Oldham Full Council meeting 2.11.22 – Live blog

This live feed will cover the key points from this evening’s session.

A preamble was published earlier today at this link.

The latest updates will appear near the top of this page. Earlier updates can be viewed by scrolling down the page.

Update: 5.35pm

The meeting opened with prayers and an item of condolence following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

Apologies of absence were received from Clls Ros Birch, Hazel Gloster, Javid Iqbal, Graham Shuttleworth.

Cllr Robert Barnes, who has been ‘missing’ for weeks, is in attendance. He is due to give a public apology over unacceptable behaviour at a council meeting earlier this year. He is sat alongside his Conservative Party colleague, Cllr Chris McManus.

Update: 6.00pm

Minutes of the meeting held on 7th September, 2022 were approved as a true record with one minor amendment at page 30.

Declarations of interest were taken which solely concerned connections to Greater Manchester Police and item 12 on the Agenda.

There was no urgent business tabled.

Update: 6.15pm

Tributes were heard from councillors following the sad passing of Cllr Jean Stretton, a long-standing Labour councillor and former Leader. Those of Cllr Steve Williams and Cllr Howard Sykes stood out.

Tributes were also heard for former Liberal Democrat councillor (and preacher), David Joynes who has also passed away recently.

A minute’s silence was observed for Jean, David and The Queen.

Update 6.20pm

Cllr Barnes made a statement regarding his unacceptable conduct towards the Mayor, Gerard Jones and fellow Members at meetings held on 27th June and 13th July. He offered a full apology to all.

No petitions have been received relating to the Council’s business.

Update 6.35pm

The Council Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton, delivered the Leader’s Annual Statement. A link to a full copy of her speech will be posted on this page tomorrow.

Update 6.55pm

Full Council heard a presentation from Oldham’s Youth Council – sublimely delivered by the YC’s two representatives Olivia Everitt and Hamza Iqbal – which majored on the Holiday Activities and Food sessions in the Borough and the impact of the cost of living crisis upon it.

It also told of the positive impact on mental health delivered by the Activities programme.

It was proposed that Oldham Council resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to the Prime Minister, senior Ministers and Shadow Ministers to ask them to lobby Parliament to extend the offer of the Holiday Activities and Food programme to all young people not just those [13,000] on free school meals to support all those impacted by the current cost of living crisis.

After a passionate speech from proposer, Labour councillor Leanne Munroe, overlaying what the YC had delivered in their speech, the motion was carried comprehensively. Liberal Democrat, Cllr Louie Hamblett, had seconded the motion.

Update 7.00pm

Public questions asked during the allotted session will be published on this page, together with the answers provided, tomorrow.

Update 7.55pm

Under Questions to the Leader and Cabinet

Cllr Graham Sheldon, for the Conservatives, raised an issue regarding street sweeping in his ward and the existence of a coal pit (or shaft) in The Spindles development. He was promised a written reply to the latter by the Council Leader.

Cllr Sykes, for the Liberal Democrats, raised the issue of inflation, cost of borrowing and development of Prince’s Gate amongst others. He drew comparison with NASA putting a man on the moon in 1960s with the time taken to put a Travelodge and a budget supermarket on the site. Cllr Chadderton explained that borrowing is not a factor as the funding to be provided is external.

Cllr Sykes also raised the issue of rising energy costs in schools. He questioned what funding could be brought forward to alleviate this crisis brought about by ‘this cruel, cruel Government’. Cllr Chadderton responded that she is in constant dialogue with schools and headteachers over this and other issues.

Cllr Hobin, for the Failsworth Independent Party, raised the issue of numbers of calls made to the Council’s cost of living helpline. Cllr Chadderton explained that her Council was working on a ‘cost of living dashboard’ to signpost where resource should be best applied.

Cllr Alyat asked for an update on the town centre regeneration. Cllr Chadderton outlined ambitious plans and the exploiting of funding opportunities. Value for money and social benefits are at the heart of all the Council’s plans.

Cllr Harrison asked if twelve years of Tory Government had created unequal opportunities and outcomes for children in the Borough.

Cllr Murphy raised issues connected with the crisis at the Oldham Royal Hospital, and particularly in Accident and Emergency facility, which he describes as ‘like a disaster movie’.  Cllr Brownridge responded on behalf of the Council and explained that the social care system is ‘chronically underfunded’ and the Government has failed at every level in the health service.

Cllr Sharp raised issues over lack of consultation over developments in her ward and particularly in Derker. Cllr Chadderton gave a scathing response and accused Cllr Sharp of either not knowing what was going on her ward or was being deliberately mischievous.

Apologies to those two councillors whose questions have been missed. That will be rectified as soon as possible, after viewing a replay of the council’s podcast of this council meeting.

Update 8.10pm

The minutes of the last Cabinet Meeting were approved as a true record.

Cllr Kenyon raised two questions (i) about the headline figure of £3 million for cost of living assistance (ii) the opening hours of ‘warm banks’ in the Borough (mainly libraries).

Cllr Chadderton in response was scathing about Liberal Democrats in general and the questions raised by Cllr Kenyon. She asserted  that the £3 million was across two municipal years, not one. Cllr Kenyon was correct in identifying that £1.2 million was budgeted in the present financial year. Opening hours of warm banks will be reviewed ward by ward now that winter is upon us.

Cllr Al-Hamdani raised issues concerned with ‘adverse variances’ in funding specialist care services. Cllr Jabbar responded that funding for children’s services were, of course, impacted by COVID pandemic and it was difficult to accurately forecast COVID legacy costs.

Update at 8.30pm

Under Administration Business there were two motions debated:

Housing policy (proposed by Cllr Kyle Phythian and seconded by Cllr Chadderton) and Cost of Living Pension Benefits (proposed by Cllr Abdul Jabbar and seconded by Cllr Brownridge).

This Council resolved, with an amendment put forward by Cllr Al Hamdani incorporated within it, to write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ask for urgent clarification of the Government’s Housing and Planning policies and seeking assurance that

  1. Section 21 evictions will be abolished in this session of Parliament
  2. Any reforms of the Planning system will ensure local democratic control of the planning process and fund Councils to provide an efficient and effective service
  3. Homes England will be directed to support all Councils to build homes for social rent
  4. Requirements on developers to provide Affordable Homes will not be further watered down
  5. Action will be taken to end land banking by developers
  6. Help will be put in place to support mortgage payers who are threatened with losing their home because of Tory mismanagement of the economy.

This Council also resolved to:

  • Ensure that the council continues its joined up approach to supporting residents during the cost-of-living crisis, working across all areas to ensure that no resident suffers hardship due to their financial situation.
  • Continue to support residents to access all the benefits they are entitled to access, through the Council’s Welfare Rights Team.
  • Commit to working alongside Age UK to identify how the council can support older people during the cost-of-living crisis, including ensuring that everyone has access to food and heating.

This Council further resolved to:

  • Instruct the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, asking them to make changes to the benefits system to ensure that eligible residents receive benefits automatically, rather than having to claim them; asking them to commit to raising all social security benefits in line with inflation.
  • Work alongside the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Ageing Hub to identify more avenues of support for older people in the borough.

Update 8.45pm

Under Opposition Business, a motion brought by Cllr Al-Hamdani headed ‘No Confidence in Andy Burnham’s Greater Manchester Police’ and seconded by Cllr Kenyon was, despite powerful speeches from both, was defeated.

An unfocused, ten point, wide-ranging, motion brought by the Conservatives’ Cllr Lewis Quigg, seconded by Cllr Dave Arnott, largely defending Central Government policies and attacking immigration and asylum seekers, was unsurprisingly defeated by the ruling Labour administration by way of an amendment that was carried.

Update 9.15pm

Under Update on Actions, Cllr Murphy raised the issue of a councillor arrested and bailed on suspicion of rape. He called for a neutral action of suspension of the subject individual. He also sought assurances that the public not at risk, all safeguarding measures taken. Cllr Chadderton explained that councillors are not employees and therefore not subject to sanction such as a suspension. As an Oldham Council staffer would be. She did however point out that safeguarding is a high concern and urged the Party to which the subject councillor belongs to deal with the matter appropriately.

The meeting closed at 9.20pm

Page last updated Wednesday 2nd November, 2022 at 2120hrs

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Picture credits: Oldham Council

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Published by Neil Wilby

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

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