Oldham Liberal Democrats are backing a motion for a full public inquiry into child sexual exploitation in the borough again following what they describe as a "failure" to investigate.

Councillors from the party say a full public inquiry into historic child sex abuse in the borough is the "only solution" to Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Police's (GMP) "failure to take action".

But council leader Cllr Arooj Shah said the local authority has "taken every action in our power to respond to the shocking findings of the review" and pointed out that GMP has worked hard on the case too.

The Lib Dems says that calls for such an inquiry have been "consistently blocked" by the ruling Labour Group, the Lib Dems claim, since the publication of the 2022 review into the handling of abuse, written by Malcolm Newsam and Gary Ridgway, was released.

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The harrowing assurance review exposed failures by police and the council to protect vulnerable young people from abuse in the years 2011 to 2014, and in a specific case dating back to 2005.

But the review team found no evidence of a widespread cover-up of sexual exploitation.

In a motion paper, which is set to be tabled at a full council tomorrow night, Wednesday, the Lib Dems say that campaigners including Maggie Oliver, a former GMP detective constable, say the authors of the review were blocked from learning the truth in Oldham after it emerged survivors of child sexual exploitation in the borough were prevented from giving testimony to the review team.

It added that the authorities are yet to be held to account for their failure to protect children.

Now that the council has no overall control, Lib Dem councillors plan to support the motion calling for the inquiry in the local authority's meeting in fresh hopes of delivering some sense of justice.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Cllr Sam Al-Hamdani, said: “The review released two years ago revealed the most unimaginable crimes and the suffering of children.

"Victims and their families deserve proper justice.

"We haven’t had that from the reports we’ve seen so far which have been limited in scope.

“Two years later, despite promises and warm words from those in power at the council and in the police, no direct action has been taken against those who failed children.

"We understand that some of those people are still in post at the council, in the police and within our social services.”

He added: "The response of the council has been nowhere near good enough so far.

"Despite repeated questioning, they have failed to take action, repeatedly.

"We now have an opportunity to force the administration to do the right thing for survivors of abuse and get the full public inquiry they deserve.” 

But in response, Cllr Shah said: “In 2019 the council commissioned an independent review after allegations surfaced online claiming the council had covered up the sexual exploitation of young girls.

“The final report was very thorough, and although it concluded the council had not covered up the abuse, the details of what had happened were horrifying.

"The review’s findings showed that in the past both the council and Greater Manchester Police failed to properly protect the victims of these horrible crimes.

“We have rightly apologised for these failures and we’ve worked hard since then to make sure that they do not happen again.

“In response to the review, Greater Manchester Police immediately launched Operation Sherwood which is working to bring perpetrators to justice.

"Both the council and GMP conducted thorough reviews of the actions of anyone still employed by both organisations, appropriate action has been taken where required.

"This is an incredibly cynical attempt at fear mongering and inaccurate as Cllr Al-Hamdani well knows as it's been discussed at full council and in the cross party steering group which brings members from all groups together to oversee the council's response to CSE.

"I'm perplexed at why he's determined to undermine trust in our social workers today, who are quite literally on the front lines protecting our children and young people, by insinuating this work hasn't been done.

"We have taken every action in our power to respond to the shocking findings of the review.

"If they believe additional action should be taken they need to be clear exactly what action has been missed.

"Meanwhile the council will continue to support survivors and those affected by CSE to ensure they can access services designed to help them."

GMP have been contacted for comment.

 Got a story? Email me Olivia.bridge@newsquest.co.uk