worry is it turns Colchester town centre into a Grays or Braintree. In both those towns a big shopping centre has killed the town centre. I also think that if the local plan is changed we then get the issue of other developers questioning it and building what they feel like. Colchester has to have a long term future for any big projects and with all the new housing going up, GP surgeries and School should be the first priority.
19. Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?
Yes and no. I think an AV system would be the best option but for electing an MP i like to know the name of the person I am electing, not just the party. The biggest issue is people not voting. For these local elections I imagine turnout will only be about 35-40%. How can we say this is representative? I think citizenship needs to come back into schools as does compulsory voting (with an option for ‘None of the above’).
20. Are you having second thoughts?
Nope. I’ve worked hard in this ward since 2013 and I am hoping all the hard work pays off.
Was that enough roadsigns for you?
Fancy some more? head out onto the street…
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AND GET OUT AND VOTE!!!!!!