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Cllr Tauseef Anwar reflects on four years as the Speaker of Lewisham

After four consecutive years as Speaker of Lewisham from 2020 to 2024 Cllr Tauseef Anwar stepped down as Speaker of Lewisham. We sat down with Cllr Anwar to find out the highlights of his time as Speaker.

Cllr Tauseef Anwar with members of the army

Why did you decide to be Speaker of Lewisham for four years?

When I was first elected as Speaker of Lewisham, I was excited, but it was during Covid-19. My entire first year and half of my second one fell during the Covid-19 lockdown. This meant I did not get to engage with the local communities as I would have liked to or have the opportunity to connect with residents across the borough in-person. 

I decided to stand as Speaker for four years because I wanted to have a positive impact on those who live and work in the borough. My fellow councillors encouraged me to go for additional years because they saw how passionate I am about helping my communities by engaging as Speaker, so I went for the role.

What was the significance of your time as the Speaker for you and any communities you identify with?
Being the Speaker of Lewisham gave me the opportunity to connect with wider communities both in the borough and throughout London. The role made my community proud because they got to see a man of colour representing them as one of the faces of the Council. It meant they realised they have a voice, and they can be someone. 

Lewisham is a special and diverse place, and I had the privilege to strengthen the relationship with the borough’s diverse communities and the council as Speaker. 

Please can you tell us some of your achievements while being Speaker?

Over my time as Speaker, I was able to accomplish many things that benefited others. 

I welcomed ‘Little Amal’ in Lewisham to highlight the plight and strength of refugees. This was a moving event and made it clear why Lewisham being a Borough of Sanctuary is so important.

I had the honour of representing Lewisham in COP26 to show good practice to leaders from across the world, and have used my linguistic skills (Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and English) to appear on many TV channels to connect with the diaspora in Lewisham and internationally.

I attended hundreds of community engagements, such as school visits, care homes, business openings and scout clubs. I got to celebrate King Charles’ coronation. 

I enjoyed multi-faith engagements, and actively participated in Lewisham’s Eid in the Park, Diwali, Hannukah, Christmas carol service and other faith holidays and finally, as the vice-president of London Mayor Association, I actively worked to make sure that the organisation is an inclusive space for all cultures and faiths.

My time as Speaker allowed me to support and celebrate my community.

What advice would you give to the new Speaker, Cllr Jacq Paschoud?

I know Cllr Jacq Paschoud has previously been Speaker of Lewisham and was my Deputy too, so I know she will work hard to celebrate and represent those who live and work in the borough. 

My general advise to any future Speakers of Lewisham is to make the most of it. In my opinion, the role is one of the best PR instruments that the council has! I would also say it is important to help amplify the voices of the marginalised groups in the borough.

Invite the Speaker to an event

To invite the new Speaker of Lewisham to an event or for more information about their role please email civicevents@lewisham.gov.uk

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