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Roll-up, roll-up for the greatest show in town as Festival Oldham returns for 2018.

The borough’s annual free celebration of art, entertainment and street theatre takes place on Saturday 26 May, 11am to 4pm in Parliament Square and the Parish Church in Oldham Town Centre and Gallery Oldham.

This year the festival takes on a circus theme and is part of Circus250, a national celebration marking 250 years of circus.

Oldham has a rich history of circus performances and the Coliseum Theatre actually began life in 1885 as the Grand American Circus and Hippodrome.

To mark this rich heritage the town will be welcoming over 100 of the very best circus, variety and music performers to Oldham this late May Bank Holiday weekend. See the unusual, bizarre and unbelievable feats of Doctor Diablo’s Sideshow – including amazing fire-eating, escapology and contortionism.

Circus Sensible and their beautiful blue and yellow big tops will transform the Parish Church yard into the ‘The Circus Gardens’. This is a chance to watch spectacular performers from around the world and have a go at juggling, stilt walking, plate spinning and much more.

Oldham’s resident circus elephants Hessi and Kalli will be exploring Parliament Square, these loveable cheeky elephant sisters love meeting new people and getting up to mischief. A beautiful giant lion will be prowling the streets accompanied by her faithful assistant who will beckon forth all who wish to meet the spirit of the pride.

Look out for the larger than life circus ringmaster and the amazing aerial acrobatics of Circus Vee at Gallery Oldham. Also, keep an eye out for Tiddles the Circus Tiger – the brand new Oldham Theatre Workshop street theatre show.

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood and Co-operatives, said: “Festival Oldham is always a real crowd pleaser and one of the highlight of our events calendar. It attracts a huge crowd every year and this year’s circus theme promises to be something really special. We look forward to welcoming people to this spectacular, free event.”

For more information visit or call 0161 770 3070.

Bus passengers update about changing fares

Local Link, Ring and Ride and school bus passengers are set to see a number of changes to the fares they pay.

The changes, which TFGM say will help support essential services and invest in ongoing transport network improvements, will see the following fares increase:

  • Local Link (from 1 June): single fare increase from £2.50 to £2.60, weekly ticket increase from £20 to £20.80, concessionary single fare increase from £1.20 to £1.25 and a concessionary weekly ticket increase from £10 to £10.40.
  • Ring and Ride (from 1 June): concessionary fare increase from £1.20 to £1.50.
  • School bus (from September): single fare increase from £1.30 to £1.35, return ticket increase from £2.20 to £2.30 and a weekly ticket increase from £7 to £7.30.

TFGM say Local Link and school bus fares are increasing in line with inflation, while Ring and Ride fares are increasing to help maintain the existing level of service to customers following a funding reduction to Greater Manchester Accessible Transport Ltd (GMATL) – which operates the Ring and Ride service.

The Ring and Ride fare increase was discussed during a consultation process with users and charity groups. Stakeholder consultation sessions were held in September 2017 and public surgeries were held in April 2017 and April 2018.

According to TFGM, the feedback indicated that users would be willing to pay the revised fare, as they valued the service greatly and felt that it would still offer value for money.

TfGM’s Interim Head of Bus Services, Alison Chew, said: “Where commercial operators don’t run we have an important role to play in paying for services where there is a social need, so that access to education, healthcare and jobs is maintained.

“We strive to ensure that they provide the best possible service while also representing value for the public purse.

“We recognise that there’s never a good time to increase fares but the changes are needed to ensure these vital services can continue to operate without any detriment to customers.”

For information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow @OfficialTfGMon Twitter.

Saddleworth Round Table give support to Dobcross Youth Band

Young musicians are looking good as well as sounding great, thanks to a generous donation from Saddleworth Round Table.

Members of the group donated £875 to Dobcross Youth Band, which has paid for a smart new set of polo shirts for the youngsters to wear at fundraisers and other events. Chairman Richard Foster made the presentation at a rehearsal at Dobcross Band Club as the players celebrated their recent first place in the youth section of the Holme Valley Brass Band Contest.

The Youth Band will still wear their traditional scarlet jackets for concerts and parades, but the polo shirts will be a comfortable alternative for less formal events.

Chairman Sue Crook said: “We are so grateful to Saddleworth Round Table for their wonderful support. The players are thrilled with the new shirts which will give us a more coordinated look at events where band jackets are too formal. It’s great to see community organisations working together like this.”

The Youth Band, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018, has beginners and intermediate sections as well as the youth band and new players aged seven-18 are always welcome. Anyone interested should contact the band at

Diggle School awarded ‘Good’ by OFSTED

Diggle Primary School has been given a ringing endorsement by Ofsted. The school has been judged as ‘good’ in all areas following a two-day inspection which took place in March this year.

Ofsted highlighted many strengths across teaching and learning; outcomes for pupils; leadership and management; early years provision; and personal development, behaviour and welfare.

Head teacher Sarah Newton said: “We are very pleased that Ofsted have praised our school. Their report reflects our commitment to excellent standards of care and education.”

Inspectors highlighted the school’s “inclusive and friendly atmosphere”, adding that pupils work hard and feel proud of their school. Pupils achieve well in writing, many older children develop a “love of reading” and leaders are “ambitious for the school”. Music was viewed as a particular strength, with an “impressive array” of opportunities for pupils, but children “make strong progress in many subjects”.

Diggle School, on Sam Road, has around 180 pupils aged four to 11, including children who travel from West Yorkshire every day. It shares a site with Diggle Dandelions pre-school, which has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Mrs Newton added: “We feel Ofsted’s report has given an accurate view, both of the school’s strengths and of our areas to continue developing. There is a huge amount to celebrate at Diggle School and we are immensely proud to be at the heart of our community. Our role is to create a happy, secure environment where children enjoy learning, feel valued and love coming to school. We have a clear focus on standards and we are passionate about helping children to fulfil their potential.”

For more information about the school, visit

Make a date for the Dobcross Western Fete

Dobcross fete is riding into town again on 23 June with a ‘Yee haw!’ The popular annual fair which is organised by Friends of Dobcross School (FODS) will be a fully themed Wild West Fest complete with Rodeo Bull, Gold Panning and Horse Shoe Toss.

From 1 – 5pm, at Holy Trinity School, aspiring cowboys and indian’s can pit their wits against the Cowboy Bungee Run and Western Assault Course, race on Bouncing Broncos and slip down the Wild West Slide. They can try their hand at archery, climb Spirit Mountain and then take a well-earned break at the Watering Hole for drinks, BBQ food and ice-cream. Those who are feeling less energetic can kick back and enjoy ‘hoe-down’ with Oldham Music School, Infinity Dance and Holy Trinity Choir entertaining the crowds from the live entertainment stage.

There will also be a wide range of traditional side stalls including Pin the Badge on the Sherriff, Apple Bobbing and Bottle Tombola. Not forgetting the school’s Grand Draw generously supported by local businesses, with over 30 fantastic prizes including a helicopter flight and hire of a Ford V8 Mustang.

Chair of FODS Claire Hilton said “It is set to be a fantastic day, with fun for all the family. The event will raise money for the school to spend on much needed improvements to their practical area and library.

“Unlimited ride wristbands will be on sale at £10 per child ahead of the event, £12 on the day. These offer great value for money, with eight attractions included in the price. Entrance is 50p for children, £1 for adults, with a special family ticket on sale at just £3.”

For more information visit Holy Trinity C of E Dobcross Primary School

Local Election Results for Saddleworth

RESULT: Saddleworth North Ward

P Byrne (Con) 933;  J Eccles (Lib Dem); 882 G Hulme (Lab) 820; CON Gain Turnout: 33.98%

RESULT: Saddleworth South Ward 

H Bishop (Ind) 180  J Curley (Con) 1,215;  C Hunter-Rossall (Green) 103;  I Manners (Labour and Co-operative Party) 793;  J McCann (Lib Dem) 1,043; CON Gain Turnout: 40.49%

RESULT: Saddleworth West and Lees Ward:

S Al-Hamdani (Lib Dem) 737;  D’Adamo (Con) 842; V Leach (Lab) 1,042; LAB Gain Turnout: 31.36%


National Park grouse moors are a black hole for birds of prey

New paper confirms link between raptor persecution and driven grouse shooting in Peak District National Park

Goshawk and Peregrines in ‘catastrophic decline’ in the Dark Peak, where the most intensive grouse moor management takes place

Populations of goshawk and peregrine falcon are considerably lower in areas of the Peak District managed for driven grouse shooting in comparison to the rest of the National Park according to a new study.

The paper published in the journal British Birds found a significant association between confirmed raptor persecution incidents and moorland burning – a practice associated with the management of driven grouse moors. It revealed that populations of goshawk and peregrine falcons were in catastrophic decline in northern Dark Peak and yet increasing in the nearby southern White Peak, where virtually no driven grouse moors are present.

This is the first time the association has been shown between declining goshawk populations and moorland burning, confirming fears that driven grouse shooting and its associated raptor persecution is leading to the demise of this species in the park.

The RSPB’s Tim Melling, one of the authors of the paper, said: “In the Dark Peak, birds of prey are notable by their absence. This should be a stronghold for goshawks and peregrines, but sadly our data shows this area to be a bird crime hotspot leading to almost local extinctions of these species.

“Birds like peregrines – the fastest birds in the world – and goshawk – a striking and elusive hunter – are not only a vital part of the ecosystem but are a joy to behold. They should be in abundance here but sadly the Dark Peak is now proving a black hole for these birds of prey.”

The Peak District National Park was once renowned as THE place to see goshawks with up to 17 pairs in the Dark Peak as recently as 1995 but by 2015 this number had plummeted to just two, neither of which successfully bred. Goshawk was found to be twice as likely to successfully breed in the White Peak as the Dark Peak, and peregrines three times more likely.

The illegal persecution of birds of prey is a persistent problem throughout the UK. The RSPB is calling for the government to introduce a system of licensing for driven grouse shooting, and regionally the inclusion of practical measures in the Peak District National Park Management Plan to address this issue.

TV Broadcaster and Vice President of the RSPB, Chris Packham, said: “Our national parks should be awe-inspiring places filled with nature and beauty, providing a connection for people to the natural world. This isn’t the case in the parts of the Peak District National Park where driven grouse shooting predominates. We are being robbed of the magnificence of birds of prey by an industry out of time and out of touch with the majority of the British people. It is time to make the changes that are needed to return our National Parks to what they were meant to be.”

Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stockbridge and Species Champion for the hen harrier, said: “It is more than ten years since the issue of bird of prey persecution was brought to my attention and it seems that the situation has not improved, with the elimination of both goshawks and peregrines from my own parliamentary constituency. Regulation of driven grouse shooting is inevitable unless those who engage in the sport are prepared to tackle effectively law-breaking within its ranks.” 


No Petticoats Here: Award-winning singer, songwriter Louise Jordan tells the stories of inspirational women who challenged expectations

Dive into a world of drama, family shows, comedy, music and new writing at Oldham’s live@thelibrary summer season.

Oldham Libraries have a packed schedule with something for everyone at libraries across the borough from May to August.

There’s a whole host of events to mark the Suffrage Centenary, including the Revolting Women performance of the Suffrage story through the eyes of a less well-known Pankhurst, Sylvia, who fought for the vote alongside working women in the East End.

To mark Refugee Week (18-24 June, 2018), join the Manchester International Roots Orchestra for an evening of exciting new music. The unique, musically diverse orchestra aims to nurture musical collaboration between refugee and other culturally diverse musicians, and Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) students.

Children can help save the day in a fun interactive performance of Old McDonald and the Three Pigs Plus in just one of many family events throughout the summer.

There’s also a welcome return of Open Space Festival, showcasing the work of writers and performers from Oldham and across Greater Manchester.

Live@thelibrarylocal brings the fun straight to your community and there’s something for adults and children alike. You can go on an adventure in Charlie and the Lost Treasure or enjoy “I Don’t Know”, a thought-provoking one woman show for Dementia Awareness week.

The Small Cinema also returns to Oldham Library with a dementia-friendly screening of the classic romantic drama ‘Casablanca’ as well as other favourites.

Sheena Macfarlane, Head of Heritage, Libraries and Arts at Oldham Council, said: “Our modern libraries are so much more than book-lending services. Our staff strive to provide a wide range of services, facilities and information for residents of all ages and in many different ways. Live@thelibrary is the perfect celebration of just how much our libraries have to offer.

Amani Live: Amani Creatives will be showcasing some of the freshest new talent from the African diaspora and highlighting diversity, complexity and enduring cultural influence in Africa.

“This season, we have something for all ages and we’re supporting established and emerging local talent. I hope residents will come out and support these events with their family and friends.”

Booking is essential for all events including those without a charge.

Children under 12 months are free and accompanying adults must book a ticket to attend children’s performances.

Oldham Library is located on Greaves Street, Oldham, OL1 1AL (attached to Gallery Oldham).

For all event and booking information, download the full summer brochure at

To join Oldham Libraries visit your local branch or log onto

Environment Agency reject revised environmental plan for new Saddleworth School

W.H. Shaw Pallet Works, Diggle

The Environment Agency (EA) reject, for a second time, the revised environmental plans for Saddleworth School re-development in Diggle.

The 4 year controversial Saddleworth School Saga in Diggle Oldham continues as the EA reject the revised Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) presented to the EA by InterServe Construction Ltd/WYG on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.

The EA have rejected the revised 40 page FRA (Flood Risk Assessment) submission, stating in their letter to OMBC Planning dated 3rd April 2018 that it “does not comply with requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and associated guidance”, “The excavation of the existing floodplain is not an adequate compensatory flood storage” and “we maintain our objection to the above application”. 

Cllr Keith Lucas, spokesperson for Save Diggle Action Group said, “Since our Judicial Review campaign victory (funded by local residents) where High Court Judge Mr Justice Kerr called OMBC council’s previous approval of the planning application “unlawful”, and also criticised the site selection process carried out by both the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) and OMBC, and determined that the new school could be built in Uppermill with the ESFA’s funding and that all the sites should be reconsidered properly against planning legislation and regulations, OMBC have completely ignored the High Court findings and created a wall of silence for anyone who have had genuine concerns about the infrastructural and environmental concerning about the re-location of Saddleworth School to Diggle from its present Uppermill site.

“What we are now seeing is that a statutory body like the EA questioning for the second time, OMBC and the ESFA’s site selection judgment in moving a 1500 pupil school and its associated playing fields onto a flood zone site. 

“This is in addition to The Victorian Society also objecting to the demolition of the Dobcross Loom Works buildings and the listed Link Bridge, in their letters to OMBC planning dated 30thNovember 2017 and 8thMarch 2018, “on the grounds that it would cause substantial harm to the Dobcross Works Office Building that could be avoided by exploring the Uppermill site as an alternative location for the proposed new school. The Victorian Society went on to recommend “that the current application and any others associated with this development are refused and the Uppermill site is explored as the preferred option for the new school development.”

“With two statutory consultees now objecting to the proposals to move the school to Diggle and InterServe Construction Ltd/WYG’s FRA not meeting the required National Planning Policy Framework standards, even on its second attempt, SDAG have to ask: What will it take for OMBC and the ESFA to really listen to Mr Justice Kerr’s judgment and the objections of two statutory consultees?

“We are all fully behind Saddleworth parents and pupils in getting a new school. If OMBC had listened to local public wishes for a new school to be built on the present Uppermill site in the beginning, a new secondary school would have been up and running by 2015.

“SDAG ask that OMBC please stop wasting considerable time and public money trying to move Saddleworth School to Diggle? It just isn’t achievable under planning legislation and regulations. We feel that an urgent enquiry is needed and that the public of Saddleworth get behind the appeal for the school to be rebuilt on its present site in Uppermill without any further delays.”

OMBC were not available for comment at this time.

Small dam fails above Diggle

Looking downstream through the breach

On Tuesday 17th April large amounts of peat flooded into Diggle Brook. The peat appears to have been released through a breach in the dam at Little Black Moss Reservoir situated at the head of the valley above Diggle Firing Range (Grid Ref: SE 0315 0861).