Over the past two years or so, I have written hundreds of thousands of words on this Neil Wilby Media website about a famous old East Lancashire mill town and its political trials and tribulations, writes Neil Wilby.
It’s a journey I never wanted to make in the first place and one from which an exit is already planned (read more here).
Most of the articles here are written in the third person, but this present one is another of the few exceptions to that particular rule. The reason being is that the knowledge I have garnered, the unrivalled network of contacts I’ve developed, and my similar fact experience with the main players in this troubling piece, make writing it in the first person highly expedient.
At the heart of too much of what is written is an unemployed, Tameside-based conspiracy theorist, Raja Miah, and the group of largely deluded cranks, misfits and axe-grinders whom, appositely, self-style as ‘The Rabble’ (or Raja’s Rabble) and follow him, cult style.
Once again, at a Full Council meeting in Oldham Metropolitan Borough’s Civic Centre on Wednesday 2nd November, 2022, The Rabble set out to cause disruption and headlines – and did both.
Shortly after the meeting got under way, at the unusual time of 5.30pm to accommodate condolence speeches for a recently passed serving councillor, Jean Stretton; a well known former councillor, David Joynes, and the late Queen (read more here), Greater Manchester Police were called to deal with an incident involving a number of known trouble causers who had tried to force entry into the meeting.
Reports circulated on social media yesterday alleging that an 85 year old man and a woman had been assaulted by Civic Centre security staff. The latter sustaining injuries to her wrist that required hospital treatment.
The man, Warren Bates, a Failsworth resident who is proud of his tag as the Borough’s biggest and most persistent public nuisance (read more here) claimed he was pushed over a table as he, apparently, ‘led a rush’ towards a door leading to access to the civic chamber. By his own account, after he had been escorted from the Civic Centre he ‘fought his way back in a second time’.
The female, Julie Heywood (pictured above centre), from Royton, a well known and thoroughly obnoxious social media crank, who idolises Raja Miah (pictured above left) and sends him substantial amounts of both her own and her father’s State benefits (at least £600 via the BuyMeACoffee platform), was also, it is said, part of the same ‘rush’ and her wrist became trapped in an automatic door.
One individual present at the scene described her behaviour as ‘feral’.
Security staff were verbally abused and jostled over a lengthy period by the group that included Bates and Ms Heywood. She was also overheard providing a running commentary to Miah, by telephone, and taking tactical instructions from him.
Both have plenty of ‘previous’ for controversy, harassment, intimidation and, more crucially, false allegations.
Not just via their disgusting comments on social media, mostly protected by a ‘block’ so that the person(s) abused by them cannot read the smears and falsehoods being spread about their targets. Very often aimed at critics of ‘The Malicious Beggar’ as Miah is now widely known. She has accused me, amongst many other of her lies, of being a convicted criminal and a cocaine user.
Both regularly turn up at venues such as the civic centre and magistrates’ courts, exhorted on at least one occasion by Miah to ’cause chaos’. At Tameside Magistrates’ Court in February this year, Ms Heywood was part of a group that harassed and intimidated a witness who will give evidence against Miah in harassment proceedings brought against him – and for which he will face trial early next year. Ms Heywood also took pictures of the witness, her car and its registration number, within the court’s precincts.
In August, 2022 she was involved in an incident in Manchester Magistrates’ Court that involved myself. She tried to force her way into the area at the back of Court 12 reserved for the press. In doing so, she at first pushed against me and then jumped on top of me. In removing her from my person she claimed to a police officer at the court that I had assaulted her (later reduced to I had pushed her). The constable, after hearing independent evidence from the court usher who was present, together with my own account, found that allegation baseless and vexatious and, understandably, took no further action.
Both Bates and Ms Heywood have been involved previously in harassing other journalists outside and inside public buildings, echoing the repeated, tedious and entirely false claim of Miah that their output concerning him is biased and/or untruthful.
A Council spokesman provided me with this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Oldham Council welcomes open and honest debate, which is why Full Council is open to the public and we also ask people to submit questions on matters that are important to them
“We understand that people want to express their views through peaceful protests – this is the right of everyone. However, anti-social behaviour cannot be allowed to disrupt the proceedings, which was the case on Wednesday night.
“A number of people who have been banned from attending meetings due to their disruptive, and at times violent behaviour, tried to force entry into the council chamber.
“We are currently looking into the incident in line with our complaints procedures.”
Warren Bates is certainly one of twelve people issued with Anti Social Behaviour Injunction warning letters following council meetings in Oldham in June and July this year. As was Raja Miah. It appears that Ms Heywood may also have been in that group as there is a claim that ‘she received one and sent it back’ on social media.
The GMP press office has also issued a short statement:
“At around 5.50pm on Wednesday (November 2) we were called to a report of a woman being injured outside the Oldham Civic Centre on West Street.
“An investigation is underway, and enquiries are ongoing.
“No arrests have been made”.
Two political parties, predictably given their composition of councillors and support of Raja Miah, sought to make capital of the incident.
Failsworth Independent Group leader, Cllr Brian Hobin, said: “There are security screens around the public gallery now so there is no justification for keeping ordinary members of the public out. We are elected to serve the public and they should be allowed to attend all meetings. I expect a full investigation by the chief executive and appropriate action taken.”
What Cllr Hobin doesn’t say is that his own Party Chairwoman, Kathleen Wilkinson, plus a number of his key friends and supporters, including notorious criminals Garry Dunkerley and Stephen Walsh, are in receipt of ASBIs (Cllr Hobin also has a spent criminal conviction).
His own behaviour in the chamber is also routinely inflammatory and disgraceful. He continues to forcefully assert that the Oldham Labour Party covered up child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the town over decades, without producing a scrap of evidence that supports this concerning proposition. Indeed, all the evidence in the public domain runs against him (read more here).
The local Conservative Party, also avid supporters of the Labour CSE ‘cover-up’ conspiracy theory, issued this statement yesterday:
“Oldham Conservatives have contacted the Council Leader following videos showing that members of the public had been blocked and denied entry by security staff as they attempted to attend the full council meeting at the Civic Centre on Wednesday evening.
Following the meeting last night, posts and videos were circulating on social media that show security staff physically blocking members of the public, including that an elderly man of 85 who had been pushed to the floor, and that a lady who had been taken to hospital with a suspected broken hand.
Cllr Bethany Sharp, who represents the St James ward added, “These are shocking scenes, and something that I never thought that I would see in a council building in Oldham”
“I have written directly to the Leader of the Council, Amanda Chadderton, requesting a full public statement regarding the events of last night, and a categoric assurance that this matter will be fully and urgently investigated. The public will be quite rightly, extremely concerned to hear of this, and will expect the appropriate action to be taken, and taken quickly”.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published, Warren Bates stated in a comment on the Recusant Nine Facebook page, operated by Raja Miah, that he will attempt to gain entry to the next scheduled Full Council meeting in Oldham on 14th December, 2022.
A threat he has repeated several times since.
A number of serving and former Oldham councillors have contacted Neil Wilby to express their dismay at this development.
The Council’s press office has been asked what additional security measures will be in place to prevent a repeat showdown.
Page last updated Friday 9th December, 2022 at 1310hrs
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