DEDICATED campaigner Sam Al-Hamdani is taking up his first-ever elected post after being co-opted into the vacant seat on Saddleworth Parish Council.
Born in Saddleworth and currently living in Lees with his wife, Cllr Al-Hamdani, 41, has worked as a journalist and designer for 20 years.
His specialist interests are business and the environment, and he created the Environmental Matters for the Department of the Environment, a magazine to help UK green manufacturers trade overseas.
He worked at the United Nations for the past six years as an editor and proof-reader and has now taken up a post in Manchester campaigning for the Fair Tax Mark.
In his spare time, he performs improvisation, and he is part of the Liberal Democrats Racial Equality Working Group.
In taking on the Parish Council position, he is continuing a family involvement in local politics as his father was chair of the former Lees Community Association and his mother was also involved in the area.
The seat on the Parish Council became available after Cllr Derek Heffernan, 78, was disqualified in March this year for failing to obtain council approval for his absence from meetings for six consecutive months.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Heffernan believed his verbal apology to the Parish Council’s clerk last year covered his on-going absence as he struggled with ill health.
However, as no formal apology was sent in writing and approved by the council, Cllr Heffernan has lost his seat representing the Springhead Higher ward.
As no poll was claimed and no by-election was called by the public within 14 days, the Lib Dems elected a candidate to co-opt into the role until elections next May.
Cllr Alan Belmore, leader of the Lib Dems on the Parish Council, invited Cllr Heffernan to return to the role, but he declined.
Instead, Sam Al-Hamdani, who was a candidate in the recent local elections in Saddleworth West and Lees, was proposed for the role and was elected as councillors voted unanimously in favour.
Cllr Heffernan’s vacancies on the Disciplinary sub-committee and finance sub-committee will be filled by Cllr Neil Allsopp and Cllr Pat Lord respectively.