Liberal Democrats latest to raise concerns over £1 million investment at Boundary Park

Following publication of the second of two exclusive Neil Wilby Media articles on the controversy of a £1 million investment in the playing facilities at Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park home, the Council’s Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Howard Sykes, who have shared the official Opposition function with the Conservatives during the 2022/23 municipal year was asked to comment.

A renegade group of four Tory councillors, led by Cllr Lewis Quigg, writing a poorly drafted letter to the Council’s chief executive setting out concerns over the process by which the investment had come to be made formed the core of the first article (read in full here).

The second article focused on what was, by any measure, a robust response by the Council and Labour Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton (read more here).

In response to the request for a statement from the LibDems, Cllr Chris Gloster, Deputy Leader of that Group on Oldham Council and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance said:

‘The news about the £1 million pound funding for Oldham Rugby [League] and Oldham Football has come out of the blue, with no mention of this funding despite numerous briefings from [the Council’s] finance officers on the approach to the Full Council Budget Meeting on 2nd March, 2023.

“We realise how important Oldham Rugby [League] and Oldham Football is to the town and understand the need to support both organisations as best we can. However, it is, literally, undemocratic to fund this project without consultation or reference to Full Council.

“I have asked the Director of Finance for a briefing to understand where the money has come from and what the terms of the funding are”.

Cllr Chadderton was asked for a reply to the specific concerns raised by a second Joint Opposition Party. She referred residents of the Borough to a previous statement given to Neil Wilby Media following the publication of concerns raised by the local Conservative Group (read here).

The funding of a new pitch at Boundary Park, which also enables the Latics and the Roughyeds to merge operations and for much wider community use of the facilities at the stadium, has received overwhelming public support on social media, amongst fans of the town’s two iconic professional sports teams and, emphatically, from the town’s two MPs, Debbie Abrahams and Jim McMcMahon.

The Council’s third opposition group, the Failsworth Independent Party (FIP), currently ripped apart by internal strife that has seen their Chairwoman, Kathleen Wilkinson, deposed, have steered clear of the controversy. Their three male councillors are all avid Manchester City supporters so will have little interest in what goes on at Boundary Park. One of them, it is understood, Cllr Mark Wilkinson, has recently been forced out of FIP, at the same time as his wife, over their attachment to grooming gang conspiracy theories.

Another group of political misfits and anti-Labour axe-grinders, based in Mossley, Tameside and known as The Rabble (or Raja’s Rabble), has persistently smeared the football club, its owner, Frank Rothwell, and the council with completely un-evidenced allegations of corruption and ‘back-handers’ over the investment. Their Leader, Bradford-born Raja Miah, unemployed, currently on both police and court bail (read more here) and who claims, sporadically, to be a Liverpool supporter, says (amongst a range of other remarks that cannot be published for legal reasons):

“As elections draw near, Oldham Council Leader, Amanda Chadderton, has hastily agreed to ‘grant’ Oldham Athletic £1 million pounds of public money. Imagine response if in lead up to an election the same sum was gifted to local mosques for prayer mats”.

Miah is a close friend of fellow Rabbler, Lewis Quigg (both pictured front left and centre), whom, as mentioned earlier in this piece, has led the group of renegade Tories in their own protest against the investment.

Rabble at Blue Tiffin

Page last updated Friday 31st March, 2023 at 1020hrs

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Picture credits: Oldham Athletic FC

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2023. 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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