by Nigel Bakhai on 15 May, 2012
Please find below a copy of the text of my speech to the May 2012 annual council meeting in support of the nomination of Cllr Mohammad Aslam:-
On behalf of the Liberal Democrat group it gives me great pleasure that I rise to support the nomination of Cllr Mohammad Aslam as Mayor.
Cllr Aslam has served Norwood Green with distinction for 14 years since his election in 1998. He is a prominent member of the Pakistani Muslim community in Southall where he has been Chairman of the Pakistan Welfare Association, Chair of the Jinah School of Urdu as well as serving as the Vice-Chair of the governing body of Beaconsfield Primary School for the last 15 years. I also know from my colleague Cllr Ball, that Cllr Aslam has been instrumental in organising the Eid celebrations on Ealing Common for the last couple of years.
Cllr Aslam has been a Vice Chair on Regulatory and I know from our time together that he will be missed on the Planning committee where he has served for so many years including a stint as Vice-Chair back in 1999-2000. Indeed, Cllr Aslam was due to be on the planning committee tomorrow night, and Cllr Kang had the misfortune to be sent away from the site visits on Saturday morning because he wasn’t due to be on the committee before we realised after he had gone that he was probably supposed to there after all as a replacement for Cllr Aslam!
Like so many on the Labour benches, Cllr Aslam has had a long and successful career in business for the last 50 years, beginning as a wholesaler of fruit and vegetables, running grocery businesses in Leicester Square, Marble Arch and King Street. Cllr Aslam has also turned his hand to textiles and the jewellery business and as I understand it his business is currently the largest independent white goods supplier in West London with branches in Southall and Sudbury Hill, Harrow. As a former employee of Electrolux who is hopefully looking forward to a small but generous Electrolux pension when I retire, I hope that he sells lots of our brands like AEG or Zanussi. I also know who to talk to if my washing machine breaks down!
I don’t know if anyone here has read the recent Summer issue of the Neighbours Paper which was circulated to councillors but there was a comment from someone leaving the borough that one thing she would change is for political parties to be banned from standing in local elections and that candidates should be members of local residents’ associations who care about their own community. It struck me how little that the public know how so many councillors like Cllr Aslam are school governors or involved in various religious or other local organisations, how hard councillors work and how active most of us are in the community. The recent low turnout in the London Mayoral elections should serve as a warning that as politicians we all need to do more to engage more with our constituents and make politics more relevant to them in their lives. It is also a major reason why the role of Mayor is so important as the public face of the council.
This meeting is one of the few times when the public gallery is full and on the rare occasion when we have a member of the public watching the debates here it must seem like we spend most of our time in this chamber, point scoring or arguing on behalf of our respective political parties that they may be forgiven for thinking that we lose sight of the fact that we are all here to serve our residents. Certainly it is only on these occasions that we take the time to pay tribute to the good work done by councillors on all sides for this borough like Cllr Aslam. Indeed along with those meetings when the freedom of the borough is bestowed upon retiring councillors, this meeting is one of the few times where we put our political differences aside, in this case to give thanks to the dedication and community service of the outgoing and incoming mayor.
The Mayor has an important role not just in chairing meetings in this chamber but also as the ceremonial face of Ealing council at countless events across the next municipal year and in raising funds and awareness of his charities. Cllr Aslam has been a very supportive Deputy Mayor for the last year attending many of the engagements like the Hanwell Carnival which the Mayor is invited to with good grace and humour. He is warm and welcoming, always with a smile on his face and a handshake whenever we meet. In spite all his business and other commitments Cllr Aslam finds time to help others, he is considerate when listening to and talking to people, and active in getting things done for his residents and his area. His record inside and out of this chamber shows that he is very hard-working with a positive attitude, an ideal role model to show case as the borough’s first citizen and why I am proud to support his nomination as Mayor.Leave a comment