Sponsor me to jump off Jumbo

Ben in front of Jumbo

Here’s hoping that a) the jump is a success and b) Jumbo soon becomes a ‘restaurant in the sky’

I’m chucking myself off  Jumbo, Colchester’s Victorian water tower, in aid of mental health charity MIND.

Thrill-seekers will see me on top of this colossus (‘Jumbo’), attached to a abseiling rope, on Saturday 28 September 2013. I’ll let you know the exact time as soon as I do.

I’ve abseiled only once before. Down a very small rock face in the Lake District.

I got to the bottom to find everyone else had packed up and gone to the pub, leaving me behind. Fortunately I had a copy of the Daily Telegraph to keep me amused until someone realised.

So if you can make it along to point and wave, you’d be most welcome.

And better still, if you can spare a few quid for MIND, please sponsor me.

Sponsor me!


God Save the Colchester Military Wives Choir!


Are you toying with the idea of going to the Colchester Military Musical Spectacular?

No, of course not. You’ve booked your tickets already.

And boy are you in for a treat. You not only get to see the lads with bagpipes, but you get to hear the magnificent Colchester Military Wives Choir.

That’s them in the picture above. Wonderful people.

The choir got started when soldier’s wife Debbie Price wanted to get a Military Wives Choir off the ground. She was supported by Liz Mullen, presenter of Colchester Garrison Radio, but they couldn’t find anyone to act as Musical Director. Continue reading

Diary date: Colchester Military Musical Spectacular

Colchester Military Musical Spectacular


There’s something about military bands that makes the hairs on the back of my neck prickle.

I only have to hear a single note of the bagpipe to think about the poor, doomed Highlanders being piped into battle at Culloden in 1746; or of Bill Millin piping Lord Lovat’s commandos over Pegasus Bridge, under fire, on D-Day 1944.

That’s why I can’t wait to see the Colchester Military Musical Spectacular, which is taking place in Castle Park on 22 September. It’s not only going to be a cracking event, but all the proceeds of the event are going to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity – a brilliant organisation that gives lifetime support to retired soldiers and their families.

So if you can’t resist the sight, sound and theatre of massed pipes and drums, why not come along too?

You can find out more on the event’s website here, ‘like’ its Facebook page here, or simply book your tickets here.

Hope to see you there!


Sir Bob Russell. ‘Vote Conservative’

With the county elections round the corner, what better or fairer time for our small-issue MP Sir Bob Russell to circulate his new leaflet, bragging about his ‘record of action’ in Colchester?

A quick glance, though, suggests he should have sunk some of his hard-earned cash into hiring a proofreader or someone with a similarly eagle-like eye.

Why? Well, if you take a look at the picture of Jumbo the water tower in the bottom left of this picture, you’ll see it’s sporting a banner with two rather well-chosen words.


We might just do that Bob.

Sir Bob Russell. Vote Conservative

PS. I fully admit the title of this blog post is misleading. I’ve taken two separate concepts – ‘Sir Bob Russell’ and ‘Vote Conservative’ and put them together to give a false impression. It’s an idea I got from the Master himself, except he prefers to tell only the half of the story that suits him.


A victory for council transparency

If you’d told me a month ago a bunch of local citizens could actually change Colchester Council’s approach to transparency, I’d have laughed.

But it didn’t stop me organising this petition to urge Colchester Council to allow recordings of its public meetings and encourage its councillors to use social media during them.

People really care about this stuff. And so much so that the council performed an abrupt volte face and spent last night debating whether to allow transparency instead of – as originally slated – deciding whether to stifle the bejasus out of it.

And we won through. The campaign really has resulted in a groundshift of opinion.

Council voted to allow all recordings of public meetings, and even plans to make its own official audio. Result. Continue reading

Car Arson in the Hythe

I arrived at my office in Colchester’s Hawkins Road this morning to find a burnt-out car outside.

I called the police, and it was reported last night. Two people were seen running away from the scene.

If you have any information, call Essex Police on 101. Gallery of pictures below.

  • Car arson in the Hythe 1

    Car arson in the Hythe

  • Car arson in the Hythe 2

    Car arson in the Hythe

  • Car arson in the Hythe 3

    Car arson in the Hythe

  • Car arson in the Hythe 4

    Car arson in the Hythe

  • Car arson in the Hythe 5

    Car arson in the Hythe

Staring out Cllr Manning as Cabinet refers #antisocialmedia proposals to full Council

Councillors will vote on meeting tweetingMore coverage in The Gazette at which @dariusglaws, @jon_manning and others talked a lot of sense.

I spoke too, and also drew 1-1 with Cllr Manning in a staring-each-other-out competition. Next time victory will be mine Manning…

Cabinet has referred the proposals to reserve the power to ban recordings, and to silence councillors’ tweets, to full council on 20th March.

I’m going to be rolling up with a copy of the petition. Please sign it if you haven’t already.

Sign the petition