‘It’s reaffirmed the sense of duty’: Mayor discusses first year in charge

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: Newham Council

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: Newham Council - Credit: Rokhsana Fiaz

The mayor of Newham has described her first year of running the borough as “exhilirating, energising and exciting” - but has acknowledged that there is much more work to do.

Chief executive Althea Loderick. Picture: Newham Council

Chief executive Althea Loderick. Picture: Newham Council - Credit: Archant

Rokhsana Fiaz told the Recorder: "It's reaffirmed the sense of duty of delivering for the people of Newham.

"The organisation when I stepped in wasn't ready for the opportunities that the manifesto unleashed and that's why I've been saying, as I mark the end of my first 12 months, that there's more to do."

Ms Fiaz will be working to implement her plans for the borough alongside Althea Loderick, who was appointed as chief executive in March.

The appointment marks the first time in the country that a council has two women from BME backgrounds serving as mayor and chief executive.

Ms Fiaz said: "We plan to be a stellar team at the top of the council."

She added that the two main areas of focus were housing and children's services - the latter coming in the wake of an inadequate Ofsted report.

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"I want Newham to become the best place for a child or young person to grow up," the mayor said.

"There's quite a lot of work being done - there's an internal regime in place to monitor everything that's required of us and Althea and myself are having discussions with the independent chair of the the external improvement board that's been appointed.

"There is absolutely going to be no tolerence level for failure and we are going to move out of inadequate."

Ms Loderick, whose previous roles include stints at Brent and Waltham Forest Councils, added: "We don't do it all ourselves.

"Particularly if you think about delivering effective children's services, we can't do that without working in partnership with health, with the police, with schools, and my job is also about making sure those partnership relationships are intact and strong."

Explaining how she had found her first few months working in the borough, she said: "There's a real energy around Newham.

"People have bought into it and there's an impatience for being there but there's a process to get there.

"It's not in any way an insurmountable challenge, it's just keeping getting there at the pace we'd like to get it there.

"I'm impatient, the mayor's impatient and I'd love it to be yesterday."