Lib-Dems resign in school-move row

Date published: 03 January 2014

TWO Liberal Democrat members of Saddleworth Parish Council have resigned over Saddleworth School’s proposed move to Diggle.

Councillor Mike Buckley, leader of the Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG), and Councillor Lesley Schofield have both campaigned for the new £17million school to be rebuilt on its existing Uppermill site.

They claim local Lib-Dems have joined Labour and actively support the move.

Councillor Buckley, of Dobcross, said: “We have always campaigned locally with this as one of our main manifesto pledges, recognising the people of Saddleworth want to see its green countryside and villages maintained and passed on, unspoiled, to future generations.

“The planned move of Saddleworth School will destroy the character of a beautiful valley. Acres of farmland will be sacrificed for no good reason other than it’s easier to build on open countryside than on an already-developed site in Uppermill.

“An open valley will give way to a three-storey glass block, a huge new sports hall and two large playing fields created by bulldozing the natural contours of the valley. It will be surrounded by an oppressive two-metre high metal fence and extensive highway engineering of the only access road will destroy its village character. The rural setting of the canal and its popular towpath walk will be lost forever. This is too high a price to pay for convenience and expediency.

“I expected that the Lib-Dems would have challenged the decision by the council to relocate the school.

Instead, ignoring local opinion, they have closed ranks with their Labour colleagues. I do not wish to remain in a party that has closed its ears to local views and has cast aside its principles so conveniently.”

He intends to continue on Saddleworth Parish Council as an independent.

Councillor Schofield, a mother of two, who lives in Uppermill, said: “My allegiances have always been with the people of Saddleworth — I am determined to do what is in the best interests of the district.

“The Liberal Democrats have shown they are willing to ride roughshod over the views of local people.”

Saddleworth Lib-Dem councillors and parish council members Alan Roughley, Derek Heffernan and Garth Harkness said: “We are disappointed Mike has chosen to leave the Liberal Democrats. We respect his desire to preserve Saddleworth’s heritage and anticipate being able to collaborate with him on many aspects of parish council work.”