COUNCILLOR Arooj Shah will succeed Sean Fielding as the new leader of Oldham’s Labour Group and leader of Oldham Council.
She becomes the first Muslim woman in the North of England to hold the role of council leader.
Her position will be officially confirmed at the Council’s annual general meeting on May 19. She has been deputy since 2018.
Cllr Shah, who represents Chadderton South, has lived all her life in Glodwick after her parents moved to the UK from Pakistan to work in the local textile industry in 1968.
Becoming a councillor for the first time in 2012, she was named ‘Young Councillor of the Year’ in 2013, alongside fellow Oldham councillors Amanda Chadderton and Sean Fielding, by the Local Government Information Unit.
Oldham was the first place to create a dedicated ‘covid recovery’ cabinet role, which Cllr Shah holds.
She said: “I am truly honoured to have been chosen to lead Oldham Council at a time of such importance for our borough.
“My priorities are simple: Oldham should be a place that we’re proud to call home, where we support one another, and where everyone can get on and live a good life.
“That starts with cleaner streets. My first action will be to spend more money on our street cleaning team and take stronger action against those who blight our streets with fly tipping and litter.
“Residents across Oldham should see the Council has the same pride in the town that local people feel, and that we’ll go hard after anyone who doesn’t show that same respect.
“We need a clear plan for how Oldham will recover from the pandemic in a way that supports all of our residents.
“Covid hasn’t affected all places equally, and Oldham has particularly suffered because of our high levels of deprivation.
“So, I’ll be bringing forward a Covid Recovery Strategy and a strategy for Equalities.
“Oldham residents need to know that, whether you’re a young person worrying about your future, someone struggling to find work or get by on low pay, or an older person who is lonely or unwell, we’re on your side and the Council is here to help.
“My commitment is to lead a Council that is really listening to the concerns of local people, and that helps businesses across the borough to flourish.
“We’ll make sure the reopening of our town centres is a time of celebration and develop networks of businesses in all our town and district centres so that they have the support they need to create great jobs and rebuild Oldham’s reputation as a place of pioneering industry.”