Colchester Greens launch manifesto

VOTERS in Colchester have been given an environmentally-friendly option for the upcoming borough council election after the Green Party launched its manifesto.

Elliot Furniss

VOTERS in Colchester have been given an environmentally-friendly option for the upcoming borough council election after the Green Party launched its manifesto.

Although the other parties in the town have spoken about environmental issues when launching their campaigns this week, it is the Green Party that is continuing to campaign passionately about such matters.

Led by Peter Lynn, the group currently holds no seats on Colchester Borough Council, but will be contesting all 20 at the May elections.

The focus of the party is on preserving Colchester's “distinctive historical character” and green spaces while introducing measures to cut congestion in the town.

Mr Lynn said: “Close to the heart of the town there are superb green open spaces - Castle Park, High Woods Country Park, Hilly Fields, Salary Brook and many other, less well-known green oases - and still within the borough some fine unspoilt countryside.

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“The town still has some independent local shops, and has good public transport links, with railway stations offering regular services to London, East Anglia and the coast.

“However, in the rush to 'develop' and 'modernise' the town, important aspects of our heritage have been destroyed and fragmented.”

He said important features such as St Botolph's Priory and the Roman wall were “hidden away” without information displays and “unique” green spaces were also under-valued.

Mr Lynne said: “Recent planning decisions continue to erode and fragment them. High rents and business rates are driving out many smaller local businesses and they are being replaced by big chains, supermarkets and convenience stores - all taking Colchester in the direction of the notorious 'clone town'.”

He also said the group felt that the growing takeover of the town centre by the “night-time economy” made many older people fearful of entering the town after dark while public transport was suffering from poor information, self-destructive competition between operators, and unreliability due to ever-growing congestion.

Mr Lynne claimed that recent council decisions, notably the partial closure of the bus station, plus massive new housing developments, had made matters worse.

He added: “The vision of the Green Party is that Colchester should be a vibrant and pleasant town with a good-quality life that is not undermined by problems of congestion, air pollution, poor maintenance of our surroundings and poor-quality public transport.

“Of course, we recognise that local councils are limited in what they can do. Much of what we would like to see could only be achieved with support from central government.

“But more could be done by 'grass-roots' activities of Colchester people, and a supportive council.”