Council delay issue of more ASBI warnings to ‘protesters’

In an exclusive, and controversial, article published elsewhere on this website on 5th August, 2022 four recipients of warning letters issued by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council were identified (read here).

Each had received notice, delivered by a process server who was accompanied by officers from Greater Manchester Police, that set out a schedule of unacceptable behaviour during two recent Council meetings – and warned that any repetition would result in an application to the county court for an Anti Social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI). The letter also made clear that they are banned from any future council meetings, for a period of twelve months.

The letters also state that the behaviour complained of has all been captured by Council CCTV cameras. Much of it also being publicly accessible via the Council’s YouTube channel (see here and here).

One of the four, Warren Bates, an 84 year old from the Failsworth area, who freely admits to being the Borough’s biggest and most frequent public nuisance, has claimed on social media that he is going to defy the ban by attending the next Oldham Council meeting on 7th September, 2022.

Of the other three, Debbie Barratt-Cole, an attention seeker with history of making an unseemly exhibition of herself, publicly, has appeared on the partisan, right-wing television channel, GB News, to assert that the ASBI warning is, in her view, simply an attempt by the Council to stifle her protests against the way they have dealt with child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the town. It was, regrettably, not the only untruth she told during that short, but lurid, package. A glaring example being that ‘Debbie’s daughter was groomed in Oldham from the age of 12’. Which is, actually, two big lies rolled into one.

She is expected to be another to seek to defy the warning letter to advance her far-right political leanings and ingratiate herself further with fellow ‘Tommy Robinson’ supporters. An about turn from her past as vice-chair of the Labour Party in the Medlock Vale ward in Oldham.

Screenshot 2022-08-11 at 12.14.12

A third member of the quartet, Lynne Kovacs, has also indicated that she may attend the next Council meeting. A leading member of a group of local, mostly elderly discontents, whom self-style as The Rabble (or Raja’s Rabble), she stood unsuccessfully as a Conservative Party candidate in the recent local elections.

The intentions of the fourth recipient, Gary Leese, a convicted criminal and well known local “Walter Mitty” character, are unknown. He does, however, have history for breaching a civil injunction.

Well placed sources had suggested that more ASBI warning letters were due to be sent out this week, but an Oldham Council spokesperson says: “The evidence is still being reviewed, and at this stage we don’t know how many letters may be sent out, or when”.

Given that the two council meetings in question took place on 27th June and 13th July, 2022, respectively, it is assumed that great care is being taken over the exhibits that will underpin the warning letters. It is not beyond the realms of possibility, either, that the Council’s legal team has sought counsel’s opinion as to whether they would withstand legal challenge. Particularly, as one of the letters is widely expected to be issued to the Chair of the Failsworth Independent Party, Kathleen Wilkinson.

The FIP Group Leader, Cllr Brian Hobin, whose own behaviour in the civic chamber is frequently reprehensible and the subject of complaint, has already forecast further protests over the ASBI letters so far issued. He appears not to have spoken out against the disgraceful scenes of disorder and, quite to the contrary, at the end of the June meeting he walked along the perimeters of the public galleries with his hands above his head, clapping, Jürgen Klopp style.

Cllr Hobin is a close associate of Debbie Barratt-Cole which goes some way to explaining the prediction of further disorder, but he is very likely to be apoplectic if his own Party Chair receives one, along with two of his other Failsworth associates.

The number of protesters dropped from 89 at the June council meeting to 50 at the July meeting. A turnout of 25 is expected at the September meeting by the de facto leader of The Rabble, Gary Tarbuck. Another who stood, unsuccessfully, as a Conservative candidate at the local elections in May. It is expected, by then, that his own Government will have turned down requests for a further inquiry into failings around historic child sexual exploitation in Oldham following the recent publication of an Assurance Review (read more here).

Page last updated Friday 12th August, 2022 at 0815hrs

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Picture credits: Oldham Council/MEN

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Published by Neil Wilby

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

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