Croydon has a new Mayor, and he is determined to use his year in office to showcase the borough’s business, arts and cultural offer.
Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor was elected to represent the South Norwood ward in 2010 and, in addition to serving on several council committees, has served as deputy shadow cabinet member for culture, libraries and sport, and as deputy cabinet member for economic development, working closely with communities to develop the borough’s district centres.
He grew up in Waddon and went to school at Regina Coeli, South Croydon, and then to The John Fisher School, Purley, which he attributes to helping form his core beliefs and political views.
Working for a number of years for the trade union, MSF (now Unite), he became active in local politics in South Norwood, where he then lived. His union role took him all over the UK, although he says he was never happier than when working with members in Croydon.
Away from politics, Councillor Trakas-Lawlor likes to spend time with family and friends, and walking his and his partner’s two dogs. He also enjoys cycling and genealogy.
The theme of his Mayoral year will be business, arts and culture, and, as well as working closely with the business community to encourage more businesses to come to Croydon, he is keen to show off Croydon’s rich arts and cultural offerings.
Councillor Trakas-Lawlor has elected to support three local charities during his year of office – the Stanley People’s Initiative, Croydon Commitment, and The British Home.
In his acceptance speech, he spoke of his intention to see both the cultural and the business communities thrive and strengthen the borough’s standing – and of his vision of the Croydon dream.
He said: “Croydon’s arts and culture scene is alive, well, thriving and developing: the Ambition festival brings together communities from across the Borough; our local summer festivals, such as those in South Croydon, South Norwood, Thornton Heath and Purley, and many more. There is plenty to do, plenty to enjoy and see.
“We are going to have a brand new Fairfield Halls that will provide Croydon with a fresh new modern setting where local artists and am-dram groups can flourish and prosper. It will create a sustainable future for future generations of artists.
“On the business front, I intend to have up to four themed business breakfasts, held here at the Town Hall, from construction and banking, to the hospitality sector. As well as nurturing our much-valued business community, I want their clients, and their clients, to invest in Croydon. I want to see more jobs and more training opportunities for everyone.
“Our time is now and, in conclusion, I challenge all members of the council to embrace the exciting challenges that are going to change Croydon forever and for the better.
“We’ve all heard of the American dream, well now we have the Croydon dream.”
The Deputy Mayor is Councillor Toni Letts.