The first ‘Trixi’ safety mirrors are being fitted at key road junctions across Greater Manchester as part of an ongoing programme to improve road safety for cyclists.
Local councils have helped to identify 176 road junctions across Greater Manchester with a left hand turn that would most benefit from safety improvements. Some of the junctions will have large convex ‘Trixi’ mirrors fitted to traffic signals to give drivers of large vehicles better visibility of cyclists, who can be caught in a blind spot. The mirrors also raise awareness of cyclists on the road and the need to share space respectfully. Advance stop lines for cyclists are also being marked at some junctions, allowing cyclists to position themselves ahead of and in full view of other traffic, away from exhaust fumes.
Funding for the £650,000 programme of work has come from the Department for Transport’s Cycle Safety fund, which is administered by leading UK charity Sustrans and the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership. The improvements are being publicised with a poster campaign to remind all road users of their responsibilities to keep themselves and others safe on the highway.
Councillor Chris Paul, TFGM Committee’s Cycling Champion, said: “Any road accident is one too many and any measures we can take to improve cycling safety should be welcome. Trixi mirrors and advance stop lines are just a few among many safety initiatives being introduced across Greater Manchester, but they will only help if everyone shares our roads in a respectful, caring way. Where we can, Greater Manchester is also investing in traffic free cycle routes, reduced speed zones and developing other measures at junctions to help cyclists. We hope that the combination of all these initiatives will not only improve road safety, but encourage more people to consider commuting by bike.”
Sustrans’ Regional Director for the North West, Eleanor Roaf, said: “Fear of traffic danger is the number one reason preventing people from travelling by bike so it’s fantastic to see such a comprehensive improvement to safety on Manchester’s roads. By increasing the visibility of cyclists while also giving them priority at junctions the chance of an incident occurring between a cyclist and motorist is significantly reduced. The safer we make our roads, the more people are encouraged to travel by bike and that makes for healthier, cleaner and more prosperous Greater Manchester.”
Between 2011 and 2015 Greater Manchester will have received £37m government funding for cycling improvements ranging from cycle hubs, to new cycle routes and road safety improvements. Through its Velocity 2025 cycling vision Greater Manchester is gearing up to introduce an initial 56km network of – where possible – separated cycle lanes. This will go hand-in-hand with cycle and ride stations and an ambitious education programme (visit: http://cycling.tfgm.com/velocity/). The target is for 10% of trips to be made by bike by 2025 subject to continued government funding.
TfGM already offers a range of free courses to help people living or working in Greater Manchester learn to ride, improve their cycling skills and keep their bike in good condition. More information is available at http://cycling.tfgm.com/training.htm
Last year TfGM worked with bus operator Stagecoach on a campaign to warn cyclists of the dangers of passing buses on the inside – with large, bright yellow warning stickers on the back of 750 buses. Bus driver safety training is also underway.
Information on how to correctly use Advance Stop Lines can be found in point 178 of the Highway Code: https://www.gov.uk/using-the-road-159-to-203/road-junctions-170-to-183
‘Secret Life of You and Me’ – Lowri Evans
Oldham Library is joining forces with Oldham Coliseum Theatre to bring a whirlwind programme of live events to the borough.
Live@thelibrary is an exciting journey of adventure, laughter and theatrical drama with new work by theatre companies and artists. Four unique events will take place from February until May, all showcased at Oldham Library’s Performance Space, presented in association with the Coliseum, the town’s iconic theatre company.
An oddball comedy show from the exciting and ridiculous female comedian ‘Cheekykita’ opens the curtain for the first of the fringe-style productions. With Jody Kamali, the alternative comedy clown, both will blow your mind on Thursday, February 20.
Next month, Helen McCarron brings her fast paced interactive show ‘The Runway’, which negotiates the colourful world of fashion with dance, drama and movement. ‘This energetic performance will leave you amazed on Thursday, March 27.
Scriptwriter and poet Anjum Malik will tempt audiences with her fascinating dramatic insight into ordinary people living unforeseen lives. Catch ‘Hidden Stories’, which covers tempestuous themes such as migration, leaving homeland, racism, love and homelessness, on Thursday, April 24.
Writer and performer Lowri Evans presents her own personal experience of working with elderly people with diminishing memory, on Thursday, May 22. Her live scrapbook ‘The Secret Life of You and Me’ finalises this wonderful and surreal programme.
Councillor Jean Stretton, Cabinet Member for Co-operatives and Neighbourhoods, said: “These exciting performances at Oldham Library over the next four months are a powerful example of the co-operative working taking place around the borough. By working collaboratively with Oldham Coliseum, we can provide something fresh and different in a fringe-style environment to our residents and visitors to the area. This is an original idea from Oldham Council Libraries and the Coliseum, and we hope members of the public will enjoy the talented theatre and drama coming to Oldham – all at an affordable price.”
Kevin Shaw, Artistic Director and CEO of Oldham Coliseum Theatre said: “We have always enjoyed a great working relationship with Oldham Library and collaborated on some fantastic events. This new series of Live@thelibrary events will showcase some great theatrical and comedic talent. Staging events outside of a traditional theatre setting is something which we hope will bring this new work to life in a unique way.”
All performances start at 7pm. Tickets £5 (includes a free drink during the interval).
For more information and to book tickets for any of the live@thelibrary performances, please either call 0161 624 2829 or visit www.coliseum.org.uk
Oldham Library is located at the Cultural Quarter, Greaves Street, Oldham, OL1 1AL. Just a two-minute walk from the new Oldham Central Metrolink stop.
‘Those who stand up for their own backyard are reminding us that we live in a small country’.
Recent comments on Diggle News and other media outlets have directly accused those opposed to the relocation of Saddleworth school to Diggle of being ‘NIMBYs’ and this has also been implicit in the Council’s weary or irritated responses to arguments against this proposal. The term has clearly been used to suggest a parochial, narrow-minded, even selfish attitude which puts local concerns above the interests of Saddleworth’s children.
As both a parent of children who will attend Saddleworth school and a resident of Diggle I would like to try and explain what lies behind local opposition to the building of the school on the proposed site and why this might encourage readers to reconsider what NIMBYism means.
The proposed development is in ‘my back yard’ in the sense that, if it were built, the school would not spoil the view from my own house but it would disfigure the landscape close to where I live. The impact of this development on the character of the Diggle valley would be devastating: the open farm-land which now borders the village to the south-east between Huddersfield Road and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal would be transformed by the erection of a two and three-storey structure on a green-field site right next to the road. The sports facilities for the school will be built on pasture-land in the green-belt, eroding the important green border between built-up areas (in open contravention of both national and local planning guidance and plans). Currently there is an unbroken view from the centre of the village across fields to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, and from thence to the ridge-line hamlets and walled pasture-land stretching up to the dramatic edge of the moors at Running Hill. This pastoral setting would be utterly transformed by the levelling of the land necessary for sports fields, the accompanying erection of flood-lighting and fencing and the likely use of artificial surfaces such as asphalt, astro-turf and concrete. The plans include a large, two-storey sports block, to be built on the green-belt (again, against national planning guidance) which will dominate the landscape to the east of Huddersfield Road and will be visible from vantage points all around the Diggle Valley. These developments will have a significant negative impact on the character of the landscape and the setting of the village, they could also affect rare and threatened upland bird species associated with the South Pennine Moors Special Protection Area.
Because I’m fortunate enough to have this distinctive and beautiful landscape in my ‘back yard’ I’m very concerned about the prospect of its desecration, but so should everyone in Oldham. Saddleworth’s importance to the borough should not be overlooked: not only does it provide a uniquely dramatic landscape, a historically important built environment and habitats of international importance, it’s also, for these and other reasons, a vital amenity for the people of Oldham as a ‘green lung’ and recreational space. It could be thought of as an extensive ‘back yard’ for Oldham, which is why the Council claims to place such a high value on its contribution to the borough’s green infrastructure. If the school is built on the proposed site a significant part of the diverse landscape which makes up Saddleworth’s character will be disfigured. The vital promises repeatedly made by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council to favour development on brown-field sites and not to develop the green-belt will have been broken, setting a dangerous precedent which could well see ill-judged and inappropriate development all over Saddleworth and the erosion of the green envelopes separating built-up areas.
The reason, we are told, why these objections must be disregarded is because Saddleworth needs a new school to meet the ‘aspirations’ of the district’s children. As a parent of children who will attend the proposed school I, of course, want them to be educated in a building which is ‘fit for purpose’ but I also want them to grow up able to appreciate an environment that is beautiful, inspiring and unique. I want them to have a ‘first-class education’ but not at the expense of the landscape and community they are growing up in. I don’t want them to be educated in decrepit buildings or to travel across Oldham to find a school place (the only alternatives, we are told, if the school is not build in Diggle) but nor do I want the distinctiveness and character of the place in which they live to be gradually eroded until its coherence and identity is lost.
What makes this situation worse is that there is a perfectly viable alternative to the site at Diggle, put forward by a local architect, to build the new school on the existing site at Uppermill. This proposal has been dismissed by the Council on the grounds, it is said, of ‘cost’ and ‘practicality’. The Council’s view appears to be based on an assessment of the site undertaken by consultants Halliday Meecham in 2008. According to OMBC’s FAQ document released to address concerns about the school (the only means of gaining any information about this survey) Halliday Meacham ‘recommended not reusing the existing site due to the constrained nature of the existing access road and the likely operational disruption to the School during the construction works’. Both of these issues have been addressed in the new plan for the school at Uppermill and workable solutions proposed. In addition, as this survey was undertaken as part of plans being brought forward under the Building Schools for the Future programme, in which the school in Diggle would have been built to the rear of the site of the former Shaw’s pallet works, neither the current Diggle nor the new Uppermill proposals are comparable to the plans assessed within Halliday Meecham’s brief. No rigorous cost comparison or feasibility study has been published by the Council to substantiate its claims that the Uppermill site is unsuitable. What is clear, and has been acknowledged by the Council, is that it will secure what it hopes will be significant additional revenue for a land swap in which the Uppermill site will be acquired by the current owners of the proposed Diggle site for a development of ‘aspirational homes’. In this scenario it is not only my back yard but those of Uppermill residents, who will be faced with a housing development on a scale unprecedented in recent years, which will be threatened. If the Council is convinced, as it claims, that the case for building the school at Diggle is compelling and the alternative the fantasy of NIMBYs, why does it not make public the survey work on which it bases such claims, or publish a proper cost comparison so that its claims can be scrutinised by residents, parents and pupils of the school?
In the meantime, those of us who care deeply about our locality and wish to protect and preserve it are dismissed as NIMBYs but the defence of the ‘back yard’ is a vital task if future generations are to enjoy the benefits of the landscape we now see around us. As Griff Rhys Jones has said: ‘Those who stand up for their own backyard are reminding us that we live in a small country. If you do not look after your own backyard, who do you expect to do it for you? This backyard belongs to us all’.
Nick Cox, Saddleworth Resident
The views and comments expressed in letters to the editor and in comments on posts do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the editor. Letters may be edited.
Greenfield and Greenbelt site at Shaw’s Pallet Works, Diggle (Photo: Paul Marsh)
Boos and cries of Lib-Dem shame rang out from the public gallery at last night’s Parish Council meeting as members voted to support the proposed building of a new school in Diggle.
On the 28th October 2013, the council had resolved to support Saddleworth residents in their campaign for the new school to be built on the existing site in Uppermill and to oppose the building of the new school on the Diggle site. The amendment introduced, by Cllr Cullen, last night and voted through with a small majority, reversed this.
The large turnout of over seventy Saddleworth residents forced the meeting to be moved from its regular room into the larger main hall at Uppermill Civic Centre. At the start to the meeting, the public asked a number of questions ranging from: What is the Parish Council doing to honor its commitment to the protection of greenbelt in Saddleworth? Will they be asking for a full cost break down? What have they done since they voted against building in Diggle? What are the suggested road improvements in Diggle and how will they be accomplished? Will the new school be sympathetic to the Saddleworth environment? Is it reasonable to view this build as the ‘least worst option’? What are the majority views of the children and parents? How will downstream areas be protected from flooding?
Before the council discussed item 18 on the agenda, the motion proposed by Councillor Cullen:
‘The Parish Council, now knowing that it is not possible to build the new school on the Uppermill site, agree to do all they can to support the building of a new school on the Diggle site. This being the only available alternative. ‘
The chair of the Parish Council, Cllr Graham Sheldon, stepped down, to cries of dismay from the public gallery, stating that he could not chair this item following advice he had received from the borough solicitor. On leaving the room he said that, “My own interests are at the bottom of my priority list.” Cllr Firth took responsibility for the chair.
In response to the motion Cllr Buckley said, “It has never been stated that the school can’t be built in Uppermill. How is it possible to make decisions without costings and details? It is crucial that OMBC release detailed information backing their decisions.”
Cllr Knotts said, “There is a total lack of transparency. How can we make decisions without like for like comparisons. Major decisions, such as traffic management, should not be left to contractors.”
Cllr Lord said the Uppermill site was assessed in 2009 and was judged to unsuitable.
Cllr Harkness said, “It’s a choice, the Diggle site or no site”.
Cllr Allsop reminded everyone that, “The Parish Council has no authority over OMBC and we can’t instruct them to do anything.”
Although there were denials regarding the influence of party politics, there was a clear split in the Council with the majority of Lib-dems supporting the Diggle build and the majority of Independents opposing it. The Lib-Dems clearly believe that losing the Diggle site will result in there being no new school in Saddleworth. The Independents, on the other hand, can’t see why the Uppermill site can’t be seriously considered and a fair, informed comparison be made.
Compromise is clearly the order of the day. I just hope, for the sake of Saddleworth and its children, it’s not a compromise too far.
View south over Diggle (Photo: Stuart Coleman©2014)
A change from mild and wet weather to cold wintry conditions later this week.
The next 24 hours: Showers of rain, hail and sleet expected this afternoon and evening. Some wet snow possible above 300m later this afternoon and into the evening. Snow levels falling quite quickly this evening though. A risk of some brief wet snow in any heavier showers down to low levels from 2100 to 0600 but only trace accumulations of 0-1cm possible below 200m. Greater accumulations expected at high levels with 1-3cm between 200-300m, 3-5cm between 300-400m and 5-10cm above 400m in these showers. A low risk that locally there could be up to 20cm above 400m if showers are persistently heavy. Snow line will gradually rise through the morning but snow still impacting routes above 400m by 1200 Monday.
A new exhibition at Piccadilly Station Metrolink stop will pay tribute to some of Manchester’s most iconic music artists.
Entitled ‘Still Lives: Music in Manchester, 1976-1992’, the exhibition features nine bands including The Smiths and The Stone Roses alongside the venues where they made their names. Each of the nine pieces of artwork details an important gig in the history of Manchester music, with each taking place at a famous Manchester venue and played by an influential Manchester band.
Created by 21-year-old Manchester artist and musician Jordan Bolton, the exhibition will be displayed in light boxes at Piccadilly Metrolink stop from Saturday, 25 January to 25 April. The display was commissioned as part of TfGM’s Stakeholder Engagement and Public Art Project, aimed at involving local communities in creating stimulating local places which improve the overall travel experience for passengers and visitors.
Councillor Guy Harkin, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Committee Capital Projects and Policy Sub-Committee said: “My congratulations go to Jordan for creating this excellent display which is both visually engaging and reflective of Manchester’s strong musical heritage. Projects such as this not only help to make the Metrolink network more attractive for its thousands of daily users, but also support local artists and promote the culture and history of this great city. The Metrolink network and Piccadilly station are both iconic elements of Greater Manchester in their own right, so I believe it is an ideal location to host the exhibition.”
Jordan Bolton said: “I wanted to put all these bands together in one exhibition and thought it would be interesting to include them alongside the important venues within Manchester, which were a huge part of Manchester’s cultural history but do not get the same amount of public attention. Most of these venues have now been turned into something else, and so we may pass them every day in the centre of Manchester but are not aware of their significance and place in our culture.”
For more information on the work of Jordan Bolton, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JordanBoltonDesign
Debbie Abrahams (Photo: Stuart Coleman©2013)
Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has written to update over 500 residents in Diggle on the responses to her postal and doorstep survey regarding Saddleworth School.
After having sight of the ‘technical assessments’ from the Council, and given the restrictions of the allowed budget and the Government’s timetable, she says she believes Diggle is the ‘least worst option’ for locating a new school.
She says: “In regards to the building of a much needed new school in the area, I have said from the start, I think the Government has treated Saddleworth badly. The proposed school’s new location and specification are far from ideal and are clearly driven by cost. At the same time the Government has effectively taken £4 million from Oldham Council to set up a ‘free’ school in Chadderton. I have been most disappointed with the intransigence of the Government. The Education Funding Agency have also not been particularly forthcoming.
“In my letter to residents I have said that I believe the development of a new Saddleworth School for our young people, fit for the 21st century, is paramount. Although there are still significant issues that need to be resolved, particularly around addressing access/traffic and flood risk issues, I understand that the school, Council and EFA will be doing this as part of the planning application process.
“Whilst the Diggle site is not ideal, especially at the front and so close to Huddersfield Road, I do believe that it is probably the least worst option, given the restrictions of the allowed budget and Government timetable.
“I believe the School recognise that there are genuine concerns from residents especially those living on Huddersfield Road. I have urged the school and Council to look at how they can engage with residents more effectively, so that any development is based on active involvement in decision-making that affects them, and is taken forward in a constructive and sensitive manner. Ongoing dialogue is essential. I will continue to monitor the new school’s development as it progresses although I have no formal role in the planning process.”
The letter to Diggle residents:
(Please note – Some versions of the letter may differ depending on the recipient’s previous correspondence with Debbie Abrahams’ office.)
Proposed Saddleworth School development
Further to my letter to you on this issue, please find enclosed a copy of the response I have received from the Council in answer to my representations on your behalf. In addition, I would like to provide you with a summary of the feedback I received.
Over 100 people have responded to the postal and doorstep surveys I conducted. Of these nearly everyone raised the primacy of having a new school for our young people in Saddleworth. However, there were genuine concerns about the preferred site for the new school and the associated issues. These included exacerbating access along Huddersfield Road, increasing flood risk on an existing flood plain with the development, a potential safety risk because of the proximity to the canal and the visual impact of the school. 85% expressed concerns about the location of the new School, the process by which the site had been selected and the community had been engaged.
As you are aware, I wrote to the Council to raise these concerns, and subsequently met with Cllrs Jim McMahon and Amanda Chadderton. I have also been in regular contact with the School’s Governors and management team. And as you know from my previous letter, in November I met with the Minister responsible for these decisions, David Laws, and a representative of the Education Funding Agency to lobby for more funding for the school’s development and to raise the emerging issues. The next evening, I had a conference call with members of the Save Diggle Action Group to let them know the disappointing news from the Minister.
You may recall I requested that the Council provide me with access to the technical assessments undertaken both as part of the defunct ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme and the more recent options appraisal ‘refresh’ as part of the ‘Priority Schools Building Programme’ and EFA requirements in identifying a suitable site for the new school; this amounted to approximately 600 pages. I have now had an opportunity to examine these documents.
As I have said before, I believe the development of a new Saddleworth School for our young people, fit for the 21st century, is paramount. Although there are issues that still need to be resolved, for example, plans to address access/traffic and flood risk issues, I understand that the School, Council and EFA will be doing this as part of the planning application process. Whilst the Diggle site is not ideal (especially at the front and so close to Huddersfield Road), I do believe that it is probably the least worst option, given the restrictions of the allowed budget and Government timetable.
I believe the School recognise that there are genuine concerns from residents especially those living on Huddersfield Road. I have urged the School and Council to look at how they can engage with residents more effectively, so that any development is based on active involvement in decision-making that affects them, and is taken forward in a constructive and sensitive manner. Ongoing dialogue is essential.
I will continue to monitor the new school’s development as it progresses although I have no formal role in the planning process. I will try and keep you updated on this issue (and many others!) in my monthly e-newsletter.
Thank you for reading this. I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2014.
Debbie Abrahams MP
Saddleworth Players are currently taking bookings for the third production in their 2013/2014 season.
Quartet, by Ronald Harwood opens on Saturday 25th January through to Saturday 1st February at The Millgate Arts Centre in Delph starting at 7:30pm each night. Tickets are priced at £8 for Adults and £5 for students.
In this home for retired opera singers, ‘the élite’ gather to pass the time. Consternation ensues when they hear about the latest arrival … the tactless, overbearing Jean, constantly reminding everyone of her diva status, miserable and resentful to find herself reduced to joining the ‘inmates’. Will retirement ever be the same again ?
This is a lovely play, warm, witty, very funny and not without some “tough” moments as it looks at the ageing process in general. It has recently been made into a film starring Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay.
The production features a strong cast of well known regulars to the Millgate stage, Ian Perks, Jon Comyn-Platt, Ann Wright and June Holmes. It is directed by Patricia Redshaw.
Public booking is now open – call the box office on 01457 874644. Telephone booking open Tuesday to Friday 7:30pm – 9pm. Or you can now book online – follow the link at www.saddleworthplayers.org.uk.
By Mike Buckley
The Oldham Council statement is pure propaganda in favour of relocating the school in Diggle and like previous similar statements by the Council it is short on fact but high on rhetoric.
In support of the move, the statement continues the Council policy of abandoning objectivity in preference to peddling information intended to mislead. I would like to correct just a few of the misleading statements.
The school is being partly built on the green belt land in Diggle, the two storey sports hall is entirely on the green belt, as are the playing fields and fences. No clever words can get round this fact. Both are classed as development in planning terms and, contrary to the statement, the status of the green belt land will change as it will no longer be classified as a greenfield site.
The so called technical committee, largely composed of individuals with no technical qualifications, being self selected and accountable to no-one, is not representative of the community. The decision of the group to abandon the proposals to build the school in Uppermill in favour of Diggle, was far from unanimous, many members objecting on having to make a decision in the absence of either any meaningful financial or technical information on the two options.
The rejection of the recent proposals to build the school in Uppermill was also made in the absence of any rigorous assessment. No-one, including the technical committee, has seen the results of the so called evaluation of the scheme that took place. The claims about inaccurate costings cannot be substantiated without the evidence on which these statements were made.
The lack of technical and financial information on both proposals brings into question the rigour and objectivity with which the decision to move to Diggle has been made. The Council seem to be under the impression that the people of Saddleworth do not need this information and will instead trust the Council to make the right decision. Many of us do want to see the facts and the basis for this unpopular move.
Uppermost in the Council’s decision is undoubtedly the land swap deal, exchanging the existing Uppermill site for the green fields of Diggle. The Uppermill site is prime development land that would fetch a high price on the open market. The Diggle site is 75% green belt, land that could not be used for housing or industry and would command a much lower premium on the open market. How much are the council making out of the deal? They have refused to give any indication of the numbers involved. I am amazed that they are close to signing, surely they should first wait for planning permission to build on the Diggle site – by no means a certainty in view of the number of both national and local planning polices with which the proposals will conflict. The planning application has not yet even been submitted.
I continue to be very disappointed at the secretive way in which this project is being handled by the council. It is probably the most significant development proposal affecting Saddleworth for decades. Councillor McMahon at the public meeting in October promised consultation before the planning stage. Where is it? The Council instead continues its policy of withholding information and making decisions behind closed doors. Instead of information they fall back on telling everyone in Saddleworth what is good for them. The people of Saddleworth deserve more respect than this torrent of whitewash and propaganda.
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.
Oldham Council is in final negotiations to acquire the site for Saddleworth School.
The local authority is now close to finalising a deal to buy 13.28-acres of land at the former WH Shaw Pallet Works in Diggle. This plot, off Huddersfield Road, is the one shown at public meetings last year as Oldham Council’s preferred option for a new school site to be delivered under the Government’s Priority School Building Programme.
To select the site Oldham Council has worked in close partnership with the Education Funding Agency (EFA), which manages the project for the Department for Education, and Saddleworth School’s Technical Group which comprises Ward and Parish Councillors, Council officers, school representatives and members of the local community. These parties have decided that this is the best viable option to deliver the project within its finite budget and tight timescales and, offers the best solution for the school going forward.
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “We’re making good progress on the next steps to deliver a new Saddleworth School fit for future generations. Oldham Council, the Saddleworth School Technical Group and the EFA are united in our view that the Diggle site is the best viable option.
“Two new schemes were also recently assessed that were submitted by a local architect. These proposed the new school could be built on grass pitches on the existing 11-acre Saddleworth school site. Neither of these schemes was viable. Some of the projected costs were incorrect and underestimated whilst other significant costs had not even been factored into the plans. There were also other weighty practical problems which included safety issues and a lack of car parking during the proposed construction period.
“We’re united in our view that the Diggle site is the best deliverable option and we are equally all committed to delivering the best possible scheme now that balances the needs of pupils, parents, staff and the local community alongside the tight project deadlines and budget. We fully understand some people remain concerned about certain aspects of the plans and we are listening to them. Oldham Council has already allocated an additional seven-figure sum to deliver major improvements to highways and traffic arrangements and we’ll share these plans with the public as soon as they are ready.
“I also want to make it clear again that, despite repeated and misleading claims to the contrary, there is no truth in the suggestion that we’re building a school on Green Belt land. The Diggle site is designated for industrial use. Green Belt land would only be used in this scheme for sports facilities and ancillary buildings, which does not alter its current status at all. We must not lose focus on the bigger picture here. Saddleworth desperately needs a modern secondary school and a facility the whole community can benefit from and be proud of. This is an opportunity to deliver that – and it’s one that we simply must not squander.”
“At Full Council on December 18, several residents had submitted questions via email and Social Media about Saddleworth School to be asked at ‘Public Question Time’. There was a large volume of questions submitted and – due to time constraints – many were unable to be answered in the allocated slot. Full answers to any questions not covered by the existing list of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ about the Saddleworth School project can now be viewed online here.