No confidence’ vote for council sparks fiery response from leadership

No confidence’ vote for council sparks fiery response from leadership

A “no confidence” motion put forward by an Oldham opposition group has sparked a backlash from council bosses. Council leader Arooj Shah accused the Conservative councillors pushing a call for the government to intervene in her leadership of “harassment” and “gutter politics”.

The motion, due to be raised at the full council meeting tomorrow (March 13) was put forward by Royton North councillor Lewis Quigg and seconded by Conservative group leader Graham Sheldon. It accused the current cabinet of “failing to get the basics right” and called for an audit of the council’s governance and finances by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Coun Shah responded: “I’m disappointed, but not surprised, to see this motion brought to Council by the Conservative group.

“This is the latest in a campaign of personal harassment I’ve experienced from this particular Member, and frankly our Council – and Oldhamers – deserve much better than this lowest of gutter politics.”

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Shah also said she was disappointed the Conservative group leader had supported the motion “just two years after putting his name to the Politics Not Personalities pledge, where leaders of all groups on the Council promised to treat each other with civility and respect”.

She added: “I am no stranger to fair challenge, and expect healthy, robust, debate in the Chamber. That’s what we all went into politics for. But personal, abusive and discriminatory attacks such as this have no place in a co-operative, tolerant and respectful Council.”

The comments came in response to a motion proposal that included references about her political history and singled her out for criticism.

But Coun Quigg, who has frequently butted heads with the leader in the past, said: “The tone of the comments made by the Leader of the Council demonstrate perfectly why she is unfit to lead Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council. The hard-working silent majority in this Borough deserve better than this!”

The motion listed grievances ranging from what they called the “conflicting messages” about the council’s financial position, to the purchasing of Spindles and regeneration projects in the town centre. They claimed the council was “driven by the next press release or online video” and paraphrasing Hamlet, that “something is rotten in Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council”.

It read: “If Oldham is to have any chance of rebuilding residents trust, incentivising people to stay or move into the area with their families, then there needs to be massive change at OMBC. The Council needs to offer hope for the future. Sadly, this administration under the Leadership of Arooj Shah is not capable of delivering this.”

Much of the wording of the motion reads very similar to another motion submitted by Coun Quigg at a council meeting in March last year, which similarly called for the intervention of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State.

When asked about this year’s proposal, the Conservative spokesperson and Royton North Councillor Dave Arnott said: “No party group takes the decision to propose a motion of no confidence in the current administration lightly, and the Oldham and Saddleworth Conservatives have only done so after much deliberation and in the belief that this is the right thing to do.

“The Conservatives believe that following years of declining trust in the administration from residents and even its own employees, the radical measure of government intervention is appropriate to help restore confidence in the council.”

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