There was a political bust up over the choice of deputy mayor as Labour broke with recent convention.
Having won a landslide local election victory three weeks ago, the party has put an end to sharing the ceremonial role with its political rivals.
At Brighton and Hove City Council’s “annual council” meeting at Brighton Town Hall, newly elected Labour councillor Mohammed Asaduzzaman was chosen as deputy mayor for the coming year.
The new Conservative leader, Councillor Alistair McNair, said that the council should keep the “rotation” of mayors across the three main parties – Labour, Tory and Green.
But the convention has faltered over the past few years. From 2020 to 2022, Labour councillor Alan Robins served two terms after most of his first year was spent either in lockdown or with social distancing measures in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic – and the council held its meetings online rather than in person.
Former Conservative councillor Mary Mears was his deputy but was not well enough to take over as mayor a year ago.
The Conservatives boycotted the mayor-making last year after Labour and Green councillors thwarted their proposed replacement for Councillor Mears – long-serving fellow Tory councillor Dawn Barnett.
Former Green councillor Lizzie Deane stepped in and became mayor instead, completing her term after stepping down as a councillor.
Councillor Asaduzzaman was nominated by one of the new Hangleton and Knoll ward councillors, Faiza Bagoth, resulting in a mayor and deputy from the same party.
She said that Councillor Asaduzzaman was one of a talented group of new councillors from a Muslim and Bangladeshi background, with a degree in political science and experience of working in the Bangladeshi Ministry for Irrigation and Water.
In the 30 years that he has lived in Brighton and Hove, Councillor Asaduzzaman has carried out various race-related and scrutiny roles with Sussex Police.
His work had been recognised with awards from the Home Office and an invitation to Buckingham Palace.
Councillor Bagoth said: “As a councillor for Hollingdean and Fiveways, he is passionate about equalities, diversity, fairness and inclusion. He has been selfless and brave to achieve what he believes in.”
After the formal nominations, Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen stepped up and reminded councillors that his party had supported Councillor Robins’s two-year mayoralty.
Councillor Bagaeen said: “With diversity in mind, having spent the best part of the past four years being the only BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) councillor on Brighton and Hove (City Council), I think it’s a pleasure to put myself forward as deputy mayor.”
Deputy Conservative leader councillor Anne Meadows seconded his nomination.
The council’s legal chief Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis said that there was no requirement for parties to “take turns” as mayor but it had become the convention while there was no party in overall control of the council.
Labour and Green councillors voted for Councillor Asaduzzaman, as did Independent councillor Peter Atkinson.
The Conservatives voted for Councillor Bagaeen and Brighton and Hove Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh abstained, saying that she “did not believe in a mayor or first citizen”.