My City Life: Norwich MP
Chloe Smith Member of Parliament for Norwich North
When I was growing up in West Norfolk, I was very frustrated with the transport links available to teenagers. I decided to set up a youth forum across the county to see what we could do about this, and in the course of that got to know my own local MP, Gillian Shephard. She has always been a wonderful role model to me and – guess what! – here I am as a Member of Parliament still campaigning hard for better transport for Norfolk!
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Getting results for Norwich. For example, I’ve set up the Norwich For Jobs campaign, which seeks to halve our city’s youth unemployment, and we have succeeded in helping nearly seven hundred youngsters into jobs and apprenticeships thanks to city firms pledging their support. That means so much to me because each of those young people is someone now taking home a pay packet and gaining crucial experience.
What was it like when you spoke in Parliament for the first time?
Nerve wracking! I spoke in a debate about skills and apprenticeships, and when you make your ‘maiden speech’ it is a tradition that you are not interrupted in any way, and you can describe your constituency and what makes it so special. I enjoyed presenting Norwich and its wonderful history – let alone our exciting future.
Norwich is your home, what do you particularly like about the city?
Norwich is a city with a massive sense of pride. I love the way that Norwich has such strengths that the rest of the country should
know about – a world class arts festival as well as independent theatres like the Sewell Barn; extraordinary industries in digital, creative, life sciences, and factories doing everything still from shoes to orange squash to sophisticated engineering; and of course all this in a beautiful historic place with award-winning shops and cafés and gorgeous countryside all around.
How do you enjoy the city on a day off?
Well, I’m a keen cyclist and will be doing the Norwich 50 in a few weekends’ time. It is a lovely route. I work at least a six-day week between Norwich and Parliament so I do always aim to relax on a Sunday with my husband or with friends. My family still lives close by too (Note to self: mustn’t forget Mum’s birthday…)
Are there any hidden gems in Norwich that you’d recommend?
I’ve been running a competition recently for the best local shop in North Norwich. Winners announced shortly! That demonstrated the great local places we have that aren’t only in the city centre.
I also love the way that both Mousehold Heath and Catton Park, both in my constituency to the north of the city, open up behind tree cover to reveal really special open spaces.Interview: Heidi Secker