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First for Derbyshire and for highways across the country

Published: 27 May 2021

At a meeting of our Full Council on 26 May 2021, Councillor Kewal Singh Athwal was appointed as the Cabinet Member for Highways Assets and Transport.

Councillor Athwal is the first person from the Sikh faith to be appointed by the Council as a Cabinet Member, and is also thought to be the first Sikh to have responsibility for highways assets and transport in the country.

Elected to the county council in May 2017 to represent the residents of the Sawley Division, Councillor Athwal was the Chairman of the Audit Committee and was also a member of the Scrutiny Places Committee.

Councillor Athwal said:

"I am hugely honoured to be given such a high profile role within the council, and am looking forward to working with the team to make a positive difference to those we serve in the county of Derbyshire.

"My first priority will be to make sure that we deliver the ambitious programme of improvements across the county. We’ll be spending £120 million over the next 3 years to improve roads, pavements, bridges and drains across Derbyshire.

"My faith has always been important to me and I am delighted to be the first Sikh to have the responsibility for highways assets and transport.

"I hope that my appointment will encourage more people from my faith, and from any other faith group to realise that they too could take part in civic life, and help to improve life for all those who live in our wonderful county."

Councillor Athwal was born in India, in a village named Phoolpur, near Lambra, in the District of Jalandhar in Punjab.

He is married to Lakhbir, and they have 2 children who were both educated at local schools in Long Eaton, Dovedale and Wilsthorpe, before both going into University education. Both his children are married and Kewal has 5 grandchildren.

He has lived in the Sawley division for over 35 years, his working life has mainly been in 2 industries, the motor trade and textiles. He started his working life on the shop floor, progressing to manage at director level and owned multi-million pound turnover companies, along with being a non-exec director for local trade association and a private limited company.

His interests are football, socialising with family and friends, visiting the cinema, along with charity work here in the UK and abroad. He is a very community minded person and wants to make a positive difference to the Sawley - Wilsthorpe area and its residents.

Kewal has also been a councillor at Erewash Borough Council since May 2007, representing the Wilsthorpe Ward residents, he is currently the Chairman of The Licensing and Public Protection Committee and also is the Chairman of the Taxi Drivers Panel at EBC. He was also the Mayor of Erewash in the 2014 to 2015 civic year.