Lib Dem / Labour led Colchester Council has cast doubt on the future of the West End Tennis Centre after refusing to rule out developing the site for housing.

 

  Pictured above: Cllr Pauline Hazell with Angela Linghorn-Baker

The news came in response to a question from local resident, Angela Linghorn-Baker, at a Colchester Borough Council's Meeting on 13th February2020. Angela attended Full Council to raise her concerns over the lack of investment in the tennis courts off Eudo Road and ask the Council to commit to improving the much needed local facility.

Angela said, “I have lived in the area for many years and seen a decline in the maintenance of the tennis courts. With a young child, I am very concerned about the diminishing number of sports facilities and green areas in the community. In recent months, the tennis courts have been allowed to fall further into disrepair, so I decided to ask the Council of their intentions for the site”.

When Angela asked directly, “Can the Council give assurances that housing won’t be built on this site?”, she was given a very short, sharp response by the Controlling Lib-Dem & Labour Coalition, stating that the area is under investigation by the Council and they would not rule out the use of the land for housing.

“I was so concerned at both the lack of information and care for such a long-standing public area that I decided to join Cllr. Pauline Hazell and the Conservative team to campaign for the tennis courts to remain in public use”, added Angela.

Shrub End Councillor, Pauline Hazell, who successfully led a campaign to save the tennis courts in 2012, said, “A few years ago, the Council was seriously considering building on the Tennis Centre site. We managed to stop them then and will be fighting to do so again”.

“For years, I have been calling on Colchester Council to invest in the West End Tennis Centre, which has the only municipal tennis courts in Colchester. I will continue to do all I can to keep the courts open and secure the investment the Centre needs, so that local people have facilities to enjoy at reasonable cost”, added Pauline.

Please show your support for Colchester’s only municipal tennis courts by completing and returning the PETITION form to keep the Eudo Road Tennis Courts open.


 

In an amazing turn-about, the Green Party on Colchester Borough Council voted against making Climate Emergency the top priority of the Council's budget and expenditure plans.

The lack-luster budget from the Controlling Lib-Dem & Labour Coalition said reams about Climate Emergency, but allocated very little funds to actually do anything about it.

Cllr Robert Davidson, Conservative Group Leader endeavoured to stir the Council out of its lethargic attitude of "say a lot, but do nothing", by proposing that "The Council's target of carbon neutrality by 2030 will not be achieved unless climate emergency is promoted as the single most important issue in the budget"

He went on to add: "as it stands, the Council's Budget is significantly defective in that it omits a robust and transparent prioritisation and costing of each and every issue identified in sections 3 to 6 of the Council's Climate Emergency Action Plan."

The Conservative Group were gobsmacked when the Green Party voted against making the making the issue of Climate Emergency the single most important issue in the budget.

Because of the importance of Climate Change to the Conservative Group, we insisted that the decision was a "named vote" recorded by the Clerk to the Council and published in the minutes, showing the names of the 22 Conservative Councillors who voted for making Climate Change the most important issue in the budget, and the 27 Lib-Dem, Labour, Independent and Green Councillors who voted against.

So no wriggle-room for any Councillor to later claim they did in fact vote for Climate Change as the single most important issue for the Council's budget, when they actually voted the other way !!!!!, it's all in the official minutes.

And earlier there was an acrimonious exchange between  Conservative spokesperson on resources, Cllr Dennis Willetts, and the Lib-Dem Leader of the Council, concerning the carbon footprint of the Council's vehicle fleet. During Question Time, Conservative Cllr Willetts had asked the Lib Dem leader what proportion of the Council's fleet of cars, vans and refuse freighters no longer emitted Carbon Dioxide. Everyone knew the answer was "zero percent" because there is no budgetary provision to convert the fleet to electric, but The Lib-Dem Council Leader squirmed, filibustered, ducked and weaved, but refused point blank to say it.  No amount of coaxing would get the answer to the question from this despondent Lib-Dem Leader of the Council.

Then the final nail in the coffin of the Council's Climate Emergency Plan was discovered tucked away in small print on page 140 of the Council's Climate Emergency Action Plan, also presented at the Council meeting. The Council's independent climate auditor "The Carbon Trust" found that the carbon footprint of the Council's vehicle fleet had been falsely reported since 2012 by claiming that the majority of the Council's Fleet ran on Biofuel, whereas it actually ran on a combination of Diesel and Gas Oil. So another "Own Goal" here for the Council.

Conservatives pledge to put Climate Emergency at the top of the financial agenda, and to ensure honest reporting about carbon emissions when they win power at the Town Hall in the May 2020 elections.

2020-02-14

The figures just didn’t add up in the Lib/Lab Coalition's Budget which they forced through at the recent Full Council meeting (13th February 2020), which totally undermines the confidence the public can have in a Council run by that ailing administration. 

Conservative Councillors challenged the numbers in the budget after it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of pounds were missing in the calculations. The Lib/Lab councillors brushed this aside as ‘rounding up’ and decided to ram through their budget regardless. 

Conservative Deputy Leader, Cllr Lewis Barber, said: “These tactics are highly troubling from the minority administration. How can any of us trust this dwindling bunch of Coalition Councillors with our money? They have no majority after The Highwoods Independents split from the power, yet the Liberals and Labour still cling on to power and now we have revealed they can’t even add up!.

The Conservatives put forward a raft of amendments to put "people first" by focusing on policies to get Colchester moving, clean up Colchester and make Colchester safe again, rather than unfunded pet projects. (click to see Conservative amendments)

The Conservatives also proposed increasing funding to Citizens Advice by £75,000 to reverse the Liberal Democrat and Labour cuts to this much valued organisation. This would have been funded by scrapping the self-promoting taxpayer-funded Council magazine. Sadly, the Liberal Democrats, Labour, Greens and Highwoods Independents voted against helping-out Citizens Advice.

Conservative proposals were rejected by signally left wing coalition councillors, leaving Colchester with another year of uncertainty, no progress but more Council Tax to pay.

Conservatives pledge that it is time to end all the vanity projects, stop taxpayer funded magazines and adverts and wasting of taxpayers’ hard earned money. Colchester Conservatives will focus on tackling climate change, improving infrastructure and front line services.

2020-02-13

Until 2018, Colchester Borough Council was proud to support the much-valued work of Citizens Advice by awarding that organisation an annual grant of £100,000.

Then last year the Lib-Dem & Labour Coalition that runs the Council decided arbitrarily to cut the Citizens Advice Grant to one quarter of its previous Level.

So in the Council's budget debate for 2020/21 on 13th February, Colchester Conservatives proposed restoring the full grant to Citizens Advice by making a further £70,000 available to this key front-line organisation, should it want it. Unfortunately, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Independents combined to vote-down the Conservative proposal to reverse the cuts, and restore the Grant to £100,000.

Cllr Lewis Barber, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, who proposed the restoration of the full grant, said:  “There is no allocation for Colchester’s Citizens Advice in the budget for 2020/21, despite what the Council say. Colchester Conservatives proposed reversing the cut the Liberal Democrats and Labour made to Citizens Advice. Sadly, these proposals were voted down"

Because of the importance of the Grant to Citizens Advice, we insisted that the decision was a "named vote" recorded by the Clerk to the Council and published in the minutes, showing the names of the 22 Conservative Councillors who voted for the restoration of the Citizens Advice Grant, and the 26 Lib-Dem, Labour, Independent and Green Councillors who voted against restoring the £75,000 previously cut from the grant to Citizens Advice.

If you vote for the Conservatives in May, we pledge to restore the full grant of £100,000  to Citizens Advice, and we will prioritise front line services and scrap taxpayer funded vanity projects.”

2020-02-14

 

Colchester Conservatives have put People, Climate Change and Services at the heart of changes they want to make to the deeply flawed financial plans of the Lib/Lab rump collation to be discussed at the Council meeting, 13th February 2020.

 

With the collapse of the Coalition controlling the Town Hall which has forced the Lib Dem’s and Labour to run a minority administration, the Conservatives are pushing ahead with it’s people first policies.

 

The Conservatives' budget amendments are the first step towards finishing the Lib-Dem and Labour council that focuses on over-development and taxpayer funded vanity projects rather than front line services, infrastructure and our climate change emergency.

 

Conservative Deputy Leader, Cllr Lewis Barber, said: “This is our chance to show the people that we are the only Party of change and in May residents have the opportunity to vote for a Conservative Council were we pledge to clean up Colchester, get Colchester moving and make our town safe again."

 

The Conservatives have put forward four amendments that will truly tackle Climate Change, prevent even more frittering away taxpayers’ hard earned money on silly projects and helps some of the most vulnerable people through the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

 

The budget debate takes place on Thursday 13th February at 6pm at Colchester Town Hall.

 

CONSERVATIVE AMENDMENTS

That the recommendations contained in draft minute 412 of the Cabinet meeting of 29 January 2020 and the recommendations contained in the reports from Assistant Director of Corporate and Improvement Services entitled “Precept and Council Tax Levels 2020/21” and “Supplementary Budget Report 2020/21” be approved and adopted subject to:-

(i)         Proposer: Councillor Davidson

The addition of the following words at the end of the recommendation: “and that it is Council’s opinion that the target of carbon neutrality by 2030 will not be achieved unless climate emergency is promoted as the single most important issue in the budget, which as it stands, is significantly defective in that it omits a robust and transparent prioritisation and costing of each and every issue identified in sections 3 to 6 of the Climate Emergency Action Plan.”

(ii)        Proposer: Councillor Dundas

The addition of the following words at the end of the recommendation relating to the budgetary provision for the Local Plan: “That the budgetary provision of any funds to North Essex Garden Communities (NEGC) in 2020/21 and 2021/22 set out in Paragraph 6.14 of the Cabinet Report of January 29 2020 will only be allowed following a further vote and approval in Full Council.”

(iii)        Proposer: Councillor Willetts

The addition of the following words at the end of the recommendation : “and Council notes that, with the exception of the contribution to the Local Highways Panel, the Towns Fund projects, and to St Mark Community Centre, the budgetary provision for the 17 New Strategic Priorities lack focus on our climate change emergency and infrastructure and are not rigorously prioritised or costed. Accordingly, apart from the three exceptions above, the capital and revenue financial provision in the 2020/1 budget for the New Strategic Priorities is removed and placed in reserves. This will protect taxpayer money and ensure Full Council properly scrutinises how taxpayer money is spent.”

(iv)       Proposer: Councillor Barber

The addition of the following words at the end of the recommendation relating to Better Colchester Communications: “and that no budgetary provision is made for Better Colchester Communication, instead allocating £75,000 to restore the Council’s grant to Colchester Citizens Advice, and the remainder being placed in reserves.”

2020-02-12