Green with Envy

And so having had a lunchtime skim through of the three main tribal manifestos on offer in Sunny Colch in a couple of weeks, what of the local Greens?

Yep – the Colchester Green party have come up with a manifesto.

They have also come up with an incredibly impressive 48 candidates to contest the available 51 seats across the borough on 5th May – which is ten more than the ruling LibDems managed to rustle up.

This in itself is a fantastic achievement.

Sure, some of the Greens might be paper candidates, but at least they give the voters a choice.

It is also refreshing to see the local Greens rank their candidates in each ward, according to their priority preference.

The mainstream parties still foolishly play the tribal game, blindly expecting the loyalty of the Little People voting for partisan colour, rather than candidates.

Some wards have half-decent candidate standing for a particular party, yet a complete political careerist is also being put up by the exact same party in the same ward.

At least the Greens are making it clear where they would like to target.

Which brings us nicely to Castle ward.

Oh Lordy.

This looks like a DELICIOUS contest that is about to take place.

The Greens main man in Sunny Colch is Mark Goacher. He was the Green candidate in the General Election last year, pulling in 2,499 votes – a 5.1% share of the vote.

Mark impressed many as the campaign grew. He was the most impressive candidate at the Mercury hustings just ahead of polling day.

The Colchester Greens clearly see Mark as standing a chance of upsetting the old order in Castle ward.

Last year the Greens managed to push the Labour party down to fourth place [pdf].

This year Mark is up against three established Libdems in Bill Frame, Jo Hayes and a returning Nick Barlow.

Conservative Darius Laws is also standing once again, as is the Progress candidate Jordan Newell, wearing a red rosette for what he believes to be the Labour party.

Six strong (ish) candidates, only three seats up for grabs.

Good luck with that one, fella.

Which is something of a shame, as even with a reduced number of Cllr’s at CBC, there is certainly room for a Green voice within the Town Hall chamber.

Mark performs well when he Has His Say at Cabinet as a member of the public. The Cabinet with no Mandate simply smile, thank him for turning up, and then press ahead with what they believe is their right to rule.

Having access to Officers, and being able to hold any administration to account from within would be good for the borough.

As ever with the Greens, pitching your policy is a delicate balance between the national and the local.

You want to address climate change and global capitalism, but back in Sunny Colch and locals want to talk about dog shit in their streets.

Wot a STINKER, etc.

But the Green manifesto that has appeared on Mark’s personal blog does address local issues:

“We would work to ensure that the growth of our town is matched by appropriate investment in infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and public transport links.”

Which sadly sounds suspiciously like the LibDem wet dream of bloody Garden Villages.

There are some half-decent ideas on the local economy:

“We would support the funding of advice centres which will help those setting up a new shop or small business to deal with accountants and the tax man.”

For a party targeting Castle ward, it comes as no surprise that the Greens are leading strong on the town centre:

“We will prioritise the town centre rather than out of town shopping centres.”

Ta, ta, Tollgate Village.

And don’t even think about a McDonald’s over at Marks Tey:

“We are opposed to the building of a huge new town on the countryside near to Marks Tey (‘West Tey’) and will make every effort to protect Salary Brook from urban sprawl.”

The Green policy appears to be fix from within first, rather than try and expand. It’s hard to disagree with the desire to work out what has gone wrong in Colchester, and then work to restore the town centre after years of neglect:

“We will push for Colchester’s derelict buildings and shops to be brought back into use, including those above shops and particularly the old cinema in Crouch Street.”

We tire of blogging about how party manifestos aren’t even a pledge – they are a big VOTE FOR ME badge, with at best only a suggestion as to what might happen, should the candidate win the beauty contest.

The Greens at least offer a solution as to how they will achieve all of this, albeit one which is unlikely to be implemented:

“Time and again decisions affecting Colchester are made by Essex County Council with no understanding of what Colchester really needs.”

We hate to break it to you, but if the current Cabinet can’t even get ECC to TURN ON Sunny Colch once again, we ‘aint holding out much hope of a single Green Cllr managing to pull back any power.

A 20mph speed limit for areas in the town centre is referenced, as is working with bus companies to run cleaner and more reliable vehicles in Colchester.

Castle ward rival Jo Hayes could have done with a Green in the chamber when she tried to push through her cleaner Colchester motion…

Cycles lanes get a head nod, as does:

“We will lobby for more affordable fares and a proper bus station.”

PROPER bus station.

We’d vote for that.

And then it goes a little bonkers:

“We would also push for the funding of an English Civil War museum in Colchester and a proper memorial to King Charles I.”

The Chronic fell asleep during CSE history, but we don’t recall King Charles I having any particular strong ties with our town.

But the Greens just about get it back on track, by adding:

“We would work fully with other parties to secure the future of Jumbo in a non-partisan way.”

Once again we feel inclined to point out that political manifestos aren’t worth the server space in which they are published on.

But good work from the Greens and Mark Goacher. Fielding 48 candidates is ACE.

It is highly unlikely that the local Green party will have any power on the morning of 6th May, but they just may be able to influence some decisions from within, rather than sitting on the outside.