I have my say at a Colchester Cabinet Meeting

Last night I had my say at the public meeting of Colchester Borough Council’s Cabinet. I had to skip bits of my speech in order not to stray too far over the 3 minute limit but this is what I had prepared. For an audio transcript (yes – audio recording was allowed as a one off) of what I did say, see the Colchester Chronicle.

If you’re a member of the public and you want to find out about public meetings of Colchester Borough Council, you face the same problem as Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

You will remember that Mr Dent woke up one morning to find his house on the verge of being bulldozered to make way for a bypass.

He had known nothing about it until the previous afternoon. But nonetheless an official reasoned with him:

“Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

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Is ‘Pikey’ offensive?


Is the word ‘pikey’ offensive? Racist even?

I don’t know. Neither does the BBC.

But I can’t help but sympathise with the owner of News Plus on Colchester’s Barrack Street. I hate thieves.

Mind you, ‘pikey’ is pretty tame stuff. Back in the 18th Century, when insults were insults and a spade certainly wasn’t a ‘user-operated manual digging solution’, the chief of a gang of Gypsies would be called:

A dimber damber upright man.

And I bet he revelled in it.


Southend Bans Protestors’ T-Shirts


Oh look, an official at Southend Council has banned some protestors from wearing ‘Scrap the Cabinet’ t-shirts to a public meeting. One of them went topless in protest.

While one of the councillors said “To make them take the T-shirts off is ridiculous beyond belief,” an official took a different line.

Council facilities manager, Gary Cullen, said banners, placards and leaflets were banned at the Civic Centre 18 months ago for “safety reasons”. Continue reading

Interactive map: public rights of way


The last time I followed a map that indicated a public right of way, my wife and I ended up in a field full of tetchy bullocks.

“Look big,” was my sage advice as the bovine heavy mob ran en masse from the far side of the field and encircled us.

Thankfully they escorted us from the field without trampling us to death. But I’ve a sneaking suspicion that was no public right of way.

You can avoid mistakes like that – in Essex at least – thanks to a new interactive public rights of way map developed by Essex County Council.

If there are any walkers out there, please give it a try. Before I reach for my walking boots again, I want to make sure it’s not a load of bullocks.

Explore the map here »

Compare and contrast…


What has happened is a Task and Finish Group which is made up of all political parties looked at all the Technology issues, twitter, facebook, filming Council meetings etc, their recommendation after taking everything into account such as cost etc was sent to Cabinet as per constitution of CBC. I have instructed that the recommendation is sent to Full Council for decision.
Cllr Anne Turrell (source)


@benlocker … and @yourcolchester Task&Finish Group reporting their findings to Cabinet via Cllr Smith. We can Agree/Amend/Disagree/Refer
Cllr Tina Bourne (source)

@benlocker @ColchChronic any change in the Constitution & Code of Conduct resulting from Cabinet mtg must be agreed by 20 Mar Full Council
Cllr Tina Bourne (source)

Mr Rock & Roll

No, I don’t know who Mr Rock & Roll is either, but if you want to find out you’ve got 24 minutes to haul your butt down the St Johns & Highwoods Community Centre with a stash of your own drink. @edpattle recommends you take a case of this (sadly unavailable from Highwoods Tesco, where this pic was taken. I chose this instead.)

Mr Rock & Roll

Eric Pickles, the UK Secretary for Communities and Local Government, last week entered the debate on Twitter under the hashtag #daftarrest, saying that the law had been changed in England last year, allowing people to to report, tweet and film council meeting

Source: BBC, 26.2.2013