London: An India-born businessman has taken charge as the mayor of a small town in the East Midlands region of England.
Jalandhar-born Councillor Kewal Singh Athwal was elected Mayor of Erewash in Derbyshire by the narrowest of margins after the vote was tied at 25 each.
Athwal moved to the UK in the 1960s.
The outgoing mayor, Councillor Val Clare, had the decisive vote and chose Conservative party’s Athwal over Labour’s Frank Phillips.
“I am honoured to have been elected to serve as the Mayor of Erewash and will do my utmost to represent the council and serve the people of this wonderful borough with great pride over the coming year,” said Athwal.
“I feel very privileged to become Erewash’s first elected mayor from an ethnic group and sincerely hope that I will be able to promote harmony and understanding between all cultures within our borough during my term of office,” he added.
Athwal’s career has been mainly in the automotive and textile industries and he started on the shop floor and progressed to senior managerial roles.
According to local media reports, he now owns his own business based at Long Eaton, importing, wholesaling and exporting ladies fashion accessories to independent retailers and wholesalers.
The representative of Wilsthorpe Ward on the Erewash Borough Council since May 2007, he has carried out charity work both in the UK and in India, including raising funds to organise medical clinics in India for the poor to get treatment for various ailments.
During his mayoral year, Athwal will be supported by his wife Lakhbir and other family members.
“I am well aware of the inspiring and valuable work that goes on daily in all corners of Erewash and I look forward to attending further events during this year and to meeting residents of all ages,” he said.