Well-respected community champion to become new mayor of Luton

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Luton's deputy mayor Maria Lovell is set to be formally appointed the town's mayor at a full council meeting this evening.

The vacancy arose after Tahir Malik resigned last month, having been one of three Labour councillors to breach Covid-19 guidelines.

Labour Leagrave councillor Lovell is due to replace him until next May, when a new appointment is expected to be made.

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Her replacement as deputy mayor will be Labour Saints councillor Summara Khurshid.

Cllr Maria Lovell is set to become mayor of LutonCllr Maria Lovell is set to become mayor of Luton
Cllr Maria Lovell is set to become mayor of Luton

Councillor Lovell and councillor Malik were in their second year as deputy mayor and mayor, after being asked to stay on for a further 12 months because of the coronavirus crisis.

Labour South councillor David Agbley was lined up to replace councillor Malik as mayor in May.

But his appointment was scrapped as the borough council was unable to stage a mayor making ceremony.

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Tonight's (Tuesday) council meeting will begin with the formal appointments and oath takings, and then move on to the rest of the local authority's business.

Councillor Lovell was elected to the council in May 2019 and almost immediately became deputy mayor.

Maria has three children and six grandchildren, according to the council website.

It went on: "She's held in high esteem among the African community in Luton and the UK," and "is famously known as the Luton Champion".

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And it added: "Maria was the first to be coroneted as Queen Mother and custodian of the Royal Kente Cloth for UK and Ireland, and as development queen in Bonwire, Ghana."

Councillor Lovell launched the Luton Ghana Foundation to create links and an exchange between Luton and Ghana.

The biography also said: "She promotes Ghanaian tourism and culture on various platforms, especially in Luton and throughout the UK.

"She established the Kente Festival in Luton in 2009 to showcase the symbolic royal cloth of Ghana.

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"And she organised the Ghanaians in Parliament forum with mayoral candidates in the House of Commons, which promotes business and trade relations between the UK and Ghana."

Councillor Lovell introduced the first annual African music festival in Luton promoting African music and culture.

She has also "organised various events in the UK to promote the Afro beats music genre with upcoming Ghanaian artistes, including Reggie and Boli of The X Factor fame".

Councillor Khurshid was another of the local authority's new intake at the May 2019 elections.

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