First Muslim lord mayor of Westminster announced

Councillor Hamza Taouzzale picture

Councillor Hamza Taouzzale, the new Lord Mayor, is just 22 years old. - Credit: Westminster City Council

Westminster City Council will vote in its first Muslim lord mayor and its youngest ever incumbent this week.

Councillor Hamza Taouzzale (Queen's Park ward, Labour) will replace former mayor cllr Andrew Smith at a ceremony at Old Marylebone Town Hall on Wednesday, May 18.

Cllr Taouzzale, who was born and bred in Westminster and is of Moroccan heritage, is the only person from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background to hold the post as the City’s first citizen.

The 22-year-old member was selected following the Labour Party’s victory in the local elections on May 5.

Cllr Taouzzale became a member of the Youth Parliament six years ago. After a year in office, he joined the Labour Party and worked hard on being selected as a candidate in Queen’s Park, replacing Alderman Barrie Taylor.

He was elected as a Westminster City councillor in 2018, becoming its youngest ever member.

Cllr Taouzzale said: “This is a real honour and a privilege and a total surprise. This is a job that’s above politics, so you have to keep the office out of the day-to-day council business otherwise it will lose its importance.

“But I do want to get out far more in the community, to be more visible in areas where the lord mayor isn’t normally seen.

“A lot of people don’t know what the Lord Mayor is or does and I really want to change that during my year in office. I want to open this up and get people from the community to join me at events.”

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The mayor’s chaplain will for the very first time be an imam. Kabbir Uddin runs an Islamic School and is chaplain at HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

The incoming Lord Mayor, who was raised on the Lisson Green Estate, said: “I think I’m a bit of rarity among lord mayors in that I was actually born and brought up in the city.

“A lot of people come here for work and settle in Westminster and then take an interest in politics and join the council. I think growing up here gives you a closer connection to the city and its people.

“And as an ordinary working class local I especially want to show young people that there are opportunities out there for them and to make a difference.”