Local elections in Oldham begin to take shape

Screenshot 2021-03-07 at 15.52.06

In what is probably the most important election in decades, the political parties in Oldham are settling on their candidates that will fight the twenty-one seats that are up for grabs. Since the election in May, 2019 only one poll has taken place and that attracted widespread media attention for all the wrong reasons as an orchestrated smear campaign targeted senior politicians in the East Lancashire town (read more here).

First off the blocks, at the end of January, was the Proud of Oldham and Saddleworth Party (POOS) who field candidates in 7 out of the 20 wards. Formed in 2019, having started its life as Saddleworth First!, but has yet to win an election in thirteen attempts.

Crompton – Rachelle Wood-Moore

Medlock Vale – Mark Birchall

St James – Amoy Crooks

Saddleworth North – Gary Kershaw

Saddleworth South. – Simon Hodgson 

Saddleworth West & Lees – Paul Shilton 

Shaw – Marc Hince

Two of the POOS, Ms Wood-Moore and Mr Kershaw are new to the Party list, with Ronald Bailey, Paul Goldring (see below) and Gary Tarbuck departing, following a spectacular and very public row between POOS Party Leader, Paul Errock, and disgraced Tameside political activist, Raja Miah, who faces two criminal trials later this year over charges that Greater Manchester Police describe as harassment and sending malicious communications (read more here).

Next up is the controversial, hyper-local Failsworth Independent Party (FIP), who increased their total number of elected Members on Oldham Council to three at the May 2021 election, including taking the notable scalp of ex-Leader, Sean Fielding. They contest both wards in the town.

Failsworth West – Sandra Ball

Failsworth East – Lucia Rea

The Alliance for Democracy and Freedom (ADF) appear to be putting up just one candidate, Paul Goldring, a former Oldham UKIP Chair who will contest the Royton North seat again.

UKIP have been approached for a list of their candidates for this year.

The Labour Party will field a full complement of candidates, contesting all 20 wards. Including two candidates in Medlock Vale following the shock resignation of Conservative Party councillor, Sahr Abid, earlier this month (read more here).

They include 12 sitting councillors. Popular past Mayor, Ginny Alexander, and Valerie Leach are both retiring from St James and Saddleworth West & Lees, respectively. Long-serving Norman Briggs is also retiring from Failsworth East. Yasmin Toor stood down from the Medlock Vale amidst some turbulence within her local constituency party. Both her and her husband, Ateeque ur-Rehman, who lost his seat at the last election, remain on the list of Labour candidates eligible for selection in future elections.

Alexandra – Shaid Mushtaq*

Chadderton Central – Colin McLaren*

Chadderton North – Barbara Brownridge*

Chadderton South – Arooj Shah*

Coldhurst – Abdul Malik*

Crompton – Syed Maruf Ali

Hollinwood – Jean Stretton*

Failsworth East – Marzia Babakarkhail

Failsworth West – Peter Davis*

Medlock Vale – Umar Nasheen and Sajed Hussain

Royton North – Hannah Roberts*

Royton South – Marie Bashforth*

Saddleworth North – Josh Charters

Saddleworth South – John Fay

Saddleworth West & Lees – Ghazala Rana

St. James’ – Leanne Munroe

St. Mary’s – Ali Aqueel Salamat*

Shaw – Dion Linton

Waterhead – Riaz Ahmad*

Werneth – Shoab Akhtar*

* denotes sitting councillor.

A spokesperson says Liberal Democrats do not expect to finalise their list of candidates much before the Council’s nomination deadline of 5th April, 2022. It will be posted here as soon as it is available. They fielded candidates in all 20 wards last year but that may not be the case this time around. Cllrs Hazel Gloster and Dave Murphy are confidently expected to defend their seats. Both had comfortable majorities when succeeding in 2018.

The Conservative Party, Green Party and Northern Heart lists are also awaited. They fielded 20, 11 and 5 candidates last time. The latter two parties are not represented on Oldham Council. The Tories have 7 seats and shared Opposition duties with the LibDems prior to the shock resignation of Cllr Sahr Abid last month (read more here). Their Political Chair and Vice-Chair, Lewis Quigg and Robert Barnes, are known to be contesting Royton North and Chadderton South, respectively. The latter being a ‘hot-spot’ this time around as it is the seat of Council Leader, Arooj Shah that is up for grabs. Also definitely standing are Pam Byrne, in Saddleworth North, Mohammed Jahan in Chadderton North and Sharif Miah in Chadderton Central. It is understood that Cllr Jamie Curley will not be defending his Saddleworth South seat.

Five Independents stood last time: Tracy Woodward (Chadderton North); Montaz Ali Azad (Coldhurst); Warren Bates (Failsworth West); Helen Bishop (Saddleworth South); Aftab Hussain (St. Marys). The latter candidate was elected, so he is not required to stand again until the 2023/24 ‘all-out’ election, when all 60 council seats are to be contested at one poll following Boundary Commission changes. Warren Bates, another slavish Raja Miah acolyte, has announced he is not standing, but Montaz Ali has announced he will contest Coldhurst again. Popular Saddleworth Parish Councillor, Helen Bishop, is also likely to be nominated before the deadline.

Applications to be included in the register of electors must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Oldham Council by Thursday 14th April 2022.

The Returning Officer for the elections is Oldham Council’s new chief executive, Harry Catherall.

Page last updated: Friday 1st April, 2022 at 1625 hours

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Picture credit: Oldham Council

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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