A DELEGATION fighting to remove a convicted Saddleworth Parish Councillor from office had a “productive and encouraging” meeting with a top government minister.
Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, secured the meeting with the justice minister, Marcus Jones, to highlight Cllr Mike Buckley’s refusal to step down.
Cllr Buckley was found guilty in January of downloading indecent images of naked young boys but has so far rebuffed calls for his resignation.
Mrs Abrahams was joined by OMBC and Saddleworth Independent Parish Councillor Nicola Kirkham, independent Parish Cllr Robert Knotts, Parish Council chairman Neil Allsopp and campaigner Holly Wood.
Ms Abrahams said: “The fact a convicted child sex offender can continue to serve in a position of authority on a local council is an issue of great concern to the majority of people, not just in Saddleworth but across the whole country.
“Government had already indicated, in response to my questions, they are considering a consultation about bringing legislative rules into line with modern sentencing guidelines.
“The minister reiterated that intention saying the consultation process will start in the summer.
“That’s why I organised this meeting to keep the pressure up on Government to make sure they follow through on these promises to take action.
“I am pleased that the Minister’s response was productive and encouraging,” she added.
“I shall be keeping a close eye on the Government’s progress on this issue over the summer months.”
Cllrs Kirkham and Knotts said: “We discussed all the issues associated with Mike Buckley, and his refusal to resign.
“The Minister fully recognising the problems we face as a community. He explored and discussed various options, that can be applied.”
Airline executive Holly Wood said: “I was pleased to hear the Minister was as shocked as myself that Cllr Buckley hasn’t just resigned, morally.
“This issue with Cllr Buckley has been discussed in the government and the shadow cabinet, and all are in agreement the loophole needs to be changed and it will be looked into as a consultation.
“Nobody can understand the logic behind Cllr Buckley’s reasons for refusing to resign. He can’t complete his role as a councillor: who would go to him for advice?
“I am very positive about the future and will continue to ensure that the voices of Saddleworth are heard. We do not want this man to represent us.”
Cllr Allsopp added: “After the meeting, the Government and House of Commons could now become involved. The stakes have been raised. This is not over – not by a long chalk.”