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Thaya Idaikkadar to become first ever Sri Lankan council leader in Harrow
Harrow’s new leader will be Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar after he was elected by his party colleagues at a meeting last night.
The Roxeth councillor, who has been deputy leader since May, will take up the role on November 8, replacing Councillor Bill Stephenson who announced last month he would step down due to ill health.
Cllr Idaikkadar, who is a leader in the international Tamil community and acted as a link between authorities and protesters during demonstrations in central London in 2009, becomes the first ever Sri Lankan to be a council leader in the UK.
He was first elected to the council in 2002, and joined the council’s cabinet in 2010 after Labour gained control of the authority, becoming portfolio holder for property and major contracts.
He said: “I am immensely proud and honoured to hold this position and I am looking forward to taking this administration into the next election in 2014 and beyond.
“This administration has numerous significant achievements to its name – not least being named best achieving council in the UK for 2011/12 and fulfilling 90 per cent of our manifesto commitments for a four-year term in only two-and-a-half years.
“We have made a real difference to the lives of our residents and the services we run in what remains an extremely tough financial climate.
“I would like to congratulate Cllr Bill Stephenson who has led this administration with distinction. He has done everything in his power to live up to the expectations of Harrow residents by making vital savings while protecting front line services.
“It will be difficult to fill the shoes of such a committed and inspirational leader. Bill placed great emphasis on ensuring that the council provides the highest quality services and value for money for residents. I am committed to the same values.”
Cllr Idaikkadar, a keen cook, added he plans to treat council staff to traditional Sri Lankan cuisine by taking up the role of head chef for a day.
His wife Dhamo is a supervisor at North Harrow Station, and his children Gajan, 27, and Praveena, 26, are doctors in Slough and Ealing.
The Harrow Times understands there were five candidates who put themselves forward to lead the party, after Councillor Phillip O’Dell withdrew following criticism of his handling of job cuts in the environment department in recent weeks.
Cllr Stephenson, who has been Harrow Labour leader since 2008, will continue in his role as a ward councillor for Headstone South.
Meetings will be held in the next week to decide on a cabinet reshuffle and who will replace Cllr Idaikkadar as deputy leader.