The Green Party's Mark Goacher is contesting Colchester's Castle ward seat in next month's local elections. Here is what he will do if he is elected.

As the local elections approach, Colchester residents have the opportunity to elect some fresh faces onto Colchester Council.

They are certainly needed. Lots of people have been telling us they feel politicians nationally from the big parties are not listening to them and are out of touch.

But it doesn’t have to be like this locally.

In many cases, councils have chosen to rely on conventional, top-down solutions to address residents’ needs.

Libraries close, green spaces vanish, potholes grow and street lights dim.

Greens want to do things differently and to unleash the power of localism.

Our 2019 Programme For Local Government contains a pledge to introduce more participatory democracy, allowing residents to form panels and assemblies to directly input into council decision making.

Greens also want to see a Community Right to Buy policy introduced, which would give local communities the chance to buy land when it comes up for sale rather than it being sold straight to developers.

Across Colchester Greens and are offering fresh approaches and new ideas.

They are not told what to do by central government and Essex County Council and so are able to speak up for Colchester residents on issues such as opposing overdevelopment and library closures.

Greens are not subject to a Party whip that orders them to vote according to the needs of the party machines and their colleagues in Westminster.

This means they are free to put the residents they represent front and centre and to fight without fear of favour for their interests.

As a history teacher I know the importance of libraries in encouraging children to read and am fully supportive of the campaign by Save Our Libraries in Essex to keep our libraries open and staffed.

Up and down the UK, Green Party councillors are making a difference.

I grew up in a council bungalow and so I know the importance of council homes in addressing the housing crisis.

However, we have to tackle the issue of soaring rents.

The Green opposition on Brighton and Hove Council has been pushing the controlling group to reduce rents on local council houses, by calculating these rents using local wages – not local house prices.

Despite the initial opposition of the established parties, real progress is now being made.

A new local policy on rents has been secured, and in September last year council houses were for the first time offered to local families at lower rents based on local wages.

There are better ways to spend money in Colchester than on huge metal elephants.

Across the UK, Green councillors are campaigning to exempt young care leavers from having to pay council tax, and have achieved this in parts of the Midlands.

Those who have had the most disadvantaged start in life should not be abandoned by local authorities when they leave care while other young people have families to fall back on.

Many residents in central Colchester are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour.

Essex Police have had to cope with 600 fewer officers and 300 less PCSOs since 2010 due to funding restrictions by the Conservative government.

We need the provision of much more CCTV in the Dutch Quarter and across Colchester to deter anti-social activity.

Another major concern raised with us is transport and we must improve our cycle lanes so that they are joined up and work towards assisting bus companies to switch to electric buses, as they have in Nottingham.

We need to recognise that the town centre is changing and work with people from business with fresh ideas such as those being proposed to create a “Lanes” type area of vibrant small retail outlets.

Enhancing our heritage attractions is crucial: Roman, English Civil War, First World War...Colchester is in many ways the heritage capital of Essex and we need to make the most of this.

Green Councillors across the UK are pushing Councils to declare a climate emergency and set a target date to go carbon neutral.

Many Councils have already done this including Lancaster, Leicester, Nottingham and Scarborough to name but a few.

Yet in Norwich it was resisted by the Labour group and Colchester needs to set an example.

On Stroud District Council, a Green councillor chairs the environment committee and has overseen the council becoming carbon neutral (first in Europe) and the most improved recycling authority in England, sending the least amount of waste to landfill than any other authority.

Just one Green councillor on your council can make a huge difference.

A Green councillor led a campaign in Sudbury, Suffolk which saved precious water meadows from plans to concrete over them for a new road.

Across the country Green councillors campaign to save green spaces, ensuring local planning policy protects our environment.

My dad, who passed away in 2012, used to say in his last years, “everything’s a racket nowadays”.

I see the role of the Green Party, and also that of independent councillors, as rolling back this feeling of powerlesness and giving people a feeling that they can shape their own communities.

* Mark (Green) is standing in the Castle ward against Darius Laws (Con), Victoria Weaver (Lab) and Verity Woolley (Lib Dem).