Two former Lancaster mayors to retire

Former mayor Sheila Denwood.
Former mayor Sheila Denwood.
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Two of Lancaster City Council’s long-standing councillors and former mayors are to stand down.

Labour councillor Sheila Denwood, who has represented Scotforth West, where she lives, for 24 years, and Green councillor for 20 years, Jon Barry, are both to retire at May’s elections.

Jon Barry.

Jon Barry.

Sheila was very proud to be mayor of her native Lancaster in 2012/13 during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympics year, having been deputy mayor to the late Coun Edna Jones in 2000/01.

She followed in the footsteps of her father-in-law, Charlie Denwood, who was mayor in 1967/68.

“I think it’s time to retire gracefully and give the younger generation the opportunity to move forward with my work.”

Sheila has a reputation as a hard and conscientious worker and is grateful for the support she has had through six elections from residents of Scotforth West and colleagues as well as her family.

A great-grandmother, Sheila is a trustee of Lancaster Almshouses and a former chairman of Lancaster Military Heritage Group.

She is described as one of the city’s most iconic figures by her great friend, Baroness Ruth Henig of Lancaster, a former county councillor in the city who is now a Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

”She is an excellent ambassador for north Lancashire, a committed internationalist and a strong supporter of town twinning,” said Baroness Henig.

A pupil of the former Newton and St Thomas’s Girls’ Schools, Sheila worked for Nelsons Silk in Caton Road.

Passionate about looking after her constituents, she is full of praise for many of the services provided by the city council, including refuse collection, street cleaning and recycling.

Sheila has enjoyed being a councillor which, although hard work, she has found interesting and fulfilling.

She is looking forward to enjoying more free time with her family, friends, pastimes and new acquisition – Louie, her shihtzu dog.

Meanwhile, Jon Barry has been a councillor in Castle and Marsh wards for 20 years and was the first Green mayor of Lancaster in 2015 – visiting more than 200 local events but without using the mayoral limo.

He was a member of the council’s cabinet between 2003 and 2012 with responsibility for Environmental Services, the Voluntary Sector and markets. One of his early successes was being in charge of introduction of the kerb side recyling system to the district.

Jon said: “One of the things I’m proudest of on the council was pushing forward the city’s first new allotment site in my memory – at Cinder Lane in Scotforth. I’m also proud of my role in saving the Storey Institute after the council agreed to sell it. A big disappointment was the loss of an indoor market in Lancaster, although I am proud of my role in keeping the thriving outdoor market in the centre of town.”

Jon has been an active community worker in first Castle ward and then Marsh ward.

He said: “I’ve always believed in working with the local community. We’ve had some great successes including the building and running of the Marsh Community Centre, the makeover of Dallas Road Gardens in the early 2000s and numerous improvements to play areas and parks. I’m really proud of my work with the Fairfield Association in negotiating the FAUNA nature reserve agreement with the city council.

“Even though I was born a mere southerner, I’ve developed a strong attachment to the Marsh area and the west of Lancaster in general. Standing down was a very hard decision but I feel that I need to recharge my batteries and let others take up the baton.

“I will continue the fight to preserve Freeman’s Wood and in my role as a trustee and chair of the Marsh Community Centre. I also want to give time to working with and supporting my green colleagues who I hope will be elected in May.”