Andrew John McIlwaine

Time to take matters into our own hands!

View Andy’s election leaflet here

It’s not my life ambition to be a Parish Councillor, I just feel compelled to act. Colnbrook has been badly let down and deserves better. As a community we are facing, within 12 months, the threat of a development bigger than Colnbrook, Westfield and Poyle combined, and we need a Parish Council willing to take on that challenge. I care passionately about this village and want to lead that fight.

A Parish Council has little real authority but it has the right to be listened to, most importantly in the area of Planning. Yet 70% of local applications in the last 2 years went without comment from our Parish Council. Having fought for six years against illegal development in Colnbrook, I was flabbergasted to learn that even Green Belt applications went without observation.

As Acting Chair of the new Slough district of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England I’ve been working to bring the CPRE to Colnbrook and with it scrutiny of planning applications. Elsewhere that’s considered the first priority of a Parish Council.

Most residents over the past few years will be aware of the astonishing unwillingness to take action against the illegal Johal’s Scrapyard next to St.Thomas’ Church. The appalling public meeting; ignored results of the ballot of affected streets; and the broken promise to call a judicial review.

But it is over SIFE that I’m most incredulous. In November, the stopSIFE campaign (stopsife.com) was set up by the CCA and I became its first chair. Not only did our Parish Council refuse to support or condone the campaign for fear of possible disrepute by association, it actually demanded a softer approach! stopSIFE has ground to a halt and needs a mandate from you on how to go forward. Ten years ago the Parish managed a paltry 11 letters of objection to LIFE – we very definitely need a Parish Council to take it seriously this time. I think we need to tell Goodman to Truck Off! and take the fight to them.

Of course SIFE isn’t the only issue of concern. Local transport desperately needs to be improved for the village. Fly-tipping is the scourge of the parish and a co-ordinated strategy is needed. The Village Hall debacle is an embarrassment that urgently needs to be resolved. And our new SureStart and Library wont stay open for long if we as a community don’t resource them.

Have you ever tried to approach the Parish Council for help? I have, but walking into the Village Hall at the start of the monthly meeting is like walking through the doors of a Wild West saloon when the piano stops playing. Lacking a contested election in a generation, our Parish Council has become indifferent, it’s own little club. The dreadful attendance figures of 3 of those standing for re-election say it all.

By contrast, the Colnbrook Community Association (CCA) and Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) are testimony to what can be achieved when people work together. Joining only in November, I can’t take credit for the CCA’s many achievements over the past year (persevering against a wall of resistance, and constant sniping), but I’m proud to be associated with a team who quietly get on with it, seeking no acknowledgement, cups or honorary titles.

As a councillor I believe there’s little point in bemoaning the fact that nobody comes to surgeries. You need to get out and knock on people’s doors, involve yourself in village groups, and be proactive. I set up Colnbrook Views (www.colnbrook.info) 18 months ago to address the latter and it’s gone from strength to strength.

We have an unprecedented interest in this year’s election. Please, whomever you vote for, vote for something different on May 5th.

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