Fighting for causes at the town’s heart

Coun Mary Smith outside a sex shop on Regent Road in Blackpool.
Coun Mary Smith outside a sex shop on Regent Road in Blackpool.

FROM sleaze to speed cameras – Coun Mary Smith was not afraid of meeting controversial issues head on.

The Bloomfield ward councillor, who died on Suday aged 77, proved an outspoken advocate during 21 years representing one of Blackpool’s most deprived areas.

As a member of the council’s licensing committee, she was a vehement opponent of the spread of sex shops and lap-dancing clubs which she feared would damage the resort’s family image.

She also hit the headlines in 2004 when she led a council investigation into the use of speed cameras which found the number of accidents had actually risen at some sites.

Coun Smith called for a review of all fixed camera sites, saying “a lot of the accidents are caused by carelessness. Many of them have nothing to do with speed.”

She put her no-nonsense approach down to her humble background, which as a teenager saw her appear in a Promenade sideshow earning £1-a-day because she had to help support her family.

It made being appointed Mayor of Blackpool in 2008 even more special.

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As a widow, Coun Smith chose her daughter Julia Massey to be her mayoress and the pair proved to be a popular civic partnership attending events across the borough.

Ms Massey said: “She was so proud of being Mayor and she cared so much for the constituents of this town.

“It was her life. They were her people and she would fight for them and stick by them.

“She had an eventful life and if she had something to say, she would say it.”

Coun Smith, who also left a son Peter and four grandsons, was surrounded by members of her family when she passed away in Blackpool Victoria Hospital after battling a long illness.

Ms Massey added: “She was on the Acute Medical Unit and the staff were amazing to my mum and to us. They deserve a big thank you.

“I would also like to thank everyone for all their messages and phone calls, which have really meant a lot to us.”

During her mayoral year, Coun Smith chose Donna’s Dream House which is in her ward, as one of her charities.

The charity’s founder Len Curtis today told The Gazette: “Coun Smith was a stalwart of the community and of Donna’s Dream House. She also campaigned on behalf of local businesses and will be sadly missed.”

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