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Local councillors resign from the Liberal Democrats in disagreement over the Saddleworth School move

mike-buckleyTwo members of Saddleworth Parish Council have resigned from the Liberal Democrats in opposition to the proposed move of Saddleworth School to Diggle.  Cllr. Mike Buckley, leader of the Save Diggle Action Group, and Cllr. Lesley Schofield, have both campaigned for the new school to be built on the present site in Uppermill.

Cllr. Buckley explained the reasons for his decision.  “I joined the Liberal Democrat Party because I believed the Party was committed to protecting Saddleworth from excessive and insensitive development.  We have always campaigned locally with this as one of our main manifesto pledges, recognising that the people of Saddleworth want to see its green countryside and villages maintained and passed on, unspoiled, to future generations.”

“The planned move of Saddleworth School will destroy the character of a beautiful Saddleworth valley. Thirteen acres of farmland will be sacrificed for no good reason than it’s easier to build on the open countryside than on an already developed site in Uppermill.  An open valley will give way to a three storey glass block, a huge new sports hall and two large playing fields created by bulldozing the natural contours of the valley.  The whole will be surrounded by an oppressive 2 metre high metal fence.  Extensive highway engineering of the only access road will totally destroy its village character. The rural setting of the canal and its popular towpath walk will be lost forever.”

“This is too high a price to pay for convenience and expediency. However, my fellow Liberal Democrats do not seem to see it this way. I expected that, as representatives of those affected, and being a party of opposition on Oldham Council, they would have challenged the decision by the Council to relocate the school on Saddleworth’s open countryside. Instead, ignoring local opinion, they have closed ranks with their Labour colleagues in full support of the Oldham plans. Their manifesto commitments to protect Saddleworth from inappropriate development now ring very hollow.  Consequently, I now feel I do not wish to remain in a party that has closed its ears to local views and has cast aside its principles so conveniently.”

“I will continue on Saddleworth Parish Council as an independent councillor seeking to defend and protect Saddleworth and represent the views of those I represent.”

Cllr. Schofield said: “My allegiances have always been with the people of Saddleworth – I am determined to do what is in the best interests of the district. Over the siting of the school, the Liberal Democrats have shown that they are willing to ride roughshod over the views of local people, and instead prioritise unquestioning loyalty to Labour run Oldham Council.”

“Both of my children received an excellent education at Saddleworth School. But I know there are challenges facing the school.  Owing to chronic under-investment many of the buildings now need rebuilding, and I fully support this.  It has been shown that the school can be rebuilt on the present site, and this is the policy which must be argued for.  The question is not whether the school should be rebuilt but where it should be rebuilt. The Liberal Democrats and Oldham Council believe this should be on acres of unspoiled green fields, I believe it should be on the existing brownfield site.”

“The Liberal Democrats are not capable of adequately representing the people of Saddleworth and it is for this reason that I will serve as an independent member of the Parish Council.”

The views and comments listed below do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the editor.

9 comments to Local councillors resign from the Liberal Democrats in disagreement over the Saddleworth School move

  • I know who I will be next voting for and it will not be the weak Lib Dems. Thankyou Councillor Buckley for fighting for what you believe in and standing up to the rest of your party. I think a lot of these councillors forget who voted them in. Most of of these councillors dont even live near Diggle or near where the school is going to be built and not naming councillors they make sure where they live will remain untouched.

  • MIck Ashworth

    Well said Mike, and an excellent explanation of why this proposed school would be bad for Diggle, and by extension, the rest of Saddleworth. Nice to see someone putting conviction before political loyalty. Ken Hulme did the same in his latter years, much to his credit.

  • Carrie

    Remember your blue bin when Liberal Democrat rubbish is put through your door. Even better, challenge the deliverer if you spot them and ask them to deliver no more-who knows they might get the message.

  • Asa Cocker

    Good for Mike Buckley. It is refreshing to see a principled politician, as opposed to those who use a political party simply as a vehicle for their own career and self-aggrandisement.

    We need people like him to keep fighting for Saddleworth. I have read a comment from Mr Buckley previously, in which he refers to the importance of acting as custodians for Saddleworth’s future generations: that is exactly the point. Building a new school on the present site is manifestly acting in the best interests of Saddleworth as well as its present and future generations.

  • Paula

    I too will be explaining to the lib dems when they come knocking. I will not vote for them again because they are weak and have spoilt the village my children have to grow up in. Then again as soon as they leave Saddleworth School I will be selling up I don’t want to be associated with Oldham anymore. Saddleworth = cash cow. Don’t get me started on the ombc leader!!!! Thank you Mike and Lesley for making your voice heard as the little workers only make a squeak! X

  • Samantha Marshall

    It is so refreshing to see local politicians who have the courage and conviction to do the ‘right thing’ when their colleagues are happy to take the path of least resistance, to their eternal shame.

    We look forward to supporting the new independent candidates at the next election.

  • BRAVO !!
    HUGE respect to both councillors here.

    Having stood as an independent candidate myself with the personal belief that party politics has no place in the parish council, I applaud Mike and Lesley for putting the interests of Saddleworth before those of any political party.

    I feel so much better and have so much more optimism for Saddleworth, knowing these two experienced councillors are now working in the interests of the area without any party political agenda.

    I raise a glass to both of you, thank you having the courage to follow your convictions and for setting such a great example.
    I’d like to think that somewhere up there, my friend the late Ken Hulme would be smiling at this.

  • Charlotte Coleman

    The lib dems have always campaigned on the basis of Saddleworth being safe in their hands but when it was time to jump off the fence they allowed OMBC and its Labour councillors to bully them into accepting the Diggle site. However some of our councillors forgot who they represented. I have attended 5 public meetings about the new school and at not one of them have I heard a single person that supports the move to Diggle ( apart from certain Lib dem councillors) At last we have a politician of principle in Mike Buckley who has been prepared to stand up and speak out for what he believes in.

  • malcolm

    The lib dems no longer have the the best interests of the saddleworth people.well done to mike and lesley for resigning from a party that do not listen to the vast majority of the saddleworth people and do not stand up for them at oldham council meetings.

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