Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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Public call on Conservatives to withdraw offensive Leaflet

by Garth Harkness on 5 May, 2021

The crass arrogance and ignorance of local Conservative candidates has caused further anger amongst the public across Oldham Borough.

Local Conservatives were told in no uncertain terms that using an outdated photo of Oldham councillors – three of whom had sadly died – on leaflets distributed in early April around Crompton and High Crompton was disgusting and likely to cause distress to family members and friends of the deceased.

Now, weeks later, the same image is appearing in leaflets being pushed through letterboxes by the three Conservative candidates in Saddleworth, the home of one of the deceased Councillors, popular former Mayor Derek Heffernan, who died in 2019.

Mick Scholes, Liberal Democrat agent in Saddleworth South Ward is demanding that the Conservative Party immediately cease the distribution of the offensive leaflet. 

To add insult to injury, the Conservatives are still to issue an apology to the initial complaint made in April. 

“We have had lots of complaints from the public about this and members of Derek’s family are very upset about the matter,” stated Mick Scholes.

Copy of original Media release about this matter from Chris Gloster (Deputy LD Leader)

Oldham and Saddleworth Conservatives use hurtful image of deceased councillors in calling for cut in numbers they cannot deliver

Local Conservatives may talk of their respect and admiration for the late HRH Prince Phillip, but they have been hurtful and shown only disrespect in using an out-of-date image of Oldham councillors, which shows several elected members who are now sadly deceased.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader councillor Chris Gloster was disgusted when he saw on a Conservative election leaflet photographs of three councillors who have died.

Commenting, councillor Gloster said:  “The leaflet is in very poor taste.  Clearly local Conservatives do not care about hurting the feelings of relatives, friends and party colleagues of the deceased in using this out-of-date image.  Two of the three councillors, Susan Dearden and Brian Ames, sadly died in February and March 2018 and the third, my dear friend, former Mayor of Oldham councillor Derek Heffernan, in December 2019.  Getting an up-to-date image of the current 60 councillors would have been so easy but local Conservatives obviously could not be bothered.”

What makes the use of the image worse is that the Conservative election ‘promise’ not only represents breath-taking hypocrisy on their part, but it cannot be kept. 

“At every Annual Budget meeting of the Council from 2012 until 2020, the Liberal Democrats proposed a cut of Councillor numbers from 60 to 40 to save money.  The Conservative Group never did.  The reason we did not do so again in 2021 is that Councillor numbers in the Oldham Borough has been reviewed by the Electoral Commission in 2020 and fixed at 60”, added councillor Gloster. 

“When the Commission called for comments on councillor numbers late last year, the Oldham Liberal Democrat Group wrote back calling for a comprehensive cut in Councillor numbers to two from three per electoral ward.  The Council took a vote at its meeting on 4 November 2020 to propose to the Commission that councillor numbers remain at 60, the Conservative councillors present voted with Labour, the Liberal Democrats did not.  Against our wishes, the Commission stuck at 60, and now whatever the Tories might say it is now too late to do anything about it.”

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