The new Mayor of Harrow said he would continue to celebrate the borough’s diversity as he was sworn in at a virtual ceremony yesterday (Wednesday, May 5).

Cllr Ghazanfar Ali (Lab, Greenhill) was chosen as Harrow’s first citizen for 2021/22 having served as deputy mayor for the previous term.

He takes over from Cllr Nitin Parekh (Lab, Edgware), who was at the helm for a unique two-year period due to the disruption brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Ali said: “I am honoured and privileged to have been elected as Mayor of Harrow.

“I hope to continue the path of previous mayors by promoting and celebrating Harrow’s achievements in bringing people from all walks of life together.

“Harrow is an example, not only in London and the UK, but to the world, of people living together peacefully, happily and respectfully regardless of race, religion, culture or background.

“I am proud to represent Harrow’s values and example of respect, inclusivity, unity, kindness, and service.”

There was widespread, cross-party support for the new mayor, with many councillors noting his commitment to bringing communities together and a willingness to “always be available” to residents.

He selected Harrow Mencap and the Harrow Association of Disabled People as his chosen charities, while Cllr Sasi Suresh (Lab, Headstone South) was elected as Harrow’s deputy mayor for 2021/22.

There was also praise for outgoing mayor Cllr Parekh, who became the first to hold the post for a two-year term due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Last year’s mayor-making ceremony was postponed due to the pandemic, and it was agreed Cllr Parekh would continue in his role to provide stability as the council managed the crisis.

He was described as a “reassuring presence” throughout the past 15 months, while Harrow Council leader Cllr Graham Henson (Lab, Roxbourne) said he had shown “professionalism and dedication” throughout his tenure.

Cllr Parekh said: “When the Covid pandemic struck at the core of our national and local lives, despite lockdown, Harrow sprang into action.

“As mayor I have witnessed true community spirit and selfless service mobilised by volunteers and professionals in Harrow, to alleviate the hardship and spread of this awful disease.

“I have attended numerous virtual meetings, arranged commendation awards, and represented the borough as best as was possible during the pandemic.

“I am absolutely filled with awe at the response by the citizens of Harrow, and the remarkable initiatives that have emerged – I feel humbled to have been their first citizen during these trying times.”