The Colcestrians Q&A with… Colonel Camulos

As the dust settles on another local election, and we all try and figure out if things are the same, or a bit different, I’ve decided step aside from all of that and instead chose to use a piece of strange and arcane technology I found in my wife’s haberdashery cupboard.  She said it was for cutting or measuring strips of fabric with the express purpose of making bookmarks or somesuch… I had my suspicions.

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It doesn’t look so innocent does it?

It was with a curious dread that I began pressing little knobs and buttons, sliding small wheels…

Eventually it became this!

I climbed astride and knew what had to be done.  I had recognised it for what it was!

A TIME MACHINE!!!

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This is me in the Time Machine

We all know that there is only one thing to do when handed a real honest to goodness device that can take you hurtling across the eddies of the space/time continuum, with the ability to make amazing changes that could devastate the very fabric of existence, or create the most harmonious universe ever…

 

That’s right!  I went back a few months to the BEFORE TIME, when a strident Colonel Camulos appeared on the scene ready to represent a resurgence of the Monster Raving Loony Party in Colchester.  Before all the stuffing was knocked out of him.  Before he had a chance to spread his strangely non-loony views.

Ladies and Gentlemen of this fine town, I give you THE EXCLUSIVE interview with Colonel Camulos, or should I say Scott Everest, who was going to stand for Prettygate.

So , let’s just pull a few levers, kick a few pedals, straighten my smoking jacket and refill my pipe….

HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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This is an illustration of us hurtling through time – not actual size

 

Introduction

Scott says:

“I was born and raised in South East London and sent my formative years in the Inner London school system but have lived in Colchester for over 11 years.

 

My previous places that I have lived and worked include Paris, Tenerife, Blackpool, Great Yarmouth, Camber Sands, Somerset and of course London.

 

I work as a Special Projects Manager for a Golden Tree Asset Management owned group which is a venture owned by Goldman Sachs. My previous roles have been with Pontins, Butlins, Centreparcs, Travelodge, Disney and Serco Leisure.

 

I started in Leisure industry as a Lifeguard and progressed through to a Leisure Centre Manager, have been an Entertainments & General Manager for Pontins.

 

My roles have also included advising Fylde Council and Norfolk County Council on aspects of Leisure and Tourism.

 

I also enjoy blogging about subjects that I care about.


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There isn’t much better than a cup of tea, as far as The colonel is concerned

Q&As

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

My name is Scott Lee Everest but will of course answer to ‘The Colonel Camulos’ yes I did write those blogs about Tourism for Colchester 101. I would like to thank Simon Crow to give me the opportunity.

 

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

 

The ward is fully developed, so has a long standing community. The majority are comfortable and happy. The reason for me standing is that when you see the greatest achievements being listed as ‘dog poo’ signs, no to wheelie bins and a Road Sign being painted it was hardly aspirational.

 

To state there are no big issues to fight, when we host two of the biggest special needs schools who are in dire need of safety measures was astounding.

 

I do not think that Will Quince, Sue Lissimore & Beverly Davies do a bad job they are functional and practical like comfortable slippers (but from Marks & Spencers). However they could be even better if they were actually challenged and it is my prerogative to do so, as appalled no other parties even bother to canvass in the Prettygate Ward.

 

 

  1. If you do live in the Ward, what do you think about candidates standing in Wards they don’t live in?

If you do not live in the ward then you are not really a representative of the residents, you are just wanting to become a politician. You have to be able to look your neighbours in the eye everyday knowing you want the same things as them, as you understand the problems first hand.

 

  1. What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why?

Monster Raving Loony Party, as an official party it is the ultimate protest vote an actual party which is none of the above. I originally chose to get on the platform for ‘Meet the leader’ hustings and for all the press being (ahem) non-partisan we would of gotten equal coverage.

 

 

  1. Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?

Interesting question, we have a cabinet reshuffle every year, this entails all current cabinet members standing in an upturned cabinet and just shuffling around. It seems a sensible system. We also take all of our policies from our members and build the A-Z manifesto which is a tongue in cheek approach to reactionary policies all major parties provide.

 

However I think the apathy vote is there for the taking, maybe 65% of people just do not care anymore.

 

 

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

I am a frustrated writer, lazy jogger, rubbish photographer, useless musician, failed magician, brilliant swimmer, legendary cook, Cage fighter, glove puppet master and Steampunk / chap hop enthusiast

 

 

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

Being a father and carer mostly, would get up early and jog through Lexden and Prettygate, I would stop at Lexden Pond and say hello to the ducks. I always eat cereal on a day off as want to keep light, then will exercise my mind by reading or learning. Actually not a lot but I am not idle. To be honest I’m in work mode 25/8.

 

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Mr & Mrs Camulos
  1. How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?

I feel it is anti business, there would be a pecuniary interest on my part as have been part of companies who have tried to develop Leisure and Hotels businesses in Colchester only for planning to be refused on weak grounds. Then for a direct competitor to be granted permission with ease. My industry is very incestuous (and we talk) and the Council has a really bad reputation out there in the commercial development world.

 

On the flip side, this also affects independent businesses who are subjected to such a slow process that the creativity and passion for a project just slowly dies.

 

I think the council and services are well run, however this is largely down to the officers and the staff and is done in spite of the current council not because of it. The staff need to get a lot more credit for what they do and must get so frustrated to have a portfolio holder take credit all the time yet wholly blamed when things go wrong. (That is Politics)

 

I also feel that fairness and inclusivity have not been at the heart of the council, with some quite bizarre decisions and funding over the past few years. All of which lends to benefit the coalition councillors own constituent base.

 

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

 

Quite clearly its heritage, you cannot buy it. The one thing I would change is to 100% remove any aspect or strategy for Tourism from the council, this needs to be run by professionals not from a committee of dysfunctional coalition Councillors with zero experience whatsoever in tourism.

 

  1. Who are your heroes?

 

I knew Mo Mowlam MP and spent quite a bit of time with her and found her very inspirational and thought she never reached her potential and she would have been the greatest leader we never had.

 

Have a place for Pericles the great orator of Athens, a lot can be learnt from the Ancient Greeks and his socially aware quotes were the birth of modern civilisation that we have now strayed from.

 

Professor Muhammad Yunus whose social enterprising built stronger communities

 

Also finally Dr Wayne Dyer, a book that changed my life was the ‘Erroneous Zones’ and has shaped how I think of things from that point forward.

 

 

  1. What would you do to promote disability rights if you are a Councillor after the election?

 

I have been vocal on this point (read the blogs) but I will not rant on this, 18% of the population are disabled but are not currently represented.

 

  1. Introduce a Disability forum
  2. Nominate a chairperson from current Councillors
  3. All types of disability are to be represented from a wide circle
  4. All planning decisions to be signed off by the forum from an accessibility standpoint
  5. Open meetings once a month with rotational portfolio members present for scrutiny

 

Also do not be fooled about disabled parking, we have blue badge spaces in town but zero disabled parking for wheelchairs. There is a huge difference.

 

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

I see this as purely a behavioural issue, is sexism seen as serious as racism or homophobia? If not then it should be and then equality will be flourish.

 

As a man, if I see or hear of anything that is not inclusive I must highlight it. Also to use correct pronouns at all times would be a big victory.

 

If you make a sexist comment then it should hold the same stigma as racism, and society should call it.

 

To change behaviour may be a bigot of the year award would immediately deter those who choose to float this.

 

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

It is ironic that the average cost of a hotel room for the night (£50) and is the fine for homelessness in some parts of the UK. The majority of rough sleepers are due to being disabled (autistic), have a mental health issue which has led to alcohol and drug abuse. There are some who just need help.

 

In my work for every problem you always look at getting to the Route Cause and ask yourself the five whys? Then you can isolate the single point of failure.

 

You need to deal with these issues if you want to improve the situation, however in the meantime be compassionate with those homeless and provide temporary shelter.

 

 

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

 

I have always found this kind of question bizarre, as it does not matter as it is not relative to the price of goods you need to survive.

 

My parents generation could buy a house, at aged 21 and do so on an unskilled wage.

For example, if a mortgage is usually 5 x your salary then the house price for a starter home should be £14,976pa x 5 your salary = £74,880, however the average starter home cost in Colchester (just for a flat) is £134,000.

 

Unless there is a huge redistribution of wealth the living wage is just a number they legally have to pay unskilled workers. Naturally you see the problem.

 

 

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

 

If you have to promote being a welcoming place then that is part of the problem, what these people have gone through is horrific and we have no comprehension of the horrors they have faced.

 

There is a paradox however, refugees want to be safe and part of a community and get on with their lives but there are those who use their plight to further their own political standing. This leads to ‘perceived’ positive discrimination which is the perception of some of the less evolved residents, using this to beat the drum of nationalism, racism and prejudice.

 

Taking in refugees is not a discussion point, you must offer sanctuary, however this should be an apolitical process and some of the work this town has done has to be commended but we could do better.

 

When you are around town you see residents who have migrated or a refugee but they are not working. This does mean that we have not closed the loop with the whole process and given them the opportunity to grow.

 

I am concerned that this leads to ‘Dog Whistle politics’ via social media  as migrants are blamed for everything and this is used to stir fear and to enhance some political groups standing within the community.

 

We need a strategy and to tie up with local colleges and work providers to make it even better.

 

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Mr & Mrs Everest were married by Count Dracula
  1. What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?

 

The majority of the issues are to do with Essex County Council and the state of the roads, poor crossings, traffic measures. To just focus on Colchester Borough issues then it is apathy, the unwillingness to engage the fact that they have given up completely with the whole political process that they are passive to whatever comes.

 

This is because it’s a one party ward and no one even bothers to step in and engage and dare to be aspirational. We are the ward that has the current MP but only the affluent parts are tended too.

 

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

 

More recycling centres and open longer, the Highwoods and Greenstead areas are in dire need of one. To queue for up to an hour to get into Shrub End is a nightmare and actually discourages people from wanting to recycle.

 

As for policy, food waste is the biggest opportunity and feel that this is a hearts and minds thing and more could be done with behavioural insights to persuade people to use the bins.

 

I also am frustrated by the volume of medical / pad waste from my Son and is around 50-60% of my weekly waste which goes straight into Landfill, a quick unscientific calculation would assume that we could save 3000 black bags per week of waste in Colchester if we had an alternative system.

 

I would suggest Wheelie bins but fear for my life in Prettygate, have visions of Sue Lissimore smothering me with a pillow in my sleep for uttering such a thing.

 

  1. Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?

 

I see this question differently from others, firstly did you know that there are 2477 people who are unemployed in Colchester?

 

We had an opportunity to create 1000 jobs. Let that sink in.

 

Every year we have hundreds of kids leaving school and education without much prospects unless they commuted. We have seriously failed them with providing first time unskilled jobs.

 

I get the protection of the High Street, however we have a trading board that is not doing its job, as even without any competition the High street has empty shops and brands closing and leaving.

 

I also get that there is a ‘mythical local plan’ but having a medium to long term vision is not a substitute to what is happening within the six inches in front of your face.

 

To save the High street you need a High Street Manager and improve the process of speeding up planning applications for desired or independent retailers which will benefit the High street.

 

This has nothing to do with Tollgate, which is actually a desired destination bore from the apathy of residents who have seen an under investment in the High Street. They just want to shop locally instead of going to Lakeside, Ipswich, Braintree & Chelmsford.

 

Residents have given up on the High Street due to traffic, parking costs, choice and lack of investment. This is why people want Tollgate, as do I as it would bring a professional retail developer to run a multi choice shopping experience that the modern resident craves.

 

I followed the whole process of planning via the audio from Colchester Chronicle and the bit that stood out the most was the audacity of Williams & Griffin (Fenwick) to write an open letter and for it to be considered.

 

As for Northern Gateway, it is great for people who live that side of Town but it is my understanding just Leisure Retail and no shopping.

 

We need to develop all three, the volume of residents who we can bring back and spend in the town is a great opportunity. The wages go a long way to support the ever growing population and the Town to become a unique boutique shopping experience along with established brands which would make it a desired destination.

 

 

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

 

Less MPs and Proportional Representation. It is blindingly obvious that if everyone went to the House of Commons not everyone can get a seat!

 

650 MPs only 427 Seats.

 

The amount of MP’s in small boroughs in Oxfordshire and Surrey is the problem. They have established communities (a la Prettygate) so no one really upsets the Status Quo.

 

Do we really need Bernard Jenkins, Priti Patel and Will Quince or could local Government pick up the slack and have more power? A question to ponder…

 

800 years ago we signed the Magna Carta in Runnymede, it maybe time for another revolution and devolve and divide power again and back to the people.

 

 

  1. Are you having second thoughts?

 

Yes, I will not stand. The volume of abuse received via Twitter was unwarranted and very personal. I get people are passionate about politics but deriving pleasure from what was said was sick.

 

The messages were reported to the Police so cannot go into too much detail if I did you would hopefully agree with me, although I doubt anything will come of it.

 

When you are a father, and especially of a special needs child any selfish idea or dream would quickly dissipate if you need to protect them. Also when an operation was scheduled for two days before the election it was clear that it would not be able to get my full attention.

 

Did I have a hope in hell? No, but it does not mean I wouldn’t have given everything I had  as do not believe in half measures. I could of stood, done nothing and still got around 200 votes.

 

I am now wiser to the process and know how it works, especially with funding and to why some parties flood candidates in wards but then they do not canvass as it is all about the money and the activists.

 

I stayed anonymous throughout the whole process to observe but it has been fascinating. I still have a cunning plan though.

 

However I do care about Colchester, and have stated before that I would be prepared to consult for free to help the town. Just a cup a tea and few biscuits would be enough for me.


 

EPILOGUE

And so I travelled back in my time machine to the present, because I had an engagement with my loved ones at home in 2016 – COLCHESTER SOUP !!!  Please click on those links – I can’t evangelise enough over how good the whole Soup movement is.

Who would have guessed that the very person who asked if they could ‘come out’ on the Colcestrian blog was pitching at Soup??

Not only did Scott ‘The Colonel’ Everest pitch – he won!

Watch his Twitter feed for more info on his amazing idea that convinced the 100% voter turnout in the room to choose him 🙂

Scott is one to watch in Colchester!

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