IN these turbulent political times, a growing number of voters feel politically homeless.

So it is no surprise to see candidates in tomorrow’s local elections staking a claim to being independently minded.

Christopher Lee is standing behind the banner of the Greenstead Independents.

He has regularly clashed with politicians of all persuasions across Colchester, including most recently with a foul-mouthed rant at Greenstead ward opponent Tim Young on social media.

He was spoken to by police, admitted what he had done and was given "suitable words of advice".

Mr Lee’s decision to start his own party was borne out of his own frustrations with the political establishment in Britain.

He said: “I stood as an independent originally as there isn’t a ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot paper.”

Having your own political party inevitably means you lack the financial backing of the big players as well as having a lot less manpower.

However, despite essentially being a one man band, Mr Lee has devised a 47-page manifesto addressing what he thinks should be the priorities for the future of Colchester.

Among the proposals are an augmented reality app for the town centre, more play equipment, dubbed a theme park, in High Woods Country Park and the creation of a Colchester Pound - similar to a scheme used for visitors in East Sussex’s Lewes.

Mr Lee also wants to see funding for the arts spent on Colchester Night Shelter instead.

He said: “This year, Citizens’ Advice has had its funding cut while we spend hundreds of thousands on tourism and the arts.

“Last year, the Night Shelter got turned down for money to expand while tourism and the arts got millions.

“The year before that Age UK got turned down for funding while tourism and the arts got money to have a treasure hunt.

“It goes on all the way back past the £28 million for Firstsite.

“Greenstead’s not particularly well known for tourism. Short of getting a job waiting tables for tourists, Greenstead has seen little benefit from all this investment in tourism.”

Mr Lee says Greenstead needs a voice, something he claims candidates linked to a political party cannot provide.

He said: “It also needs someone who understands that Greenstead has been under invested for years.

“As the largest ward it gets less investment per head in funds like the locality budget.

“As the estate has the highest concentration in council housing it gets all the fun that goes with that.

“There’s mould all over the estate and they spend the money on black timber knee rail fencing in the car parks.

“‘Sorry the extractor in the bathroom hasn’t worked for ten years but here’s a shrub outside your window.’”

Mr Lee believes Colchester and Greenstead in particular has been adversely affected by party politics and believes he can provide a genuine alternative.

He is not alone in forging his own path. There are three other independent candidates standing on May 2.

Beverley Oxford is the incumbent candidate representing the Highwoods Independents. She also holds a position of the council’s Cabinet and if re-elected will be a future Colchester mayor.

Mrs Oxford, whose husband Gerard and son Phillip are the other Highwoods councillors, is a well-respected member of a well-respected independent group and likely to win her seat by some distance.

In the Mersea and Pyefleet ward, community campaigner John Akker, who narrowly lost out at last year’s election by just over 100 votes, is joined by Mayor Carl Powling in the ballot.

Both highly thought of on the island, Conservative encumbent Patricia Moore certainly knows she has a fight on her hands.

With the chaos surrounding Brexit showing no signs of abating, some candidates are seeking to distance themselves from the main parties in Westminster.

The independent choices are hoping to pick up the pieces.

Mr Lee said: “Party politics is a huge problem in Colchester. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, party politicians have half of their opinions laid out for them by the stance of the party.

“How are we actually supposed to solve anything if we can’t look objectively at what’s true or not?

“That’s what I like most about the manifesto, there’s no parties involved in it.

“Some of the solutions in there do work, some of the solutions in there might need a little work, some of them might need a lot of work and some are just plain old destined for the bin.

“None of them however are conditional on a specific party being in power.”

  • Other candidates in Greenstead are Tim Young (Labour), John Clifton (Green) Christopher Piggott (Cons) and Chantelle-Louise Whyborn (Lib Dem).
  • In Mersea & Pyefleet ward, the other candidates standing for election are Peter Banks (Green), David Broise (Ukip), Bry Mogridge (Lab), Jenny Stevens (Lib Dem).
  • In the Highwoods ward, the other candidates are Jocelyn Law (Lab), Stephen Rowe (Con), Robbie Spence (Green) and Mick Turrell (Lib Dem).
  • For full details of the candidates visit