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Eventful year for Gravesham's outgoing mayor
THE youngest Sikh mayor in Britain has taken his final bow in office after one year in the post at Gravesham Council. Reporter Abigail Woodcock catches up on his highs and lows.
FROM starring in a Punjabi pop video to being mired in controversy following the jailing of his mother for kidnapping, it's been an eventful year for the borough's outgoing mayor.
Councillor Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has handed over the mayoral cloak to Councillor Lyn Milner following one term as mayor of Gravesham.
He lays down the mayoral robes claiming to have put Gravesham on the world map and even boasts to having "street cred" - not something you'd expect from your average mayor.
This follows his cameo appearance in a video by Punjabi singer Pammi Bai, where he appeared in his robes chairing a council meeting - not your typical music video scene.
Cllr Dhesi told News Shopper: "Among the young people, that did a lot for my street cred.
"It put Gravesham on the map because it was an international pop video by a well known Punjabi singer.
"So many people sent me messages saying they had seen Gravesham Council because some of the video shots included the civic chamber.
"For many residents that would have been the first time they saw the chamber.
"Hopefully, it made it more relevant to them."
Yet Gravesham also ended up on the map for the wrong reasons in March, during a council twinning trip to Jalandhar.
As reported in the Indian media, his mother Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi was jailed along with his uncle Paramjit Singh Raipur for kidnap and forcing an abortion on a teenage mother, who later died.
Both are appealing against their convictions.
The events also landed Gravesham in the Rotten Boroughs column of satirical magazine Private Eye.
Cllr Dhesi, who was able to visit his mother in custody before he left the country, said: "I’m very worried about my mother and I’ll do all I can to clear her name."
But of the fonder memories he will take with him is The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment parade through Gravesend last July.
He said: "It was the first time the regiment had marched through the town since 1969 and it coincided with the opening of community square.
"We had thousands of residents lining the street.
"To be there and give the address and do the military inspection was a very special moment."
Looking ahead, the father-of-one, is excited to be expecting another child with wife Manveen Kaur Dhesi in August.
He will also remain on the council as cabinet member for business and partnerships.
He said: "I’m very pleased to be handing the reigns over.
"The role has been challenging- it’s stretched my capabilities but people’s assistance and wisdom have been invaluable."
NEW mayor of Gravesham Cllr Lyn Milner, 62, says she is very excited to be taking over the role.
The mother-of-one, who has lived in Gravesham all her life, said: "It’s a great honour.
"It’s going to be an exciting year with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics.
"If anyone is having a party, please let me know and I’ll try my best to come along."