“WE NEED to look after everybody now” said Slough’s newly-appointed mayor in his acceptance speech.

An annual full council meeting was held virtually May 21 to appoint a new mayor and a new a deputy mayor for the municipal year.

The current deputy mayor, councillor Preston Brooker (Labour: Langley Kedermister) will take over the role from mayor Avtar Kaur Cheema (Labour: Colnbrook and Poyle) on June 15.

His commitment and experience were described as ‘vital’ by his nominator councillor Robert Anderson (Labour: Britwell and Northborough), lead member for transport and environmental services, who thought he would be ‘the best possible mayor’.

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The new mayor thanked and paid tribute to the NHS, doctors, GPs, keyworkers, and bus drivers in his acceptance speech as well as Slough’s voluntary service for providing hot food and care to the needy.

He said: “I am becoming mayor at a very difficult time. There are no fetes to open or events to attend – but what I am planning to do when I become mayor is to use all the social media tools that are available to me to get round to as many schools and events as I can.

“We need to look after everybody now, particularly vulnerable citizens.

“We need to stay home as much as possible. We need to keep washing our hands regularly and we need to keep a social distance.”

Councillor Anderson said councillor Brooker – who became an elected representative in 2012 – could have become mayor before but felt he couldn’t commit to it entirely.

Councillor Haqeeq Dar (Labour: Wexham Lea) will take the reins as deputy mayor from councillor Brooker for 2020/21 and was nominated by the deputy leader of the council, councillor Sabia Akram (Labour: Elliman).

He said: “I hope to serve the office of deputy mayor and deputise the mayor where required to do so to the best of my ability.”

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Councillor Dar will continue to chair the planning committee which is due to meet on May 27 (Wednesday).

In her final speech, mayor Avtar Kaur Cheema paid tribute to all frontline and care workers risking their own lives to help the most vulnerable and those who have sadly died from the coronavirus.

She said: “This the final council meeting I will preside as mayor and at the beginning of my year, I could not have imagined that one year on we would be living in such difficult and uncertain times.

“I wish to thank all staff and councillors at Slough Borough Council who are participating and leading honourably in fighting locally against the coronavirus.

“This is and will continue to be an extremely difficult task for the foreseeable future – so thank you for all you are doing to look after the residents of Slough.”

The official handover, where the new mayor and deputy mayor are robed and sign the book declaring their appointment, will be delayed to June 15 because of the coronavirus.

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Slough MP Tan Dhesi congratulated both the new mayor and deputy mayor saying they will work ‘very well’ together.

He said: “My huge congratulations to our new mayor, councillor Preston Brooker.

“He has an exemplary record in terms of his service to our town over several years as an elected councillor.

“I am sure he will do himself and all of us and the town proud in terms of how he will conduct himself in his mayoral year.

“My sincere congratulations also to our new deputy mayor, councillor Haqeeq Dar. He, like our new mayor, has the distinction of having served local residents over several years as elected councillor and in terms of voluntary activities.

“I am sure that they will work together very well as our mayor and deputy mayor as they serve Slough.”

During the meeting, a moment of silence was held for councillor Shabnum Sadiq, who died in April after contracting Covid-19, former deputy mayor Derek Cryer and everyone else who has been affected by the coronavirus.