Housing project named after UK's first black female mayor Lydia Simmons

Reporter:

James Hockaday

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The UK's first black female mayor and former mayor of Slough is having a new council home development named after her.

Lydia Court, named after Lydia Simmons, is a development of 11 new council homes in Elliman Avenue, which is being built on the site of the old Eschle Court.

Lydia was mayor of Slough in the municipal year of 1984/85, becoming the first ever black female mayor in the UK.

Born in the Caribbean island of Montserrat, Lydia came to Slough in 1960 and served as a councillor for 23 years – from 1979 to 1994 and again from 1999 to 2007.

The former Labour councillor was chairman of the council committee responsible for housing from 1985 to 1994, shadow commissioner for housing and commissioner for social exclusion and neighbourhood services.

She was made an OBE in the 2011 New Year’s Honours list.

Responding to the news, Lydia, now 78, who still lives in Slough, said: “It is so lovely people thought of me.

“I always loved working with housing and our tenants and it was a major part of my life and political career. Council housing is vital to the community in Slough and I am honoured this new council development is being named after me.”

The borough council’s commissioner for housing and urban renewal Cllr Zaffar Ajaib (Lab, Central) said: “Lydia’s appointment as mayor was a major step in a country which hadn’t seen a black lady mayor before.

“Lydia has a long history of service to Slough residents, particularly in the area of housing, and we wanted to honour her incredible service, loyalty and advocacy to the town.”

The one, two and three-bedroom apartments are being built by Slough Urban Renewal, a partnership between the council and Morgan Sindall, the construction and regeneration group.

The development will also include a ground floor wheelchair accessible three-bedroom apartment with dedicated parking and garden area.

This specially designed property will be allocated to a family currently on the housing waiting list.

Tenants are expected to move in this summer.

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