‘Public nuisance’ set to defy Council ASBI warning

Wazza Warren Bates holding up cover up card at EM

News of the unedifying scenes of public disorder that marred the last two meetings of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council has, regrettably, spread far wider than the boundaries of the famous old East Lancashire mill town (read more here).

The Council has, in line with a promise made by its new Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton (read more here), responded robustly with the issue of the first batch of warning letters which, effectively, ban the recipients from further council meetings for a period of twelve months and set out, in clear terms, that, if there is any repetition of the behaviour complained of, an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) will be applied for at County Court and served on those who choose to continue to offend.

Four warning letters have so far been issued and the recipients are named exclusively here:

1. Oldham’s biggest and self-admitted public nuisance, Warren Bates (pictured above centre), aged 84, and hailing from Failsworth, the Borough’s far-right hotbed, “Wazza” has very close links to Raja Miah, an unemployed, disgraced conspiracy theorist from Mossley, Tameside whose wild, money-leeching claims frequently centre around ‘Asian Cartels, mobsters, gangsters, Pakistani goons, mythical murder plots and car-jacking fantasies’. He also has a history of routinely disgracing himself both on social media and in person (read more here) in an attempt to remain relevant.

He posted on Facebook on Thursday 4th August that he intends to take his warning letters (he received two, he says) to a Full Council meeting scheduled for 7th September, 2022 and defy the ban on attending at Oldham Civic Centre.

2. Another key member of The Rabble (or Raja’s Rabble), Lynne Kovacs, has revealed on her own Facebook page that she is also a recipient. She holds the remarkable distinction of having stood as a Conservative Party member in the recent Oldham elections without actually being a Tory member. She was also a key member of the Conservative/Rabble alliance that distributed thousands of racist, misogynistic election leaflets defaming and de-humanising the former Oldham Council Leader, Arooj Shah.

Along with Wazza, she has attempted to intimidate and harass the council officer who served the letter on her at her home by publishing his picture and inviting the usual pile-on from the infamous Rabble.

The indications are that Ms Kovaks may also seek to attend the 7th September council meeting.

Typically, neither her, nor Wazza, has displayed a shred of contrition, let alone made an apology or sought to make reparation for their appalling behaviour.

3. Bottle thrower, and convicted criminal, Gary Leese, who is also understood to have been interviewed under caution by Greater Manchester Police, is another to have received an ASBI warning letter. A known “Walter Mitty” character (read more here), he, bizarrely, has six Facebook accounts in his name but has made no reference there to either the Council’s or police action against him. Leese has the unfortunate distinction of serially failed far-right ‘politician’, Paul Errock, fighting his corner. Claiming that he has been made homeless as a result of nefarious actions of Oldham Council rather than the criminal and tortious actions of Leese against his housing provider, leaving him with lack of income and large debts.

4. The quartet is completed by 81 year old far-right activist and avid ‘Tommy Robinson’ supporter, Debbie Barratt-Cole, whose disgraceful, out of control behaviour in the council meetings on 27th June and 13th July, 2022 was judged by many to be the low water mark – and she was lucky not to be arrested by the police and removed from the meetings.

Her ASBI warning letter sets out that she:

(i) intentionally or recklessly caused a public nuisance (ii) was part of a group that accosted a member of the press (Charlotte Green, a local democracy reporter who is based at the Manchester Evening News), entered her personal space and accused her of not reporting truthfully (iii) tampered with cameras, set up to provide an official record of the meeting, and attempted to disable them (iv) encouraging other inappropriate behaviour at the meeting, including urging Warren Bates to climb over the safety screens around the public barrier.

Ms Barratt-Cole is another who makes lurid, but, apparently, evidence-free claims in the style of her former hero, Raja Miah. With whom she was inextricably linked for several years. She says she has received rape, kidnap and death threats – and is forced to live in a secret location – as a result of her campaigning against child sex abuse in Oldham. Interviewed recently on fledgling, shock-jock channel, GB News, she denied that her behaviour in the council meetings was a cause for concern.

It is expected that a second batch of ASBI warning letters will be issued by Oldham Council in the next few days. Recipients may well include two of the Borough’s most notorious criminals and far-right activists, Garry Dunkerley and Stephen Walsh, and one of their close friends, the Chairwoman of the Failsworth Independent Party (FIP), Kathleen Wilkinson. The FIPs were recently identified as ‘a haven for racists and the far-right’ by HopeNotHate (read more here).

Mrs Wilkinson, who admits to being a liar and a drunk, is another devoted Raja Miah cultist and now closely associated with Debbie Barratt-Cole. Her husband, Mark Wilkinson, is an elected Member of Oldham Council and another, along with FIP Group Leader, Cllr Brian Hobin, noted for disruptive and offensive behaviour both during and outside of meetings.

Unsurprisingly, Cllr Hobin, another convicted criminal and Raja Miah acolyte, has failed to condemn the appalling scenes in the council chamber and told Charlotte Green that the move to issue the warning letters was a ‘negative step’ and could ‘fuel more protests’.

He added: “People are already upset and disappointed with the council and these banning orders could be seen to further disenfranchise residents. It may even encourage more members of the public to attend meetings and how many are the council willing to ban?”.

Missing from those lines to the local press are the fact that Cllr Hobin agreed, in an Oldham Council Group Leaders’ meeting, to increased security measures at future Full Council and Cabinet meetings and the issue of the ASBI warning letters.

A spokesperson for Oldham Council said:

“We welcome and encourage the attendance of residents at public meetings.

“Resident engagement with the democratic process is essential, and we recognise that, sometimes, the nature of the issues we discuss will elicit a passionate response.

“However, all attendees at public meetings need to behave appropriately, to ensure meetings can be run fairly, safely and effectively.

“Unacceptable behaviour of any kind cannot be allowed to continue and will not be tolerated. The behaviour we saw from some individuals at the full council meeting on Wednesday 13th July – which included verbal abuse, foul language, threatening behaviour, tampering with equipment and even throwing missiles – cannot and will not be tolerated.

“Banning people from entering local authority premises, including the council chamber, is not a decision we take lightly.

“However, we have been forced to take this action against a small number of individuals to ensure the safety of elected members, staff, and members of the public.”

An explanation of how ASBIs, and the warning letters that precede them, work, can be found here in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Warren Bates and Debbie Barratt Cole were offered right of reply. Contact details for Lynne Kovacs and Gary Leese are being sought so that they can be offered the same courtesy.

The former replied thus: “Mind your own business, what’s it got to do with you”. Ms Barratt-Cole and Leese failed to respond at all.

Page last updated Tuesday 9th August, 2022 at 1055hrs

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Picture credits: Oldham Council/MEN

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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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