Rokhsana Fiaz, London’s first directly elected woman mayor

8th Jun 2018
Rokhsana Fiaz, London’s first directly elected woman mayor

(Photo: Newham Council)

Nadine Osman

Rokhsana Fiaz became the first woman to be directly elected mayor in London, having secured 73.4 per cent of the first preference (53,214) votes in the local elections, held on May 3.

She replaces Sir Robin Wales, who was deselected after 16 years in the post. At his last election, he received 61 per cent of the votes.

Fiaz was first elected councillor for Custom House Ward in 2014; she went onto serve as a Chair of a Scrutiny Commission, a member of the Authority’s Audit Board and its Strategic Development Committee.

Fiaz, whose parents moved to London from Pakistan in the early 1960s, told The Muslim News,  “The first few weeks my Mayoralty has been exciting, educational and challenging. Residents are at the heart of everything I do so I have been out and about in the borough meeting as many people as possible to find out what they want from their council and what I can do to help.

“I am very proud to have held two events aimed at engaging with residents. I met dozens of young people in my inaugural event at Forest Gate Youth Zone and discussed their issues and concerns. I want to work collaboratively with them to find solutions. Tackling youth violence and ensuring continued improvements in education are both high on my agenda.

This week I held the first Citizen Assembly which will be introduced across Community Neighbourhoods and will encourage residents to work with the council and play a meaningful role in the democratic life of this borough.

“Housing is also high on my agenda. Already I have met with leading figures in both national and London government including shadow minister for housing MP John Healey and London’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development James Murray. These meetings are essential in helping me to deliver my proposals to tackle the housing crisis and its impact on Newham residents.

“I want to thank the people of Newham for putting their faith and trust in me. As Mayor I will work with our residents, with the council and with my cabinet so that we can make a real difference for all our communities in Newham; including transforming the borough where everyone has a role in shaping its future so that it is stronger, safer, cleaner and fairer.

“Finally I would like to send good wishes to everyone who is observing the holy month of Ramadan.”

Fiaz’s priority will be housing, with her pledge to build 1,000 council-owned homes at social rent levels by 2022, and promising half the homes built by developers to be at social rent levels.

She’s also pledging to double the number of youth hubs in the borough in a bid to get kids off the streets and away from violence, and she’ll be opposing further academisation and the Silvertown Tunnel scheme.

Newham is one of four London boroughs in which mayors are elected directly by the voters.

Newham Council has been under Labour control since its creation in 1964. In the 2010 election, all 60 seats were won by Labour.

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