Thursday 22nd May 2003
All content © New Journal Enterprises, 2003.

We’re behind you, Nash! Somers Town youngsters share new Mayor Nasim Ali’s glory day
Youngest mayor but Tories cry foul
YOUNGSTERS from Somers Town hit the Town Hall in force last Wednesday cheering the election of Camden’s youngest ever mayor.
Councillor Nasim Ali made history also made history by becoming Camden’s first Bangladeshi Mayor.

The 34-year-old – popularly known as Nash – was nominated by Labour Councillor Theo Blackwell, his fellow ward councillor in Regent’s Park.
Cllr Ali, a community centre manager of Haverstock Road, Gospel Oak, was elected onto the council last year but in his new role must not take part in party politics.

But his selection – and the appointment of Labour Cllr Harriet Garland as Deputy Mayor – has led opponents to question the mayor-making process.

At the full council meeting last Wednesday, Cllr Brian Cattell, a Conservative, said: “This is the last year the Conservative group can support – as a matter of course – a candidate for Mayor from only one political party. I hope that over the coming year councillors of all parties will be able to agree on a more pluralist way of selecting the person to hold this important office.”

He added that a system should be created to allow councillors from all parties and all parts of the borough to stand chance of selected as “a matter of principle”. Cllr Ali – who was awarded one of the first Camden Good Citizen Awards in 1998 for his work in diverting youths away from drugs and conflict – will hold the casting vote in the rare event of a completely split vote at full council meetings.

Cllr Cattell said: “Maybe over five years, there might be three Labour mayors to reflect their majority. But there would also be room for a Liberal Democrat one or a Conservative Mayor.

He welcomed the appointment of Cllr Ali – who was responsible for starting up the Camden United football team which brought together conflicting groups in Somers Town – but added: “My hope is that Nash and future mayors can use their office to inspire people across Camden to get involved in local politics.

“But if they are to do this the office must be seen as completely non-political and Mayors must in future come from all parts of the borough, reflect all of its communities and all of its rich political traditions.”
Cllr Dermot Greene, Labour’s chief whip, said there was “not much support” amongst his party for sharing the role. He added it was unlikely that opponents would share the position if they held the majority in the council.