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Winner: 2023 Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year

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We asked and you responded with an overwhelming number of nominations for Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023. And we are delighted to announce today the winner is Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge.

“I have nominated our hero Delowar Hossain who won the King’s Hedges by election in spectacular style standing on a clear NO congestion charge platform in July,” was typical of many emails and tweets we received.

“He has gone on to shake up local politics in the Guildhall, representing his constituents really well.”

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge.

To help select an overall winner we examined social media posts, support from residents, and how well they had expressed themselves throughout 2023 – especially when it came to campaigning on their core beliefs.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge. First day as a councillor.

We considered more nearly 30 nominations, many receiving messages of support and evidence of their work in the community. Clearly Cambridgeshire recognises and appreciates the work undertaken by local councillor.

Tempting though it was to announce a tie, we felt that having sought out an overall winner it was only fair to do so; in very close second place was the East Ward councillor from Peterborough, Cllr Dr Shabina Asad Qayyum.

You can read further down one of the glowing testimonies we received in support.

But we felt, overall, that Cllr Hossain is a worthy winner.

He will receive a framed certificate and CambsNews will invite him to nominate a charity of his choice to receive £100.

Cllr Hossain is not a novice at campaigning and won the by election in what was his sixth election battle since 2018 – ironically his fifth defeat had been only weeks before he finally succeeded.

In the May local elections, he came second but stood again when the winning candidate, Labour’s former deputy leader Alex Collis, resigned 10 days after being re-elected.

Even before the May 5 election, Ms Collis had expressed concerns about the congestion charge and later told the BBC that her opposition to it was a key reason for her decision to stand down: she felt residents’ concerns were going unheeded.

As one door closes, another opens and Cllr Hossain stormed not to a massive victory but by gaining 24 votes more than his Labour challenger, he emerged the victor – and in so doing became the first Conservative councillors on Cambridge City Council for 11 years.

Ironically, his opposition to the congestion charge played a role in unseating Labour.

“Delowar demonstrates the type of politician that this city desperately needs,” wrote another nominee.

“Up until Delowar was elected no councillor was supporting the wish of the local people to block the congestion charge.

“We need more politicians who are willing to challenge the dominance of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign group and support the wish of the local residents and not let the militants tell us what we want.”

Another wrote: “I’d like to nominate Delowar Hossain as Cambs politician of the year – an honourable guy who listens to and acts on behalf of his constituents and won a seat against all odds.

“Delowar has also served in the face of patronising and intimidating councillors.”

You don’t have to agree with all of the sentiments expressed, but clearly Cllr Hossain struck a chord with many voters in the city.

In the grand scheme of things, of course, one Conservative on the city council makes only the slightest of a numerical difference with Labour retaining 26 seats, Lib Dems with 11 seats and Greens with 4 seats.

Since his election Cllr Hossain has been prominent in pursuing his opposition to congestion charging and also highlighted many local issues ranging from road closures to community housing problems.

“I have visited constituents at Caithness Court for their fence replacement issues,” he wrote in August.

“I received a report from a ward resident stating that the fences had not been replaced ever since they had moved in 25 years ago. Despite repeated visits, nothing had been done. There have also been issues with the neighbouring property.”

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge. Above visiting Caithness Court

In another social media post, he wrote: “We need to listen. Listen to residents, to businesses, to charities, to community and to all faith groups.”

He also asked: “How long do King’s Hedges residents have to wait for pothole repairs?

“I have reported them to the relevant team at Cambridgeshire County Council and look forward to some action.”

Cllr Hossain is also considering the announcement by Michael Gove around the development of a new quarter in Cambridge.

“I believe we must have the right development in the right places,” he says. “This means getting additional infrastructure, protecting green spaces, and making sure new buildings are beautiful and reflect the historic character of this special and unique city.

“Most important of all, the people of King’s Hedges must have their say in how this new development moves forward.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge. Above on pothole ‘patrol’

“I will be a local champion for Cambridge to ensure the voices of residents are heard loud and clear, and I will be unafraid to call out planners when they get it wrong.

“But together, we can make Cambridge the best city in Britain to live, work, study, raise families, and lead innovation. That is why I will always fight for what is best for Cambridge.”

Cllr Hossain has made an impressive start as a local councillor and is a worthy winner of CambsNews Politician of the Year.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge.

CambsNews Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year 2023: Councillor Delowar Hossain, a ward councillor for King’s Hedges, Cambridge. With Lee Anderson MP

He has also proudly posted a photo of himself alongside the controversial deputy chair of the Conservative Party, Lee Anderson MP, who was guest speaker at a Conservative Association meeting in October at Cambridge Rugby Club.

As Cllr Hossain has made apparent, being in public life is about choices.

RUNNER UP

Mr Nazir Bhat, Consultant Surgeon ENT – Peterborough City Hospital, was one of many to nominate Cllr Dr Shabina Asad Qayyum, East Ward Labour councillor in Peterborough, for Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year.

He said he had nominated Cllr Qayyum “for her exceptional contributions as a dedicated NHS General Practitioner and a committed councillor and community leader in Peterborough.

“Her unwavering commitment to healthcare, mental health advocacy and community empowerment exemplifies the highest standards of service and leadership.

 

Pictured Shabina Qayyum (Labour) wins East Ward.Local election count and results, Town Hall, Peterborough Friday 05 May 2023. Picture by Terry Harris.

Pictured Shabina Qayyum (Labour) wins East Ward. Town Hall, Peterborough Friday 05 May 2023.
Picture by Terry Harris.

Mr Bhat continued: “Dr Shabina is an inspiration for minority ethnic women to excel in leadership positions. She has faced hardships and discrimination yet has continued to work for the benefit of her community whilst balancing being a loving mother to her four beautiful children”.

“Shabina’s impact on healthcare within the city of Peterborough is truly commendable. Her expertise and compassionate approach have significantly improved the well-being of the numerous individuals under her care.

“Her invaluable work extends beyond clinical practice. Shabina’s involvement in ground-breaking initiatives, such as her pivotal role as a board member of CPFL Mind, overseeing the pilot project addressing Muslim women’s Perinatal Mental health, and collaborating with the local community drug and rehabilitation service to enhance support for Muslims grappling with addiction issues, showcases her proactive approach to tackling even the most prevalent societal challenges.

 

“Shabina’s dedication to community health education is exemplary. Her role as a radio host on Salaam Radio in Peterborough underscores her commitment to disseminating vital health information to a wide audience. Additionally, her active participation in the British Islamic Medical Association and her delivery of health talks within local mosques is commendable.”

Cllr Dr Shabina Asad Qayyum, East Ward Labour councillor in Peterborough, and runner up for Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year.

Cllr Dr Shabina Asad Qayyum, East Ward Labour councillor in Peterborough, and runner up for Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year.

He added: “In recognition of her remarkable contributions, Shabina was rightfully acknowledged in 2020 as one of the 101 most inspiring Muslims in the NHS by the Muslim Doctors Association.

“Moreover, her service as an elected Labour party councillor for Peterborough’s East Ward highlights her dedication to public service and her commitment to effecting positive change at both local and broader political levels.”

“In summary, Dr Shabina Asad Qayyum’s multifaceted contributions to society amplify her outstanding commitment and unwavering dedication to serving others. I am proud to call her an NHS colleague and a friend. I wholeheartedly endorse her for Cambridgeshire Politician of the Year.”

 

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