‘It is about the basics’: The new political party hoping to make their mark on the council chamber

Date published: 15 May 2024

The Workers Party will have the chance to make their presence known in Rochdale today when the full council meets for the first time since the local elections.

George Galloway’s party ousted two Labour councillors on 3 May, meaning there will be a new party in the council chamber come Wednesday evening in Number One Riverside. Councillor Minaam Ellahi and Councillor Farooq Ahmed are the newest members for Milkstone and Deeplish and the Central Rochdale wards respectively.

Although the Rochdale MP and Workers Party leader did not manage to rid the council of Labour members, as it would have been mathematically impossible, he did manage to get his foot in the door thanks to the two seats won.

Despite this dent suffered at the hands of the Workers Party, Labour are still very much in control at the town hall, with a huge majority. There are now 44 Labour seats out of 60.

When he spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service at the local elections count, Councillor Ellahi explained that the Workers Party has given younger people a greater voice, something he intends to use to speak for his younger peers and their issues he feels have gone unheard.

Councillor Ellahi said at the time: “Being so young at 25 you don’t always get taken seriously. When George Galloway came along it gave younger people a chance.”

Councillor Farooq Ahmed is not new to the council chamber, having served as the Central Rochdale councillor for Labour in a previous political life prior to joining the Workers Party. The Workers Party council group leader believes the injection of his party in the chamber will see a better representation of the public.

“I think it’s very important we have a diverse view in the council (chamber),” Councillor Ahmed explained. “We have all the mainstream parties talking about what they talk about, but we represent the public.

“We are local lads born and bred. The main parties we have, they have become complacent and are not showing enough interest in the public.

“It’s about the basics like bins and cleaning up the streets. I have already received over 200 bits of casework relating to the environment and housing.”

He went on to describe himself and his deputy, Councillor Ellahi, as individuals representing the Rochdale people, not just the Workers Party. Councillor Ahmed promised good news to come out of the Workers Party in Rochdale very soon.

However, there will be very little chance for the new Workers Party councillors to make their mark as the meeting will largely be ceremonial duties and councillor appointments to various committees and panels. The main point of business for council meetings after elections see the incoming ceremonial mayor, Councillor Shakil Ahmed and deputy mayor, Councillor Janet Emsley, sworn in.

This comes after the sitting mayor Councillor Michael Holly presided over his last meeting in April and offered his thanks to all those who helped him during his tenure. Councillor Holly will now go back to sit with his fellow Conservative councillors, without being adorned in the mayoral robes.

George Lythgoe, Local Democracy Reporter

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