Oldham’s Labour Group has firmly rejected efforts by Local Conservative councillors to silence youth representatives on Oldham Council. At December’s Full Council, new local conservative Councillor David Arnott slammed Oldham Youth Council’s motion on mental health provision during the pandemic as a time filling exercise and accused officers of writing it for them. Despite Conservative attacks, Oldham Labour supported the proposals which passed with a council majority.
Oldham was the first council in the country to formally adopt the Youth Council into its constitution, under then Labour Leader Jim McMahon. Our Youth Council is nationally recognised as a leading example of involving young people in democracy and having a say in their community.
Young people put themselves forward to represent their peers in the Youth Council, the Children in Care Council and Barrier Breakers, a youth voice vehicle for young people with additional needs and disabilities in Oldham, because they want to make a difference.
Unfortunately, this is the third meeting in a row that members of the Conservative Party have called into question the right of the Youth Council to have their say on behalf of young people across Oldham.
Young people across our borough deserve to have their voices heard. Thousands of young people take part in politics every day in their school and home lives and unlike local Tories, Oldham Labour believes we all have a role to play in Oldham’s future.
Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council said “I know Cllr Arnott is new to the council, but we are an inclusive borough here. I recommend he take a lesson from the Youth Council in maturely respecting others’ views. Cllr Arnott publicly attacked the Youth Council about their “lack of business items” aggressively claiming their important motion on mental health during the pandemic was a flippant time filler.”
“Does Cllr Arnott not realise that perhaps the attitude of Conservative councillors both in and out of the chamber to the Youth Council may contribute to their willingness to speak up? He also later asserted that council officials and not our Youth Champions had written the motion.”
Cllr Eddie Moores, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said “I am tremendously proud of Oldham Youth Council and the work they do at a local, regional and national level. I was appalled at the comments made by Cllr Arnott. He obviously has no understanding of how the Youth Council operates, or how they are supported. Perhaps Cllr Arnott and others who have similar ideas should observe the Youth Council in action, because they set an example that Cllr Arnott would be wise to follow. I again challenge Cllr Arnott to withdraw his remarks.”