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Oldham council meeting cut short ‘to watch Euros’

image caption, People across the country celebrated after watching England beat the Netherlands in the semi-final of the Euros

  • Author, Charlotte Hall
  • roles, Local Democracy Reporting Service

A council boss sparked outrage by calling for a vote to end a council meeting early so councilors could “watch the Euros” – with the ensuing debate lasting until just before kick-off.

Oldham Council leader Arooj Shah said while she “wasn’t a big fan of the game” herself, she thought it was “important to celebrate big national moments”.

The meeting began at 18:00 BST on Wednesday and was due to run until 21:00, while kick-off for England’s semi-final game against the Netherlands in Dortmund, Germany was 20:00.

But Liberal Democrat councilor Howard Sykes, opposed the suggestion, saying: “I think the public will be absolutely furious that Labor suggested this.”

Image source, Local Democracy Reporting Service

image caption, Oldham Lib Dem councilor Howard Sykes told the meeting he thought the public would be “absolutely furious that Labor suggested this”

“Don’t get me wrong, I would love to go home and watch England. But the fact is we only have six full council meetings a year,” he added.

Mr Sykes said people “expect us to do our job”, with most people in the borough not having “the luxury of clocking off early just because they want to”.

He said he saw no reason for councilors to behave any differently.

Ms Shah called for the meeting to end at 19:30, requesting opposition questions about portfolio updates to be conducted in writing after the meeting.

But Mr Sykes argued that because there were only six voting meetings each year, she was “cutting the limited time” her opposition had to “hold the council cabinet to account”.

His suggestion to reject the proposed early end time or add an additional 10 minutes for council opposition motions was outvoted.

Image source, Oldham Council

image caption, Councilors quickly exited the chambers at about 20:00

The meeting was prolonged by a series of registered votes, where each councilor had to announce their decision individually, put forward by Liberal Democrat councilor Sam Al-Hamdani.

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