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Arooj Shah unanimously re-elected as Labour leader

Councillor Arooj Shah has unanimously re-elected as leader of the Oldham Labour Group. 

Councillor Arooj Shah has unanimously re-elected as leader of the Oldham Labour Group. 

It means she has secured her continued role as leader of the council until May 22.

A vote was held at Labour’s annual general meeting where all 27 of the party’s councillors were called to vote. 

Coun Shah will retain her role as leader of the largest party at the town hall, though Labour is now four councillors short of a majority following the elections on May 2. 

She became Oldham council’s first female Muslim leader in 2021. After losing her seat to Amanda Chadderton in 2022, she regained her position as local Labour and Council boss in 2023. 

Following this year’s re-election, Coun Shah said: “The people of Oldham have spoken, and while we are disappointed by the outcome of the election which saw us lose our majority, we are grateful to the large number of residents across the borough who once again put their trust in Labour to deliver the changes they need.

“As the largest group on the council, with three times more elected councillors than the next rival party, we are committed to listening and engaging with local communities to address the issues which matter here in Oldham.

“We are now working to establish the stable and sustainable council administration the town needs to deliver the policies and programmes needed to tackle the housing crisis, the cost of living challenges and the impact of more than a decade of Tory austerity measures.

“I am grateful to my colleagues in the Labour Group for their ongoing support and for the opportunity to lead them and this Council to tackle these issues and other challenges ahead.

“Now is the time for serious and trusted voices across the town to come together. We can not succumb to those who wish to divide us or talk our town down. 

“Now is the time to focus on what brings us together rather than what divides us. Our desire is to serve local residents, to protect vital and improve public services and to deliver a bright future for the towns and districts which local people value.”

The Oldham Liberal Democrats have also confirmed they have re-elected their leader Councillor Howard Sykes. Other groups are in the process of arranging their annual general meetings to formally select a leader. 

Councillors will need to formally declare their groups and select a leader in order to negotiate with each other to create coalitions or alliances. These alliances could prove vital in the future of the council’s administration, as the local authority is currently in no overall control, with no party boasting a majority. 

A number of groups have ruled out collaborating with Labour, with Lib Dem leader Howard Sykes saying: “Labour have lost control of Oldham and the Liberal Democrats have already ruled out any formal coalition with them.”

He said the new political make-up of the council – 27 Labour; nine Lib Dems, eight Conservatives; and 16 independents – left the possibility of a new leadership team.

Coun Sykesadded: “It is now for the so-called independents to organise themselves and tell everyone who is in what group, if any.

“It is possible to replace this tired Labour administration with something better, but for that to work, politicians in all other groups [and none] will need to work together and start talking to each other.”

Negotiations are expected to be completed ahead of the first annual council meeting, which takes place on May 22.

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