[Cllr Saleem Siddiqui receiving ceremonial and commemorative scroll from Speaker of
London Borough of Hackney, Cllr Michael Desmond]
By Ahmed J Versi
Councillor Saleem Siddiqui, 74, was conferred the Honorary Freedom of the London Borough of Hackney in “appreciation and acknowledgement of the eminent service he rendered with distinction as Councillor of the Borough” since 1990.
“I felt humbled and honoured to have received the accolade. I could not have done this without my wife, family and friends. What I did was for the people of Hackney and worked for community cohesion,” Siddiqui told The Muslim News after being conferred.
Cllr Siddiqui’s involvement in local government has been wide and varied. But his speciality has been education and housing. He has held a number of positions in both of these areas from sitting on the Hackney Homes Board and the Clapton Park TMO Board to serving on the Best Star Federation Governing Body.
A passionate advocate of education, at one point Cllr Siddiqui was serving on four governing bodies simultaneously, representing parents and communities at schools of varying sizes and specialist needs.
Siddiqui, who is married and has two grown up children, was twice Mayor of the Borough, Chair of the Education Scrutiny Commission, Labour Group Chief Whip and member of large number of committees. He was also Honorary President of Hackney Players and member of various NHS trusts and many other bodies in the Borough.
Siddiqui, who was born in Hissar, India, arrived in Britain in 1963 after obtaining his MSc in Chemistry in Pakistan.
Dozens of councillors poured accolades on him during the conferment on December 4 at the Hackney Town Hall.
Jules Pipe, as directly elected Mayor said Siddiqui had seen Hackney “through some of the worst of times” and was part of a group of Councillors “instrumental in taking it forward to the place it is today.”
Cllr Krishna acknowledged the personal debt she had in terms of the support and counselling he had provided to her when she was a new Councillor.
Cllrs Patrick and Nkafu emphasised his relentless hard work as a committed and dedicated Ward Councillor representing the concerns of Hackney’s local communities and acting as their advocate.
Cllrs Aussenberg, Lloyd, Hayhurst, Steinberger and Fajana Thomas focussed on his resilience and tenacity in his work and praised him for his warmth and friendship “you showered on us” and “thank you for your guidance”. They said he went “an extra mile” in his service for the people of Hackney.
Gordon Bell, Freeman of the Borough, said Siddiqui was “always a gentlemen, never offensive. He is one of Hackney’s finest persons.”