Councillor Nesil Caliskan, 29, was last night elected Leader of Enfield Council by the ruling Labour Group of Councillors, becoming the first woman to hold the post in the borough. Her selection makes Caliskan the youngest council leader for London and possibly England, and the first person of Turkish heritage to head a council in Britain. She succeeds Doug Taylor, who has led the council for the past eight years.
Of Turkish Cypriot heritage and a lifelong Enfield resident, Caliskan joined the Labour Party aged 15 years old and has campaigned for Labour in every election since 2004. She works for NHS England in the national Equality and Health Inequality Team.
Caliskan forms a trio of Turkish heritage women with high profile political posts. The other two are Haringey’s new Deputy Leader Emina Ibrahim and Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, who is the Lib Dem Spokesperson for Equalities and is currently the only person from the British Turkish community in Parliament.
Following her selection last night, Caliskan said: “I am incredibly proud to be the first woman leader in Enfield Council. I will represent all of the borough’s diverse communities and strive to give every Enfield resident a voice.
“I became active in politics because I passionately believe in fairness and everyone being able to fulfil their potential. Our communities deserve well-funded public services.
“We must do more to combat the rise in serious crime and Enfield Council will lead the way in tackling the housing crisis in London which is affecting many of our residents.”
Paying tribute to Councillor Doug Taylor, Caliskan said: “Doug has been a brilliant Council leader who has steadied the ship during very difficult times for local authorities, at a time when this Conservative government has cut our budget by more than half since 2010”.
Labour retained and increased its majority to 41 councillors at the recent local council elections. Caliskan was elected Leader of the Group at its annual general meeting. She will be formally appointed Leader of the Council at its annual meeting on 23 May.
Enfield has one of the highest concentrations of British Turks in the country. An estimated one in five residents in the borough speaks Turkish. The recent local elections saw a third of all councillor places, 21 out of a possible 63, filled by a member of the community. It helped generate a record-breaking tally of councillors across London and a national total of 40.