Express & Star

Sandwell to get second gay mayor in successive years as Bill Gavan given the honour by colleagues

Sandwell will be the first council in the country to have a second successive LGBT Mayor.

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Councillor Bill Gavan. Photo: Sandwell Council

The controlling Labour group has chosen Langley Councillor Bill Gavan to be the borough's first citizen.

Councillor Gavan will take over from Richard Jones who used his term as Mayor to raise awareness and money for LGBT issues.

The election to mayor marks a 40 year rise in fortunes since Councillor Gavan gave up drink and drugs after waking up one morning in a gutter.

The former nightclub owner said: "It's like London buses, Sandwell residents wait decades for a gay mayor and then two come along at once.

"I'm pretty sure we are the first council to have two gay mayors in succession. I was the first openly gay councillor in Sandwell, I help found Birmingham Pride and have always fought for LGBT rights."

He added: "I've gone from pavement to being mayor and this shows the great work Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous has done for me and so many others, I still attend meetings and want everyone to know what great work AA and NA do."

Outgoing mayor Richard Jones was deselected by Labour before the election and stood unsuccessfully for the Liberal Democrats in Old Warley.

Councillor Gavan was first elected in 2014 but left the party for two years in 2019.

He said: "I left Labour in 2019 because of Sandwell's former leader Yvonne Davies and everything that was going on in the party at that time, I came back as soon as I could and am very happy to be a Labour councillor.

"To be elected to be mayor by my fellow councillors was a great honour, I never thought when I got into politics this could happen to me but am delighted everything I stand for has been recognised."

Charity Life+ founder David Kuczora praised Bill's contribution to the LGBT+ community.

He said: "Bill helped found Birmingham Pride and has done so much to raise awareness of the issues our community face, he will be a fantastic mayor of Sandwell."