Determined campaigner ‘will not rest’ until convicted councillor is removed

A CONCERNED campaigner says she “will not rest” until a convicted Saddleworth Parish Councillor is removed from office.

Cllr Mike Buckley was found guilty at crown court of downloading indecent images of naked young boys and sentenced in January 2016.

Mike Buckley (deleted 84e368d7fc656eb4da8c3105c2bf3f6a)
Cllr Mike Buckley

But Cllr Buckley insisted he would not step down from the Parish Council despite calls for his resignation from fellow councillors and the public.

Now, Holly Wood, 32, from Dobcross, has vowed to fight on until the councilor is removed.

She asked the Parish Council at their March meeting what measures are being taken to ensure convicted child sex offenders cannot stand or serve as a local or parish councillor, and whether they has asked for the details of Cllr Buckley’s sentence conditions.

In response, Parish Council clerk Pam Bailey replied a request for a change in the law has been made to the government and they are waiting a response.

She added the Parish Council tried to obtain an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate about the sentence conditions but Cllr Buckley would have to give his consent and such certificates are only issued to people who work with children or vulnerable people.

After the meeting Ms Wood said: “When I first heard of Cllr Buckley’s charges, I thought he would have done the morally correct act and resign.

“I am passionate about ensuring any child is safe from abuse and survivors of abuse have a voice.

p5 holly wood

“I have had many messages of support from people I have never met, thanking me for keeping up the pressure to ensure Cllr Buckley is removed. I will not rest until this has happened.”

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has added her voice to the push for a ban on child sex offenders serving as local or authority councillors.

She submitted two written questions in Parliament to the Department for Communities and Local Government and the response indicates the government intends to launch a consultation “as soon as practicable” this year.

Meanwhile, Cllr Alan Belmore, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Saddleworth Parish Council, condemned the council as a “shambles” after they opposed a Liberal Democrat attempt to remove Cllr Buckley.

A councilor will be removed for failing to attend six consecutive full council meetings and if their apologies are not approved by fellow councillors.

Cllr Buckley has not attended a full council meeting since his conviction and the Liberal Democrats proposed a motion to not accept his apologies, but other councillors failed to back the move.

Cllr Belmore said: “It’s an utter disgrace that Independent and Conservative councillors teamed up to back Buckley.

“Mike Buckley should resign. The Parish Council has turned into an utter sideshow with councillors backing a man convicted of despicable crimes.”

But Cllr Nicola Kirkham said: “Cllr Belmore is sending out such statements purely for political gain.

“He has seen an opportunity to cause unrest in the Parish Council by making ridiculous comments such as councillors are backing Mike Buckley by voting to accept his apologies.

“I do not condone Cllr Buckley’s actions of making indecent images of children and have previously sent out a statement to that effect.”


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