Colchester Conservatives are in direct discussions with their colleagues at County Hall to help thousands of local children and their parents during the traditional school summer holidays.

Conservatives at both County Hall and locally are looking at ways to support families and explore how children can have fun in a safe environment during the school holidays. It is hoped that the provision of some advice, activities and facilities could help parents who may be returning to work or looking for employment as restrictions start to be eased over Coronavirus COVID 19.

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at ECC, Cllr Louise McKinlay, said: “I am looking closely at what can be done to support families over the summer throughout Essex and I am delighted that Conservatives in Harlow are taking a lead in their district and talking with me directly. Ideas are still in very early stages and obviously are subject to government guidance but we are considering proposals to benefit families, particularly those who are just about managing and who have been financially hit badly because of the lockdown. Working together we shall do all we can to support them and their children.“

Cllr Paul Dundas, Leader of the Conservatives at Colchester Borough Council, said: “We have been working closely with our colleagues at County Hall who look after education and children’s services to see if there are ways we can help parents and youngsters through the 6 weeks of summer holidays. The recent events have meant that many will have been off for 4 months. Supporting families is hugely important and gives them and our local communities a real chance to come out of COVID 19 restrictions with a positive outlook.’

With efforts to work up proposals now underway, details will be shared as soon as they are finalised. 

 

Colchester Conservatives welcomed the announcement by Government of the initial tranche of £1.9million for the Emergency Active Travel Fund for Essex schemes, to make the streets in principal Town Centres safer, greener and healthier.

During the recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic, the Colchester scheme will allow people to self-distance and still travel safely by creating new lanes for cycling and walking around the Town Centre. The aim of the scheme is to provide bigger, safer spaces for town centre shoppers, residents, workers and visitors to be able to social distance. It will encourage walking and cycling it will enable healthier and greener ways of getting around.

The launch date for this revolution in motion is set for Monday 15th June, with activity taking place in the town from Tuesday 9th June. The project will ensure areas of the Town Centre with some of the highest footfall are safe and healthy places to move through, following the easing of lock-down restrictions and the re-opening of shops and businesses.

  • A series of interim traffic measures in Colchester to create more shared space for walking and cycling will be introduced starting from 15th June.
  • 20mph limits, temporary barriers and signs providing shared spaces will be introduced on the High Street, Queen Steet/St Botolph’s, Head Street, St Johns Street and other town centre roads, and on the vital corridor between the main rail station and town centre, including North Station Road and North Hill.

Councillor Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, and Conservative Councillor for Marks Tey and Layer Ward, said: “We have responded directly to people’s safety and their lead in increasing the use of cycle lands and pavements. While I recognise that many people will still need to use their cars this is a chance for people to think hard about driving over short distances. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to greatly improve our air quality and our health as well as the life opportunities for the next generation”.

Cllr Paul Dundas, Conservative Group Leader at Colchester, and Ward Councillor for Stanway, added:  “I welcome these plans and congratulate Essex County Council in being so pro-active and quick in their use of the Government-backed scheme. We want to see people returning to our Town using our local businesses, but in a safe manner. The extra space created will enable this.”

Conservatives believe that walking and cycling are healthy activities in their own right and can help lessen traffic congestion and consequently improve air quality in the Borough. This is what we will deliver.

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2020-06-06

Colchester Conservatives have urgently called for the winding-up of the taxpayer funded company which oversees the Garden Communities and has spent close to £8 million and achieved virtually nothing. 

North Essex Garden Communities Limited (NEGC Ltd) is council-owned and was established in 2016. It’s aim was to delivery three new towns that would have seen over 40,000 additional homes built in North Essex, including 20,000 around Marks Tey. Local Tories have made the urgent call after a Government Planning Inspector rejected at least two of the three new town projects outright. Colchester Conservatives welcomed the decision and have consistently voted against the flawed proposals for the new towns.

Cllr Paul Dundas, Colchester Conservatives Group Leader, said:  “In December 2019, we worked with the Green Party, Highwoods Independents and Wivenhoe Lib-Dem Andrea Luxford-Vaughan to command a majority in the council chamber to vote down the Council Leadership’s plans for more money to NEGC Ltd. We thank them for their collaboration. This majority felt that using taxpayer money to fund a company designed to build flawed Garden Communities was not the right approach and that a different future for Colchester and North Essex is possible. The decision by the Government Planning Inspector to finally reject at least two of the three new towns means NEGC Ltd’s purpose is even more redundant than before. The rejection means we now have an opportunity for an alternative future for our communities, which the pandemic is also increasing demands for. The majority we had in December 2019’s meeting can create that alternative future.”

Cllr Lewis Barber, Colchester Conservatives Deputy Group Leader added: “Colchester Conservatives have never supported NEGC Ltd. We believe that this local government quango has used too much taxpayer money for little return. Its only achievement is to assist in developing a flawed and now rejected plan, disliked by communities, at the cost of millions of pounds of taxpayer money. It should be wound-up and taxpayer money used on key front line services, which are now needed more than ever. We should focus on a new vision of hope for our communities in our response to Coronavirus. The planning for that has to and can start now.

Cllr Andrew Ellis, Colchester Conservatives Local Plan Spokesman explained: "To continue to throw large amounts of hard earned taxpayers money at this Company which has already burnt through £millions during its short existence makes no sense whatsoever.  Despite NEGC insisting on spending large additional amounts of taxpayers money producing their own separate Viability Appraisals on the Garden Communities; the Planning Inspector ended his 7 paragraph disposal of their work with ‘I consider that the NEGC appraisals do not provide a reliable indication of the viability of each of the proposed Garden Communities.

Despite our repeated warnings against doing so, eye watering sums have been spent on this failed misadventure and it’s time for the Administration to finally accept they have got this badly wrong and stop haemorrhaging our taxpayers money to NEGC immediately."

 2020-05-21

The Alumno Scheme in Queen Street is a controversial development including 350 units of student accommodation, negotiated in secret by the Council with the developers, and not wanted by the University of Essex nor most local residents.

 

Colchester Conservatives are demanding Colchester Borough Council’s leadership rule-out using legal powers and taxpayer money to allow Alumno to build its unwanted scheme off of Queen Street.

The demands come after Colchester Borough Council failed to say they would not use extraordinary powers to appropriate the land and override Essex County Council’s restrictive covenant on the site Alumno want to build on. The restrictive covenant is now the last line of defence against the unpopular proposals.

Cllr Simon Crow, Conservative Councillor for the town centre, said: “I’m extremely concerned that under cover of the global coronavirus crisis, that has seen so many of Colchester’s residents following the government’s restrictions and locking down for months in their homes, the Council has been pressing ahead with plans to build hundreds of student rooms in the former bus park.”

Cllr Lewis Barber, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group: “We wanted clarity on the council’s intentions and their failure to guarantee they will not use the legal powers only increases suspicions. We have long argued for a community led approach where residents and local experts take control of the process through neighbourhood planning to build something we can all be proud of.

If you want to stop the appropriation of land for this private developer, please sign the petition below started by local resident Fabian Green, which we will present to the Council leadership:

SIGN PETITION

 

Colchester Borough Council Conservative Group welcomes the decision by the Planning Inspector to find the New Town proposals unsound but deeply regret that the Lib/Lab Council Administration decided to pursue a flawed policy which has wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, delayed a vital upgrade to the A12, and according to the Inspector, represented over development. 

After at least £7m of residents’ money being spent, the proposals to build three New Towns in North Essex have been found unsound, not once but twice. A tentative go-ahead has been given for development in Tendring, that represents only 17% of the original planned housing and will be subject to further consultation.

Cllr Paul Dundas (Stanway), Conservative Group Leader said “We have been saying for years that these proposals will not work. Time and time again we have highlighted problems with the transport, financing, viability and that New Towns simply were not needed to meet our housing targets before 2033. One of the most senior Planning Inspectors in the UK has agreed with us.”

“We have been the only political Group in Colchester to point out the flaws. We were the only Group to vote against submitting this failed plan and only Conservative members of the Local Plan Committee asked the right questions. We were the only Group in Colchester to make our representations directly at the Enquiry Hearings and it is only thanks to us voting to prevent the transfer of £850,000 of Colchester Council tax payers’ money to the North Essex Garden Community Company in December and February even more money has not been wasted”

“I would seriously question whether those same people who have championed the New Towns which have been rejected twice are the right people to take this forward and think they should consider their positions.”

Cllr Lewis Barber (Lexden & Braiswick), Deputy Group Leader and Local Plan Committee member said “The Conservative Group supports sustainable, affordable homes where infrastructure and services come first, the natural environment is protected and existing communities listened too.

The New Town project fulfilled none of these tests."

 2020-0519