BRADFORD’S new Lord Mayor was handed his chains of office on the stage of the Alhambra Theatre today.

Manningham Councillor Shabir Hussain took on the role at the first physical meeting of Bradford Council since March 2020.

But with no room in City Hall able to accommodate all 90 councillors, as well as officers, press and Council staff, the event was held in the Council owned theatre.

At the meeting Cllr Hussain paid tribute to the heroes of the Covid 19 Pandemic, including the NHS staff who cared for him when he was struck down with the virus.

Cllr Hussain (Lab) has been Deputy Mayor for the past two years. He takes over from Councillor Doreen Lee, who was Lord Mayor for an unprecedented two years after the pandemic led to last year’s Mayor Making ceremony being cancelled.

A this morning’s meeting Councillor Bev Mullaney, a Labour Councillor for Thornton and Allerton, was named Deputy Mayor.

As of earlier this month, the Government ended legislation that allowed Council meetings to be held online. It means that all meetings now have to take place in person.

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However, with there still being a requirement for social distancing, the Council had to re-think its plans for the Council's annual meeting, which usually also is attended by members of the new mayor's family, civic dignitaries and even a brass band.

Attendees were spread out across the Alhambra - with Cllr Hussain and former mayor Cllr Lee on the stage with their consorts.

Introducing Cllr Hussain, Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe described him as a "well respected member of the Bradford Labour group and someone who loves Bradford."

Born in Kashmir, Cllr Hussain's family moved to Manningham in the late 1960s. He worked his way up the ranks at Northern Pharmaceuticals before opening a number of restaurants in the city.

Members heard that he had been in hospital for 10 days after contracting Covid, and it had "changed his attitude to life."

Cllr Hussain said he never expected to be giving his first speech as mayor from the stage of the Alhambra.

Referring to Cllr Lee's two years as mayor he said he had "big boots to fill" but that being the 119th Lord Mayor of Bradford was a great honour.

He said: "Bradford has been my home since I came here. I wouldn't go anywhere else."

He had enjoyed meeting people across the District during his time as Deputy Mayor, and added: "I can't wait for lockdown restrictions to be lifted so we can go back to meeting people without worry or risk of this terrible disease.

"Sadly we have lost far too many loved ones across the district to this disease. I want to thank all the health service staff who risk their lives to keep all of us safe, including me when I was struck down with the Covid 19."

Each Lord Mayor picks a number of charities that will be supported by their Lord Mayor's Charity. This year Cllr Hussain's chosen charities are Marie Curie Hospice and Bradford Community Kitchen.

Marie Curie is best known for helping those with cancer. Cllr Hussain said he had lost family and friends to the illness, including Bingley Rural Councillor Mike Ellis, who died of cancer earlier this year.

Bradford Community Kitchen is a group of volunteers who feed the homeless of the District.

Cllr Hussain spoke of how they stepped up their work during lockdown - delivering food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable during lockdown.

Recommending Cllr Mullaney for the role of Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Hinchcliffe said: "She is very well known in her ward. Everyone knows Bev." She also praised her work as a anti-poverty champion.