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Labour and Greens announce candidates for Higham Hill by-election

Labour has announced a media professional in its bid to hold the Higham Hill ward, reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Labour candidate Shumon Ali-Rahman (credit: Waltham Forest Labour) and Green candidate Abigail Woodman (credit: Jonathan Perugia)

Waltham Forest’s Labour and Green parties have announced their candidates for the October by-election.

The by-election for one seat in Higham Hill, a ward in Walthamstow, will be held on Thursday 26th October, following the resignation of Labour cabinet member Alistair Strathern.

On Saturday (23rd September), Labour said it had selected Shumon Ali-Rahman, who works in public relations, while the Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party named Abigail Woodman, an educational publisher, as its candidate.

Shumon works as “media lead” at Acas, a government-funded arbitration service that helps with employment relations and disputes.

In a written statement, he has promised to give “100 percent to residents” and bring further improvements to Highams Hill, including green infrastructure such as “trees, rain gardens, cycle hangars and electric vehicle charging points”.

Shumon Ali-Rahman, Credit: Waltham Forest Labour

Shumon, who is in his 40s and lives in the south of the borough, also said he wants to use his experience working for Acas and “in the NHS” to improve public services.

His reference to working in the NHS appears to be to his time as a senior press officer at the Department of Health, the government body which oversees the health service, between 2006 and 2012. 

Green Party candidate Abigail is a freelance educational publisher and is also chair of the East London Waterworks Park, a charity proposing to turn a former industrial site into a natural outdoor swimming and community space.

Green candidate Abigail Woodman, Credit: Jonathan Perugia

In a statement also released on Saturday, Abigail said she is “delighted” to be selected by her party to campaign to represent Higham Hill, where she has lived in since 2014.

She added: “I opposed the new incinerator at Edmonton and have spent many years campaigning to keep the marshes free from development, so I would relish the opportunity to challenge Waltham Forest to do more to tackle the climate crisis.

“We face many and varied issues in Higham Hill, and by listening, working together, and tapping into council support, I think we can make a real difference.”

In the 2022 local elections, Labour won all three seats in Higham Hill with a comfortable majority of 1,670 to 2,000 votes each.

The Green Party’s candidate Louise Ashcroft won 662 votes, the next highest after Labour.

Last week the Liberal Democrats named Higham Hill resident Alex Lewis as its candidate, while Nancy Taaffe has put herself forward for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

The Conservatives are understood to still be selecting their candidate.

None of the candidates named so far will be formally confirmed until 2nd October.

The council by-election on 26th October will be the first in Waltham Forest where residents will be required to present photographic identification when they vote.

Update: Following publication of this article, a spokesperson for Waltham Forest Labour said Shumon worked in the Department for Health’s press office on national campaigns and media queries related to the NHS.