Our Honorary President, and Honorary Alderman, Sadie Smith, was Mayor of Sandwell for 2006 to 2007. She used her time in office to setup a Multi-Faith advisory group, and championed the work of the Royal Osteoporosis Society. She was the first Liberal Democrat mayor of Sandwell, and only the second Mayor not to be a Labour Councillor, following the previous mayor Bill Archer.
Although much of a Mayor’s job is to represent the Borough at various events and functions, they can also use the time to highlight particular issues, and help raise funds for charity. Normally, this honour would have been bestowed on the longest serving Councillor, the late Martyn Smith (Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sandwell Council), but Martyn declined the offer.
Sadie chose to focus on helping improve community relations during her year by setting up the multi-faith working group that produced a report to the Council with proposals for them to implement. (This report was written by the Chair of the Multi-faith working group, Canon John Barnett, and presented to the Council.) Many of its recommendations were implemented, but the Labour faction in control chose to water-down some of the more fundamental reforms that were required, such as the need to increase the diversity of the Council's officers and workforce.
Sadie was ably served by two consorts during the year, Councillor Rachel Cheeseman (Hateley Heath ward), and former Councillor Tony Fowler (Newton ward), along with a number of substitutes who stood in when a consort was not available.
One of the many highlights of her year as Mayor, saw Councillor Sadie Smith preside over the opening of the Sri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple of the United Kingdom in Tividale. Sadie, and the Sandwell Liberal Democrats, have maintained close links with the temple ever since. Their open days have always been well worth visiting, and we look forward to the day when people will be able to visit it again, free of the current social distancing restrictions. The temple is something the Council should be proud of attracting to the Borough, and do more to promote.
Former Councillor Tony Fowler found his time as consort very instructive, and particularly enjoyed visiting the various community groups in West Bromwich. He also enjoyed working with the neighbouring Black Country councils and some of the other councils in the West Midlands on issues effecting our area.