New mayor and new council leader for St Albans
- Credit: citizenside.com
St Albans has woken up this morning to a new mayor and a new council leader.
Last night, at a meeting of the full council, Ashley councillor Iqbal Zia was elected the new mayor of St Albans, taking over from Cllr Frances Leonard.
Cllr Anthony Rowlands, who proposed Cllr Zia for the role, said: “In both his professional and public life, Iqbal is a man of great patience and compassion.”
Cllr Zia, a father-of-three and descendent from the family of the Prophet Muhammad, was originally born in Pakistan, before moving to St Albans.
The Lib Dem councillor, a practising Muslim, began his speech with a prayer from the Quran.
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He said: “This is a truly remarkable moment for me, my family and the community I represent.
“It has been a long road to get here and interesting as well.
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“I have cherished the openness of the people of St Albans to appreciate everyone around you.”
He praised Cllr Leonard, saying she had “excelled” herself.
The council also voted on a new council leader, following Cllr Julian Daly’s announcement he would be stepping down.
St Peters councillor Alec Campbell was elected to the role, and said: “I am honoured at being elected leader, and am looking forward to the delivering on the corporate plan agreed by council in December.
“Many of our major projects, such as the £7.75 million museum and art gallery, are well on the way to completion.
“Another priority is the Strategic Local Plan which identifies land in the district for housing and other development.
“That has encountered some obstacles, but I am confident that we can overcome these and make progress on this vital issue.”
Cllr Campbell, a Conservative, has also carried out a reshuffle of the council cabinet.
Cllr Mary Maynard has taken the planning portfolio previously occupied by Cllr Campbell, and Cllr Daly has been given the new commercial and development portfolio.
This will give him responsibility for enterprise zones, infrastructure, and large developments such as the new museum and the redevelopment of St Albans’ civic centre.
He said: “It is a function I was doing as leader. Making sure we deliver on the leisure centre and arts centre for Harpenden.”
This, along with the civic centre redevelopment, is, according to Cllr Daly, “a big part of the council’s plans to meet our budget pressures over the new few years.”
Cllr Campbell emphasised the commercial development side of the council’s work, saying: “The focus is to get the commercial and development role up and running.
“This will help us deliver on our commercial projects.”
He also said the council would work to make more services available online, similar to what they have done with the new Parking Hub.
Cllr Campbell has taken on the resources portfolio, while keeping the remaining cabinet members in their current roles.