Tributes pour in for Tower Hamlets candidate Hifzur Rahman who dies 24 hours before polls

Tributes have been pouring in from political allies and opponents following the sudden death today of a candidate in tomorrow’s Tower Hamlets local council elections in London’s East End.

The death of Hifzur Rahman, a member of Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s independent Tower Hamlets First party, from a heart attack just 24 hours before polling has thrown voting into turmoil in the council’s Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward.

The Mayor issued a statement saying: “It is with the deepest sadness that I must inform people of the death of Hifzur Rahman, who worked tirelessly for the community he loved. His energy and dedication will be missed.”

Polling for mayor and MEPs is unaffected, but electing the three local council seats in the ward has had to be been postponed. Most likely date for a ward by-election is thought to be July 10.

Voting has to be held within 35 days, in accordance with the 2006 Principal Areas Local Elections Rules, the Town Hall has confirmed.

Polling stations in Blackwall and Cubitt Town are to display revised instructions tomorrow to voters, who will be issued with ballot papers for the Mayor and EU polls only.

Blackwall & Cubitt Town ward has been hotly contested in a three-cornered fight bewteen Lutfur Rahman’s independent group now controlling the Town Hall, Labour with its stronghold in neighbouring Poplar and Lansbury wards and Conservatives with their heartland next door at Island Gardens ward on the Isle of Dogs.

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But the rival parties were united today in offering condolences to Hifzur’s family.

A spokesman for Labour, which currently holds the majority of seats on Tower Hamlets council in opposition to the mayor’s minirity administration, said: “This is sad news and our deepest condolences go to his family at this terrible time.

“We may have had our political differences, but anyone who puts themselves forward to serve our community has our respect.”

A Tory party spokersman said: “We were saddened to hear of the passing of Hifzur Rahman and our thoughts are with his wife and family.”

Hifzur was one of 204 candidates fighting tomorrow’s council elections for just 45 seats, reduced from 51 by recent ward-boundary changes.

Labour and Tories are contesting every seat with 90 candidates between them, while Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s administration had put up 44 candidates.