New mayor appointed for Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest councillors have elected their new mayor for 2024/25.

Sharon Waldron, cabinet member for housing regeneration and a councillor since 2014, was named the new first citizen of the borough at a meeting on Thursday May 24.

The Labour representative for Markhouse replaced Conservative councillor Roy Berg, who was elected to the top ceremonial position last year.

In her opening address, she said she wanted to “amplify” residents’ voices and the council to “stand together to support people and families affected by neurodiversity,” having been diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia herself.

She told councillors: “Let us embrace challenges ahead with courage, compassion and the steadfast belief of hope as the power to change our communities – that’s why we’re here.”

Members of Cllr Waldron’s family watched on from the public gallery, cheering when fellow councillor Naheed Ashgar put her name forward on the strength of her “unwavering commitment” to residents.

As the cabinet member for housing regeneration, Cllr Waldron oversaw the council’s housing transformation programme, part of its wider housing strategy, as well as customer experience.

Each mayor, who has no formal power, is elected for a 12-month term. They preside over council meetings to ensure they are conducted properly and act as an ambassador for the borough, attending hundreds of event each year.

Councillors from both parties also paid tribute to Cllr Berg, the outgoing mayor and councillor for Endlebury ward.

The annual meeting closed with a characteristic clash between the two leaders over progress the council was making and the past 14 years of Tory rule.

Prior to the event, protestors from the pressure group Waltham Forest for a Free Palestine stood outside handing letters to councillors.

It says that a petition by the group, which accuses the council of backing companies that support Israel through its pension fund, will be debated in the town hall on July 18.

The group has previously called on the council to divest the £18.7million it is said to have invested in “complicit” companies.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter