Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar | Pioneering Mayor paved the way for others
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It was truly an honour and a privilege to be asked to propose Coun Arif Khan as Burnley's first citizen for the municipal year.
Coun. Arif Khan arrived in the UK as a teenager and made Burnley his home. He is from that first generation of arrivals from the subcontinent who settled in East Lancashire. I have had the opportunity over the years to hear the stories of elders in our communities and they are inspirational. These were courageous young men who struggled, faced hardship and made sacrifices so my generation didn't have to.
Pioneers who paved their way in business, education, community development and politics. Through their hard work, vision and desire to improve the situation for their communities they became a voice for others. When I look around the council chamber today and see representation from diverse backgrounds, I am grateful for everything that they did. The fact I stand there as leader of Burnley Borough Council and one of my former classmates from Heasandford Primary School, Lord Wajid Khan sits in the House of Lords, was made possible because of people like Coun. Arif Khan. I am sure Coun. Khan will be a great ambassador for Burnley and Padiham and raise lots of money for his chosen charities along the way.
A special mention also, for the outgoing Mayor County Coun. Cosima Towneley. Our politics may be different, but I consider Cosima a friend and a person of principal and true values. Looking back at this past year with the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Proclamation of the King, the Coronation of King Charles III and Burnley's return to the Premier league, we couldn't have asked for a better person to be Mayor. Coun. Towneley is not a district Councillor anymore but I'm sure we haven't seen the last of her. After her batting performance at the inaugural Mayors Charity Cricket Match, I am already looking forward to inviting her back to participate in this year's fixture later in the summer.
This week also saw the annual appointment council where I appointed my Executive. The arrangement that was in place with the Liberal Democrat group has come to an end, but I would like to thank Coun. Margaret Lishman for her hard work and unparalleled contribution to the Executive over the past two years.
As we are in the run up to a General Election there are those who will have ambitions to become the next MP. I am hopeful that personal ambitions won't get in the way of delivering for our residents. There will no doubt be the occasional playing to the galleries, but hopefully it will not undermine what we have delivered over the past two years.
Although we will be running a minority administration, we will remain focused and continue to deliver for the residents of Burnley and Padiham.