Keep Street Lights ON during Heavy Fog – Essex County Council

Keep Street Lights ON during Heavy Fog

As I drove home through Colchester at 2am this morning, in a sea of fog, the street lights were off as usual and it was incredibly difficult to see, which made me wonder why Essex County Council don’t Keep Street Lights ON during Heavy Fog?

30 minutes previously I’d finished a 999 call as a car had rolled on to it’s roof on the A12 at Kelvedon. On an unlit section as it happens. I’d also seen four separate incidents of police cars flying down the section of the A12 with their blues and twos on. Conditions were treacherous. It was difficult to see more than 10 metres ahead. Any pedestrians were almost invisible.

I’m an advocate of switching off street lights during the early hours of the morning (it’s great for the environment and makes star gazing much easier) but I’m not a fan of keeping lights off when it’s dangerous; and that includes during heavy fog. Why are we not switching the lights of for the safety of pedestrians and other road users?

Keep Street Lights ON during Heavy Fog


Why don’t ECC Keep Street Lights ON during Heavy Fog?

Who knows? It beggars belief that anyone could think it sensible to switch off lights during heavy fog.

I’ve Tweeted ECC to ask why, but as usual, no reply. There’s little point in me sending ECC as they never reply to any questions that have a vein which might even slightly criticise.


Essex County Council – exercise some COMMON SENSE!

All that’s required is a little common sense. The foggy conditions were predicted. ECC have the ability to switch the lights on remotely, So why didn’t they? It’s irresponsible to risk accidents when lighting could have definitely help improve things.

The lights are there. Use them when they’re needed.



Councillor Dave Harris re-selected as Labour Party candidate for County Council

Councillor Dave Harris
Councillor Dave Harris
Councillor Dave Harris has campaigned on a number of vital issues in Colchester

Councillor Dave Harris has been re-selected as Colchester Labour Party candidate for Essex County Council for a second term.

In an unanimous results from a vote of local Labour Party Members, Mr Harris said he would continue to “hold the majority Conservative led County Council to account” for their “continuing cuts to vital public services”.

“I’m Labour through and through” he said.

“I want to continue to hold the County Council to account. The majority Conservatives at Essex County Council hold all the purse strings and it’s vital that we stop them making cuts to so many local services including youth services”, said Mr Harris.

Councillor Dave Harris, who has been a Borough Councillor in Colchester for 12 years and County Councillor for 4 years, said he would “continue working hard” for his area.

Mr Harris has been successful at campaigning to keep Thomas Lord Audley School open for learning, getting dentists to remain in Mersea Road, campaigning for better local roads in Colchester, working to keep Youth Services, led and successful campaign to keep the children’s centre in Berechurch, opened a Youth Group and has striven to get a good bus service in the area, as well as many other issues.

Voting to elected County Councillor’s takes place in May 2017. You can keep up-to-date with Dave on Facebook or by reading his blog.


Colchester Middlewick Ranges new homes plan: a local persons view

As news emerged that the MoD had decided to sell of land at Middlewick Ranges to make way for 2000 new homes with their Colchester Middlewick Ranges new homes plan, it’s fair to say that local people quickly voiced their concerns over the plans, and understandably so.

Middlewick Ranges has, for decades, been a large open area which the MoD has ‘shared’ with local people for walking, which the MoD has used it as a live firing range for training soldiers. Many people are concerned to see yet another green space swallowed up by housing. People are nervous that there are already a shortage of local school places, it can be difficult to get an appointment to see a GP, and none of these fears are relieved by the almost weekly news emerging about problems at Colchester General Hospital.

Commenting on the story in the Evening Gazette, some people have branded the proposal as “madness”, some have pointed out that there will be an affect on wildlife, and another commenter branded the proposal “yet another Colchester concrete jungle”. In addition, people have raised concerns about the houses being affordable for local people (at a time when the price for a family size semi-detached property at the time of writing averaging £247,000 in Colchester – see Rightmove).

But we do need more homes

The fact remains that with an ageing population, as well as an element of migration and people being forced out of London due to the bedroom tax and cost of living, we need more affordable homes. It’s an unpopular argument but there’s just no getting away from it: there aren’t enough affordable homes. It’s a problem in almost every town and city in England and we have to face facts.

The problem for the people of Colchester is that the infrastructure never seems to follow. Areas such as North Station have been congested for decades yet Essex County Council still earmarked land and then approved more houses. Traffic around the town is often very heavy, even outside of rush hour. GP surgeries are struggling to find enough doctors to deal with the influx of new people and there have been very few new schools built to cope (Alderman Blaxhill school needs to be restored and reopened without further delay but that’s a rant for another day).

People are fed up

Talk to local people, and the majority will say that they feel Colchester has had more that it’s fair share of new housing, and most will say that it’s time something was done about it. The problem that Colchester Borough Council has is that to appeal against the new development would probably be met with a legal challenge from the Government or Essex County Council; which could become expensive and probably result in CBC losing. People are mainly against the Colchester Middlewick Ranges new homes plans and they’ve made that clear in comments on various news sources.

What needs to be done

It’s fair to assume that this development with go ahead, regardless of local appeals. If this is the case then all isn’t lost. However, the developers must not be allowed to build this new estate as cheaply as possible – they must be forced to build an area which is sympathetic to the land it will be built on – not a concrete jungle.

First of all, the Planning Officers for Colchester Borough Council need to ensure that every single detail of this development is scrutinised. The Officers need to ensure that as many of the trees are saved as possible as well on insisting on green space and a playpark. Consideration must be given for local wildlife.

The Officers need to ensure that they follow rules in regard to parking spaces to ensure that the development doesn’t end up with cars parked on pavements (i.e. each new house should have space for at least 2 cars to be parked in the property, not on the road).

I would want to see the new homes go beyond the “standard” guidelines for efficiency, with them being a ecologically friendly as possible. I would also like to see some cast iron plans from Essex County Council for the long-term infrastructure of our Town.

And while I’m dreaming, a new Primary School would be nice, also. If we’re going to have these developments forced upon us, the least we should expect are some benefits.

It’s just not acceptable to sell of the land to the highest bidder anymore. Make the developers work for their money. Make the Colchester Middlewick Ranges new homes plan a great one.


Justgiving page set up for David Green’s family raises over £14,000

No amount of money will ever make up for the loss of David Green to his family and friends, but when Samantha Eason set up a Just Giving page to help raise money towards funeral costs for David, she could never have expected that the page would raise over £14,000 in donations. And that restores my faith in humanity for today.

The page was set up after Mr Green was tragically killed on a building site in Colchester, to “try and raise some money for [his family] at this time, to help in what ever way possible. Whether it’s to put towards funeral costs because there’s going to be thousands of us there or to help fund the building work that he started at the house and is now unable to finish or even just with day to day living,just something to make life even the slightest bit easier for his family”.

I didn’t know David Green. I don’t know any of his family. But at a similar age, and also with my own wife and kids, I can’t image what the family must be going through at this very sad time.

If you feel like you can spare a tenner (or even more) please donate here. The money won’t bring him back, but it will help the family slowly rebuild their lives piece by piece.


Clowns cause ‘chaos’ in North Essex with fake Facebook photos

Clowns seems to be taking over our streets and lots people are panicking. Panicking about teenagers dressed as clowns.

Spotted in Colchester and Clacton with photos circulating social media, clowns have been photographed standing on street corners, walking the road and even holding balloons. No one is yet to see a clown poking their face through a drain cover.

The photos are fake

Photos have appeared on Facebook claiming that clowns were spotted in “stanway, greenstead and highwoods“as well as a clown “running around the town” but sorry folks – they’re fake. Those images are actually related to clown sightings from a similar prank which took place in Chesterfield in 2013 and again in Chesterfield in 2014. A quick Google reverse image search proved that.




It would seem that the hysteria may have a more sinister as two girls were approached outside Clacton County High School on 5th October and asked if they would like to go to a birthday party. If this was just a prank it was a stupid prank which put schools on high alert and even resulted in the Police helicopter being scrambled. Social media was also alight with rumours that one of the clowns had a knife.

Later that evening, Cann Hall Primary School sent a message to parents warning them about the mysterious clowns:


“We were contacted at 9.20am today, Tuesday October 5, with reports of two people dressed as clowns approaching students as they walk to Clacton County High School. It happened in Oxford road. It was reported that two children were asked whether they wanted to attend a birthday party. No attempts were made to grab or harm the girls. They left the area in a black van. Police are aware of additional reports and rumours circulating on social media. Officers are considering whether the incidents could be inspired by a current trend of prank in America. We are investigating and ask anyone with information to get in touch by calling 101.”


Hopefully, the silly boys who are trying to scare kids outside schools will stop it pretty soon before they end up getting arrested for attempted child abduction.


Coulrophobia – a fear of clowns



An evening bat hunting at Colchester Crematorium and Bourne Pond

bat hunting colchester crematorium

Last night we went along to Colchester Crematorium for a couple of hours bat hunting with a Colchester Borough Council Park Warden. A group of around 30 of us were given some information regarding different bat species in the UK, and in particular in the local area. I thought it would be something the kids would find interesting…and they did.

After half an hour, we were split into groups and provided a bat detector, which uses the Superheterodyne system to detect bats in area. It then allows you to “hear” the bats as they navigate their way around the area using echolocation. This was pretty cool and kids and adults had a good time using this around the crematorium. However, it wasn’t very sucessful so we made our way over to Bourne Pond to try again.

Success! We could hear and see the bats flying around the pound, diving for flying insects, and have a whale of a time munching their way through gnats.

Bats aren’t blind.

The phrase “blind as a bat’ isn’t really very accurate as bats have good enough eyesight; they just don’t see as well as other mammals. That said, with their sense of echolocation, they are able to building up a mental image much more complex and accurate that humans. It’s almost a 3D image in their brain. At least, that’s what some experts think.

Bats also have a long lifespan for a species that in some cases doesn’t grow much bigger than 4cm and in the winter, during hibernation, their pulse reduces to as little as just one beat per minute. They can also change their body temperature during hibernation to match the surroundings. These are just some of the very cool facts that we learned on the tour.

The cost

Tickets were £4 each (free for children) and it was definitely worth the money. A few non-paying stragglers turned up with their excuses and were allowed to join the group but then you’ll always get people who want something for nothing. A shame, as some of the money was going towards increasing bat habitats. Overall I’d recommend this activity.


Brightlingsea CO-OP cash machine stolen in ram-raid

Brightlingsea Co-Op cash machine stolen

A cash machine at Brightlingsea CO-OP was stolen in the early morning in a ram-raid on the front of the building.

A representative from the East of England Co-operative said that the theft happened around 2am this morning. He believes that thieves stole an excavator owned by Case Plant Hire from a nearby field and then drove it it to the site. They then used it to smash open the front of the building. Police helicopters were scrambled to the area in search of the thieves.

“It’s the extent that some people will go to to steal money” said the man.

Police have now arrested a man in connection with the theft.

Police are on scene and carrying out investigations. There appears to be extensive damage to the front of the building with brickwork demolished, roofing damaged and no sign of the cash machine. Anyone with any information should contact Essex Police on 101 or can leave information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.



Autobreak scrap yard fire at Hythe, Colchester, seen for miles

Autobreak scrap yard fire

The Autobreak scrap yard fire be seen billowing from the site at the Hythe.

People reported seeing the smoke clearly in Brightlingsea, and drivers also reported the smoke drifting across the A12 at Ardleigh.

Essex Police launched a drone to survey the site and capture images. It is not yet known how the Autobreak scrap yard fire started.

Essex Fire Service have advised residents living nearby to close their windows, although they have reassured the public that the fire is under control.

Locals said they heard explosions from the site, most likely to be inflated car tyres exploding under the extreme heat.



France sticks two fingers up at Little Englanders travelling to Calais

French authorities have stuck two fingers up at British holidaymakers this weekend by introducing new, stricter security checks at the port of Calais on the first day of the Summer Holiday.

Families driving to France via the Port of Dover reported 10 hour delays as the French decided to carry out full searches on every single car entering Calais – but refused to employ extra staff to deal with the increased checks. Interesting timing from our metropolitan neighbours.

The irony of the new French position wasn’t lost on some. Tolerated husband and Twitter user @alunllwilliams could see what was happening. “Welcome to the future !” he exclaimed. And of course, he’s right.

The French authorities are sending Brits a message. “You can come here on your EU passport for now, but we will make it as difficult as possible for you. When you turned your back on the EU, you turned your back on us. We can’t trust you anymore”.

Of course, there are more serious issues afoot in France, a country which has been besieged by violent terrorist attacks recently in Paris and Nice. Tensions are running high. The French people are scared or further attacks. European capitals are nervous as Munich is attacked by a lone gunman. We live in uncertain times.

But it’s unlikely a white man in his 60’s driving a Vauxhall Zafira and sporting a tracksuit from the front page of the new Sports Direct catalogue is going to be the next man to launch an attack on the French people. He just wants some cheap Merlot, some moules frites, and to practice some casual racism.

Expect this situation to be a repetitive feature for some time to come. Calais will soon be the EU border between the UK and the EU, and EU nation states are becoming increasingly concerned for the security of their people.