Campaigners still unhappy over chosen school site
Reporter: KEN BENNETT
Date online: 05 November 2013
A campaigning councillor is seeking an urgent meeting with a Government agency over issues surrounding the proposed site of the new £15 million Saddeworth School.
The Save Diggle Action Group, led by Councillor Mike Buckley, is opposed to the school being built on land in the village.
Last week Saddleworth Parish Council agreed to support residents to approach the Education Funding Agency to have the new school built on the school’s existing site in Uppermill.
Councillor Buckley has now written to the council highlighting concerns.
He states that after speaking to the EFA, it has no objection in principle to using the existing site.
Councillor Buckley said: “The EFA is surprised it is being made out to be the key decision maker behind the unpopular move to the Diggle green belt site.
“We have informed the EFA of local concerns and growing opposition from thousands of people to the proposals to build on the green belt in Diggle. We are urgently asking for a fuller examination of the obstacles involved in rebuilding the school on the existing site before any further action is taken.”
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, cabinet member for education, employment and skills, said Oldham Council had met EFA to discuss progress on the project.
She said Councillor Buckley’s assertions are correct - but not in the case of Saddleworth, due to it.,s layout, size and the cost.
“Building on the existing site would require us to transport pupils to other sites for two years — potentially far away — and we would need to make changes to highways and utilities. Building a new school on the site with the finances available is not considered the most cost-effective solution.”
Councillor Chadderton said the council will issue more information to consult Diggle residents soon.
“Clearly there are issues, such as highways concerns, with the proposed site and we want to work actively with the local community to find the best solution. It’s also important to note the site is designated for industrial use. Green Belt land would only be used for sports facilities, which does not alter its current status.”
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