Eyes & Ears

Keeping A Close Eye On Colchester

‘Eyes and Ears’ is an initiative that aims to make a real difference to the everyday ‘look and feel’ of Colchester. It encourages everyone to keep their eyes and ears open on their daily travels around the city and to be on the look-out for things that need flagging up for action. Perhaps some graffiti has appeared, perhaps some fly-tipping, Is there an area that doesn’t seem to be on the council’s regular cleaning schedule? Have you noticed an overflowing roadside drain or a leaking pipe?

Alternatively, it might be something that the Essex Highways team need to be alerted to – an uneven, broken or rocking paving stone, a pothole, a bus stop that needs attention, some redundant or damaged street furniture, an unlit street light – or a light that never goes off.

These are the types of day to day issues that residents and visitors notice, the sorts of things that often cause adverse comment or lead people to believe that the city is scruffy and uncared for.

Lots of us notice and comment but how many people actually report the issue? Perhaps we don’t really know who to report it to. Perhaps we think someone else will report it or it’s too difficult – or a waste of time as nothing will be done about it anyway.

The Civic Society ‘Eyes and Ears’ initiative sets out to challenge the perception that nothing can or will be done about the everyday issues that do much to detract from the positive images that make Colchester ‘A City Worth Living In’.

Members of the Society report, and pursue, hundreds of such issues a year. Once something has been reported we continue to follow it up until, hopefully, it gets resolved. Inevitably, some things take a while to sort out and, disappointingly, some issues just seem to run on and on.

However, more often than not progress is made and matters do get sorted, and often quite quickly once the matter has been reported.

Do you want to live in a cleaner and greener city? Do you want Colchester’s residents and visitors to see the city at its best? Please support The Society with its ‘Eyes and Ears’ initiative and report issues to the relevant stakeholders, some of which are listed below.

Reported and Sorted

Community and Society Action Days

Here at Colchester Civic Society we care about Colchester and we frequently participate in and organise ‘hands on’ practical activities where we try to help improve the ‘look and feel’ of our city. 

Community Action Days (CAD’s)

The aim of these days is to bring council staff and volunteers together to tackle, over the course of a few hours in a single day, the type of relatively small and ‘quick fix’ jobs that can have a wholly disproportionate effect on improving issues for the local community. CAD’s have included:

  • Litter picking, weeding and repainting pedestrian barriers and other street furniture along Queen Street and the surrounding area.
  • Giving much needed TLC to the historic Grade II listed North Bridge by clearing weeds, litter and surface debris.
  • Weeding and cutting back overgrown shrubbery around Middle Mill.
  • Litter picking along and repainting a graffiti filled wall on Childwell Alley, including the railway bridge.
  • Clearing weeds and overgrown shrubbery and sweeping debris from the underpass and the central area at St Botolphs.
  • Days focusing on St Botolph’s Priory: litter picking, weeding and cutting back overgrown shrubbery.

Society Action Days (SAD’s)

Members also work independently, without the direct support of council staff. Litter hotspots around the city centre are tackled, overgrown shrubbery is cut back, weeds removed and fly-tipping collected and reported. Colchester’s historic bridges are regularly cleared of litter, leaves and other debris.

Anyone participating in these action days will be sure of a warm welcome, you don’t need to be a member. Nor do you need any particular skills or be super physically fit. Plus, you’ll come away with a sense of Civic Pride and a feeling you’ve made a difference to the look and feel of our city.

Please keep an eye out for details of upcoming CAD’s and SAD’s on the Society Facebook page or by checking our Twitter account. If you’d like to volunteer or just want to know a little more please contact Sheila @ sheilamanderton@gmail.com or John @ jcollett17@gmail.com

 If you would like to know more, or get involved with this initiative please contact Sheila Anderton following this link


For recent examples of the work of our Eyes and Ears team follow the links below.

East B 2r

Ugly Barriers on East Bridge now replaced with Bollards

Essex County Council first installed concrete barriers on East Bridge, East Street in 2015 due to concerns over the structure of the bridge and supposed unauthorised parking. These were later replaced with red and white metal barriers. As time went on they became more and more of an eyesore, the metal drums were dented and the missing lids allowed them to be used as rubbish bins. Metal tubes along the tops were lost.  Not only the Civic Society but increasingly more and more residents expressed concerns, calling on ECC, as Highways Authority, to come up with a more aesthetically pleasing, permanent solution. East Bridge is, after all, locally listed for its heritage value, is one of the ancient gateways to the city and is an integral, important and highly sensitive part of the City Centre Conservation Area.


The Great British Spring Clean


The Great British Spring Clean is a national event run by Keep Britain Tidy. It has a simple aim: to bring people across the country together to clear up the litter that blights our towns, villages, countryside and beaches. Our Society registers and takes part annually, in a bid to keep our own city free of unwanted litter. Please check the Keep Britain Tidy website and our website for further details.


Society contacts: jcollett17@gmail.com    and  sheilamanderton@gmail.com

Plastic ties North Station Rd 1-19

Plastic Eyesores Removed

‘The Society has mounted a campaign to remove thousands of irritating plastic cable ties used to fasten notices to lamp and sign posts. For some reason the ties were not removed when the notices about such things as road works, street closures and parking restrictions were taken down – or fell off. Some posts had amassed several ties following repeated postings. This is difficult to understand as they are quick and easy to remove.


Website Abbeygate St phone box afterR

Phone Boxes

One of the things we keep a watchful eye on is the state of Colchester’s public phone boxes. Whether they’re working, often they’re not, and whether they’re clean and well maintained. Usually, they’re not.