Will democracy trump disorder?

Mayor Brittain Jones Bowen

Following disgraceful scenes of public disorder at an Extraordinary Meeting of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council on 27th June, 2022 more disruption is expected at a Full Council meeting scheduled for 13th July, 2022.

Noisy and disruptive protests over a failed ‘Assurance Review’ into child sexual exploitation failings in the Borough, during the period 2006 to 2017, went on for almost four hours. A group that self-style as The Rabble, led by an unemployed Tameside conspiracy theorist, Raja Miah, were at the heart of the disturbing scenes in the public galleries. 

Two prominent members of The Rabble, and both close associates of Miah, have set down a motion to be debated and voted upon at the forthcoming council meeting. They represent the perennially disgraced Failsworth Independent Party, identified recently by HopeNotHate as ‘a haven for the Far Right’ (read more here) and act as a conduit for most, if not all, of the racists and agitators of that ilk across the Borough. 

This is the motion in full, calling for a public inquiry. It makes no distinction between a statutory, non-statutory or departmental inquiry (read more here).

“Councillor Hobin to MOVE and Councillor Wilkinson to SECOND:

“Independent Public Enquiry (sic) into Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) (Historical & Present) within Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (OMBC), including the actions and knowledge of Council Members and Officers.

“Council notes that:

“The Newsome (sic) and Ridgway review into historic Child Sexual Exploitation in Oldham was published on Monday 20th June 2022. The review found that some children had been failed by agencies that were meant to protect them and that there were serious failings in the handling of some cases.

“The review was discussed at an Extraordinary Full Council Meeting on Mon 27 June 2022. The public were invited to submit questions to a panel that included the Council Leader and Greater Manchester Mayor. Councillors from all political parties were also invited to ask questions or make statements.

“While (sic) questions were asked, sadly many were left unanswered, and some wholly ignored. Unfortunately, questions remain. We as a council, and as such member (sic) herein, have a duty to protect children and vulnerable people of the borough and beyond. The reality is, until we get to the root of the issue, we cannot move forward as we are unable to ensure that failings highlighted in the review are not continuing.

“It is very clear there is significant dissatisfaction from the public and opposition parties with the contents of the report and that this has been further evidenced in the press and on social media. There is a significant groundswell of opinion that a fully independent public inquiry is needed to address the issue of CSE in Oldham, both historically and in the present.

“This issue is above any party-political leanings. Together we need to eradicate this corruption which lies within our society.

“Council resolves that;

  • The Chief Executive writes to the Home Secretary and the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on behalf of the council requesting that they instigate a fully independent and broad ranging public inquiry as soon as is practically possible.
  • That the Terms of Reference for the inquiry are set independently of the Greater Manchester and OMBC administrations, by Government and that all relevant documentation including those relating to the recent assurance review are made available to the inquiry.
  • That a cross party steering group is established to work alongside the inquiry which will report to the council and the public on a regular basis and will function as a conduit between the inquiry team, council officers and elected representatives”.

There is no analysis or specification provided by the two FIP councillors as to the nature and extent of their objections. In complete contrast to the Liberal Democrats in Oldham who have provided a highly detailed schedule of questions to be put to both Oldham Council’s and Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s respective hierarchies (read more here).

The ruling Labour Party, and in particular its Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton, staunchly defended the Newsam and Ridgway report at the Extraordinary Meeting, saying that there would be no further inquiry to investigate its palpable failings and that the report’s authors were the best available and approved for the task by the Home Office.

Cllr Chadderton ducked a public question (asked by Neil Wilby, the author of this article) as to whether any meaningful examination of or challenge to the Assurance Review had been made by either her or senior paid officers. The answer to that is, very obviously, ‘No’.

Privately, via the council’s press office, Neil Wilby has called for a response from the Council Leader to a request for a QC-led inquiry into specific sections of the report’s failings. There are a significant number of other failings identified, as yet undisclosed to the council, pending a response to the first tranche.

The ‘owner’ of the report, Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, was repeatedly booed by protestors at the Extraordinary Meeting as he, too, tried to embellish its worth.

As those moving the motion for a public inquiry quite rightly point out, positions that appear no longer tenable. 

A full copy of the Agenda can be read here. Regrettably, it lists Public Questions as having 15 minutes allocated whereas the new Constitution, introduced for the current municipal year allows for 30 minutes. A matter likely to enrage a section of both the civic chamber and public gallery.


Page last updated Wednesday 6th July, 2022 at 1215hrs

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Picture credits: 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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