Labour’s Tim Young is now officially recognised as the front runner to dislodge the surprise Tory candidate for MP who snuck in last General Election cycle.
Tim Young, a local lad (rather than a shipped in candidate targeting a marginal) has many years and family invested in our wonderful town and rather than be a mouth piece for big business interests, or parroting his party’s monotonous mantra, Tim is actually interested in working for us – the people of Colchester.
We met up with Tim for a chat and a walkabout to see how passionately he feels about getting things done and becoming our MP.
The Lib Dems used to be in power in Colchester – best part of two decades. Labour voters lent their votes to keep Colchester from joining the sea of blue that is Essex.
Now that Labour have overtaken the Libs, it’s time for their supporters to do the honours in return and vote tactically to remove the self-serving blip that is our current Tory MP.
More Tory austerity in store otherwise…
Maybe the way Essex County Council ignores our congestion problems really irks you. Something the Lib Dems never managed to sort out, and neither has the Tory MP, despite his party controlling the County.
Maybe you’re a student or have a family member who could do with not being saddled by debt for their life.
Tim is your man!
But mostly you cannot help but realise that our NHS is in crisis. The Tory MP will try to argue that he secured a million for the hospital, but in reality we all know this is a drop in the ocean when it comes to running a busy general hospital. It would have been nice if his government hadn’t stripped our poor local health services in the first place.
NHS staff are voting Labour in their millions.
So, if you believe in your town, vote for Tim Young. He’ll have your back.
Ask yourself what has the Tory MP done to improve Colchester?
Is a retired former MP who was happy gardening and doing history walks going to have the energy required to come from third place and beat the Tory out of Colchester?
Only Tim Young and Labour will make the fair and necessary changes to our incredible home town.
On the morning of Friday 28th Oct, I had occasion to be in the vicinity of the foyer of the Odeon cinema. A strange foyer it is too. Chatting with a member of Odeon staff a while back, I was told that the reason for it’s oddly chasm-like appearance and unused ticket desk is funds shortage.
In this cinema foyer there is a newspaper stand full of the oft-vilified Sun newspaper. I’d noticed it before, gleaming red as it does next to the rubbish bin and the tiny notice of the show times. The stand offers the passer by the following temptation:
ODEON THE SUN
PICK UP YOUR
OF THE SUN
Previously I had disregarded this. Something about the way the wind was blowing on Friday 28th Oct made me feel differently this time. I was with our son, and as he is never one to shy away from acting impulsively, I made a suggestion.
From the get-go, I should state that I am not a fan of The Sun. I wouldn’t buy it. I find that if someone is reading it, loud sirens go off in my head about that person. To be perfectly frank, I am in hate with The Sun and all that it stands for.
With that knowledge floating around in your mind, you are now ready to hear that I had suggested emptying all the free copies into the recycling bin – handily just outside the Odeon. I can’t claim this as a completely original idea. I had see video of a big burly guy in an airport I think it was, taking out the entire pile in one and dumping them wholesale into a nearby bin. I can at least claim innovation – I wanted this paper recycled. I care about the environment.
So young Master Colcestrian and myself set about shifting the whole lot of papers, in batches, from the red stand offering “Please take a free copy” to the council recycling bin outside. At one point a couple of young girls stopped us and one of them said “You can’t put all those in the bin.”
“It’s ok,” i said. “We’re recycling them.”
“Oh, no problem then!” she replied, and we carried on.
We carried on until there were none left, and the recycling bin was groaning after it’s equivalent of a Thanksgiving Feast and Christmas dinner all rolled into one. My son and I parted company when his friends arrived , we congratulated each other on a job well done and I began to walk home, putting together a little tweet using some pics I’d taken of our handiwork.
Little did I expect than within half an hour there would be around 50 RTs. What was going on? It didn’t stop there – more and more RTs, likes, comments from people all over the UK – not just my wonderful home town of Colchester. It was going bananas, and I sat back not knowing what to think. I thanked a few people, made a few comments and just absorbed the viral nature of it all.
It had been very much a spur of the moment thing; a sudden urge to remove what I viewed as a scourge of the mainstream media from the level of children walking in to watch Trolls. It was done as a throwaway thing and I hadn’t thought more of it. I didn’t expect the response I got. As of writing this blog, the tweet has been seen by just over 65,000 people, it’s had over 8,500 people press the little pictures with their fingers or mouse (that gets me the most for some reason!) and it’s been RTd 633 times and Liked 829 times. Considering most of my tweets get ignored and if I get one like or RT I’m surprised, you can picture the slack-jawed guppy walking around Colcestrian Manor…
I have to say that the overwhelming majority of response this tweet received was favourable, bordering on frantic enthusiasm (see below). But, a small percentage seemed to come at the ‘stunt’ as nothing more than a childish prank to attack free speech and the freedom of the press. One particular lonely voice amongst the congratulatory public was a councillor for the local area (also see below) who made it very clear over and over to me and other voters that free speech was being trodden on here and I was taking away the common person on the street’s choice.
I know, I know what you’re going to say… isn’t there a newsagents just next door to the cinema that sells all colours and flavours of the news chronicles that the lovely people of this fair land like to get informed by?
Yes, yes there is. Any Colcestrian – not just the one badly hitting these keys at the moment – could freely walk into Jane Bloggs Cinema Newsagents and purchase The Sun, The Guardian, The Financial Times and stroll off happy. I question whether the two Colcestrians in the body of myself and my son were really harming the choice of news material for the local area.
And this is where we get to the crux of why I’m writing this blog. Why pick this point? Why did the councillor and some other people (a couple of whom I knew) take such an opposing view point and feel the need to point it out repeatedly?
Is it ideological? Were they making a point of principle?
I kind of hope so, because the other reasons are petty vindictiveness, and plain cranky lack of finger on the pulse of the people. There are so many other things to get on your high horse about, both locally and further afield. Why decide to go after one man and a boy staging a peaceful protest against the machine?
I didn’t harm the right to free speech by recycling a bunch of Sun papers. That implies a level playing field where the common person’s voice is as loud as that of an oligarch. I think Newscorp might have more influence over the spread of news than me.
I wonder whether these people would have stayed the arm of Winton from 1984 when he wished to rail against Big Brother. “Come on mate, I’m no fan of BB, and I know he controls all that we see, say and even think, but freedom of the press and all Winny!”
It has really made me question if I’m living in the same reality or world-view as some other souls that I walk the Earth with.
At the same time as I was handing a nice bit of pulping revenue to the local council, not far away a homeless man had made it to safe harbour having been set upon viciously by an anonymous gang. His injuries were so severe that he required immediate medical help and was concerned to be seen by those helping him.
The Sun plays a huge part in feeding the kind of narrative that leads to divisions which make us fear ‘the Other’. It’s a nasty, sexist, misogynistic, racist, inciting, vile war-mongering piece of tabloid filth, and the sooner it and others like it disappear into the heart of the actual sun, the better humanity will be.
This is the reason stores around the country are refusing to stock the publication. Why there are groups like Justice for the 96. This is why millions of people get behind Lily Allen and Gary Lineker, rather than side with the press. I’m not in the minority, wanting to see the back of Murdoch’s populist rag. The minority are those shouting ‘Free Speech oppressor’ at me for recycling some papers from the foyer of the Odeon.
I know I’m not damaging The Sun’s readership by removing a hundred or so copies from circulation. In fact, I may well have given them the impression their free ‘sales’ were up. This in turn could lead to more advertising revenue for them, and so on and so on… but!
But, i’m not just recycling papers. I’m also tweeting about it. I’m getting into arguments with local councillors. I’m one of many people raising the profile of #DontBuyTheSun. I’m calling out The Odeon for entering into the uniquely monopolising stance of giving just one newspaper away in their foyers.
If the people vociferous against this kind of action were as vocal about the things The Sun did, I think things might be slightly better.
So have a go at people doing this if you must, and say we’re wasting our time – that’s fine. Say these acts will have no effect, by all means. But don’t call it censorship, when clearly it isn’t going to quiet the voice of multi-billionaires in any way.
I will leave you with something a wise woman once said to me:
I’ve been very quiet on the Twitter since the recent Colchester elections. To be honest, they burned me out. I got so drawn in that I lost focus on actual human thoughts and was found babbling about Greenstead Ward in the lean-to, hovering over litter trays.
My regular life, outside of doing Colcestrian stuff, is quite complicated and of course includes everything that matters more to me than local or national politics. I have a family who rely upon me and despite being very socially-involved themselves (even the 9yo boy) still suffered politics-itis over the month I was churning out Q&As with the Council Candidates.
It was a very worthwhile event, and though I won’t say it was responsible for changing the face of local politics, it engaged a lot of people and became a topic of conversation in itself. It surprised me.
But now, I am burnt out. I’m still subjecting myself to politics, but I’m not having to battle getting some sleep with pushing the next blog out. In fact, there’s the rub in a way… I don’t want to blog, and there are two reasons. These two reasons are more linked than at first they appear, and you saw them in the title above.
1 – Sexism. Twitter is dominated by men. In that sense, it does of course reflect the rest of the known universe. I’ve seen women on it. Therefore I know they exist in the Twittersphere, but boy is it a different experience for them??!!
2 – Europe. The EU Referendum is driving me into a rage. I knew it would be bad, but my oh my, this is beyond bad into the realms of badddddddddd. That’s 10 ‘d’s and something Michael Jackson would have been proud of. But The King of Pop would be shaking his fascinating head in bewilderment at what we’ve got ourselves caught up in if he were with us still.
I am going to blog. I’m going to put out one little thing. I think.
Coming over here, stealing our jobs, filling up our schools, clogging up our NHS, taking our council houses, congesting the roads…
And so on and so on.
Even if you buy into the myth that most of these humans are so-called ‘economic migrants’ moving to a new bit of land where the living conditions are better, rather than fleeing war or horrors beyond war…
Even if you think that, then so what? Who hasn’t moved their family from one place to another to improve their lot? Did you consider the socio-economic ramifications of your move on the area you were entering? Did you worry about crossing any arbitrary borders set up over millennia of tribal wars of societies past?
Moving house is a huge pain in the backside. Often quoted as one of the most stressful things in existence. Imagine moving country. Imagine what that involves. It’s not popping to see a movie one evening. My other half moved countries and I can tell you it wasn’t a walk in the park, and it remains with her to this day, and always will.
Imagine moving country not through any kind of real choice, but because your home has exploded. Having mingled with actual escapees from war, I can report that resettling after that is not like checking out the location of the nearest post office or convenience store.
Take this interactive test… Let us all know how you got on…
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 bookmarksor somesuch… I had my suspicions.
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!!!
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 stridentColonel Camulosappeared on the scene ready to represent a resurgence of the Monster Raving Loony Partyin 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is an illustration of us hurtling through time – not actual size
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Introduce a Disability forum
Nominate a chairperson from current Councillors
All types of disability are to be represented from a wide circle
All planning decisions to be signed off by the forum from an accessibility standpoint
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
A few guessed it, and a few got it wrong… but here it is, the final[sob] Colcestrian Colchester Candidate Q&A with our very own holder of the Portfolio for Street and Waste Services, keen footballer and golfer, the guy who tried to oust MP Bernard Jenkin from his ivory tower…
Meet Dominic Graham, Liberal Democrat Candidate and standing Councillor for Mile End…
Dominic grew up in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear and studied law at University of Central Lancashire. His post graduate study was in York. At university he met his wife, Gemma, an Essex girl from Kelvedon and someone who is also standing for election.
Dominic lived in York for a number of years before moving south, first to London then to our fine hometown of Colchester. He’s the father of 2 young children – Number 3 due in the summer.
Mr Graham is very active on social media and usually responds to the huge amount of traffic sent his way. I am going to just imagine that there might be a few creators of that traffic with their fingertips twitching as they read this…
Simple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to be known as?
Dominic Graham. Most people call me Dom.
2. What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?
I was elected as a councillor in Mile End in May 2014. I want to continue my work in the community for many years to come.
There’s so much going on in Mile End. The hospital, the football stadium, the rugby club, part of Highwoods country park, the main railway station. And of course, there is plenty of new development in Mile End, both residential and commercial.
3. If you don’t live in the Ward you’re standing for, why did you choose that Ward rather than your own?
I live approximately 50 yards outside the Mile End ward boundary. Part of the boundary is the railway line, which I can see from my living room.
When I decided to stand as a councillor there were already three Lib Dem councillors in Castle. Because I live so close to the border with Mile End, I decided to apply to be a candidate and, thanks to the support of Anne Turrell and Martin Goss, I was lucky enough to be selected as candidate.
4. What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why?
We stand for fairness, freedom, equality for all. Our policies are voted by our members, not dictated by the party elite. This means our policies (local and national) tend to have significant debate before they’re agreed and therefore they must be evidence-based, which really speaks to me.
5. Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?
It’s hard to say. As everyone knows, the Liberal Democrats took a hammering at the general election last year. This has led to our MPs getting even less press coverage than previously.
But the other parties always tend to get more coverage from the national media, rightly or wrongly. For Liberal Democrats to win anywhere it’s important to have a good local presence.
6. Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?
My family. I have 2 young children and a 3rd coming in the summer. I’ve spent a great deal of time in soft play areas recently as the weather has been so poor. Hopefully we’re starting to see some better weather now so we can enjoy castle parks, Highwoods country park and the zoo, which are my daughters’ favourites.
If I find a spare few minutes somewhere, I love all kinds of sport, especially football. I Although I’m a Newcastle Utd fan so the beautiful game is not particularly beautiful at the moment!
7. When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?
I work full time as a solicitor. I represent individuals who have suffered medical negligence. This can range from a delayed diagnosis of cancer, to a negligent eye operation causing permanent blindness, to negligent hip replacement surgery.
I have always acted for individuals in the most vulnerable time of their lives. I only ever meet people when something drastic has gone wrong. I am sometimes called unpleasant names – ambulance chaser is a common one – but it’s usually only those who don’t understand the process or the human suffering in the background.
8. How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?
Very well. We have done a lot of good, especially in recent years.
We’ve built council houses, we’ve reduced carbon emissions significantly, we’re sending less waste to landfill than anyone else in Essex etc etc.
Financially, we are very strong and very responsible.
9. What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?
Best thing – the variation. The urban centre, the rural parts, the coast. Not many places have it all like we have.
I love the heritage of the town and I’m pleased were putting lots of money into supporting that side of things.
One thing I’d change – I’d transfer control of roads and highways from Essex county council to Colchester borough council. I feel that it needs to be operated from a local level to be more effective. It’s the number 1 complaint on the doorstep and it’s never fun to say “it’s not Colchester council, it’s Essex council, but I’ll try to help where I can”. It’s deeply unsatisfying.
10. Who are your heroes?
Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Kevin Keegan are my sporting heroes. Maybe Rafa Benitez will join them if he performs a miracle and avoids relegation.
Politically, I’m a huge fan of Norman Lamb MP. His work in the coalition years to increase awareness of mental health issues and increase funding, which sadly went largely unnoticed. History will judge him very well.
11. What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election?
The Liberal Democrats have a strong record on disability rights, which comes from our steadfast belief in fairness and equality.
I’ve been talking to councillors from all parties this year (since being on cabinet). Parking and access are big issues, and I’ll continue to protect and improve those services.
12. What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?
Again, the Liberal Democrats have a strong record on equality. Personally, I consider myself a feminist and will push for equality at every opportunity.
Recently I’ve discovered the Twitter account @EverydaySexism which provides shocking examples of the behaviour women endure on a daily basis. I have 2 daughters and it makes me sad and angry that they will have to deal with that. If I can change it, even a small amount, then I will.
13. What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?
I am 100% against this. It was proposed in Chelmsford recently and rightly caused outrage.
It doesn’t help the homeless people, it’s heartless. And the fines will never be paid so more money is spent recovering the unrecoverable, so it’s not intelligent. A double whammy.
14. Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?
Colchester Borough Council pay the REAL living wage.
George Osborne’s recent policy is below that level and only paid to over 25s. Mr Osborne has simply rebranded the minimum wage. People will always see through that sort of behaviour.
15. Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?
Definitely. It’s one of, if not the best, policies that I’ve been part of since being a cabinet member. It was also very pleasing that there has been cross party support for this initiative.
These people have suffered unimaginable trauma. They are being bombed with mustard gas by their own government. We are lucky enough to be able to help. We should, and we do.
16. What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?
We have three big problems:
1. The performance of Colchester hospital,
2. The reliability of the railways into London, and
3. Highways. Either the poor surface of the roads or the congestion.
17. Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?
We’ve done a lot already and we have plans for more.
– we are nationwide leaders in carbon reduction – 35% in recent years. We are held up as an example to other councils of what can be achieved.
– we send less black bag waste to landfill than anywhere else in Essex.
– we have installed over 2,000 solar panels on council properties.
We are committed to free parking for electric cars and we will seek further discussions with bus companies to lower the pollution levels in the town centre, which currently are a significant problem.
18. Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?
Tollgate Village went against the Local Plan. I’d like to see more explanation of the strategic importance of the Local Plan. There is often confusion about the Local Plan. It is separate from the planning committee. Local Plan sets the policy. Planning Committee implements the policy.
The Local Plan is currently being updated so I’d urge all residents to feed their views into the committee asap.
Northern Gateway is different. Firstly, in contrast to Tollgate Village, there aren’t going to be any shops whatsoever. So it’s not the case that they’re in competition.
Secondly, the plans looks fantastic. It will be a great asset to Colchester and it will be very popular. Mile End residents are very supportive of the plans.
19. Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?
That is a huge topic, capable of several dissertations!
Cutting to the chase, locally we have the right balance with elections by thirds. All-up elections are not helpful p, but I see why it was necessary this time.
I prefer the cabinet system to the committee system.
Nationally, I would prefer proportional. It’s absurd that a government can be voted into power by around a quarter of voters.