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Letter to the Editor regarding a new Saddleworth School in Diggle

This plan is currently only a suggestion

This plan is currently only a suggestion

Notwithstanding the need for a new Saddleworth School, having now seen the full extent of the proposals and the impact this will have on Diggle village and its residents, I am now strongly of the opinion that that the present scheme should be abandoned.

The cost in terms of the loss of a beautiful rural valley and the negative impact the development will have on the quality of life for hundreds of Diggle residents does not justify the present hurriedly put together and flawed scheme.

I would urge residents to protest at the present proposals.  It is clear  there is no easy fix that will make them acceptable.  I feel that the scheme  should be abandoned in favour of a better site, preferably the present one and that more time and consultation should be given in arriving at a better solution, one that we can be proud of and one that protects Saddleworth rural character and beauty.

There is never only one chance for government funding.  I believe a much better result would be achieved by a more considered and better funded approach to the new school and that residents should work in partnership with the school and authorities to make a future bid for funds to achieve this.

If anyone feels the same as I do and would like to form a protest group please ask them to contact me on 01457-820015 or mikebuckley@saddleworth.net.

Cllr. Mike Buckley, Saddleworth

Parish Councillor,

Representing Dobcross and Diggle

Please leave a comment below.  It will help me as editor of Diggle News to gauge how the public are feeling.

The views and comments expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the editor. Letters may be edited.

52 comments to Letter to the Editor regarding a new Saddleworth School in Diggle

  • Suzanne Bradshaw

    Are they going to build a by-pass to take all the proposed new school in Diggle’s Traffic ~ just a thought.

  • Educate in Saddleworth

    Completley Disagree! It is quite clear that the existing site is not an option as the EFA have said it can’t be used. They have discounted all of the other sites too. The current school needs millions spent on it, does not conform to health and safety and disability laws. They could close it down fully and we don’t have a school in Saddleworth at all. The proposal is far from a good site but it’s better than the alternative of 20 years in a condemmed building or worse the school gets shut down altogether

  • Not Happy

    Whilst I totally agree with you Mr Buckley it would be nice to leave the valley as it is, but would they? or would it then be prime for a large housing estate without the infrastructure a school might provide. The outlook seems to be now, which will be the lesser of two evils? Like you I would rather they left things as they are.

  • MissKay

    I don’t agree actually. Saddleworth needs a school. The traffic is a concern – they will need to stop people parking on Huddersfield Road – especially since most students will arrive by bus. I am sure that can be overcome.

  • j turner

    I have no issues with the school being built in Diggle its the fact that the bottleneck road into and out of Diggle would need to be sorted out first even if there is to be another access road it really needs sorting out.

  • j turner

    It would also increase our house prices!!!

  • Pat Cliffe

    I agree that it will be a poor compromise. It is a pity that we are being pushed to accept an unsatisfactory solution, when, with more time and money, there could be a build that is more in keeping with the area, situated further back on the old Factory site, and proper thought given to solutions to the problems, which every resident in Diggle can see, of traffic and access for pedestrians.

  • Andrea Haworth

    I am a Diggle resident. I believe that a fantastic School could be built in Diggle, combining the listed buildings and the canal frontage with sympathetic modern architecture on the site of the old pallet factory. A separate entrance would be needed off the A62.

    The current School is not fit for purpose, but the tiny budget on offer for a new School means that it would not be fit for purpose either and the infrastructure couldn’t cope. It is a damaging false economy to under-invest.

    With proper and reasonable investment we could have a School that (literally) reflects the special character of Saddleworth. Properly built, it would meet the areas needs for 100 years.

  • Mike Buckley

    In reply to Suzanne, there is nowhere a new road can go. The possibility of a new road from the Bus turnround at Woolroad up the valley is no longer an option as Chapmans have plans to develop (and are in the process of developing) the Victoria Mill site, the only access point. Everywhere else at Woolroad is a steep bank.

    Educate in Saddleworth seems to have accepted the arguments why the existing site can’t be used. I don’t. No-one has really challenged the reasons why not, and looked seriously at how it could be achieved. OMBC have never had any intentions of building there. A land swap has been on the books for over five years, not just since the EFA have been involved. It seems it has been the only show in town – no other options have been seriously examined.

    The rest of the site that is not greenfield or green belt will no-doubt end up as housing. It is unfortunately not an either or. The planning rules do not permit housing on the green belt but schools sports facilities are allowed. without the school the bulk of the site would be protected from development.

    I don’t believe there is an acceptable traffic solution!

    Keep the comments coming we need this debate.


  • Mike Buckley

    Wherever the school is built on the site, the green valley is lost to sports facilities, playing fields, bus turn round, staff and visitor car parks, residents off street parking &c &c. Just look at how congested the site is on the plans. No green fields will be left.

    Huddersfield road remains the only access point. Traffic management will involve double yellow lines, fencing along the footpath, possibly traffic lights and a mini-roundabout or two, signage, bollards &c &c. Huddersfield road, the entry to Diggle will no longer have any rural character. I would be interested to hear of where a new access road could go if anyone has any practical suggestions?


  • Saddleworth Resident

    It is clear that the current school buildings are not fit for purpose and something needs to be done to rectify this for the children of Saddleworth both now and for future generations. If the opportunity is not taken now, it will probably be years until another chance of funding becomes available and whilst Diggle may not be the most ideal option for many residents, it seems to be the best available (the current uppermill site being ruled out through access, decanting and safety issues). If the local community can work together with the council and provide constructive input to the designs of the new school, many currently perceived problems of the site could be minimised if not overcome. I was at the meeting on Wednesday and was both shocked and disappointed at residents response to a school that will educate our future generations. The other option for the site no doubt being either a huge amount of new homes or an industrial estate.

  • Resident

    I completely disagree with Mr Buckley’s attempts to sabotage the much needed plans for a new school.
    I believe there are plans to alleviate the traffic issues ( residents parking permits / bus turnaround etc ). We should as a community be working together to make the most of this opportunity for a new school in Diggle.

  • Charlotte Coleman

    All at the meeting were aware that Saddleworth needs a new school but what a high price we are paying. It’s not only the loss of a beautiful valley it’s the negotiations going on behind our backs which I really find distasteful. Mike Buckley is quite correct when he says that the site has been known for at least 4 years .Tthe deal being done is to maximise property developers’ profits and OMBC’s council tax. Money is the main driver here and not what is best for our children’s education. If the school is built in Diggle, and we all know it will be, then we should at the very least have no other housing in the valley. Let’s not sit idly by while Oldham Council carve up Diggle- continuing to build houses but giving us nothing back in return.

  • Mrs T

    I went to saddleworth school 25-30years ago, I had lessons in porta cabins then, so no denying something needs to be done.
    I am also a diggle resident I was brought up in greenfield
    I was at the meeting, I think what shocked most of us was the actual position of the school and the amount of green fields that would be destroyed. The fact that the industrial area and listed building are not part of the plan. Also the other front field not used so I imagine houses will be going on that in a few years. I also imagine that the owner of the industrial area will apply to turn those areas into residential areas.
    No consideration has been taken into account regarding access, even if there’s double yellow lines at the bottle neck area it would still be a struggle for passing buses. Plus if it rains this area always floods like yesterday!! A comment was made by a member if the panel that wasn’t really picked upon due to heckling from his previous comment. But he did say that they would consider widening the road. How with terraced houses either side.
    Safety would be an issue, there’s a river that runs straight through those fields, there’s a canal, a railway and road.
    The head master commented that not a lot of kids are dropped off by parents, that will change, the school in uppermill at present is quite central kids from greenfield, uppermill, diggle etc will walk. When the school is in diggle I imagine the only ones who will walk are diggle residents, some from uppermill some from dobcross. So more buses will be needed plus parents dropping children off. There’s only one road in diggle the same road out, so for 1500 school children that’s a lot of buses and parents all driving in and attempting to turn around and get back out. Even with a turning circle at back of school (buses only) the logistics are a nightmare.
    Diggle weather always seems a little worse it’s higher up than other villages. Have you noticed STOP signs at brownhill, meaning go no further. We’re lucky if we get gritted

    Uppermill school has lasted over 100years apparently, we were told the new school in diggle will apparently will last 30-40years, knock off a few years for diggle winters
    Not good considering it will cost over £15million to build.
    Surely if you’re going to build a new school destroy green fields etc it would be better to do it properly

    I could go on, I’ll stop now, I think its a done deal anyway, but the way they’ve gone about it is shocking, but I suppose not surprising

    And all those that are against diggle residents complaining, why don’t you get in your cars and drive down here, have a look at the three huge fields on the right that are going to be destroyed, then find somewhere safe to turn round in, in order to leave, don’t grumble if you have to wait to get out because a bus is picking someone up and there’s no space to pass
    If it was your village you’d be out in force to

  • I too was at the meeting and I second everything Charlotte Coleman says. In answer to Saddleworth Resident you was shockrd and disappointed at residents response to the school these are the same residents that are going to be bothered by more traffic which seems to be so unimportant to some people have football pitches outside their back doors noise pollution but lets forget about these other issues surrounding the school (the residents) as long as we have a new school what the heck.

  • Samantha Marshall

    I feel that this issue is just tearing our community apart. And all because of a bureaucratic organisation that is dictating to us what we have to have, not what we want to have. I thought I lived in a democracy not a dictatorship.

    Whilst not denying that the current Saddleworth School either needs to be completely refurbished or needs to be replaced, the current proposal of the site in Diggle and the modern school design and current level of funding by the EFA is not the best that we can give both the residents and children of Saddleworth.

    The children of Saddleworth deserve much better than is currently being offered to us by the EFA and OMBC and I agree with Councillor Buckley that it should be abandoned.

    At the meeting it was said that there was a total of 15 sites that were looked at and all the others were rejected because the timescale that the EFA was imposing on OMBC was too tight to make any lengthy negotiations with the other land owners. The Diggle site was the only one that could be negotiated with one owner and get an agreement within this short timeframe.

    It just so happens that this site is also owned by a consortium that includes a well known housing developer, who would have already built houses on the plot if he was able to do so. In fact an independent flood risk assessment, commissioned by the OMBC when the site was first proposed for the school previously, concluded that large scale building in this area was high risk and advised against it. Nothing has changed since then.

    So he’s bought a lemon and is jumping for joy at the prospect of a land swap, so that he can build houses on the existing school site and make a substantial profit at our expense.

    The belief that this is a one off offer is fallacious – there is no such thing as a one off offer especially for something as important as childrens’ education. In fact these tactics by the EFA are reminiscent of high pressure sales techniques.

    This seems to have been the view of the chairman of governors at Saddleworth School back in April of this year, as reported in the Oldham Evening Chronicle.

    I agree the we should say a big “No thanks” to the EFA and look again at the other 14 sites to see if there isn’t a better proposal that will unite the community and bring better long term benefits to the children of Saddleworth.

  • Sam

    Hi. Did anyone else see the look on the faces of the people sat at the “Top Table” when asked about the Disaster Recovery access for the Railway tunnels? Not a one had even heard of it! They asked us to trust them – these are the people we KNOW have been negotiating with the current owners, (mustn’t mention any names here – it gets people’s backs up), for at least 5 years. They can’t even organise the dustbins at Christmas, so heaven knows what they will be like in developing this area into a school.

    If you were running the show, what would you do? Sell out, (sorry “Land swap”), your current site and take the easy option of developing green fields? The people on the “Top Table” won’t be around in five years, never mind twenty – they are looking for a way to avoid paying for the development of the existing school on the existing site. (Just how much have they saved in not maintaining it correctly for the past five years while they have been negotiating for the new school?)

    The best location for a new school WOULD have been where Tesco is now, but that land was sold to…er, can’t mention the name. Tanners won’t sell, so the only place left that would fit a new school is Diggle. So the alternatives are new school in Diggle, or develop the existing site. To my mind, development of the existing site is preferable (central location, existing great sports fields, existing bus turnaround, plenty of existing businesses all geared up for children coming/going from school. And good access)

    If Diggle has to be the location, then our children deserve better than this; this quickly cobbled together attempt, clutching at straws, is not the way to go about developing a school for the future. It needs time spent in the planning stages making sure that it will be fit for purpose – and that includes the wider community and environment, with due consideration for the Saddleworth and Diggle heritage, not just the council’s need to provide schooling for local children.

    I also think it is worth noting that Saddleworth School has the best results of any of the state schools in Oldham – even with leaking roofs, rattling window frames and temporary classrooms. The teachers do a great job and, I agree, that traversing between classrooms laden with their bags is not easy, but I think the next three or four year’s intakes of pupils will be able to cope just as admirably as the children over the past 30 years have coped while staged development of the site was undertaken. The school will not be closed down.

    And finally, I am a Diggle resident. I attended Saddleworth school many years ago, and was there while the top layer was added to allow what was then the new 6th form.

    (Sorry to type such a lot, but there is such a lot to say!)

  • Mr W

    Houses? School? Houses? School? I know I would prefer the school having 2 children that will be eligible to attend. If we do no take the school in Diggle then the amount of houses that can be built on the site is massive. Then how long will it be before Diggle school needs to expanded eating our precious greenbelt there. Try driving up Sam Road at shool opening and closing times. At least if the school is built the traffic issue with getting in and out of Diggle has the be addressed. Lots more houses in Diggle will do more damage to the Diggle community over the years than the school.

  • Samantha Marshall

    To Mr W, School or houses? It doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition. Both a school and more houses on this site would be disasterous for Diggle, but we don’t have to have either.

    Diggle can have a voice and stand as a community against both. We need to all fight against people who want to ruin our village environment. Whether it be today with this new school proposal or in the future with new housing.

    Don’t be defeatist. Act now, before it is too late.

    I urge everyone, not only in Diggle but in the whole of Saddleworth, to join with Councillor Mike Buckley and actively protest against this. Let your voice be heard all the way to Whitehall.

  • angry diggler

    Health and safety really hasn’t been addressed at all in the proposals.
    Firstly there is the issue of access to the site via huddersfield road. It’s tight as it is. And with the proposed idea floating about of a mini roundabout its only going to be even worse. How many bumps occur at brownhill? And that’s been there a long time.
    Secondly there’s the issue of dangers adjacent to the proposed site in the form of river from flooding (remember the fields are part of diggles flood plain), the canal which is a potential hazard as well as the railway which will be soon to be electrified too.

    Also when you compare size of site to the existing school site the area’s aren’t the same. The existing school is much bigger and has a large area covered by trees. There is plenty of space to build a new school on the old site.
    But they just don’t want to to explore that route. It all seems to have been signed up a while back.

  • Keith Lucas

    I was at the Civic Hall meeting and Charlie Parker said that Diggle was picked as the new school site because “its the cheapest and easiest” and its a take it or leave it option! So there you are residents of Diggle your worth tuppence!.

    The amount of moral bullying against Diggle residents from the audience who want a new school for Saddleworth (and who doesn’t!). No matter that in the process it will destroy the social, historical and environmental fabric of the village was outstanding.

    We have a site for a school – the present site. It would cost more than the paltry figure offered and would be inconvenient for the running of the present school. But as the head teacher made it seem that students and staff are working in a condemned site environment, and has been for 20 years. A little more pain for collective gain, with a grid build as proposed for the Diggle site could work.

    Everyone in Saddleworth should think deeply about what they want to pass on to their children as well as a good education. If we don’t fight for a better alternative that keeps the fragile structure of all the Saddleworth villages we are doomed to increased suburbanisation which in time will totally destroy Saddleworth.

    I think what all residents in Saddleworth should do is back the fight for a new fit for purpose school, and campaign to make sure its built on a site which protects and maintains the fragile structure of Saddleworth.

  • Save Diggle

    I too was at the meeting and recorded it – it’s here if you want to listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr3Kfps7geI

    Having listened to it again the summary is ‘we have £15M, we are going to spend it, it’s going to be Diggle, we will bully you into accepting this – and think yourselves lucky that it’s just a 1500 pupil school.’

    There’s probably a clue as to how I feel about a 1500 pupil school in Diggle in the name ‘Save Diggle’. I am not a maverick or re-incarnation of ‘swampy’ the environmental activist – I just feel so passionate about the village I live in and the destruction it is facing. Yes I do have a child at Saddleworth School and want the very best for them that’s one of the reasons why I feel so strongly about this – The Diggle site is so wrong in so many ways and really is a compromise too far.

    Future generations will thank the people who stood tall and said ‘no’ to this pillage of the landscape. They will reflect and see that this scheme was flawed from the start and made to happen by an also flawed Priority Schools Building Program.

    As previous comments have said the current site could be made to work – and as Mike has also said there is never only one chance of Government funding.

    I will be joining Cllr Mike Buckley and many others to protest against this and urge you to do the same. The time is right to stand tall and do what is right.

  • Diggle Resident

    I agree with Mr Buckley. I am all in favour of a new Saddleworth School however I feel one should be rebuilt on the existing site. Stating the EFA won’t agree isn’t good enough for me. A rebuild will not only be better for the residents but also safer for the children, imagine hundreds of children walking and cycling along a narrow path into and out of Diggle. Additionally, the canal is too close, it’s too risky to expect children to behave sensibly at all times.

  • Keith Lucas

    A Diggle resident made a comment that a new school build might sort out the bottleneck of traffic on Huddersfield Road. How? Building a school on Huddersfield will create a massive amplification of traffic congestion, even if you put double yellow lines throughout. If the school was finally built on the proposed site you are effectively doubling the whole population of Diggle on a daily basis. I’m assuming pupil safety would be paramount. So therefore look forward to speed ramps, traffic lights and 20mph zone.

    The simple fact is that the school build would be not only a disaster for Diggle but for Saddleworth.

    Bit by bit Saddleworth villages will loose their collective character as piecemeal and poorly designed development are targeted on a village to village basis. In a political sense I feel this is a classic divide and rule situation. Where the moral high ground is the future well being of our children. Thats simplistic and divisive. Everybody at the Civic Hall meeting for or against the school rebuild was told categorically. “Its being built in Diggle because its cheap and convenient. We have no control over its design. Take it or leave it”

    All of Saddleworth needs the collective will to make sure a new School fit for purpose is build on its traditional 100 year old site in Uppermill. This is not a nimby statement. This is trying to make everyone realise that Saddleworth residents shouldn’t have a cheap school inappropriately designed and located but a school that all of Saddleworth could be proud of.

    A collective voice from all of Saddleworth pressing for a judicial review or a rethink would make national and local government understand that democratic values and local concerns have to listened to. Stop being bullied make democracy work.

  • Cllr. Neil Allsopp

    I urge everyone to take a big step back, and think. The idea of a new school, built on the present site in Uppermill, is pure fantasy. It simply isn’t going to happen. The EFA have ruled it out. They are in the driving seat. The decision on the location of a new school lies with them and them alone.

    I strongly advise everyone to reject Mike Buckley’s call for a protest group. It is nothing more than a feeble attempt to show the EFA there is strong opposition to the present scheme when in fact there is little opposition, outside of Diggle. I accept, there is some opposition from a number of Diggle residents, but the wider Saddleworth community, are in favour of a new school, built in Diggle, if that is the only acceptable site.

    To those who think they will get a “better offer” if they wait. Ask yourselves this simple question, “Do you really think, a top priority for the next government is going to be finding 30 or 40 million pounds to build a new secondary school in Saddleworth?” Surely they will take into account, we have had two previous opportunities but failed to accept them. Realistically, just how far down their list of priorities do you think we will be?

    This is the choice before us, a second chance to build a brand new secondary school in Saddleworth. Take it or leave it! If you reject it, no one has any idea when the opportunity will come again. No matter who they are and what they say, no one knows. No one!

    I understand the concerns of Diggle residents and I sympathise. If this development were proposed in any of our villages, the residents would be protesting over the loss of their green space. I’m also certain that if there wasn’t a school on the present Uppermill site, and the proposal was to build one there, the residents of Uppermill would be “up in arms”. Probably led by Mike Buckley, protesting about the destruction of irreplaceable greenbelt and the loss of an outstanding view.

    Change is never easy. We all want things to remain as they are. However, the Saddleworth we see today is the result of constant change over hundreds of years. Once there were no mills or millworkers cottages. No canal or railway. The Saddleworth villages we love have adapted to the meet the challenges of changing times and have survived as a result.

    A new school is needed. A site has been chosen. Hard as it may be for some, it’s time for all of us to join together to make it a success, whilst fighting to get the best possible deal for the people of Diggle.

  • Cllr Allsopp. You accept there is some opposition from a number of Diggle residents (a lot of concern from a lot of of Diggle residents) and its very considerate of you to show sympathy. We are not stupid we care about the children of Saddleworth and we are fed up with this emotional blackmail. We know change is never easy but as you state there are now millworkers cottages on a narrow road, Huddersfield Road already struggling to cope with the amount of traffic it gets and the powers that be seem to think it will be ok to introduce a lot more. Diggle is going to be destroyed and the residents lives are going to be destroyed but like I have said before as long as the school gets built in Diggle what the heck. It probably will benefit the wider Saddleworth community but not Diggle and this is why we are opposing and haveing the guts to show we wont give in without a fight. Like we all keep stating its also the access and the amount of traffic that concerns us but that seems a low priority.

  • Greenfield resident

    Still no good reason for the dismissal of the Uppermill site though, why can we not get the details from the EFA – or has the developer got contacts in there too? What are the health and safety problems they keep alluding to? I cannot believe it is a more dangerous site than one on a flood plain surrounded by a river, canal and railway!?

    Shift the kids out to other schools or temporary buildings (in Diggle if they have to be!) while the existing site is redeveloped and you don’t need any new infrastructure to cope with it.

  • Tom Robinson

    Cllr Allsop – With reference to your point that “Mike Buckley’s call for a protest group is nothing more than a feeble attempt to show the EFA there is strong opposition to the present scheme when in fact there is little opposition, outside of Diggle”.

    Do you have any facts and figures to back up this claim? Mike Buckley is a Councillor for the Parish and is fighting for the interests of residents of Diggle and Dobcross, therefore it’s quite reasonable that he is going to stand up and question something that has so much local opposition. It would be feeble if he simply did nothing.

    If the school is to be built on the site, why not further down towards the rear? Skimping on costs, not consulting with the locals, pushing through a deal that is worth more to OMBC in future council tax revenue than a decent school in a suitable site.

  • Save Diggle

    Cllr. Neil Allsopp – I have to question your thought processes. As a councillor you are in a position to make a difference to the quality of people’s daily lives.Your disparaging comments, no doubt chosen carefully by you, are no better interpreted than the flawed Priority Schools Building Programme in which we are now involved.

    Many people I speak to outside Diggle are against a compromise school in Diggle, they want the best for Saddleworth and realise that a compromise cannot and should not come at ‘any cost’ even if that cost is no ‘new site’ school.What next for Saddleworth they say, “another ‘local builder’ development on King George playing fields in Uppermill?”

    A 1500 pupil school will double the population of Diggle daily, create environmental havoc, destroy the landscape, kill off tourism and sell woefully short the children and parents of Saddleworth in their pursuit of a fit and proper solution for their local educational needs.

    People are different and as such deal with change in differing ways. People also have a choice, my choice is to protect what is so special and unique about Diggle, Saddleworth whilst provoking a thought process in others which allows them to see solutions to problems.What is your choice?

    Sorry Neil I won’t be ‘joining together to make it a success’, your one-dimensional thought processes are just too out of date.

    Watch this space as the ‘feeble attempt’ is about to grow some teeth.

  • angry diggler

    Cllr allsopp. Scaremongering like that only proves that even yourself has to admit that this proposed scheme is flawed.

    With so many unanswered questions, ever growing opposition and so many flaws in its design.
    This scheme has only way conclusion. It must be rejected.
    Be it in favour of a future new proposal or the possibility of nothing for a few more years.

    Having been a former pupil of saddleworth school who went into the construction industry. I can truthfully say that the existing school has many more years left in it.

    As results show it doesn’t need a shiney new school to do that.
    Especially as that new school isn’t fit for purpose before its even been built.

    It’s a compromise too far!

  • Asa Cocker

    Apologies if this has been talked about/investigated before but has Churchill playing fields been considered as a possible site for the new school?

    I appreciate a school being built at Churchill may necessitate the removal of one of the pitches, but are all four pitches (2 for football and 2 for rugby) used at any one time anyway? If someone could enlighten me on this question, I shall be grateful. In any case, if a pitch is lost then I do not think that the problem of building a replacement pitch in the Saddleworth area would be in insurmountable

    Moreover, a new school situated there would have the benefit of the existing pitches AND an athletics track. Indeed, I note the site at Diggle includes two pitches, so a school at Churchill would negate the need to build such facilities (and save the costs that were to be expended on the new pitches at Diggle). So Churchill would certainly be convenient in that respect.

    Further, as far as I am aware, the fields at Churchill are owned by Oldham Council and therefore this would mean no land purchase/land swap as with the Diggle proposition. Again, this would save costs, perhaps significantly so.

    Finally, Churchill is a more central location for Saddleworth and also has the benefits of a good access road (Wellington Road), which Diggle clearly does not.

    I look forward to hearing any comments.

    • Greenfield resident

      good idea but obviously not a goer given the refurbishment of the fields last year and the fact these discussions have been going on for several years. Oh, and they wouldn’t have an athletics track there as that was removed during the recent renovation as “nobody used it”

  • angry diggler

    Excellent point Asa.
    I would like to know about the supposed eight sites that the council says where looked into.
    From space available only Churchill, Fletchers paper mill, the existing school site and diggle have enough space to even fit a school on.

    So what where the other four sites?

    Again its yet another question.
    But will it ever be answered?

  • I Dont Agree

    I cannot agree with this – we have long been concerned about the nimbyism of Diggle, and this would only add to the fire of that argument. If this does not go ahead, it opens the door for developers to put housing all through the valley … School or Housing … one or the other, which would you prefer? I heard someone ask about the over development of Diggle in the meeting the other week and it was not answered and I do wonder why.

    Do your kids currently go to Saddleworth School as it is right now ? Do you have their daily complaints about the school buildings ? The current school is falling apart. Go and have a look ! We can all sit here now, but the fact of the matter is that Saddleworth Parish Council knew about this in 2008 … and nothing has happened, we had 5 years to work out a site but no-one did anything. Churchill was ideal (apart from it being green belt of course). Who instigated this school build ? a head teacher who is trying to do his best in a building that is not fit for purpose.

    If your objections go ahead, this new school will be blocked, Diggle will be under more pressure to have housing poured in to it and Uppermill ‘could’ lose its school altogether – and our kids lose out.

    Think again, Jim McMahon said it in the meeting, objections to this scheme mean the school does not go ahead, there is no budget to rescue to current school.

    As for access – there is a route … it may involve a land deal .. but there is a route. From the turning circle follow the canal/river along the bottom of the valley. Shame that we are too busy saying NO and not finding solutions.

    Bring the school to Diggle, let’s get a shop built on the land the other side run by locals with veg from the allotments … jobs / money into the community / resources / facilities. We’d also be a priority to gritting so we’d finally not get snowed in!

  • It is not a case of of being a NIMBY in Diggle its a case of our lives being destroyed. lots of people have retired to what was a nice peaceful beautiful area, a lot of people have lived here all thir lives. We want to protect the area we live in what is wrong with that? , my kids went to the school in Uppermill I went to school in Uppermill and if OMBC had spent more money on maintaining it instead of throwing money away like they have done in the past perhaps it wouldn’t be in the state’s it’s in now. Everyone keeps saying these kids are our future and I appreciate that but the people who live here have lives too and we are not being selfish in Diggle. Oh and by the way we will protest if they decide houses are going to be built there. People of Diggles views and oppinions matter as well

  • angry diggler

    I Dont Agree. If you haven’t noticed the mill is conveniently being retained. Considering two thirds of that is unusable now begs the question. What are they going to do with that land?
    I have my suspicions. It’ll be a future housing development. no suprise really.

    So diggle would suffer the double whammy of a new school as well as increased burden on services anyway.

    It’s not nimbyism. That suggestion is actually quite offensive. It’s more common sense really.
    How would you like it if you lived their all your life? Or maybe paid good money to move to a quiet village only to find it being spoilt by large development that clearly hasn’t been thought through at all. You wouldn’t like it would you?

    It has to be questioned? The council are responsible for the maintenance of the current school. And if it as you say falling apart, who is to blame for this? It’s poor facilities management on the part of the council.

    The same council that are blundering through a poor unfit for purpose development that could seriously damage our future children’s education prospects as well as a quiet villages way of life.

    Would you trust them with such responsibility?

  • It's time for developers to give back to the community!

    Jim McMahon said the Council had fought against the establishment of free schools in Oldham. Why?! If Academy status is being sought by the “Outstanding” Mossley Hollins, why can’t Saddleworth School become an Academy sponsored by developers?! With more funding by central government than would be available under the current proposal, the listed building/mill could be incorporated into a larger school building towards the back of the site. Dream on…but let’s push for alternative options, including a different and more innovative access plan.

  • Asa Cocker

    Thanks for the comments re the Churchill suggestion.

    In answer to Greenfield resident, thank you for informing me the athletics track had been removed. I was not aware of this. Picking up on your point re Churchill being green belt land, the coalition government have/or a trying to relax rules on green belt land so its current status is not necessarily fatal to the new school being built there.

    Further, I believe that the redevelopment of Churchill would not in itself mean the Council would not then build a school there. In that, as I mentioned in my post of 24.10.13, a new school would utilise the existing pitches and surrounding land. Therefore, the new drainage surely means the land is more suitable for development and recreational activities. Furthermore, I would imagine that should the school have been/will be built there, then such new drainage work would have to have been undertaken anyway.

    In responding to angry diggler’s question on 25.10.13 re what the other sites were, I believe a freedom of information request to the Council would obtain this information.

    Just think this needs to be explored further.

  • Tom Robinson

    Calling Diggle residents NIMBY’s is distracting from the real issue here.

    * The land in Uppermill that is being swapped is worth far more than the land the proposed plan for the new school is situated.

    * There has been plenty of time to plan and consult Parents and Residents (nearly 4 years), however this hasn’t happened.

    * Our Councillors have not for one minute given a thought to anyone and steamed ahead with this, resorting to scare tactics and displayed total arrogance.

    Diggle residents have the right to voice their concerns without being labelled “NIMBYs”

  • Councillor Mike Buckley

    I would like to reply to some of the points made by “I don’t agree”.

    He or she raises two myths commonly voiced which need exploding.

    First, he or she claims “if its not a new school it will be housing built on the site. What would you prefer?”. The school building will occupy one of the two green fields in front of the pallet works which are presently zoned for Business/Industrial use. The sports block and playing fields will also be built on the green belt adjoining and down the valley. The other green field adjoining the school is also being purchased by the Council and kept for future development. I note that Jim McMahon did not rule out housing at some future date in addition to the school. On top of this the existing pallet works site is being retained by the owners. Housing on this eventually can’t be ruled out. So housing is likely whether the school goes ahead or not. If the school was not built as proposed and housing was built on the site instead, a development like Ravenstone Drive or Ambrose Crescent would result in another 40-50 houses. The developer may instead choose to built a smaller number of higher value ‘aspirational housing’ (OMBC’s present preference for Saddleworth!). Either way the houses would have gardens and green landscaping. What would you prefer Mr or Mrs “I don’t Agree”, 50 houses with gardens or a three storey block with tarmaced bus turn round and car park for 200 cars? The green belt would also be protected if houses went ahead so the greenfields down the valley would be retained. Furthermore, on average, a house would probably have two and a bit occupants and two cars, so traffic movements would be no more than 100 people and 100 vehicles moving in and out daily. Compare this with 1500 children in and out every day and 150 school staff with cars, the loss of a green valley, a three storey school building, up to an acre of hard standing and little or no landscaping.

    The next myth is that a road could be built from the turn round at Woolroad to the school up the valley. This is nonsense. Has “I don’t agree” looked at the bus turn round? There is barely room between the river and canal for a single carriageway road. It would involve demolishing the Lock-keepers cottage and the present Chapman’s Development at the old Victoria Works. Perhaps as an alternatively the old police house could be demolished instead or the turn round could be abandoned entirely as an option and the road join further up the main road demolishing the bungalow and Woolroad farm buildings in the process. Beyond this point the road would be faced with something like a 1 in 4 gradient. An alternative road to Huddersfield road has been abandoned as an option by OMBC, I suspect not just for cost reasons but because of its impracticality.

    It would be a lot easier to keep the school where it is and use the existing road network and infrastructure.

  • Tom Robinson

    At the public meeting in Uppermill a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of the Churchill Playing Fields saga. There was a strange similarity: the public hadn’t had been consulted and a meeting was forced due to public concern, years of neglect and no action taken at the time had resulted in a situation where we were left with the only option to take what was on offered by OMBC.

    At that meeting, Cllr John McCann told the attendees to “Get Real” and “accept the council’s funding proposals to ensure Churchill would be usable for future generations” This of course included taking away the running track. Jim MacMahon and Charlie Parker took the same “get real and accept our proposals” line, as it appears is Cllr Allsopp. Mike Buckley is the only one making sense on this issue as far as I can see.

    Less than a month after the re-opening of Churchill, the pitch has been holding water all week and the football match yesterday was cancelled.

  • Julia Daws

    Having lived near Saddleworth School for over 50yrs we feel its current site is ideal.
    It obviously causes a little inconvenience at start and end of school day but this are quite minimal and will no doubt continue if traffic has to return from Diggle site to surrounding villages
    The present site is surely large enough to build new school on whilst current school operates There are enough sports facilities locally for school to hire short term. The welfare of children during build would be paramount but they are approaching adulthood so should be trusted to respect building site
    There would be no expensive purchase of new land and start and finish could be planned with headteacher to fit in with school year t
    All the current bus services would apply there would expense of creating turnrounds and other roadworks which would be involved if Diggle site used
    Do the Council already own Diggle site?

  • As far as we know OMBC agreed a land swap for the Uppermill site. Since the Uppermill site is twice the area, and prime land, not swampy farm land, I assume there is some sort of cash difference.

    It is in a developers interest to maximise their investment, that’s why it is right for the community to be able to object to a deal with little to recommend it but profit.

    Remember, I am disabled, I went to that meeting to collect the plans. None were available. It took the Diggle Action Committee to distribute a copy, that is what we are dealing with, THE FULL MUSHROOM TREATMENT.

  • angry diggler

    I have just undertaken a generalised desktop survey based on ordnance survey maps of both the existing school site and the proposed new site.

    Uppermill site is approx 14.5 acres.
    Diggle site as proposed is 17 acres.

    Considering the ‘exclusivity’ value of the uppermill site. The land exchange deal between the Diggle site owners and Oldham council seems very poor indeed.

    The extra space gained in the deal only amounts to an extra 100 square metres.

    Just a little bit bigger than a standard football pitch.

    I’d have at least thought that with the deal the council would have got at least 50% more site space.

    Not a tiny 17%.

  • Pupil of Saddleworth School

    As an actual student of Saddleworth School, I thinks it’s a great idea. Also in the current building there is no way of somebody with a broken leg getting to either the English floor, Wood tech, P.E, History, Geography and some science lessons on their own. Also to who ever suggested the idea of shipping people to other schools, terrible idea. First of all what if someone is an atheist or muslim and they’re sent to Blue Coat (which is a christian school). For example, I am an atheist, I would hate learning about god because I don’t believe in him

  • angry diggler

    Having been a student of saddleworth I have know people to have had broken legs whilst studying there. They didn’t have a problem getting around back then. And that was only a decade and a half ago.
    So what’s changed?
    English I assume is still on the first floor of main block. After I had left a lift was installed in the main staircase to access those floors.
    Wood tech was on the ground floors of junior block and fifth year block as well as the two labs to the rear of the gym and all easy to access.
    P.E. I’d be concerned about someone doing that with a broken leg.
    And geography and history at up a flight of stairs on the first floor in junior block.
    As for the shipping off to other schools. Waterhead and mossley hollins both are much closer by and have spare capacity.

    I don’t believe in god! I’d say I was atheist too. But it didn’t stop me learning about other religion’s. It didn’t bother me.

  • supporter

    I agree with Cllr Allsop. Please go ahead and build the school in Diggle. You can never please all of the people all of the time.The children of Saddleworth need and deserve a new school. The small businesses in Diggle will benefit and I fail to see an argument regarding aesthetics when there are many non traditional properties in that area which I’m sure people opposed at the time they were built and now have residents in them who are opposing the school build. If you want our children to feel valued and excel then they need an environment that shows they are valued and enables them to be the best they can be. The future doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists, teachers that we will all need in the future, need us now to
    support the build of the new school.

  • Once again the residents opinions do not seem to count for anything. I appreciate things have to move move on or else we would be still be sending children up chimneys, but there comes a time when you have to call a halt. I do not live in a non traditional property, I live on the road that is going to be affected by all the extra traffic. Residents keep pointing out its our way of life thats being destroyed, but hey that doesn’t seem to matter as long as the new school happens. You say you can never please all of the people all of the time I think that was vey arrogant of you and the beauty of the place does matter especially to the people who spent good money to lve in a beautiful area, do you think we are going to sit back and watch Diggle being destroyed without a fight. Most of the people who are wanting the go ahead for the school don’t even come from this area. The main problem is the access and the position of the school.

  • angry diggler

    supporter you seem to contradict yourself.
    you say “our children to feel valued and excel then they need an environment that shows they are valued and enables them to be the best they can be”

    but with only £15 million to build the school that makes our children pretty let down compared to other children in the borough and surrounding boroughs.

    saddleworth school in its current form clearly still works as it already produces many of the future doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists, teachers, engineers and even actors.

    as many people have said on here before. the residents of diggle and saddleworth had practically been all for a new school if done properly and in the right location.

    but its the way the council have gone about it that most object to.
    little consultation, hush hush dealings and bully boy tactics.

    and now the truth comes out its clear how much regard the council gives to the residents and children of saddleworth.

    very little.

  • Pupil of Saddleworth School

    Angry diggler, English Is on the third floor, which was built after the lift was installed. You can’t get to anywhere in the ‘junior block’ without going upstairs. Also going round the school I have seen many various cracks. Also you can’t get to textiles because they’re on the second floor of the art block. Maybe you should arrange for a visit around the school and see its dire state.

  • angry diggler

    My apologies. I seems that English had been moved from first floor to third floor. Where has modern languages been moved to?
    The condition of the school is fine. Cracks are common in most buildings. Even brand new ones.
    But all this boils down to is a lack in maintaining the properties.
    Who is responsible for this lack in maintenance? The same people trying to force through the new school. The new school that already is not fit for purpose.

    If they cannot even maintain an existing property what are the chances of them delivering a decent new School properly?

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