Now you know it as Rowhedge, in the frankly Tolkien-eqsue East Donyland… soon it will vanish and sink into the muddy banks of the Colne, only to emerge as a tiny bit of Old Heath & The Hythe, as boundaries change and mystical events occur on May 5th.
This blog introduces us to a man many will know, as he is a Councillor for East Donyland and you may have been along to a micro-funding Soup of his, hosted by the wonderful Colchester Soup.
He is Michael Lilley, Labour Party Candidate for Old Heath & The Hythe…
“On a personal note – I grew up and lived in Rowhedge for over 50 years I went to Rowhedge Primary School then onto Sir Charles Lucas. I didn’t do well at school as I didn’t listen. I got a job at a local firm in 1974 when I left school and stayed there until it ceased to trade. I started as a Warehouse Boy and ended up as Warehouse Manager. I was there 32 years. It was a small firm in Berechurch Rd called G.H.Smith and Partners.
Being made redundant I moved backed to a my parents house as my father was ill, so I then joined the Committee of Rowhedge Football Club where I run the Bar and did all the other jobs. My father was secretary there until he passed for 40 years; he also served on the Parish Council for over 40 years. I stood for election on the Parish Council and was voted on. I took on the role of care for my mother which I did until she passed away just a couple of years ago. I suddenly found myself an elected Borough Councillor with nowhere to live so my mate let me stay at his. After renting I’m back round my friends and am on the waiting list for housing.
I nearly got married back in the 80’s, but that’s a long story. I am still great friends with her but she lives in Ireland so I have a nice Holiday and I enjoy my own company, so it was the right decision years ago… or was it?
I have a great sense of humour and hopefully I carry that with me in my Councillor role. I tell the truth and never make promises if I cannot keep them.”
1. Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?
Michael – My full name is Michael Edward Charles Lilley. I’m called Mike but also answer to Lilz which was my nickname from Rowhedge Primary school in the 1960’s. Too many Michaels so we all had nicknames which I’m still called today.
2. What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?
Michael – I always loved Rowhedge; grew up there and was proud to be elected back in 2008. Now it’s a huge new Ward and I look forward to helping bring it all up to scratch.
3. You don’t currently live in the Ward – what do you think about candidates standing in Wards they don’t live in?
Michael – It’s a bit complicated as I don’t live in the Ward – I did until January this year, I couldn’t afford the rent any longer so have moved into a friends place until something comes up then I will move into the Ward. I lived in Rowhedge for over 50 years and looked after my Mum in her house until she passed away quite suddenly. Her house was sold and I was then homeless staying with friends, then a rental place came up so I moved into that. Now I’m back in a little room with what possessions I have.
I don’t mind people coming from outside the Ward as long as they know it and have connection’s with it.
4. What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why? If Independent, why did you choose to go it alone?
Michael – I am in the Labour Party and its the only one for me, my father was a Labour Party Member and a shop steward, so it was ingrained in me to fight for fairness and injustice for everyone. He had my brother and sisters running the polling numbers in elections from our early years to Labour HQ in Rowhedge. No computers then.
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?
Michael – Yes the National Party does have an effect on how people vote. Its something we cannot change – just hope the National Party does good things as we take the brunt on the doorstep.
6. Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?
Michael – What’s a break??? Sorry hmm its 7 days a week for me I’m sad to say I’ve been out on Boxing Day as someone had trouble but that’s what I signed up for. I love Cricket, reading Science Fantasy, Horror books. I play online gaming (Dungeons and Dragons, World of Tanks) and like watching films. I follow West Ham and Col U. Used to go to games but don’t anymore too much money has ruined football I prefer to go watch Essex CCC.
7. When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?
Michael – Well if I have some time free then i’ll read catch up on emails but usually i’m busy doing my Councillor work, i’ll pop round someone’s for a catch up to see how its going with issues they have reported, I pick the residents who are good cake makers -hehe!
8. How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?
Michael – I think we have done well – its not going to make everyone happy but I believe we have done well .I am very happy to with our new Licensing Policy and it will make a difference to the Town.
9. What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?
Michael – My Heroes would be Tony Benn (I heard him speak back in the late 70’s what a speaker. If only I could be like that.) Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King all those people who gave their lives for a cause, the suffragettes, the chap in China who stood in front of that tank, people who want to change lives for good, they are my heroes. Also Geoff Hurst who was my boyhood hero along with his West Ham mates when we won the World Cup.
12. What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?
Michael – Women’s rights should be important to all the party’s elected. We in the Labour Party are proud to have done more than the others; it shouldn’t come down to what gender you are it should be about ability and that’s how its done. We don’t live in the past we live in the now.
13. What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?
Michael accidentally missed this answer, but I have a feeling I know how he feels about it from his other answers!
14. Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?
Michael – No I’m proud that we introduced the Living Wage into the Council and every business should pay a decent wage, then we wouldn’t need a living wage. The government’s living wage is poor – they should have done more to impose a proper living wage.
15. Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?
Michael – I am happy that Colchester has helped the refugees. We have always been a compassionate country and those that need help should not be turned away.
16. What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?
Michael – The biggest problem we will have is the planning laws being relaxed to build on green sites; I believe its the ruin of this country to allow developers to build what they like without making a community contribution either. Concreting over the countryside is not the way to go.
The Hythe area has been neglected for years since it stopped being a port. Developers have built flats there but what community assets have been built? The stench from the sewer farm is something that needs to be sorted, as does the flooding, the traffic is horrendous, so if elected we all have our work cut out there.
17. Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?
Michael – Simple clean fresh air, its not right we all have to watch more people get diagnosed with asthma and its due to the amount of vehicles on the road. When building, more green eco-houses should be built – solar panels should be a normal build, recycled rain water should be used for flushing toilets… we are not doing enough to save the planet from the stench of cars and fumes let alone the Town.
18. Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?
Michael – I am not going to comment on them as one has gone to appeal and the other will go to Committee and if elected and if I’m on the Planning Committee then its wrong for me to comment.
However, I will say that I believe that we should take great care when going against the Local Plan. It was put in place to protect the borough from unwanted development in certain areas. I believe the Local Plan protects us from developers who given a chance will build what they like where they want it.You need a sold good Local plan in place and I believe we have that. If you want to build on a piece of land not allocated for building than seek to change that allocation through the local plan committee, its the right way to do things.
19. Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?
Michael – No absolutely not! It’s the worst Government we have had for years. The Electoral system is not the best, but no one has come up with a better solution. I would change something, and that will be to make everyone vote as they do in other countries. Low turn outs are not good for democracy.
20. Are you having second thoughts?
Michael – Every day when someone slams the door on me and says we all the same. Its a shame that happens and I wonder why I do it, then I get a call from someone facing eviction because of finance… helping that person find the help and stay in their home fires me up and I’m glad to be in a position to help.
I had a late message from Michael:
Hi at the moment I am dealing with flooding issues at the Rowhedge Wharf development, they have disturbed underground springs and its causing flooding in High street,it’s a mojor concern as I said at the meeting there would be flooding there but was ignored by everyone.Im working on residents with problems with the bedroom tax,repairs not being done, a shower that’s been fitted back to front and of course badgers.We have lots of them and they do enjoy causing nuisance.nice creatures though very crafty but nice.
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!