Manchester

Police called to Oldham Council meeting amid angry scenes

Police officers speaking to members of the public in the gallery of the council chamber Image copyright LDRS
Image caption The meeting was delayed by an hour and 22 minutes

Police were called to a council meeting after residents refused to leave the public gallery.

Officers were contacted by council staff at the Oldham Council meeting amid loud heckling from members of the public.

Tempers flared amid claims the authority had refused to satisfactorily answer questions about historic grooming allegations on Wednesday.

Officers spoke to residents but allowed them to stay and no arrests were made.

The disruption began when Debbie Cole took to the lectern after a 15-minute public question session had finished.

Residents refused to leave the public gallery until their questions were answered, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Police spoke to residents in the gallery, but allowed them to stay

Ms Cole said she wanted to know why a promised full independent investigation into whether the council and police responded appropriately to grooming claims was "now a review", commissioned and funded by the council.

The meeting was halted twice, delaying proceedings by an hour and 22 minutes as police and council officers dealt with the disruption.

Members of the public were allowed to remain in the session, where they heckled from the public benches.

Ms Cole left voluntarily before the meeting concluded.

Jackie Stanton, Oldham's former Liberal Democrat deputy leader, accused the council of "mismanagement and poor decision making" regarding the safeguarding concerns.

Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Members of the public refused to leave the chamber as they pushed for answers

She added the reputation of Oldham council had reached an "all-time low".

"It continues with the extremely serious allegations of child sexual exploitation, there are allegations appearing daily on social media relating to alleged mismanagement and poor decision making by senior officers of this council," Ms Stanton said.

She also asked whether the chief executive was "capable of restoring confidence in the council" following "allegations of inappropriate access to young people" from 2013.

Council leader Sean Fielding said the council "will always take action where appropriate", and urged people to "think twice about the things they read online".

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