If you live in Forest Hill, then you certainly know about Sugar Mountain: the glorious sweet shop on Dartmouth Road. And, in that case, you probably know Pauline Wright too: not only does she run the shop, she’s a linchpin of the local community, involved in everything from the Traders’ Association to the library. Pauline kindly agreed to an interview to explain why she’ll be voting for the Lib Dems’ John Russell in the forthcoming general election.
Hi Pauline, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and your shop?
I’ve lived in Forest Hill for about 18 years now. I’ve had my shop for five of those years, and in that time it’s become a favourite with the local kids! It was when I first opened my shop that I decided to get more involved in the local community. I joined the board of the Forest Hill Traders’ Association, I also coordinate Forest Hill Fashion Week, and I’m part of Forest Hill Arts and the Forest Hill Food Assembly, among other things. So, I feel as though I’m quite involved now!
What do you love about the area?
My favourite thing is the community spirit. It’s just fantastic. I could walk to the end of this road, and it would probably take me about two hours to get back to my shop – with all the people stopping to chat. I can’t even go to Sainsbury’s without a kid shouting “Sugar Mountain!” And it’s not just the people, it’s what the people organise with each other. There’s always something going on around here. I love that.
Is there anything that bothers you about the area?
Oh, I don’t have many complaints, really. The traffic outside my shop is frequently at a standstill because the cars can’t pass each other at the other end. But, when it’s clear, you do get some motorists speeding quite badly up and down it – even with all the speedbumps. There’s the library along here, the swimming pools, there are a lot of kids, so it can be quite shocking to see them going so fast.
Why are you supporting John Russell?
The main reason why I’m supporting John is that he already does so much for the community. When he was our councillor, he was heavily involved in keeping the pools going. But he’s done a lot outside of politics too. He’s part of the library team. He helps out – with his camera! – with Forest Hill Fashion Week. He does loads of things just voluntarily. And then there’s his work with Wide Horizons, which benefits so many local children in local schools, and is absolutely amazing. I just feel that if he became our MP, he’d have the capacity to do even more for the area.
And what about the Lib Dems?
I’ve not always voted Lib Dem, but I do find myself agreeing with most of their policies. The most important thing, for me, is what my vote means for this area – and John does a brilliant job locally.