Decision details

Public Question Time

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


Two public questions were received:

The first question was submitted by Sam Al-Hamdani,

In response to a question on the spending on a new pitch for Oldham Athletic, Councillor Shah stated that "in the event that clawback is required, to enable the Council to recover any of the grant deemed ineligible, the formal procedure would be for Officers to prepare a formal report for the relevant Cabinet Member(s) and then depending on the nature of the concerns / issues being raised, this could then be escalated to Cabinet. In either occurrence, the formal decision relating to the issues and enactment of clawback would be a matter of public record." She stated further – although not minuted – that this was her understanding, anyway, and that she was not aware of any circumstance – not in her leadership or her time in the cabinet – that has been done behind closed doors in the way that I was describing.

I would like to refer Councillor Shah to the decision – a term which here must be used very loosely – taken with regards to the clawback clause (7.11 Relevant Period) contained within the Grant Funding Agreement dated 19th August 2011, for the new stand at Oldham Athletic. The disposal took place in 2016, while she was in the cabinet. That clawback clause was not pursued. Having had meetings with the senior management team at the Council, I understand that no report was ever produced, and no concerns ever escalated to Cabinet. There is no formal record of any decision on this matter.

Before we even consider the merits of the decision itself, can she explain how this decision was taken with regards to a grant from Oldham Council for £700,000, a very substantial amount of money, with no report, and no formal record of the decision? How can Oldhamers be confident that there weren't other decisions taken in exactly the same way, as she was unaware of this one which took place while she was a cabinet member, and had been for several years? And how can they have confidence that this Labour Council is properly spending and taking care of its budget when decisions like this have been taken without any formal oversight?

Councillor Shah responded, ‘for the purposes of those who aren’t elected members I’ll try and explain in plain English how we write grant agreements to make sure that we actually get the benefit that is agreed for Oldham and the community as part of that grant.

In drafting grant agreements we ensure we are clear about the benefits and conditions that we expect for the grant and we then monitor those conditions or the delivery of those benefits to make sure we get value for the money we give.

I can confirm that the Council has been actively monitoring the conditions of the recent grant agreement for Oldham Athletic. This monitoring has not resulted in any circumstances being identified where it would be necessary to trigger the clawback condition. Consequently there has been no requirement for Cabinet to consider a report in respect of this matter.

In relation to the 2011 grant agreement, I assume that the Councillor is referring to a short period of time under previous club management arrangements when the North Stand was not made available for the community to use, which was a grant condition at that time.

I understand that the decision not to enact the clawback clause at that time was not formally recorded. While I’m not sighted on all the details, this matter has already been investigated by the Council’s Corporate Governance and Audit Team, and they found that it was clear that the purpose for which the grant was given has been and continues to be fulfilled.’

The next question was submitted by Garth Harkness,

Can I welcome the cabinets decision to recently make 20mph zones permanent in some of Saddleworth’s villages. This is something Liberal Democrats have been advocating some time. Can I also welcome the cabinet members response to my proposals to look at road safety and 20mph zones in Diggle.

Does he share the same concerns as me that the Conservative government are considering restrictions on councils’ ability to impose 20mph speed limits as part of a new shift against green policies and traffic schemes?

Does he agree that the 20 MPH and green initiatives here has been a success and the stance by the Conservative government is short-sighted. It is already being introduced in Wales and Scotland, and many local authorities in England have adopted it as the default. Does he believe that the Conservative government should let local councils run their own areas?

Councillor Goodwin responded, ‘The Road Danger Reduction Group (RDRG) - led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) - is currently re-assessing the speed limit policy and the implementation of lower speed limits in the light of the ever-increasing use of the highway by non-motorised users (people walking, scooting, cycling etc).

The existing 20-mph speed limits were introduced using temporary powers granted by Central Government during the Covid Pandemic. These powers expired in April 2022.

As and when funding becomes available, Oldham Council is changing the temporary measures to permanent physical restrictions and we are working with all partners to ensure that the changes and restrictions introduced are proportional and suitable for the local community. 

This work includes a Greater Manchester Police request to only introduce permanent 20-mph speed limits in conjunction with physical speed calming measures to support self-enforcement.’



Publication date: 19/09/2023

Date of decision: 18/09/2023

Decided at meeting: 18/09/2023 - Cabinet