February 2018
« Jan    

Contact Us

If you've got a story or event for the website, e-mail Stuart Coleman at: editor@diggle-news.com or use the contact page above.

A Load of Poo

Local residents and dog walkers, Gill and Les Pearce, are appalled at how irresponsible some dog walkers are when it comes to picking up poo.

Whilst recently walking their dog along the canal towpath in Diggle, between the tunnel end and the first canal lock by the children’s play area, they collected fifty-two discarded poo bags. Mr Pearce said, “With waste bins at either end of this section of towpath, it’s  difficult to understand why some dog owners would choose to do this. It’s not only irresponsible,  it’s a danger to health. The carrier bag we put the poo bags in weighed as much as a heavy bag of shopping!”

Please, if you’re a dog walker, pick it up, bag it and bin it!

EA Object to new Saddleworth School Planning Application


Flooding downstream in Uppermill 2016 (Photo: ©StuartColeman)

The Environment Agency has recently recommended the revised planning application for a new Saddleworth school in Diggle be refused.

The Environment Agency (EA), in a recent statement, have informed Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council Planning that they will be objecting to the revised planning application for a new Saddleworth School in Diggle. They state that, “in the absence of an acceptable Flood Risk Assessment they will object to the grant of planning permission and recommend refusal.”

The EA felt the revised flood risk assessment did not comply with the requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework stating that, ” the submitted FRA fails to:

1.Take the impacts of climate change into account in setting finished floor levels, new climate change allowances have been published on 19th February 2016, see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/flood-risk-assessments-climate-change-allowances for full details. The Environment Agency does not have updated flood levels with the revised climate change allowances. Finished floor level should be set at least 600mm above the 1%AEP 35%cc level, or 1%AEP 70%cc, whichever is greater.

2. Provide compensatory flood storage for the proposed ground raising, gabion walls and finished floor level. The development must not increase flood risk elsewhere. Floodplain compensation works should be based on the 1%AEP 35%cc levels as a minimum to ensure risk is not increased elsewhere as the impacts of climate change occur. As per your comment in section 4.13 of the FRA, we would recommend the use of the Oldham SFRA 1D/2D model to calculate floodplain compensatory storage, which must be provided level by level. A drawing should be provided detailing the design and location of proposed compensatory flood volumes.

3. Take into account the impact of climate change on the proposed replacement bridge. We note your comment in section 3.1.2 regarding replacement bridge. The soffit level (not the deck level) should be set at least 600mm above the 1%AEP 35%cc level, or 1%AEP 70%cc, whichever is greater.

4. Identify whether there is a loss of floodplain volume as a result of the proposed replacement bridge. Any loss of floodplain volume must be compensated for.”

WYG who submitted the FRA has been told they can overcome the objections raised if they are able to resubmit an FRA that, “covers the deficiencies highlighted [in the EA’s statement] and demonstrates that the development will not increase risk elsewhere and where possible reduce flood risk overall. If this cannot be achieved [the EA] are likely to maintain their objection to the application.

Cllr. Keith Lucas spokesperson for the Save Diggle Action Group said, ‘While I understand the frustration of parents and pupils in getting a new school for Saddleworth, what has never been acknowledged from a section of the community is the impact building the school in Diggle will have environmentally and infra-structurally on the quality of life for Diggle and its surrounding habitat and villages.

The unresolved issues, to do with increased flood risk, on which the EA have objected, have been brought to the council’s attention again and again by objectors but persistently ignored. Even after the Judicial Review hearing, where the same issue was aired and acknowledged as a flaw – nothing was done to address it. The Council and ESFA appear to be burying their heads in the sand about the issues at Diggle instead of facing them and reviewing the rationale behind this site choice.’

Diggle News contacted Oldham Council for more information but they were unavailable for comment.



Chip shop owner attacked and robbed in Diggle. Can you help?

A personal Robbery incident took place on Huddersfield Road, Diggle at its junction with Ward Lane at 7:40 pm on the evening of Thursday 1st February 2018.

Here the female proprietor of  Diggle chip shop had left for the night carrying a black rucksack. As she crossed the bottom of Ward Lane opposite her premises she was grabbed from behind by a male who was described as wearing a dark coloured hoodie. He had his hood up and his face was covered. A short struggle ensued with the offending male attempting to prise the rucksack from the grip of the owner who valiantly fought back. She was punched in the face in the struggle and fell to the floor.

Still hanging onto the bag the woman was dragged along the ground sustaining injuries to her hands. Eventually, she had to let the bag go and the offender and a male accomplice wearing a light grey /silver hoodie ran off up Spurn Lane and away from view.

This was a particularly nasty unprovoked attack on a member of our local community and Greater Manchester Police ask that if you have any information regarding this incident to please get in touch with them on 101 quoting Police log 1812 01/02/18

Officers have been conducting enquiries at the scene and there are a number of leads they are following encompassing both eyewitness and CCTV evidence.

Police are appealing for the public’s help. Did you see anything around this time? Information suggests that these offenders had been in the area on previous evenings, did you see them?

Any information should be passed to Police on 101 quoting log number 1812

Peak District walks among Britain’s best-loved routes

The Peak District’s iconic Mam Tor has been named as one of the country’s favourite places to explore.

It was voted number 10 in Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks, screened last night on ITV.

Five other routes were also highlighted, with Kinder Scout at number 21, Dovedale to Milldale (26), Stanage Edge (35), The Roaches (53) and the Nine Ladies stone circle (96).

Peak District National Park chief executive Sarah Fowler said:  “We’re thrilled that Britain’s original National Park had such a strong showing in this popular countdown, including a place in the top ten with the stunning Mam Tor.

“It was also great to see Kinder Scout feature strongly as this was the scene of the Mass Trespass in 1932, which earned people the right to roam the moors and ultimately led to the creation of our National Parks.

“The inclusion of the rugged and breathtaking Stanage Edge and the secluded valley of Dovedale within the top 50 really showcased the variety of landscape and walking opportunities the Peak District has to offer.

“The programme also highlighted how vital it is that we continue to look after these most sought after routes, and it was particularly fitting that Mam Tor made it into the top ten. The Great Ridge walk – between Mam Tor and Lose Hill – is one of the routes featured in this year’s Mend our Mountains campaign led by the British Mountaineering Council.”

Police crackdown on driving offences in Saddleworth

Last week, the Saddleworth Neighbourhood Policing Team, in conjunction with the Specialist Operations Department of Greater Manchester Police and various partner agencies, conducted a two-day traffic enforcement operation across the Saddleworth area, in response to community concerns.

This close liaison resulted in a very successful operation, leading to fixed penalty tickets being issued and vehicles seized for a variety of offences, including the use of mobile phones whilst driving, no insurance, no seatbelts, no MOT or tax, fuel duty evasion and number plate offences. Additionally, nearly £3000 was collected in unpaid fines where warrants were issued.

Bash Anwar, the Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Saddleworth said “ I would like to thank Sergeant Neil Barker from Saddleworth Police and PC Jonathan Griffiths from Specialist Operations for their work in organising this complex operation, bringing together numerous external partners to address the concerns of our Saddleworth residents. A number of student police officers also worked over both days, gaining invaluable experience of dealing with members of the public for traffic matters and taking offending vehicles off the road, thus making the area safer for those drivers who abide by the law. There are plans to continue such operations in the future, sending a clear message out that we will not tolerate those who flout the rules. I would also like to thank members of the public for their patience over the two days.”

New Bus Service for Saddleworth

From Monday 9th April 2018 a new bus service will operate in Saddleworth connecting the villages of Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross, Diggle and Uppermill.

During peak times the new service will connect with Greenfield Station and, during the day, Uppermill.

The timetable will be synced with the trains at peak times and with the 350 bus for the rest of the day. To help passengers the timing of the bus will be at the same time past the hour at each stop. It will run from 0700 to 23.00 during Monday – Thursday.  A later finishing time 07.00 to 00.00 Friday and Saturday is timed to pick people up at Greenfield Station when the last train from Manchester arrives.  Campaigner Royce Franklyn said, “It will allow people to stay out later and get public transport home. This will be a large improvement and will hopefully provide a real public transport boost to the local economy.”

A timetable will be published nearer to the time of the service launch and will take into account the new train timetables from May 2018.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will be continuing the Local Link service ensuring that people in villages who cannot access the new bus service will still have access to this existing service.

Diggle is currently facing a problem accessing the new service as there is, to-date, nowhere for a bus to turn safely without having to reverse. The old turning circle at Diggle is not an option as repairing the damaged road is deemed to be too costly. Ideas are being explored but so far a solution has not been identified.

Saddleworth Parish Council increases its precept for 2018

At the Saddleworth Parish Council meeting held on 22nd January 2018 councillors agreed a 2% increase in the precept for 2018/19. This, for eaxample, equates to an increase of 36p/year for a Band D property bringing the total precept to £20.76 for the year (40p a week).

Although the Parish Council has made significant budget cuts and increased its income targets for 2018/19 it has been unable to totally offset the further reduction in funding of £10,000 by Oldham Council, who are continuing to implement their decision, made last year, to withdraw the Council Tax Support Grant from the Parish Council. The council says that, “If we are to maintain our current level of service the shortfall of £3,500 has to be met by increasing the precept.”

The total reduction in Council Tax Support Grant in 2017/18 and 2018/19 is £16,000, or 40.52% over the two years. With a further £10,000 reduction expected in 2019/20. The Parish Council will continue to press for the decision to further reduce the Council Tax Support Grant to be reversed as this funding is vital to allow for the provision of services such as footpath clearances, litter picking, etc. Services previously provided by Oldham Council but withdrawn as part of their own budget savings.

Despite the reductions in funding Saddleworth Parish Council says it is determined to continue delivering high quality, value for money services to the people of Saddleworth, protecting our environment, villages, businesses and heritage.


Cliff Richard with the Barry Sisters at the Empire Theatre, Town Centre, Oldham, 1959

An “outstanding” historic trove of documents, newspaper clippings and images has been saved and will be accessible for public use at the new Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre.

The fate of the former archives of the Oldham Evening Chronicle newspaper was uncertain after the daily newspaper printed its last-ever edition in August 2017. The ‘Chron’ had been publishing as a weekday daily since 1854 and was one of the last local independent newspapers left in England. An independent assessment of its archives found that the photographic and documentary archive at the Union Street office was “outstanding and absolutely vital for telling the story of the borough of Oldham”.

Oldham Council has since worked closely with the joint administrators of the newspaper to ensure the collection is saved. The archives have now been transferred to public ownership and are set to take pride of place in the new Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre. The facility – which sees the welcome restoration of the Grade II former library building on Union Street for a new use – will showcase the story of Oldham’s past from its time as the cotton spinning capital of the world to the present day. This move ensures the Chronicle archives will be accessible to the public alongside the borough’s extensive collection of objects, works of art, heritage and archive information.

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, said: “This is brilliant news – it would have been a tragedy for this important collection to have been lost to future generations. So many Oldham residents appeared in the Chronicle’s pages or depended upon it for information and the new Heritage and Arts Centre will be the perfect home for this unique collection. I’m thrilled we’ve been able to get this deal done and would like to thank KPMG for their support in transferring this archive to our stewardship.”

Winston Churchill (former Oldham MP) electioneering in Oldham in 1945

Paul Flint and Jonathan Marston of KPMG were appointed joint administrators of Hirst, Kidd & Rennie on August 31 2017, and shared the view the archives should be placed in public ownership.

Paul Flint said: “We are delighted to have been able to preserve this historic collection which provides such an important and fascinating record of OIdham’s recent past. Ensuring that the archives will be available for generations to come was an important consideration during the administration process, and we are grateful for the support of Oldham Council in facilitating their transfer to their new home.”

The Chronicle archive is 25.35 cubic metres in size and consists of the firm’s own business records, news cuttings covering key people, events, places, communities, crime and sport (in hard copy and microfilm) plus photographs and negatives or glass slides dating back to the 1930s.

The collection has been boxed and bar-coded before being moved to temporary storage. It will remain in this safe environment until the new collections store – being developed as part of the Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre – is ready to open in late 2019/early 2020 when it will be made available for public use.

Oldham Council is looking to progress a grant funding application to assist with funding the work needed to catalogue and digitise this collection.

Dry-stone Walling Courses in Saddleworth

Dry-stone Walling Association (DSWA) Keeping dry-stone walling alive in Saddleworth

For a gift that will last for years why not treat someone to a 2 day dry-stone walling course for only £75

DSWA have been running courses for over 20 years and provide instruction for both individuals and local authorities.

Dry-stone walling instructor, Chris Bolshaw says, “We are proud of our courses and we hope trainees learn a lot from them.”

  • Instruction is by qualified and experienced DSWA instructors
  • Lots of help from experienced branch members
  • Lovely sites to work at that have been specially prepared for trainees
  • Insurance with NFU Mutual
  • Provision of gloves and all tools and equipment
  • A simple clean toilet on site
  • Relevant written material to take away and read at leisure
  • Course content which has been carefully thought out
  • A friendly, relaxed working atmosphere with time to discuss issues and have a joke
  • A tangible result in the shape of a real wall which will stand for many years to come
  • Progression if trainees want to do more

Courses in 2018 run by DSWA Lancashire Branch
17/18 March – Dobcross
21/22 April – Dobcross
18/19 August – Gorse Hall, Stalybridge
20/21 October – Dobcross

To order gift vouchers please call Paul Clayton on 07733 103 500 or email lancashire.dswa@btinternet.com

Further information is available on our website:- www.lancashirebranchdswa.org.uk

DSWA Lancashire Branch is a registered charity and our proceeds are distributed locally throughout Saddleworth to preserve and enhance the dry stone walls that so many take for granted.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018

Robin (Photo: Neil Kennedy)

Count the wildlife that’s counting on you in Greater Manchester

Thousands of people across Greater Manchester are expected to watch and count their garden birds for the upcoming RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018.

The world’s largest garden wildlife survey, now in its 39th year, takes place on 27, 28 and 29 January 2018. The public are asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their garden or local green space, then send their results to the RSPB.

Close to half-a-million people joined in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey in 2017, including over 12,200 in Greater Manchester, counting more than eight million birds and providing valuable information about the wildlife using our gardens in winter. The house sparrow remained top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings in the county, with blackbird and starling rounding off the top three.

To help prepare for Big Garden Birdwatch 2018, there are events on offer around Greater Manchester this January – from discovering how to attract more wildlife into your garden to gaining tips on how to identify the creatures that live on your doorstep.

On Saturday 27 January, RSPB staff will be on hand at Clifton Country Park in Salford and Heaton Park in Manchester with tips on taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch and advice on attracting garden wildlife. Drop-in 10am-3pm.

At Fletcher Moss in Didsbury, visitors can take part in a Big Garden Birdwatch as well as making bird feeders and other nature-themed activities, so the RSPB are encouraging families to come along and get involved. Drop-in 10am-3pm on Saturday 27 January.

On Sunday 28 January, meet RSPB staff at Chorlton Water Park in Chorlton to join in with a Big Garden Birdwatch, bird feeder making and other nature-themed activities. Drop-in 10am-3pm.

 Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist said: “The birds we see in our garden are often the first experience we have with nature – whether it’s a flock of starlings at the feeder, a robin perched on the fence or some house sparrows splashing in the bird bath. But it may come as a surprise to know that some of our most-loved species are in desperate need of our help as their numbers have dropped dramatically.

Species such as starlings and greenfinches have seen their numbers visiting gardens decline by 79 and 59 per cent retrospectively since the first Birdwatch in 1979.

Daniel added:  “The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great opportunity to get involved with helping our garden wildlife. By counting the birds that visit your outdoor space, you’ll be joining a team of over half-a-million people across the UK who are making a difference for nature. It only takes an hour so grab a cuppa, sit back and see who makes a flying visit to your garden.”

As well as counting birds, the RSPB is once again asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they have seen throughout the year. This year, people are being asked to look out for badger, fox, grey squirrel, red squirrel, muntjac deer, roe deer, frog and toad.

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2018, participants should watch the birds in the garden or local park for one hour at some point over the three days. Only the birds that land in the garden or local park should be counted, not those flying over. The highest number of each type of bird seen at any one time then needs to be sent to the RSPB.

The parallel event, Big Schools’ Birdwatch takes place during the first half of spring term next year, 2 January-23 February 2018. Further information can be found at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch

For a free Big Garden Birdwatch pack, which includes a bird identification chart, plus RSPB shop voucher and advice to help attract garden wildlife, text BIRD to 70030 or visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

  1. This table shows the top 10 birds seen in Greater Manchester gardens in 2017:
Species Average number per garden Rank % gardens seen
House sparrow 3.4 1 62.2
Blackbird 2.5 2 90.7
Starling 2.4 3 37.7
Blue tit 2.4 4 79.5
Woodpigeon 2.1 5 78.6
Magpie 1.8 6 70.7
Goldfinch 1.5 7 31.4
Robin 1.4 8 85.1
Great tit 1.4 9 57.8
Long tailed tit 1.1 10 30.2