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.
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