Westminster City Council is to vote in its first Muslim Lord Mayor and its youngest ever incumbent.
Cllr Hamza Taouzzale, who was born and bred in Westminster, can also lay claim to being the only incumbent from a Black, Asian or Multiple Ethnic background to hold the post as the City’s first citizen.
The 22-year-old member for Queen’s Park ward was selected following the Labour Party’s victory in last week’s local elections.
Cllr Taouzzale, who recently completed his Masters in Global Affairs at King’s College London, has pledged to shake-up the non-political role while maintaining its traditions.
He 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.”
He only found out that he was being nominated for the role this week, so he has still to decide what his main charity will be – but he is keen on helping support local youth charities.
He is also considering who his consorts will be – but at this early stage thinks his mother and auntie will be the most likely candidates.
He said: “But I want to open this up and get people from the community to join me at events.”
Another change is that the Lord 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.”
Cllr Taouzzale, who is a Londoner of Moroccan heritage, said the appointment is the highlight in a career that started just six years ago – when he became a Youth MP.
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.
He said: “I’m hoping that I’ll get out and meet lots of new people and have some fun too.”
He formally replaces former councillor Andrew Smith at a mayor-making ceremony to be held at Old Marylebone Town Hall on Wednesday (7pm).