New Mayor Sheila Friend-Smith is Full of Vibrant Ideas
NEW Ely mayor Sheila Friend-Smith is an old hand, having lived in the city since 1977. But she is full of fresh, vibrant ideas about how to revive and inspire the city s people and places, whilst recognising the wealth of community spirit and voluntary o
NEW Ely mayor Sheila Friend-Smith is an old hand, having lived in the city since 1977.
But she is full of fresh, vibrant ideas about how to revive and inspire the city's people and places, whilst recognising the wealth of community spirit and voluntary organisations that have sprung up here.
At her mayor making - formal investiture - on Monday evening, Cllr Friend-Smith told assembled Ely residents, city councillors and business people that she was keen to campaign for a greener city. Cycling up to the Ely Standard office on Tuesday, it is clear that she practises what she preaches.
"We need to be green by encouragement. I hate the idea of prohibition, and banning things," she says. One of her first campaigns will be to open a Green Logo for Ely competition, which will be featured on free re-useable bags handed out across the city. "Young people will certainly be involved in the design, and there will be a prize of some sort, but exact details have yet to be finalised," she added.
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As much as she wants to be environmentally friendly in the conventional sense, she also has chosen charities which contribute to Ely's green spaces themselves.
Her three charities of the year are: Ely in Bloom, Helping Hands and Christmas lights.
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"I suppose LED light bulbs isn't that environmentally friendly, but it's only once a year and it does improve the environment of the city," she added.
Helping Hands is a charity overseen by town crier Avril Hayter Smith, which puts supervised groups of long-term unemployed, mentally ill, or learning disabled people to work on odd gardening jobs for the elderly or disabled.
"I thought that it was a charity that really helps Ely, and I wanted to make sure that a worthwhile initiative could survive," says Sheila.
Members of the public and businesses can donate purchase reasonably priced shrubs, a string of lights and plants for any of the mayor's three charities, or donate cheques to the Mayor's Charity, 33 Egremont Street, Ely.
Another string to the mayor's work, according to Sheila, is reaching out to Ely's growing estates and to younger people.
"We want to make contact with the newer parts of the city," she added. "We feel as a city council that when you live on the edge its very easy to commute to Cambridge or elsewhere and not to be part of Ely. We've tried with the welcome packs from Ely Perspective and I think they were well received, but we would like to get notice boards up on the newer estates in future."
She helped to set up the youth council as mayor in Ely's jubilee year, and was clearly popular among young people, so much so that the first-ever chairman of the Youth Council attended her mayor making ceremony.
Sheila is supported in her position as mayor by husband and fellow district councillor Jeremy Friend Smith, who will now attend functions with her under the grand title of Consort.
nLook out for 'From the Mayor's Parlour', a new column by Mayor Friend Smith, every month in the Ely Standard.