Tag Archive: Councillor

‘I am the product of Harehills’

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LEADER: Salma Arif was elected as the councillor of Harehills and Gipton with 79 per cent of the votes – the second largest majority in the city

LEADER: Salma Arif was elected as the councillor of Harehills and Gipton with 79 per cent of the votes – the second largest majority in the city

Young Leeds councillor aims to find strength in diversity

As the votes were counted earlier this month and the political embodiment of Leeds City Council was constructed for another two years, one local councillor was celebrating more than others as she was presented with the chance of continuing her proud family legacy.

At just 29-years-old Salma Arif became one of the city’s youngest councillors with victory in the Harehills and Gipton candidacy race.

Having grown up in the ‘heart of Harehills’, she has seen firsthand the issues people are facing in the local area, with education and employment central to her campaign.

Her grandfathers, Sohbat Ali and Bostan Khan, were amongst the earliest settlers in Leeds when they travelled to the area following service with the British Forces in World War Two.

The pair was instrumental in helping fellow immigrants create lives for themselves in the UK and Salma knows she has to work hard to replicate their impact.

“They have left an amazing legacy behind.  For me to even match just an ounce of that would be an accomplishment,” she said.

“I guess it's in the genes.”

With local councils continuing to be hit by cuts across the country, the job of a councillor is one which has perhaps become harder in recent times.

Salma, who received 79 per cent of the votes for her seat, insists she is up for the challenge.

“I was born in Harehills and am a product of Harehills,” she said, “now I get to represent my area.”

“To know that my neighbours can now come and see me to tell me their problems is a real privilege and I will do everything I can to help them.

“Because I come from the area, I understand what affects them and I see that as a massive advantage but also there is more pressure to perform.”

Salma was previously featured in the Asian Express after attending the Young Muslim Leadership Programme in September 2014 - a two week residential at the Oxford Centre for Islamic studies.

There she met with esteemed politicians and discussed issues surrounding diversity in the UK – lessons she hopes to utilise in her new political position.

“I’m not naive and know that I can’t change everything overnight but we need a strong voice for Harehills and Gipton and I will provide that,” she added.

“The area does not get the greatest of press but we are one of the most diverse places you will find in the city. We need to make sure these differences are not our weaknesses but our strengths.

“We can learn from each other and from my point of view, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My aim is to make Harehills and Gipton a better place to live for everybody.”

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Politics is a family affair: 21-year-old councillor follows in mum’s footsteps

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CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER: At only 21 years old, Zara got the majority of 828 seats and became a councillor for Chorley East

CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER: At only 21 years old, Zara got the
majority of 828 seats and became a councillor for Chorley East

Politics runs in the family for some people and the Khans from Manchester are proving to be a name to watch out for in the governmental sphere.

21-year-old Zara Khan, a third year student nurse at the University of Lancashire, joined her mum on the council earlier this month after being elected in Chorley on Thursday 5th May.

Her mum Hasina was first elected to her seat in 2004 and now Zara is following in her footsteps with election for Labour in Chorley East.

The second generation politician received an impressive majority of 828 of the 1,176 votes.

Zara said: “It feels absolutely fabulous to become a councillor. I was very overwhelmed and very happy on the night, which resulted in a few tears during the winning speech.”

She continued: “My ward colleagues, who have been my biggest support during the run up to the elections, were feeling confident.  I was really pleased with the result.  It goes to show what tireless door-knocking and leafleting can do.”

Hasina recalls: “It was a very proud moment for me, my husband Zafar and the rest of the family to have Zara become a councillor.

“It’s great to see young people come forward, especially young Muslim women. We have been very well supported by non-BME communities and Zara’s been so well received. It’s been unbelievable.”

LIKE MOTHER LIKE DAUGHTER: There are now two political powerhouses in the close-knit Khan family

LIKE MOTHER LIKE DAUGHTER: There are now two political powerhouses in the close-knit Khan family

Zara joined her mum at a ‘grassroots’ level, leafleting and campaigning with her from a young age.

Her mum continued: “Zara’s very observant and has experienced what I’ve gone through.

“She perhaps has more insight and a better understanding of the inner workings of government because of this.

“She hasn’t just jumped into politics, she’s had years of experience and has been a member of the Labour party since she was about 14 years of age.”

She added: “Despite what many Asian communities think about men who ‘hold women back’, this is definitely not the case in our family. The foundation is the family; it’s been a real family affair.””

As one of the youngest councillors to be elected in the recent local elections, Zara is hoping to emulate the success of her own political idol – her mum - who “never lets anyone down”.

Hasina herself believes there should “be more of an age balance” on local councils.

“We shouldn’t discriminate regardless of age and gender. We should go for the best candidate,” she said.

If Zara could change one thing about society in the UK, she says it would be the NHS.

“Better pay, better places, better care,” she added.

Zara has some advice for young people who are interested in politics and that is to get involved at a ‘local level’.

“Become a party member, join in with leafleting and canvassing because it really builds your confidence; attend local meetings for members and get involved,” she said.

“Most of all, just go for it. Don't over-think it, give everything a go. And, listen to your parents- they are usually right.”

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Former Lord Mayor vows to clear name after ‘anti-Semitic’ claims

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MISINTERPRETED: Cllr Khadim Hussain says he was trying to highlight the point that ‘evil has no faith, religion or ethnicity’

MISINTERPRETED: Cllr Khadim Hussain says he was trying to highlight the point that ‘evil has no faith, religion or ethnicity’

A former Bradford Lord Mayor has been suspended by the Labour Party pending an investigation following remarks made on social media.

Councillor Khadim Hussain, who currently represents the Keighley Central ward, is alleged to have shared a number of controversial Facebook posts last month.

One of the messages stated that children do not learn about the deaths of millions of Africans but rather the education system ‘only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed by Hitler’.

Speaking to the Asian Express, Cllr Hussain vowed to clear his name over what he said were misinterpreted comments.

“Let me be very clear that I will be protesting this suspension quite vigorously,” he said.

“They are purely allegations. The poster was highlighting the element of evil and I was saying that it has no faith, religion or ethnicity – evil is evil.

“Whether it is Hitler killing innocent people or if it is happening in Africa, or the Islamic State...they all have one thing in common, they are killing innocent people. That is what I was trying to highlight.”

Cllr Hussain was Lord Mayor of Bradford between 2013 and 2014.

He has served as a local councillor for over a decade and says his work highlights that he is not discriminatory to any race or religion.

“It is very unfortunate that some people have misinterpreted my stance and I will be writing in detail to the Labour party to fight my case,” he added.

“I have a 12 year blemish free record as a councillor and have always served my community with dignity and respect.

“As Lord Mayor, I brought faiths together, communities together and had over 1,500 engagements during my time. This is totally a negative perspective on my track record and I will clear my name.”

Despite Cllr Hussain’s comments, calls for his resignation have been made by some.

Amongst them is Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley Kris Hopkins.

Speaking from Westminster, Mr Hopkins said: “I was alerted to these comments earlier today and have now had a chance to read them.

“Hate-filled statements such as those which seem to have been supported by Cllr Hussain only take us backwards.

“I understand he has just been suspended by the Labour Party.  However, unless he can come up with a coherent explanation for how or why he was not responsible for these posts, he must resign immediately as a Keighley Central ward councillor.

“He has brought shame to the town and is not fit to represent anyone.”

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Councillor suspended by Labour Party

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SUSPENDED: Naveeda Ikram was reported to police over alleged financial irregularities

SUSPENDED: Naveeda Ikram was reported to police over alleged financial irregularities

Britain’s first female Muslim Lord Mayor, Naveeda Ikram – who is still currently a councillor in Bradford, has been suspended by the Labour Party.

With little information available about the reasons behind the suspension, a West Yorkshire Police Spokesperson said: “We can confirm we have received a report of alleged financial irregularities.

“Enquiries are at a very early stage and are ongoing.”

Meanwhile Cllr Ikram has played down the seriousness of the matter.

In a statement, she said: “An allegation has been made against me and it’s completely just down to normal procedures, that if an allegation is made against a councillor, they are suspended. The allegation was not connected to my role as a councillor and the suspension is “administrative” by the Labour Party.

“I am completely confident I will be exonerated completely.

“The matter of my suspension was confidential and should never have been made public at this stage.

“However, I am still a councillor and still carrying out all my duties as a councillor.

“It’s a Labour Party administrative suspension and that is just procedural. However, I cannot comment any further on the allegation as I am myself not aware of the specifics of it.”

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