To pass a vote of thanks to The Mayor in the following terms:
a) The Members of Council tender their grateful thanks to The Worshipful, The Mayor, Councillor Sherwan Chowdhury, for the courteous and efficient manner in which he presided over the Council’s deliberations during the past year;
b) The Members of Council record their sincere appreciation of the dignified manner in which Councillor Sherwan Chowdhury carried out the duties of the office of Mayor, of the support and encouragement which he and his Consort, Mrs. Rohema Chowdhury, have given to local organisations and of the prominent part they have taken in the social life of the Borough during the Mayor’s period of office; and
c) That this resolution be sealed and presented to the Mayor at the Annual Council Meeting in a suitable form.
The Mayor explained that this was the last meeting of the Council before the elections in May and that there was a number of Councillors for whom this was the final Council meeting.
With the agreement of both Groups, time was made available to invite nine of those councillors to make a short final speech to the Council meeting.
Councillor Mann outlined some of the projects in his ward and thanked those councillors who had supported him during his time as a councillor. In conclusion Councillor Mann thanked those in the community and officers for wanting to deliver services to the residents of Croydon.
Councillor Hollands thanked the residents of his ward who had supported him for the 32 years that he had been a councillor. Councillor Hollands continued by listing those committees that he had been part of and thanked those Cabinet Members and officers who had supported him.
Councillor Prince thanked councillors who had supported her through the eight years that she had been a councillor and listed some of the committees and other bodies that she had been a part of. Councillor Prince thanked the officers who supported those bodies and to all officers who put so much effort into supporting the people of Croydon.
Councillor Helen Pollard reflected on some of the highlights of her time as a councillor as well as some of the challenges. Councillor Pollard continued by thanking all the diverse groups and their events that she had been able to attend and concluded by thanking her fellow ward councillors.
Councillor Woodley highlighted some of the high points in her nearly 24 years as a councillor and the people with whom she had worked. A particular highlight was the founding of the One Croydon Alliance. Councillor Woodley concluded by thanking officers for their work and support and to the people of New Addington.
Councillor Oviri stated that although she would no longer be a councillor it would not mean that she no longer cared about the people of Croydon. Councillor Oviri continued by thanking the people who had supported her, fellow councillors, officers and members of the community.
Councillor Bernadette Khan stated that it had been a privilege to serve the people in her ward and to work alongside the diverse communities in the borough. Councillor Khan expressed her huge thanks to the officers who were dealing with the day-to-day situations and especially the staff on the front desk at the Town Hall.
Councillor Millson thanked the people of his ward who elected him but also to those people who provided such great support to the community during the Covid pandemic. In addition, Councillor Millson thanked his ward colleague, Councillor Stranack.
In conclusion, Councillor Millson stated that they hoped that the new constitutional arrangements would be an opportunity to change how the politics in the chamber would operate in future.
Councillor Letts stated what a pleasure it had been to serve the people of Croydon for 36 years as a councillor and highlighted some of the changes that had taken place over those years. Councillor Letts continued by recalling some of the work that she had done to help the people of Croydon.
In conclusion, Councillor Letts hoped that whoever sat in the chamber after 5 May inspired the children and young people of the borough to make Croydon great again.
As the time for the conclusion of the meeting had passed, the Monitoring Officer asked whether Council would support suspending Standing Orders.
This was proposed by Councillor Henson and seconded.
All members were in favour.
The Mayor passed the Chair to the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Felicity Flynn, who presided over the vote of thanks to the outgoing Mayor of Croydon.
The Deputy Mayor invited the Mayor to give his farewell address.
The Mayor stated that it had been a great honour and pleasure to become the First Citizen and Mayor of Croydon after 40 years of community work.
His mayoral year started during the height of the Pandemic and as everything gradually, slowly started to open up again, he had had the opportunity to attend engagements in Croydon as well as some outside of the borough.
Initially the Mayor was bit worried about how he would be able to manage without any support from the Macebearer or chauffeur, with no car, only one member of staff instead of the previous three, and with less than 50% of the budget compared to previous years because of the savings that the Council had had to make.
However, during the pandemic all had needed to develop new ways of working and the Mayor’s Office, as the first citizen of Croydon, had been no different.
He said reaching out to the community and meeting with them, representing Croydon, being an ambassador for Croydon had been a great honour.
So far, the Mayor had attended hundreds of engagements and had enjoyed every one of them. While a chauffeur driven car would have been nice, his chosen method oftravel was his own car and also Taxi.
Every one of his visits was worth the trip as it gave him the opportunity to learn first-hand about the amazing work that the public sector, NHS, Voluntary and charity sector organisations had all been doing to help the community in Croydon.
Throughout the year, as well as meeting local, public sector, voluntary sector and charity sector organisations, he also had the opportunity to meet the business community which Croydon hosted, especially small business owners, who were affected dramatically by the pandemic.
The council supported them with all resources available and as it slowly came out of the pandemic it was great to see that so many of them had survived. However, the council needed to promote and use its small businesses more, which were so important to the local economy, giving them an opportunity to grow.
The Mayor had visited many schools in the town and had greatly enjoyed the hustings that the pupils participated in. he stated that they had so much talent, and with the support of their parents and the teachers in Croydon’s schools and colleges the Mayor looked forward to seeing what they could achieve in the future.
The Emperor of Japan Gifted 1000 cherry trees to Prince Charles during his tenure who in turn gave 100 trees to Croydon. The Mayor personally planted 50 of them in Sanderstead recreation ground where Japan’s Embassy Counsel was present.
The Mayor had also planted more cherry trees outside Croydon University Hospital that day as part of Her Majesty’s Platinum year celebration and in memory of the over 1000 of Croydon residents who had tragically died during the Covid pandemic.
Throughout the year the Mayor was also honoured and privileged to open, with the wife of the late Malcolm Wicks, Malcolm Wicks House, which provided 90 affordable flats in the heart of Croydon. Malcolm Wicks was a very popular MP for Croydon North. Having worked with him for over 20 years, the Mayor confirmed that housing was a great passion for him and he was sure he would be proud of the homes Malcom Wicks House would provide to Croydon residents.
As well as attending numerous exhibitions at the Clock Tower Café this year, the Mayor also had the opportunity to meet so many artists that lived and worked in Croydon - artists and creatives that made Croydon a vibrant place to live.
Sadly Croydon had lost a number of young people through knife crime throughout his time as Mayor. The Mayor attended numerous meetings with the community, the Police and also family members of the victims. There was so much more to do to decrease knife crime in the region.
The Mayor paid tribute to the amazing work that doctors, nurses, other NHS employees and social care workers had done during the pandemic. The Mayor also had the opportunity to visit the care homes in Croydon, and enjoyed seeing first hand throughout the year the essential work they did.
The Town Hall had celebrated many occasions this year and the Mayor had had the opportunity to raise many flags. For the first time the Mayor had arranged for the celebration of Pongal, which is a Tamil thanksgiving harvest festival.
It was also a great pleasure to organise Mother Tongue International Language Day which was recognised by The United Nations General Assembly. The day was especially poignant for a multicultural town like Croydon that had so many diverse people who called the town their home, people who made the place they lived in so exciting and vibrant, people in Croydon where the Mayor was proud to call his home.
During his tenure the Mayor was invited as a special guest to the opening of the Non-Resident Bangladeshi World Conference. It was held in Dhaka Bangladesh which was organised by the Centre for Research Non-Resident Bangladeshi. During his visits the Mayor met many Bangladeshi Government Ministers and officials, and had the opportunity to promote Croydon and shared how Bangladeshi non-residents were contributing to UK life and to Croydon Life.
The Mayor also had the opportunity to attend hustings by university students on how local authorities compared between both countries.
The Mayor also organised a fund raising dinner where many high-profile dignitaries including the British High Commissioner and the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh were present.
The Mayor had three charities that he raised funds for, two of them for cancer and one for the homeless people. Cancer was a killer disease, and it was in his heart because he had lost three siblings to the disease.
There were number of colleagues stepping down from the council at the 5 May elections that year. In fact, there were so many stepping down that the Mayor did not have time to mention them all. He paid particular tribute to those with whom he had worked over the years: Shafi Khan, Toni Lets, Bernadette Khan, Pat Ryan, Pat Clouder, Paul Scott and his Ward colleague, Alison Butler.
The Mayor thanked his wife Rohema for supporting him during the year, Deva Ponnoosami and his team of charity board advisors, Anwar Hussain and his Executive Committee members, the Bangladesh Welfare Association, Abul Hussain his second consort, fellow councillors, past mayors, community leaders, Seth Alker the Head of Mayoral services and finally again special thanks to Hema Basanthkumar the Mayoral Executive officer without whose support he would not have managed.
The Deputy Mayor thanked the Mayor for his address and invited the Leader, Councillor Hamida Ali to move the vote of thanks to the Mayor. In doing so she acknowledged that the Mayor would be the last under the current system and acknowledged that Covid restrictions had meant that the role of civic mayor had had to adapt.
The Leader continued by thanking the Mayor for his support of the ethnic minority communities in the borough and additionally through his chosen charities.
The Deputy Mayor invited the Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Perry, to second the motion and he thanked the Mayor for inviting him to a number of events and for the fantastic amount of money raised for his charities during the Mayoral year.
The Deputy Mayor put the motion as set out in the papers to the vote with the vote of thanks, which was passed unanimously.