Oldham Full Council meeting 7.9.22 – Live blog

Oldham Council meeting 13.7.22 front bench

For a link to the Agenda for this meeting – and some significant scene setting – please scroll down this page, a little way, to the Preamble posted yesterday afternoon.

The latest updates will appear immediately below this opening paragraph and run back in time order. This is a format that has worked efficiently for author, and reader, on previous live blogs from this Council’s meetings.

The meeting starts at 6pm, chaired by the incumbent Mayor, Cllr Elaine Garry, and this blog will cover as much, and as many, of the key discussion points that emerge in the course of the evening’s business.

Update 2050hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Unfortunately, because of a prior commitment, this is the last post on this live blog this evening. As mentioned earlier, Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter, is live tweeting at her Twitter handle: @CharGreenLDR. The meeting is set to conclude at 9.30p  Thank you for following.

Update 2045hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Still under Opposition Business, Cllr Louie Hamblett (Liberal Democrat – Crompton) rose to move a motion headed ‘Meeting the needs for food and warmth’. Along with Cllr Alicia Marland (Liberal Democrat – Saddleworth West and Lees), who seconded the motion. The chamber heard two powerful speeches setting out forensically how simple, but effective, measures can be implemented to alleviate the plight of those in needs. ‘Everyone in our Borough should have a warm place to go’. A ‘warm bank’ in present terminology. Two minor amendments were made by Labour, who are in ‘total agreement’ with the core of the LibDem motion – that no-one in Oldham should go hungry or cold.

The amended motion was carried.

Cllr Hobin rose to bring a motion (again) asking for an independent enquiry (sic) into historic child sexual exploitation failings. His concerns centre on lack of investigation of Oldham Council officers who may have let down CSE victims and survivors. ‘Vote with your conscience’ he urges Labour councillors in the chamber. Motion seconded by Cllr Mark Wilkinson (Failsworth Independent Party – Failsworth West).

There was no amendment moved.

Cllr Barnes rose to say that the publication of the CSE Assurance Review was ‘the beginning not the end’. He attacked the Labour administration for wanting to move on and thinking it is about cost. Public inquiry terms of reference should not be set by Council.

Cllr Chadderton says ‘I’m not the judge and jury’ she says. I’ve been open about the failings of the council and the police. It’s a complex issue and the response of victims does vary in terms of their suffering and the impact on their lives. ‘What happened to the girls should never, ever happen again’.

Cllr Sam Al-Hamdani (Liberal Democratic – Saddleworth West and Lees), we supported the motion last time and will support again. But the FIP motion does not reference the police, who were also culpable of failings (the seconder of this motion is a former Greater Manchester Police officer). He thanked the Labour group for waiving the six month rule to allow this to be debated again. The most important thing, as Cllr Chadderton says, justice for the victims and to ensure that it never happens again.

The motion was defeated.

Update 2010hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Cllr Steve Bashforth moved a motion that is vexing very many Oldhamers and (councillors)at present: The setting off of fireworks late at night across the Borough. Problem difficult to solve, but a few things can be done by the Council regarding restricting sale, remind organisers of events, make it easy for report where they are being set off illegally. Seconded by Cllr Umar Nasheen.

An amendment was moved by Cllr Quigg and seconded by Cllr Dave Arnott. The amendment was defeated.

Opposition Business (item 10 on the Agenda) was opened by Cllr Pam Byrne (Conservative – Saddleworth North) who moved a motion concerning country road driving and speed limits. She says that the default 60mph limit on rural roads is inappropriate. Seconded by Cllr Woodvine whom, as usual does not mince his words, and says that the Labour amendment sends out the message that they don’t care about the safety of their residents in the Borough.

Cllr Bashforth defending the amendment says that all roads need to be considered not just rural roads for what is a very dangerous problem. Cllr Chris Gloster rose to support the amendment, but not the original motion. He pointed out that the speed limit quoted in the motion was not, actually, correct. He further pointed out that a ‘Twenty is Plenty’ campaign has gone unsupported in the past.

Update 1950hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

‘Oldhamers are struggling at the minute’ says Cllr Chadderton with huge concerns at what is now an emergency: The cost of living crisis. She is moving a motion at Agenda Item 9.

Cllr Jabbar ‘wholeheartedly’ agreed with his Leader. Increase in energy costs are making things ‘really hard’ and ‘about to get worse’. The help that Government is giving by way of rebate is ‘nowhere near enough’. Their failure to apply windfall taxes to profits of energy companies is unforgivable. Oldham Council will do whatever they can to help and be everywhere we can to support struggling families.

An amendment to the motion was put forward by Cllr Lewis Quigg (Conservative – Royton North) defending his Party’s position and focusing on the ineffectiveness of Green energy policy and ‘nett zero’.  He attacked Cllr Abdul Jabbar for putting up council tax every year.

Cllr Sharp rose to second her colleague’s motion. She pointed out a number of Conservative initiatives at Government level to alleviate energy costs. She also praised the new Prime Minister for the action she is already taking on this

Cllr Jabbar responded to Cllr Quigg’s allegation that he was personally responsible for increasing council tax. He gave an elongated explanation that was constantly interrupted by shouts of ‘point of order’ by Cllrs Robert Barnes (Conservative – Chadderton South) and Hobin. That were not points of order at all but simply rude interruptions. Cllr Hobin is a contender for world champion for such interruptions over the three and a bit years he has been an elected Member.

The Quigg/Sharp amendment was defeated. The original motion was carried.

Update 1925hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Reception of the live feed and sound quality is variable and, accordingly, is creating significant difficulties maintaining this blog fully and effectively. Local democracy reporter, Charlotte Green, is present in the chamber and is running a live Twitter feed at this handle: @CharGreenLDR. She is a recommended Twitter follow, in any event.

The next item reported in this feed is approval of Cabinet minutes. Cllr Max Woodvine raised an issue as to where in the new Spindles development would be located. Cllr Chadderton explained that officers will move into Spindles and the civic centre will move into the former public library. Several councillors complained that this was a new revelation to them. Cllr Chadderton says there has been an article in The Oldham Times and a Council press release on the topic and apologised if this did not suffice by way of informing the rest of the chamber.

Cllr Mark Kenyon (Liberal Democrat – Saddleworth West and Lees) asked a question regarding the re-development of Spindles and the effect of delays in starting the construction on costs and budget. Cllr Chadderton says that the project is still on track and budget still within allocation.

Update 1850hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Questions to the Leader and Cabinet were led by Cllr Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Opposition, who highlighted the cost of living crisis and the issue (and importance) of free school dinners to families in need. Cllr Chadderton replied saying that the number of children in poverty was ‘appalling’ by way of an ideological choice of the Conservative Party.

A second question from Cllr Sykes related to the highly controversial Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and charges arising therefrom (if any). A subsidiary point was guided towards electric transport infrastructure for the future and, particularly, charging points for electric vehicles. Cllr Chadderton agreed with the core issues raised by Cllr Sykes although she did point out the huge expense associated with establishing a network of charging points.

Cllr Lancaster, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, raised an issue over £11,000 funding for the Whit Friday festival in Saddleworth. Cllr Chadderton agreed to look into this. She did not want to be the Leader responsible for the disappearance of the festival.

He went on to give an excoriating, and one might say accurate, critique of the Council’s senior paid leadership saying the actions of the council has brought the town into disrepute. Concluding, by asking: ‘Does Oldham have a council leader in office, but not in power’. Cllr Chadderton gave a one word answer – ‘No’.

Cllr Brian Hobin of the Failsworth Independent Party returned to the issue of accuracy of minutes of council’s meetings. He also says that he does not agree with what he says are ‘barely legal’ letters containing ASBI warnings issued to, amongst others, members of his own Party and other friends and associates. It was difficult to discern whether a question was actually asked. Cllr Chadderton rejected his criticisms on the ASBIs: ‘A process was followed and those receiving letters had crossed a line’. she says.

Update 1835hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Sound restored and buffering appears to have settled down, for now, at least. Problems with wi-fi at civic centre, apparently.

Update 1830hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Severe technical difficulties here as Council’s live feed is buffering and for last five minutes there has been no sound. Technical bods are on the case.

In response to the first public question, Cllr Chadderton firstly says that behaviour at the July meeting was not acceptable. She also says that the Government has now responded to a letter from the Liberal Democrats calling for a further inquiry into CSE in Oldham, saying it will not carry one out.

Update 1820hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Cllr Chadderton gave an update on the video archive controversy (read more here). ‘Cock-up not conspiracy’ she says.

There are 27 public questions to consider (in a 30 minute time limit). A full list will be published elsewhere on this website tomorrow morning. It is simply too big a task to transcribe them on the run.

Update 1815hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

The meeting is under way with the conventional opening prayers following a plea from the Mayor regarding courtesy and respect for one another in the chamber. Behaviour that causes disruption is not acceptable, she reminds Members and the public.

Apologies for absence have been received from Cllrs Chauhan, Iqbal, Sheldon, Shuttleworth, Islam. This means that Cllr Beth Sharp (Conservative – St James) is present in the chamber for the first time since March, 2022.

Minutes of the last two meetings of the Council (27th June and 13th July) as a true record were challenged by Cllr Hindle. Borough Solicitor says the minutes are a fair reflection of what took place. After which they were agreed. Following that agreement, Cllr Wilkinson raised under a point of order where he points out a number of what he considers a number of critical omissions. They were heard but the meeting moved on.

Declarations of interest were received from Cllr Garry, Cllr Murphy, Cllr Wilkinson, Cllr Gloster, Cllr Williamson.

Only seven members of public in the gallery, including high profile CSE victim/survivor who is known by the nom-de-plume ‘Sophie’ (or Sam).

Update 1600hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Discredited, unemployed, Tameside-based conspiracy theorist, Raja Miah, has told his 100 or so followers on his frequently banned Recusant Nine Facebook page that he will not be in attendance at the civic centre this evening. He is entertaining his daughter instead, he says.

That appears to be one of a number of untruths, or stretched narratives, in that one post (not in any way unusual for him) as he is on the Council’s ‘blacklist’ and would not gain entry, in any event. Any arrest of Miah would have serious consequences as he is already on court bail (read more here).

A Conservative councillor, Lewis Quigg, who owes his place in the chamber almost entirely to a close, but now previous, association with Miah has, apparently put down an amendment to one of the Agenda items set to be debated this evening (number 14). Waiting for more details on that, but it concerns Members’ fees and expenses.

Update 1130hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Jonaya English, an increasingly well known social media commentator and YouTuber has indicated, on her Twitter account, that she will be in attendance this evening. Her broadcasting of a widely shared video clip of Council Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton, saying that ‘CSE victims live were not damaged’ has caused considerable angst in the top echelons of the Council. Her appearance this evening, and the output from that, will be interesting to say the least.

Update 1030hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Neil Wilby Media is fairly sure that it has put together the names of the blacklisted ‘Oldham Twelve’. The first four recipients of the ASBI warning letters issued by OMBC all freely self-identified themselves on social media (Warren Bates, Debbie Barratt Cole, Lynne Kovacs, Gary Leese). The remaining eight, apart from Garry Dunkerley who again self-identified, have been harder to winkle out, aided mainly by loose tongues amongst The Rabble and at least one councillor closely associated with Raja Miah giving the game away.

Advice is currently being sought as to whether they should be named on this live blog during today. Calls for them to be publicly named and shamed grow louder and longer. One councillor, who didn’t wish to be named for fear of reprisals from The Rabble, has said: “The scenes of public disorder at the last two meetings were frightening to some if not all of us in the chamber, particularly if you are a female. Those responsible should be named with appropriate publicity so that the other decent, peaceful people in attendance at the civic centre and in the rest of the Borough know exactly what we are all dealing with.”

Update 1000hrs Wednesday 7th September, 2022

Oldham Council has broadcast this message on social media:

“If you are planning to attend the Full Council meeting tomorrow, please bring photo ID with you. This information is published on our website and will be enforced at tomorrow’s meeting to ensure the safety of everyone who attends”.

This is in addition to the ‘blacklist’ now operated by the Council about which a short article was published elsewhere on this website yesterday (read here).

As reported in the Preamble yesterday, at least one of the persons on that ‘blacklist’ is set to attend at the civic centre, determined to cause a scene. For which he has very considerable history (read more here).

Preamble – Tuesday 6th September, 2022

The next Full Council meeting in Oldham Metropolitan Borough will take place in the civic chamber with a 6pm start, writes Neil Wilby. The full Agenda can be viewed here.

It is, in line with the last two, held on 27th June (Extraordinary Meeting) and 13th July (Full Council) respectively, likely to be another turbulent affair as the Council continues to deal (badly) with the outfall from the publication of a controversial report into historic child sexual exploitation (CSE) in which both they and Greater Manchester Police were found to have let down victims and survivors in a grotesque series of failings (read more here).

Scenes of serious disorder were a worrying feature of both of the last two meetings and have resulted in a series of Anti Social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) warnings issued to the perpetrators and at least one was reported to GMP as a criminal matter (read more here).

There is expected to be another demonstration by a group of ‘protesters’ whom self-style as ‘The Rabble’ or ‘Raja’s Rabble’ as a nod to their cult leader; unemployed, Tameside-based conspiracy theorist, Raja Miah. Their numbers are diminishing, however, as 89 were reported to have turned up at the June meeting, falling to 51 at the July meeting just over a couple of weeks later.

Around 25 are expected at this September meeting. Their number having been further reduced by the issue of at least 12 ASBI warning letters by the Council, with Miah himself being amongst that group, along with a number of his key lieutenants. One of those being Oldham’s most persistent and self-admitted public nuisance, Warren Bates, who claims he is going to defy the ASBI warning and turn up at the civic centre (read more here).

Cllr Mark Kenyon has also sensationally revealed, a short time ago, that security officers at the civic centre are holding what they term is a ‘blacklist’ of Oldham residents banned by council bosses from the civic centre (read more here).

That apart, the meeting may get off to a lively start as, to the eye of this investigative journalist, the draft minutes, set out in the minutes as a true record, appear to differ markedly from the business transacted on the two evenings in question. Large tracts of what actually happened in the chamber appear to go unrecorded and leave a highly sanitised version as the permanent public record if they are moved, and seconded, as such.

Public question time will also, no doubt, provide some moments of controversy (and comedy) as The Rabble, who have now, permanently it seems, usurped a cornerstone of the local democratic process, and have heavily populated the session. That is evidenced both in the comments section of Miah’s Recusant Nine social media output and analysis of the public questions submitted and answered at the last two Council meetings.

According to a written answer from the Council’s Constitutional Services Department, a public question asked on 26th August, 2022, by Neil Wilby, sits at 20th place in the queue. There are 27 public questions in total. The first on the list is from long-term Raja Miah cultist, Matt Smith, who has claimed on social media, where he trolls relentlessly, for and on behalf of The Rabble, that he moved away from Oldham last year. His public question is of much the same genre.

Another controversial topic that will probably form part of Opposition questions to the Leader and Cabinet, if not earlier under ‘urgent business’, relates to the abrupt removal, and subsequent restoration, of the archive of video broadcasts of past council and committee meetings (read more here).

The live blog will commence, on this weblink, at around 5.45pm tomorrow (Wednesday) with a note of apologies for absence tendered to the Mayor. One point of interest is whether Cllr Bethany Sharp, Conservative Member for St James, will make her first appearance in the civic chamber since 16th March, 2022. She has claimed on social media that work commitments, as a senior caseworker for Macclesfield MP, David Rutley, have prevented her attending any Full Council meetings since then.

Amongst the motions put down for debate are ones concerning the cost of living crisis brought by the Council Leader, Cllr Chadderton, and, separately, meeting the needs for food and warmth Brough by Liberal Democrat, Louie Hamblett. These, plus a Saddleworth Tory motion on reduction of speed on country roads, may mean that the latest motion in lengthening series concerning the child sexual exploitation issue, brought by the Failsworth Independent Party, may run out of time. The core of the FIP motion, poorly drafted as it is, that the Council should write to the Home Secretary to ask for a full public inquiry int CSE failings in Oldham is a duplicate of actions already taken by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats (read more here). The Tories didn’t publish their letter, which for reasons that are not clear angered Miah and his Rabble, in contrast to the LibDems who did.

There is likely to be uproar from the public gallery if that is the case. The FIP motion can be read in full here.

The appearance of a new Prime Minister, along with an entirely refreshed Cabinet, means that Priti Patel is no longer Home Secretary. She was against any further inquiry into Oldham CSE, a point made with some emphasis during an adjournment debate in Parliament on 30th June, 2022 by a Home Office Minister (as she was then), Rachel Maclean MP (watch the 30 minute debate in full here  or read a summary here).

An Item 16 on the Agenda, the very last of what doubtless will be a testing evening, the Council will receive a report headed: ‘Elected Member Steering Group on Child Sexual Exploitation: Terms of Reference’. Approval is sought for the proposed Terms of Reference which can be viewed here. The Council’s draft Action Plan, in effect its response to the CSE report, can be viewed in full here. At first blush, it is a solid-looking document and may stifle some of the criticism to the Council’s response to the crisis, so far.

But a residual criticism, and a valid and important one from the opposition benches, is that those paid officers in their employ, present or past, whom let down CSE victims and survivors so badly, should face appropriate sanction. There appears to be absolutely no appetite at all for that course of action in the civic centre.

Page last updated Wednesday 7th September, 2022 at 2055hrs

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Picture credits: Saddleworth Independent

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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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