• Search

School backing angers locals

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date online: 29 January 2014

FURIOUS protesters stormed out of a parish council meeting after councillors voted to support building a new £17 million school in their village.

Tempers flared when Saddleworth Parish Council agreed to back Oldham Council’s move to build the 1,500-student Saddleworth School in Diggle. Conflict has raged since plans to move the school from Uppermill were revealed last September.

Protesters, many belonging to the Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG), argue the school should be built on its existing site in Uppermill.

In October, parish councillors voted to back residents in their campaign to oppose building a new school on the site on Huddersfield Road. But in recent weeks, Oldham Council named Diggle as the preferred site, with support from the school’s technical advisory group.

Now parish councillors have decided 10 votes to eight to support the move to Diggle.

The decision was met by shouts of “shame on you” and “disgrace” from more than 50 campaigners who attended the meeting at the civic hall, Uppermill.

Councillor Bill Cullen said: “This might not get us the school we want where we want, but it is going to get us a school — and we want that for Saddleworth.”

Independent parish councillor Mike Buckley, who quit the parish council’s Lib-Dem group over the school, now heads SDAG: “No-one has ever said a new school cannot be built in Uppermill or presented any figures or facts to prove it,” he said.


Councillor Buckley is not telling the truth. Brian Lord, the Chair of Governors at Saddleworth, wrote an open letter to the Chron detailing several reasons why the redevelopment could not take place and placed huge emphasis of the validity of the SDAG cost estimates

Rather than sitting as an Independent councillors, for which they have no mandate, why don't Cllrs Buckley and Schofield have the courage to resign from the parish council and stand in the subsequent by-election. Then we could see what public support they actually have. Public cynicism about politics isn't helped by politicians - of any colour - who get elected as one thing then sit as another.

Looks like the parish Councillors have revised their view based on the latest information , and had the courage to change their minds. SDAG are well aware that the final say is with OMBC planning committee and not with the Parish. please stop this point scoring it's the youngsters that will loose out.

well yet again it looks like its going to happen. which is bad news.

nothing has yet been clarified from the ombc.

how much is the road improvements going to cost?
how much is the council set to make from the land deal?
how much are the construction costs broken down into the specific phases?

all these questions are serious. all should be answerable at this stage judging by the lead in periods.

yet none have been answered.

how can this be approved? saddleworth childrens education is at risk

At least they know who not to vote for in the next elections ...

Please get it built, then all the fuss will die down. Councillor Buckley I doubt the vast majority of parents of 1200 Saddleworth school children share your NIMBY views.

Democracy in action.

Lie to constituents by telling them you back them and when the decision comes along....


Reminds me of the farce of Waterhead academy.

Representative democracy huh?

Would be a nice thing to have.

These councillors show that they will force in things that the public don't want to happen, and should not be trusted.
They was voted in by public votes, and should be voted out if proved that they are not doing their job.
If it was someone in a job who did something wrong, I know that you would be sacked. Its time that they listen to their voters!!!!

Its about time people realised that local opinion counts for nothing when there is a big profit to be made.It doesn't matter what the majority say its always the wealthy minority that make the decisions for you on the basis that you are too ignorant to see the big picture ( i.e lots of money to be made but nowhere near the big shots properties.).

Profit? What's profit got to do with this? Having fulfilled its obligation to find the best possible location for a new school for children Saddleworth, the Council would be derelict in its responsibility to all of us if it didn't realise the best possible return off a disposable package of land for the benefit of the communal coffers.

When OMBC act without clarity when pressed by the very people they are elected to Represent it is no wonder that Saddleworth people who feel (with justification) that they are being completely ignored may remember better times when Saddleworth was in the West Riding of Yorkshire and Saddleworth Urban District Council did In my experience a superb Job!

You vote for a person, not a party, so lay off Mike and Lesley. They are doing what they were elected to do and putting the views of their electorate before party politics. Just like Churchill, the electorate are being bullied into believing that there are no options, and take a look at the giant mess that is in now. They would have you build an mdf school on a similar flood plain. People need to stop being sheeple and open their eyes.

When Oldham became a borough in 1974, Oldham was stated as broke,and the other districts was in the black,soon as they joined as one, they set about closing things down from the outside, perhaps if this was left to Saddleworth parish, and not Oldham then it may have not got through.
But I will say again, Education does not get any better by spending the money for a new school, and that who is going to pay the bus companies more funding for the extra distance to take the kids into school

Oh dear. Cllrs Buckley and Schofield have thrown another tantrum At last a positive decision that will be good for the pupils, irrespective of what those two think. Make your minds up what you want in Diggle. If it was'nt the school, then probably there would be a few hundred houses. It's one or t.other and if it were to be houses think of all that. extra traffic. I don't think you would very popular then councillors.

JMTS Thats obviously the best location according to the non locals who decide whats best for us according to their priorities not ours and believe me profits will play a very big part in their plans.They are not building this new school for our benefit or the children's but for the benefits of the companies that will get the contracts to build it .Peoples opinions dont matter when money is involved , this has been shown time and time again .How many planners would ok a school opposite them ?

@John Price. If it's not the optimum site, it's the least worst and at the end of the day the Council has to make a decision in the best interests of the of the children of Saddleworth and the town at large. The planning process now has to mitigate its impact. If a businessman makes a profit from his use of the site he has purchased from Oldham so what? Would he buy it otherwise? Our Council lets us all down if it doesn't get the best price from the land.

Sure people dont want a huge school in their eyeline the same for people living on Broadway and Thatch Leach surely did not want to have a huge school which is lit up all day/night on an already busy stretch of road but hey ho there it was.

its still a worst site though! just the least worst.

but even after all the oppositions questions the council can not give a straight answer for any of the dozens posed to them.

they can not even get the overall costs correct.
£16 million has sneaked up to £17 million.

i wish they'd either give a proper answer or admit they just dont know!

for such a large scale development there is very little real information.

that to me is a serious risk to saddleworths childrens education prospects.

@fedupoldhamer - as you have conveniently ignored my question on other stories on this subject, can you finally answer why Brian Lord's letter in the Chron the other day pointed out lots of reasons why the current site couldn't be developed and why the costs put forward by SDAG do not add up? As you have confessed you are a technical advisor to this group maybe you need to explain why SDAG is not being transparent and open about their proposal????

What question is that. Never seen an actual question. Mr lords letter was certainly an excellent read. When he retires as a councillor he can fall back on fictional writing as he excels at that.
Items like the proposal of an site access road that was according to him impossible. Has he not heard of sheet piles and gabion baskets?
All the proposals from the technical group have been presented to the public. A lot more than what has been given from the council.
Nice try though!

Apart from the absolute mess this proposal will make of Diggle, do people not realise the knock on effect of other areas. When the parents of 1500 kids are trying to 'drive'(although OMBC tell us most kids walk to school!) their children to and from Diggle, Dobcross village will become a rat race as a shortcut.Also when the large 'prestige' housing estate is built on the current site, no doubt completely unaffordable to most Saddleworth residents,the problems will stretch well beyond Diggle

@fedupoldhamer - wonderful politicians answer. See how you ignore Mr Lord's criticism of the SDAG costings and other points such as the proposal to retain the existing sports hall even though its not fit for purpose. As for "fictional", I would take the word of the actual School Chair of Governors over the person who (conveniently) always has the solution to every problem the council faces and yet is never ever listened too......

So LB prestige housing you say will be on the current Uppermill site. What do you think will happen in Diggle if the school is not built there. Your "green and pleasant valley" (currently with a mostly redundant factory)will have a huge housing estate on it which will have far more impact 24 hours a day 365 days per year. What about the traffic problems then. ?

AmmonsCap. the housing can still go ahead. as legally housing can only be built on the old mill which is brown field.

green field is deemed only for industrial use which are the front two fields which is where the school building is going.

green belt cannot be built on which is where the sports hall, car parking and sports fields are going.

the green and pleasant valley is meant to be protected. under the school scheme all of that is set to be ruined.

so the houses can still be built!

at least there are costings from SDAG.

how mr lord come up with critism when theres nothing from ombc?

mr lord stated,

the current site is only 9 acres (turned out to be 13 acres in the end)

the EFA said it must be a new site and a minimum 13 acres in size (turns out its does not according to the EFA)

the school is 100 years old! (only a tiny proportion is 100 years old, most of it is only 30-40 years old)

but if you want to trust someone who cant get his facts right then more fool you!

@fedupoldhamer - very easy to criticise costing information without comparing to another set of figures. Good practice to evaluate everything independently as a starting point especially from someone who will know more about the site than you as the Chair of Governors. Funny how you haven't actually gone in to any details of the queries on the SDAG finances or retaining unfit buildings. Very easy to hide behind name calling someone who doesn't agree with you like Mr Lord

where is the other set of figures?

go ask your masters in the council.

tell them to make them public.

SDAG figures are in the public domain.

now its ombc's turn.

but thats the worrying thing. nothing has been published.

the council goes on about being co-operative and transparent.

yet on this subject its been nothing but the opposite.

mr lords queries on finances these have been clarified.

what needs clarification from mr lord is why a 30 year old sports hall is deemed unfit?

@fedupoldhamer - can I ask where we can see the answers to Mr Lord's queries as I don't think you have addressed them on here when questioned. Seem more preoccupied with trying to deflect everything back to the Council?

yes certainly. visit the save diggle website and councillor Buckley has responded to councillor Lords queries.

and as for reasons for slating the council.
oldham has been subjected to decades of poor, il-thought out attempts at regeneration.
always half hearted and never publically consulted.

when will the council realise that they have to listen to its people to get an idea?

otherwise its just history repeating itself!


Have Your Say

Post New Comment


To post a comment you must first Log in.  Don't have an account? Register Now!