How man from Iran became new Calderdale civic leader

Annual council meeting, mayor making and citizenship award ceremony in council chambers, Town Hall, Halifax'Pictured is new mayor of Calderdale Nader Fekri receiving chains from outgoing mayor coun Keith Watson

Annual council meeting, mayor making and citizenship award ceremony in council chambers, Town Hall, Halifax'Pictured is new mayor of Calderdale Nader Fekri receiving chains from outgoing mayor coun Keith Watson

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IRANIAN-born Nader Fekri has become the new Mayor of Calderdale.

He took over from Keith Watson at yesterday’s annual meeting of Calderdale Council.

Councillor Fekri’s wife, Helen, is the new Mayoress of Calderdale and Coun Peter Wardhaugh is the new Deputy Mayor.

At the civic ceremony in Halifax Town Hall, Coun Fekri said it was his intention to help promote and celebrate Calderdale communities and their achievements.

“This is a strong, vibrant and diverse area which experience has shown goes out of its way to be welcoming to newcomers,” he said.

Nader Fekri came to England with his family in 1968, when he was eight.

His father was a navy engineer and he went to school in Fareham.

When they returned to Iran it was during the period which saw the end of the Shah and the return from exile of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Councillor Fekri came back to Manchester to study for degrees in social sciences, Labour history and politics, and moved with his family to Hebden Bridge in 2002.

A year later he was elected to Hebden Royd Town Council, where he served as the town’s Mayor, and in 2004 was elected as a Liberal Democrat member of Calderdale Council, representing the Calder ward.

Councillor Fekri is a serving magistrate, a school governor and university lecturer, and last year served on the council’s children and young people panel, the employees forum and the member development working party.

The Mayor has chosen as his charity to support Project Challenge, which provides disaffected people from 16-24 with classroom learning and tough physical challenges.

Deputy Mayor Peter Wardhaugh, who is originally from Rochdale, is the service manager of Calderdale Scope and a Liberal Democrat councillor for Greetland and Stainland.

He was the council’s resources spokesman, a member of the audit and business committees.

The Deputy Mayoress during this municipal year will be Jennifer Pearson, who stood down in May as the Liberal Democrat councillor for Warley.

Badges of office were presented to Ann McAllister (Con, Rastrick), who stood down as Mayor in December owing to ill health, to her replacement and retiring Mayor Keith Watson (Con, Greetland and Stainland) and Deputy Mayor John Hardy (Con, Skircoat).

The Mayor’s allowance for 2011/12 was set at £10,435 and his deputy’s at £2,942.