Worthing could soon have its first female Muslim mayor

Labour’s mayoral nominee for 2022-23 could make history in the town.

Worthing Borough Council will appoint a new mayor and deputy mayor on Friday (20 May).

The Labour group, which now has a majority of seats at the council, has nominated Gaisford ward councillor Henna Chowdhury for the role.

Councillor Chowdhury became the first female Muslim councillor in Worthing when she was elected in 2019 and may well be the first female Muslim mayor.

Henna Chowdhury

Conservative councillor Jack Saheid was the town's first Muslim mayor between 2004 and 2005.

Newly elected Tarring councillor Rita Garner will be nominated for the role of deputy mayor.

Councillor Chowdhury has been a Worthing resident for more than 30 years and attended Northbrook College.

Also a county councillor, she has worked at the Department for Social Security, in the voluntary sector, and for the NHS.

Councillor Chowdhury also works as a community interpreter.

Labour Group leader Beccy Cooper, who is set to become the leader of the council on Friday, said she was ‘excited’ about the nominations.

She added: “We have a great programme of change for the town and we can’t wait to get started.”

It is usually tradition for the deputy mayor to take over as mayor but there has been a change in administration from Conservative to Labour.

If Labour’s nominations are accepted, this means deputy mayor Richard Nowak (Con, Salvington) will miss out on his mayoral year.

Councillor Nowak said: “I wish Councillor Chowdhury every success in her new role and shall be lending her my full support as I know how demanding it will be to make a success of the role and responsibilities.

“At the same time I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank all those who supported me during my year as Deputy Mayor, not least Liz McCarthy at the Town Hall and of course my wife and Deputy Mayoress Sally Nowak.

“It was a great honour and privilege to represent this great town of ours and it is my intention to continue to work with the charities and people I met during my year in office.”

Labour’s election manifesto promised to review the tradition of having a mayor, along with others, by surveying residents.