First, I want to thank the voters of Castle Ward for giving me the chance to represent you as one of your councillors for the last four years. Representing the oldest part of Britain’s oldest recorded town has been a great honour, and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to do it again for another four years.

I don’t claim that Colchester is perfect, but I do think the Lib Dem-led administration that has run Colchester Borough for the last three years has got things on the right track. By initiating a series of Fundamental Service Reviews when we got into power, we’ve been able to identify lots of efficiency savings that have allowed us to minimise the effects of the cuts on Colchester, while protecting jobs and front line services.

We’ll introduce new neighbourhood teams for street cleaning and street services, which will mean that Castle Ward has a dedicated team working to respond to residents’ complaints and problems. Our policy of cleaning all graffiti has already started making Castle Ward look better, and under the new system, the ward will have its own team.

I work hard to make Castle ward a better place for everyone, and I regularly report issues to the street services team to get them cleaned up. I also make sure I follow up on reports I make to ensure we get action – I’ve lobbied the County Council to get our potholes fixed quicker, and we’re finally seeing action there.

We’re investing in the town centre, and working with local businesses to make it better. One of the first decisions I made as a Cabinet member was to get our new Christmas lights, and working in partnership with businesses and other organisations means we had a great array of events running to compliment them – and there’ll be even more this year.

I want Colchester to be a place that attracts visitors. That’s why I pushed for us to spend money fixing the Roman Wall, and if I’m re-elected I’ll work to get a proper protection and management plan for it, so we make the most of it. I want to promote our other heritage sites, and will look to arrange a Heritage Summit to get all groups working together on a strategy to really make the most of our history.

I’ll also work to get more jobs in Colchester, and ensure the Council continues to support our small businesses. This year, we’ve opened the new Business Incubation Centre at Severalls, and now we need to work hard to get the funding for the Creative Business Hub in the town centre that will bring in new jobs and new investment for the St Botolph’s area.

I’ll also continue to work on making the Town Centre a better place at night. Colchester’s not alone in suffering the problems caused by the night-time economy, but we need to act to stop those problems spreading – I opposed the plans for a massive nightclub in Crouch Street, and will oppose the plans for late-night opening every night of the week at the old Hippodrome. I led a group of councillors from all parties looking into these problems, and I’ll make sure that the work we did isn’t forgotten about, and find ways to get a wider variety of events in the Town Centre at night, making it attractive to everyone again.

I’ll work to protect our nationally recognised arts venues, and ensure that the Council keeps funding and working with them to make a better Colchester for everyone. A large number of people in Colchester work in the creative and cultural sector, and it’s a vital and growing part of our local economy that we need to protect and nurture.

Finally, I promise to keep up what I’ve been doing for the last four years, and work to make life better for the residents of Castle Ward, championing your issues and resolving your problems. Along with my colleagues Bill Frame and Henry Spyvee, we’ll keep reporting back to you through regular Castle Focus newsletters about what we’ve been doing, and will always be accessible to you.

Castle ward is my home too – I’ve lived here for almost fifteen years, and want to make it a great place for everyone. Please give me your support today so I can keep doing that.

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Don’t forget to vote tomorrow – your polling station should be on your poll card, but you can vote without it if you’ve lost or misplaced it. The polling stations for Castle ward are:

Friends Meeting House, 6 Church Street (next to the Arts Centre) if you’re in St Mary’s, Lexden Road, the west side of North Hill, Sheepen Road/Place and Rotary Way (AE polling district).
Castle Methodist Church, Maidenburgh Street if you’re in the Dutch Quarter, Town Centre, Abbeygate Street, Priory Street, Roman Road and Castle Road (AF polling district).
Celtic Rose Centre, Guildford Road (formerly St James’ Hall) for Riverside estate, East Hill, East Street, Smythies Avenue, Rosebery Avenue, Nicholson’s Grove, Brook Street, Ipswich Road, Fenwick Drive and Rouse Way (AG polling district).
Belle Vue Social Club, Colne Bank Avenue (by the Albert roundabout) if you’re in St Paul’s, North Station Road, Clarendon Way, Essex Hall Road, Claremont Heights, Cowdray Avenue, the new Riverside quarter (Meander Mews, Reed Walk and Pillbox Walk), Jarmin Road, Catchpool Road, Serpentine Walk, Kings Meadow Road, Margaret Road, Mercers Way, Albert Street and Causton Road (AH polling district).

All the polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm. If you’re in another part of Colchester and not sure where to vote, contact the Council’s Customer Service Centre on 01206 282222 or you can call us at 01206 766171.

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Do you remember four weeks ago? When BBC News spent half an hour showing us live footage of Gordon Brown’s car driving through London, when David Cameron told us he was going to campaign for the ‘great ignored’ and the media didn’t really care who Nick Clegg was?

Yes, we’re four weeks into this campaign, with a little over 48 hours to go, or less if you’re a party leader. Must be great for them, not having to do anything but go out and vote, knowing that there’s no way for them to campaign any more, and there’ll be other people out there doing the knocking up for them on election day. The rest of us will be running up and down streets, looking for someone with a car to take someone to the polling station before it closes and wondering if this is the year that a Parliamentary seat or Council ward will be won by one single vote, so we can claim we made that difference. Though, for anyone doubting the need for work on election day, every election here in Colchester has featured at least one seat where the result could have been different (for every party) if there’d been one more person out knocking up for an hour or two on election day.

Lots of links for you today, you lucky people. Cicero’s Songs is waiting for the Liberal Democrat earthquake and Unlock Democracy has a point to make about hung Parliaments – would you rather be Greece or Germany? Over in Wales, my old friend Daran Hill writes for WalesHome about which seats there might see shock results on election night, while the New Statesman shocks us with the revelation that Ed Balls might just, possibly, be able to countenance the idea of someone voting for a party other than Labour.

Here in Colchester, we had some of the Young Britons’ Foundation leaflets delivered yesterday and The Bureau of Sabotage has some more information on them, including the interesting news that the deliverers of them may not have been doing it for ideological reasons, but purely for cash. I’m sure the YBF’s accounts will show that any payments for delivery were legal and above board, and not cash-in-hand payments dodging tax and employment laws. Changing the subject entirely, a rather shocking report from The Independent on what happened when a reporter attempted to investigate stories of election fraud in the East End.

After all that, have a break with a quick video:

As for me, it was a bit of a quiet day. Had to go to Ipswich this morning for non-election related work, but had an interesting tour of the Museums there, which are part of the joint Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service – and I’m sure I’ll talk about that at greater length after the election. I came back and went to do some deliveries, only to discover that thanks to a over-supply of volunteers today, there was very little left to do! Yes, today we were delivering things faster than we could print them, something that brings a smile to the face of every election agent. I did find a few things left to deliver, but just 100 to take my total deliveries for the campaign up to 3,450. From my memories of previous campaigns, I might double that in the next 48 hours.

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