Bexley's new Deputy Mayor is Councillor Rags Sandhu
Councillor Rags Sandhu was appointed by the Council as Bexley’s new Deputy Mayor on Wednesday 25 May 2022. His wife, Mrs Bal Sandhu, was appointed as the Borough’s Deputy Mayoress. Councillor Sandhu was elected to the Council on Thursday 5 May 2022.
Councillor Sandhu now represents the Bexleyheath Ward, but he is well known across the borough, as a businessman with many ventures, since he left college as a young man.
Born in 1972 to parents, Darshan Singh Sandhu MBE and Mum, Gurbachan Kaur Sandhu, in a Dartford Hospital, Rags has always been a South East London boy and man. Rags’ dad was appointed an MBE in 1998 for his work in the field of community relations in North West Kent.
Rags and his brother, Avtar Singh Sandhu, now himself an MBE, continue that work to this day.
As a family, our parents always encouraged my siblings and I to put something back into our community. We have been blessed in all that we have and we work hard to repay that in any way we can."
Councillor Sandhu is incredibly proud of his Indian heritage. His family originate from the Punjab region of Northern India and are very blessed to own a family house in their village. He and his family try to visit there annually. Councillor Sandhu speaks fluent Punjabi and likes to keep their family traditions alive.
While growing up in Dartford, he enjoyed all of the usual childhood activities, including athletics track events, which he enjoyed immensely, however, his Dad had dreams of him playing football, but it was not Rags’ first love. He studied at NW Kent College for Technology and completed his formal education with a B-Tech National Diploma in Business & Finance, so it was almost inevitable that he would quickly progress into the family business at that time.
Eighteen years old and manufacturing ladies’ clothes in a factory in Dartford was not his first choice of profession and when an opportunity presented itself to buy and run a ‘fish and chip’ shop in Crayford, he and his brother Avtar jumped at the chance.
Avtar and I are so close and we always wanted to work together. It was not long before that first shop was joined by a Burger Bar in Welling and the seeds were sown for a very successful career in the hospitality industry."
This all started with the factory being converted into a fully licensed function hall suitable for events and parties etc.
Off the back of this function hall, their hospitality drinks company, Mobile Bar Hire (Crayford) was born. With a grand investment of approx. £395, the brother’s purchased their first van to transport the bars and drinks to events. The entire family have worked for over 12 years to manage, promote and deliver that business across the UK and Europe, and only recently sold the company, in order to follow other projects. That important decision was taken in 2019, following a number of family recent losses. As with most things in Rag’s life, family comes first.
In 1995, Rags met and married his wife, Bal in a traditional Sikh Indian wedding and they still live in their family home where their children, Kiran and Manraj were born and raised. The family now manage their property portfolio, which includes the original factory that his Dad ran their early business from. This allows Rags the flexibility to pursue a number of things, including his new role as a Bexley Councillor - one to which he is very committed.
I am very proud to be a member of the Sikh Community and I am a member of my local temple. My faith has strengthened with maturity and my amazing parents were such a wonderful example to my siblings and I."
I never for one minute thought that I would be tempted into politics, but I have realised that I now have time to put something back into the community and life that has offered and given me and my family so much."
As to becoming a Bexley Councillor and Deputy Mayor in his first year, he is nervous but mindful of the responsibilities he has been presented with and taken on.
I consider it a huge privilege and honour to be elected as a Councillor and to be given the opportunity to serve the Borough as Deputy Mayor. This is an opportunity for my family and I to give something back to life that has offered us so much down the years."
Councillor Sandhu plans to work hard with this year’s Mayor, Councillor Nick O’Hare, to promote ‘community’ across the board in the Borough and they have some exciting ideas planned to raise funds for this year’s Mayor’s Charity Appeal, ‘Avenues’, which is a specialist charity provider of support services for people with autism, learning disability and acquired brain injury, here in Bexley and across London.