Brent Council’s newly elected mayor vowed to help tackle poverty and pollution in the borough as she assumed her role in the first ever virtual handover.

Cllr Lia Colacicco (Lab, Mapesbury) will succeed Cllr Ernest Ezeajughi (Lab, Stonebridge) for the 2021/22 municipal year having served as deputy mayor for the previous term.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the ceremony took place online yesterday (Thursday, April 29), though the new mayor vowed to hold a physical celebration once it is safe to do so.

The borough’s first Anglo-Italian mayor, Cllr Colacicco said she will “shamelessly promote” Brent, noting its recent position as London Borough of Culture and recognition as ‘council of the year’ in 2020.

However, she also highlighted the high levels of poverty in the borough and its struggles with pollution.

“Brent is full of complex contradictions. A recent report we commissioned on poverty neatly summarised our predicament of having to pay the cost of inner-city life yet having to get by on a suburban wage,” she said.

“Wembley is the world-famous home to a £25 billion industry that is UK football, yet in the same borough, a third of households are in some way dependent on the welfare system.

“We suffer some of Europe’s worst pollution thanks to the North Circular and A5, yet we can enjoy the nearby Welsh Harp reservoir and acres of parkland.”

Despite these issues, she showed immense pride in her area, acknowledging the aspects which make it a place where “people really do love where they live.”

“Brent is a melting pot, full of beautiful colourful variety – there’s no need to travel to see other cultures, it’s all here,” she added.

Her chosen charities for the year are Parkinson’s UK and Cricklewood Library.

Cllr Abdi Aden (Lab, Stonebridge) will serve as deputy mayor for 2021/22, becoming the first Somalian deputy mayor in the Brent’s history.

In his outgoing speech, Cllr Ezeajughi said it had been a “huge privilege” and “incredibly rewarding” to act as the borough’s first citizen.

He also acknowledged the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, where Brent was one of the hardest hit areas in the country.

The disruption meant he served as mayor for two years, with last year’s annual ceremony postponed on safety grounds.