OLDHAM: The standoff for Oldham council’s leadership

By Charlotte Hall – Local Democracy Reporter

TWO possible candidates for Oldham council’s leader have emerged after a week of ‘chaotic’ negotiations between the borough’s political groups. 

While Labour leader Arooj Shah is working to keep her position at the helm, Lib Dem leader Howard Sykes is ‘confident’ he can find the numbers to mount a leadership bid against her. The Lib Dem boss will be spear-heading a ‘rainbow alliance’ between his group, the Conservatives and the Oldham Group.

After Oldham Council went into no overall control after the elections on May 2, no one group has had an overall majority, leaving the council leadership open to a take-over.

Cll Arooj Shah remains leader until a vote takes place on May 22

Labour still has the biggest group in the council, with 27 out of the 60 councillors. And Cllr Shah automatically remains the leader until the first annual council meeting on May 22.

Cllr Shah has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that Labour will put forward a minority administration, leading the council without an overall majority.

She said: “We acknowledge we will have to work differently. It will require councillors, officers and partners to step up and be open to new ideas, a time for grown-up politics rather than party squabbles.”

The decision came after the Lib Dems rejected a deal with the Labour group yesterday (May 14).

The group and their allies could make moves at the meeting next week to dethrone the Labour cabinet.

Cllr Howard Sykes, leader of the Liberal Democrats. Image by GGC Media

Councillor Sykes claimed ‘discussions were ongoing’ with other independents and that the aim was ‘not a coalition’ but a ‘pact between people with aligned interests’.

The coalition currently appears to be formed of nine Liberal Democrats, eight Conservatives, and four independents from the Oldham Group, although it is rumoured there could be as many as ten independents involved in talks.

In a statement shared with the LDRS, Cllr Shah said of the alliance: “Like me, the people of Oldham will be curious to know what this last-minute, cobbled-together, coalition of chaos really stands for.

“No-one in Oldham voted for that. (…) No-one wants the council to waste the next 24 months bickering, posturing, and playing politics with people’s lives. We have many serious challenges to address and overcome.”

Responding to the comments, the Lib Dem boss said: “Labour have lost control, things need to change for the better for Oldham Borough. We have stated our priorities from day one.”

Whoever takes up the leadership role is likely to face a challenging two years if councillors do not collaborate, as both a minority administration and a ‘rainbow alliance’ are at risk of being outvoted during council meetings.


One Reply to “OLDHAM: The standoff for Oldham council’s leadership”

  1. Two bald men fighting over a comb ?

    It might however be interesting for someone to finally take this opportunity to take a close look at the town finances and see just exactly where all the money has actually been going ?

    That might prove far more useful and informative than holding yet another investigation in Labour’s historic failures that every one in Oldham already knows about.,

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