The Mayors Speech
Good Evening, Please be seated.
Fellow Councillors, Family, Friends and Honoured guests.
Thank you for coming here today to share in my inauguration as the 35th Mayor
Last year we were pleased to elect as first citizen of the Borough Cllr Dhiren Basu, the first Asian man to be Mayor of Haringey, in the year when India was celebrating its 50th anniversary of its independence. This year is the 50th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel, I thought I was to be the first Jewish woman to be elected to the position of Mayor but on closer examination of my council diary I noticed that Dear Viv Fenwick beat me to it 14 years ago. However, I still feel particularly proud that my fellow councillors have selected me in this important year for Jews throughout the world.
I have greatly enjoyed this last year acting as Deputy to Dhiren, it has given me the opportunity to meet people of all ages and from many different communities.
This year, I am hoping to be able to visit many more communities, I particularly wish to visit many of the educational establishments across the Borough.
I have been invited to visit our residential homes which are out of the Borough, I shall also be visiting all the sheltered homes within the Borough, as I have promised to donate prizes for a competition, new in this Borough, which is to be called "Sheltered Houses in Bloom". We hope that this will give our elderly residents an interest in gardening and in the gardens of the home that they live in.
I am looking forward to having a very interesting and varied year.
This day, June 1st, is an important day in the Jewish calender, this is the day when Jews commemorate the handing to Moses by God of the law, or as we say the Torah, and the ten commandments. The ten commandments are as you know the tenets by which Jews and Christians throughout the world use as a moral code and are encouraged by their priests to observe and live by. I am not going to recall the commandments to you as I am sure that you all recall them only too well and try to live your life by the guidelines set for you.
This year 50 years ago, I with my family moved to Tottenham. Tottenham has always welcomed members of other ethnic communities, this has particularly been the case since the turn of the century, we have seen Tottenham change with the assimilation of each influx of immigrants, adding to the cultural mix of the area. You no longer have to go abroad to taste the culinary delights of other countries, in Haringey now we can cater for every taste, and tickle the palates of any bon viveur in any of the fabulous restaurants that abound. Supermarkets now stock their shelves with every delicacy as a matter of course. And not just a speciality.
This attitude of welcoming and assimilating newcomers, has always been reflected in the membership of Tottenham Labour Party. WE were the first constituency to elect a black M.P. to Parliament, and to ensure that the many ethnic communities in the Borough are represented on the Council. As we look around the council chamber we can see Councillors from a diversity of backgrounds. This year we have seen the election of the first woman councillor from mainland Turkey, not only a first for Haringey, but I gather a first for England. Tottenham Labour Party has since its inception in 1918, had a proud record of combating racism/fascism and anti-semitism wherever it occurs.
Who among you remembers that fateful day when the NF marched through Haringey to Southgate, and the councillors of both political parties in Haringey joined together to hold up a banner stating Haringey Councillors against Racism. From that day onward no-one espousing the hateful doctrines of the extreme right have stood for election in this Borough.
It was whilst as secretary of Tottenham Labour Party, and carrying out its policies to counteract racism wherever it occurred, that I, my husband and four others were arrested by the police for demonstrating against the NF being allowed to publicise their extreme views in Tottenham High Road. For the next five weeks until the case came up, every Saturday morning meetings were held in Tottenham High Road, speakers came from all over London and beyond to speak out against the views of the extreme right. Members of the public were encouraged to also put their views, it became a great coming together of the people of Tottenham. When the case came to court we were all acquitted the case being thrown out. Thanks to the publicity in the Evening Standard and other papers, including our Journal, out defense fund was not only enough to pay for our defence but there was sufficient left over for the Greater London Labour Party to set up a fund to assist others arrested in similar circumstances.
This year we have had elections throughout London, to my horror I noticed that in Tower Hamlets there were 8 candidates of the far right standing for election, Newham had 21 standing, Waltham Forest had 2, Hackney had 2, Hounslow 9 and so the list goes on. We must be ever vigilant and on our guard against those who would destroy us to further their own aims, we must continue to combat racism/fascism and anti semitism now and into the New Millenium.
In the 70's when I was elected as President of the Haringey NUT I took the theme for my speech racism, and spoke out against racial hatred. I said then that we must not allow our children to be the unwitting tools of racial hatred and intolerance. We should work together to promote respect and tolerance for all cultures, religions and races. What I said then is just as relevant today.
And now to my charity, the charity I am pleased to support is that of Breast Cancer. Those of you who know me well, know that I was diagnosed as having breast cancer last year, this meant that I had to undergo surgery and have one of my breasts removed. I am now well, but my medical friends at the North Middlesex Hospital breast cancer clinic are keeping a watchful eye on me.
I have decided that I will not be raising money for any of the main cancer charities, as I wish to see the benefit locally of the money that I intend to raise with your help. My charity therefore will be the re-furbishment of the clinic, bringing it up to a high standard, matching the excellent service given by the medical staff. Patients attending the clinic are often traumatised, and they should be able to wait in a relaxed comfortable atmosphere in easy chairs. They deserve to be treated in the best environment that we can possibly, with your help, achieve.
Usually the recipients of the Mayors charity have to wait a year before they receive any of the money raised. I intend to break with that tradition. I am going to make a personal donation of £1000 to start off the charity. If there is anyone here who would like to match my thousand I would be only too please to receive it, cheques will do if you haven't got cash. If anyone would like to make a donation there are collecting boxes around the chamber, so please give generously to what I think is a good cause. I would also like you to support some of my many functions being organised to take place throughout the year.
At this point I would like to invite my surgeons, Mr Woods, Dr Davidson and Maireed Griffen my Breast Care Specialist Nurse, to join me here. Maireed was a constant source of support to me and my family, throughout my troubled time. Jeremy, Neville and Maieed, could you please accept this cheque and I am sure that you will put it to good use, I hope that with the help of the people here and the many residents of Haringey to raise a lot more money for you.
I would also at this time like to mention Cllr Jean Brown, who was a tremendous friend to me then and now, she accompanied me each time I had to go to the hospital, and I might add still does. Thank you Jean. I would also like to thank my many friends who were a comfort to me and my family at that time. Peter Jones, Maureen Dewar, Olive Rainbird, Alan Stanton, Alan Dobbie, Ray Dodds plus many others.
It would be very remiss of me at this time not to mention the loving and constant support that I received from my five children and my ten grandchildren, I thank you all, bless you.
Now I would like to invite you all to join me at Alexander Palace Restaurant to finish off the evening in style.
See you soon.