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An Interview with newly elected Nikki Kirkham

nikki kirkham

Independent Councillor Nikki Kirkham (Photo: Stuart Coleman©2014)

Recently elected Independent Councillor Nikki Kirkham talks to Stuart Coleman about her impressive victory at the local elections and her fight to keep Saddleworth School in Uppermill.

Stuart: Hi Nikki  how do you feel?

Nikki: Brilliant, absolutely ecstatic, so happy.

Stuart: Did you expect to win with such a large majority?

Nikki: No, not at all. I think the people have spoken, the result speaks volumes.

Stuart: How did you feel leading up to the election?

Nikki: I was so nervous, you just don’t know how these things will work out. It’s so difficult to read. You can never count your eggs.

Stuart: Was there any indication that you had such a large majority?

Nikki: The general feeling, when we were canvassing, was that we were going to do really well. I had no idea it would result in a 479 majority. Its fantastic!

Stuart: So, why did you do so well?

Nikki: The school in Diggle, that’s the main issue. I think that’s why the Lib Dems lost so many votes, they just haven’t  listened to the people. I recognise that there are a minority who want the school in Diggle but the majority don’t. I think the Lib Dems stance on this issue has really hurt them.

Stuart: Would you describe your win as a protest vote?

Nikki: Not as such, I think it says to politicians and decision makers that the people are tired of not being consulted. They deserve to be listened to and shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored. If they didn’t have a voice before, they will have one now. I will do everything in my power to ensure they are heard and listened to.

Stuart: So when Oldham Council are asked about how they deal with issues in Saddleworth they claim they always  consult. Do you feel that this is the case?

Nikki: I don’t believe that at all. We have tried to liaise with Saddleworth School, the EFA and OMBC and we’ve come back with nothing. All we are given are general responses to specific questions and out of date reports. A lot of people are disillusioned and are sick of being fobbed off. They are tired of hearing ‘its a done deal’ when it clearly isn’t. We’re going to contact the Education Minister, as an Independant Group, to arrange a meeting, so that we can tackle the Saddleworth School issues head-on.

Stuart: Have you got the support of the other Independent councillors?

Nikki: Absolutely, yes, we work as a team.

Stuart: How does that work with Independents?  By default you all have independent views and stand for your own reasons? Do you come together on specific issues?

Nikki: We come together on a lot of issues, sometimes we don’t agree and sometimes we do, thats the point of being Independent. The thing is, the other political groups are bound by party dogma, they have to walk the party line. We don’t, we can think and decide for ourselves. With regard to the school, we come together because we all agree, building a school in Diggle is fundamentally flawed and wrong.

Stuart: So given that this was a landslide majority would you say that the Saddleworth people are saying no to moving the school to Diggle?

Nikki: Yes I would, a 479 majority speaks for itself and it speaks volumes.

Stuart: So given that you’re now the elected to represent Saddleworth North would you say that you can make a difference and can give the people of Saddleworth the voice they deserve?

Nikki: Yes with their support I will make sure that our concerns are heard and addressed.

Stuart: Thanks Nikki and good luck.

To see the Election results for May 2014 go to: http://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200038/elections/1364/election_results_may_2014

4 comments to An Interview with newly elected Nikki Kirkham

  • Mick Ashworth

    Well done Nikki, good luck with your campaign & nice interview Stuart! I walked up there from Dobcross yesterday and thought how sad it would be to ruin such a beautiful verdant valley. I also remembered how when it was first mooted years ago that the pallet works might be the new home for Saddleworth School, I thought it was a great idea because it would also rescue a fine old building and remove some industrial blight. How typical of OMBC to ignore the logic of this argument and propose building the school on the main road and wreck adjacent fields in the process. Keep up the good work SDAG!

  • Emma Smith

    Well done Nikki and good on the voters of Saddleworth North who clearly care enough about the school to make a protest vote.

    However, it’s interesting that voters in Saddleworth South and West didn’t feel the same and voted in LibDem and UKIP candidates respectively. The Saddleworth South independent candidate Lesley Brown campaigned hard against the school moving to Diggle but it fell on deaf ears. Instead they voted for John McCann who has NEVER spoken against the school move and clearly supports the Diggle build.

    I assume this means that because only Diggle made a protest vote, the rest of Saddleworth either support the move or don’t care either way?

  • Brian Lord

    I am afraid that I have to take issue with some of Nicola’s comments.
    She says that ‘we have tried to liase with Saddleworth School’ Well as far as I know they have never tried to liase with the School. I invited Mike Buckley to visit school to see for him self what problems we faced in a 100 year old building. At that meeting Matthew Milburn (The Headteacher)invited him to join with us to get the best deal that we could – and he declined saying that he would oppose the building of the school in Diggle even if it meant having no new school at all.

    She also says that ‘Political groups have to abide by political dogma and walk the party line’ Well this is certainly not the case on the Parish Council where Lib Dems vote according to their views on what is best for Saddleworth. Quite often Pat and I vote for opposite outcomes. There is no requirement to follow the party line – this was the main reason that I joined the Party. Mike Buckley should know this better than anyone as he often voted against the Lib Dem opinion – even on Oldham Council!! In fact there was never any mention of poltics until the ‘Independents’ arrived on the scene. It is them that keep trying to blame ‘polticians’ failing to realise that they have been elected as ‘polticians’ themselves and far from being independent they work and vote as a group.

    Finally she says that ‘Building in Diggle is fundamentally flawed and wrong’ Clearly the school has never been allowed to have a say in the position of the new school but is worth saying that the EFA have to produce schools at around half the price of the BSF ones thus cost is paramount. I am certain that when the accurate building figures are produced as a result of the latest costings being produced by a team of quantity surveyors they will show that the front site at Diggle will be the cheapest option.
    Both OMBC and the school wanted the back site but this was ruled out mainly because of the cost of dealing with the listed clock tower. Despite the figures put forward by Cllr Buckley for the Uppermill site I will be amazed if this does not prove to be the most expensive to be developed as well as the educatiopnal problems of pupils working alongside a building site for close onto two years. So given that the whole Priority Schools Building Programme was required to produce schools at the lowest possible price why is the Diggle site wrong?

    Matthew and I have have made our views known to both OMBC and the EFA but in the end we will go with the choice as I hope will the rest of the people in Saddleworth. We desparately need a new school and we owe it to our children to do everything we can to acquire it.
    Brian Lord
    Chair of Governors
    Saddleworth School

  • andrew gidney

    Considering that we havent heard any of the people at school such as actual working teachers and students on their view of the new school plans, shouldn’t we hear from them before the chair of governors who isn’t so involved in school life?

    Andrew Gidney
    Saddleworth School

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