Opening of the Meeting
Councillor Chohan (as Mayor) opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and inviting Carolyn Downs (as Chief Executive) to outline the programme for the evening.
Before moving on to the formal business on the agenda, the Mayor took the opportunity to welcome all newly elected and returning councillors following the local borough election held on 3 May 2018 and thanked the Chief Executive, in her role as Returning Officer, and her staff for their efforts in running the election.
He also wished those councillors who had retired or stood down at the election the Council’s best wishes for the future.
The Mayor then moved on to report, with regret, the passing of a former councillor and Chair of the Willesden East Young Conservatives, Richard Hazlehurst, who had served Mapesbury ward from 1966 – 1971. On behalf of the Council, the Mayor also took the opportunity to pay tribute to Baroness Tessa Jowell, following her recent passing. The Mayor then advised that it was with much sadness he also had to report the recent passing of Councillor Lesley Jones MBE. He reminded members that Lesley had been a former Mayor and had served the Borough with distinction since having been elected in 1998. He advised she would be missed by the whole council.
As a mark of respect the Mayor asked all those present to stand in order to observe a minutes silence.
A minutes silence was observed.
As a number of Members had indicated they wished to formally pay tribute to Lesley Jones he then opened up the meeting to invite contributions.
Councillor Butt opened the tributes by highlighting the esteem in which Lesley had been held by all those who had known and worked with her as a friend, community leader and advocate. He pointed out that not only had she been a tremendous Mayor but she had also been a stalwart of Cabinet with an unrivalled sense of civic duty who had been a selfless, compassionate and when required fierce campaigner for good and worthy causes which he felt was the standard all councillors should aspire towards. She would be sorely missed by her family and also by colleagues across the Council and within the Labour Group.
The following Members also spoke in tribute:
· Councillor Janice Long – who highlighted Lesley’s dedication as a ward councillor to the local residents she had represented and many campaigns she had fought in the Willesden area, especially in relation to planning matters.
· Councillor Parvez Ahmed – who highlighted the friendship, mentoring and support that had been provided by Lesley prior to him becoming Mayor and also the formidable work undertaken in representing the residents of Willesden and for which he felt she had been rightly honoured.
· Councillor Aslam Choudry – who expressed his gratitude for Lesley’s tremendous friendship over the years and highlighted how much she would be missed by her family and colleagues alike.
· Councillor Reg Colwill – who highlighted Lesley’s passion for Brent and, as an example of her legacy, the work she had undertaken with Mount Stewart School for which she would be fondly remembered.
· Councillor Sandra Kabir – who remembered the support Lesley had provided her as a mentor when joining the Council and also the passion she had displayed working to support young carers in Brent.
· Councillor Krupesh Hirani – who highlighted Lesley’s passion in campaigning on local issues and also the many years she had dedicated to teaching as a profession.
· Councillor Michael Maurice – who advised that he had known Lesley for over 10 years and had often sought and exchanged advice on a range of issues. He also highlighted her passionate yet caring and fair nature and advised she would be sorely missed.
· Councillor Kana Naheerathan – who remembered the support Lesley had also provided to him as Mayor.
· Councillor Joshua Murray – who felt it was important to recognise the inspiration Lesley had provided many young people across the borough having attended Youth Parliament meetings to provide advice and guidance and also in her role in the teaching profession.
· Councillor Ahmad Shahzad – concluded the tributes by highlighting Lesley’s friendship, advice and support and how much she would be missed not only by those local residents she had represented but also by her friends and colleagues on the Council.
The Mayor thanked everyone for their kind and touching tributes.
Before moving on to the formal agenda, the Mayor also took the opportunity to formally welcome the Nigerian High Commissioner to the meeting.