Birmingham Appoints First British-Indian Lord Mayor in Councillor Chaman Lal

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Birmingham, a city in the West Midlands of England, has made history by electing its first British-Indian Lord Mayor, Councillor Chaman Lal. The local councillors unanimously chose Lal, a member of the Ravidassia community of British Sikhs, to represent the city as its highest civic figure. Born in the village of Pakhowal in Hoshiarpur, India, Lal migrated to the UK and has served as a dedicated local councillor for several years.

Lal’s political career began in 1994 when he was first elected as a Labour Party councillor. Recently, he was re-elected as Councillor for the Soho and Jewellery Quarter Ward in the city’s local elections. In his acceptance speech at the mayoral ceremony, Lal expressed his pride and gratitude, remarking that he never anticipated becoming the Lord Mayor of his adopted city. He thanked his fellow councillors for entrusting him with this significant responsibility.

The Birmingham City Council shared details about Lal’s family background, highlighting his father’s military service as a British Indian army officer during World War II. Lal’s father, Sardar Harnam Singh Banga, settled in Birmingham in 1954 after arriving in England and working in various industries, including British Steel. Lal joined his father in Birmingham in 1964, alongside his mother, Sardarni Jai Kaur, and has been a resident of the city ever since.

Lal’s educational journey encompassed studies at Wattville Secondary Modern School and continued through evening classes at Sandwell and Matthew Boulton Colleges. Driven by a commitment to lifelong learning, he pursued part-time degree courses in economics and law at the local Polytechnic. Additionally, he obtained qualifications as an electronics engineer and embarked on a successful career, culminating in him establishing his own electronics business and ventures in other industries.

In 1971, Lal married Vidya Wati, and together they have raised three daughters and two sons. Lal’s interest in politics emerged in 1989 when he joined the Labour Party. Over the past three decades, he actively participated in social justice campaigns aimed at combating inequality and discrimination. Lal’s contributions to the local council have been extensive, as he served on numerous committees, acted as a cabinet advisor for major transport projects, and held the position of Chair for the Sustainability and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

With a passion for enhancing public transportation, Lal has dedicated years to the West Midlands Transport Authority and chaired the Transport Scrutiny Committee. Under his leadership, this committee spearheaded initiatives such as introducing contactless travel (Swift Card) in the region and expanding late-night and early-morning bus services to accommodate the night economy and early workers. Beyond his political engagements, Lal enjoys cricket, live music, and the performing arts.

The appointment of Councillor Chaman Lal as Birmingham’s first British-Indian Lord Mayor signifies a significant milestone for the city. Lal’s deep-rooted connection to Birmingham, his impressive track record as a councillor, and his unwavering commitment to public service make him a worthy representative of the diverse and vibrant community he now serves.

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