Hackney Council elects Dalston Cllr Soraya Adejare as its new speaker

New speaker: Cllr Soraya Adejare. Picture: Gary Manhine

New speaker: Cllr Soraya Adejare. Picture: Gary Manhine - Credit: Gary Manhine

Dalston councillor Soraya Adejare has been named Hackney’s new speaker – the ceremonial figurehead who will attend hundreds of community events over the year.

She replaced Cllr Rosemary Sales at last night’s town hall AGM, which also saw civic awards given to Janette Collins, Bobby Kasanga and Felicia Ogunleye.

Councillors and guests walked past a picket from striking education workers, whose budget has been cut to the tune of four and a half special needs staff – some of whom already work in up to 40 centres each.

But that was the main drama of the night, with the sometimes volatile mood in the chamber between different political groups notably subdued in the wake of Monday’s Manchester bombing.

Welcoming Cllr Adejare, Cllr Simche Steinberger (Con, Springfield) said: “The reason, generally, we never support [Labour speaker appointments] is nothing against you. Basically, we hope you have a good year.

“We’re not putting any nominations this year. We’re giving you free reign.” But three opposition councillors did abstain from voting on her appointment.

Cllr Ian Sharer (Lib Dem, Cazenove) and Cllr Michael Levy (Con, Springfield) thanked Cllr Sales for her work over the year, both singling out Holocaust Memorial Day events as a highlight.

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“It’s an extremely moving day,” said Cllr Sharer. “You really gave the impression you sympathised the whole way through, much to your credit.”

Cllr Sales responded it had been a “great privilege” to serve the borough, recalling her joy at seeing children from the Muslim Olive School and Jewish Simon Marks School singing We Shall Overcome in the chamber.

The evening also saw Phil Glanville’s first AGM speech as elected mayor. “No one should have to live in fear of their loved ones not coming home from a concert, a football match or a trip to the shops,” he said. “I can only echo the sentiments of those outside taking part in the vigil.”

An “emergency flower vigil” was called for 7.30pm in the wake of the attack that killed 22. Organiser Hugo Sugg – running for MP in Hackney South and Shoreditch on an independent ticket – admitted he hadn’t realised it coincided with the AGM until a few hours before.