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Councillor Brian Lord answers some objections of the Save Diggle Action Group over Saddleworth School

Cllr Brian Lord

Cllr Brian Lord

Councillor Brian Lord, member of the Chair of Governors at Saddleworth School, has given Saddleworth News his views on the current situation regarding the proposed new school, and the objections by SDAG to it being built in Diggle.

Cllr Lord said: “Firstly let me say that I have never had a problem as to where the school was to be built. All I want is a decent facility, where our children can work, which is not a 100 years old and sadly no longer suitable for today’s type of education and which doesn’t cost a lot of money to sustain.

“I believe that many people still believe the information being put about by the Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) and some councillors.

“I would like to take this opportunity to answer many of their objections and suggestions.

“There are three bodies involved in the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) for the new school:  The EFA, OMBC and the school. However the former two are the main players with the school acting as an advisory body.

“I strongly believe that residents should know the exact reasons why it is not possible to build on the existing Uppermill site. I will try to outline the main ones.

“Firstly the land on which the SDAG plan shows the new school to be built is what is called ‘made land’ i.e. it is not the original surface. In this case it is the spoil from earlier development of the site or elsewhere. Thus it is highly likely that the new building would have to be ‘piled’ – at very considerable cost – not allowed for in the SDAG figures.

“The proposed road leading up to the new school building would also need to be piled to prevent it slipping into the adjoining Pickhill Brook – again not allowed for in the SDAG figures.

“Because the school would be built on reclaimed land it is also extremely likely that the land and foundations would have to be protected against gas emissions, with methane barriers etc. – again not allowed for in the SDAG scheme.

“The SDAG scheme suggests the removal of a classroom block – originally stated as 6 classrooms but it isn’t – it is 10 classrooms, plus toilets and offices. Worse still, the majority are specialist Art and Technology rooms – far larger than general classrooms. The existing rooms contain cookers, sinks and specialist benching.

“The scheme suggests putting temporary classrooms on the site of the existing Multi Use Games Area (Muga) and grassed area alongside the linear path. Both areas are used daily for PE lessons. If this were the case we would be short of places to teach PE. The costs of large ‘prefabs’ would be much greater than the SDAG suggestion. In addition they would need a significant power supply as two rooms are for Food Technology and have  ovens, washers, fridges etc. and as the school supply is already overloaded, and given the building site would also need power, there would need to be a separate supply going back to the nearest substation. Again costs not accounted for in the SDAG scheme.

“It is also suggested that significant savings could be made by retaining the existing sports hall. Again this would be far from ideal as the building needs considerable money spending on it as it leaks – not only from above but also from below.  It would also stick out into the suggested playing field!

“Whilst any building work was underway the school drive would have to serve both the builders and pupils – clearly a very challenging and dangerous situation to manage. One way to combat this would be to construct a second access– again at considerable cost not accounted for in the SDAG scheme.

“As the Uppermill site is worth more than that at Diggle the Authority would receive the cash difference – money that it has guaranteed to spend on the new school and a sum which would not be available if the original site was to be used.

“There are other minor matters but it is clear from the above that financially it is not possible to use the Uppermill site given the modest budget available. One final point concerns the time window within which the new school would have to be completed. It is estimated by the EFA that it would take an extra 8 months to do the building in Uppermill which would mean that it could not be completed in the required time scale.

“With regard to the potential problems relating to the Diggle site. Firstly the Council have made it clear the Diggle site is 18% bigger than the Uppermill one.

“The first concern which people have is the fact that at present the parked cars and the ‘pinch’ point at the start of Huddersfield Road cause problems for people trying to get in and out of the Village. This could be very simply cured by stopping cars parking on the Road (but also providing a car park behind the houses for displaced cars) and by widening the road at the pinch point and this is exactly what the Council are proposing.

“Secondly people fear the problems caused by parents dropping off their children at the entrance to the school (already a major concern at the present site). This will be dealt with by means of a ‘school safety zone’ where stopping is forbidden and could be enforced by the camera car.

“The current control option shows all buses will load and unload on the school site and parents will be able to drive in and drop off their children thus leaving the main road free of obstructions.

“The school has a technical group working to provide the best possible outcome both visually and educationally. This is made up mainly of local people who have volunteered to be part of the group and who have not been “handpicked” as stated by SDAG. The group have education, the children and the village as a main concern and many have experience of working in construction or design. Already they have managed to persuade the EFA to have a two story building facing the main road rather than a three storey and will continue to work for the best possible outcome.

“I understand the reasons behind SDAG wishing to block the application and I have no problem in them stating their case but I hope they don’t blow problems out of proportion and accept that in my opinion their scheme to build in Uppermill is not viable.

“If SDAG manage to hold up the planning process we will inevitably lose our chance of having a new school – one which may never come again in the foreseeable future and this would be a disaster for the area. Should the present school have to close because the building is judged to be nadequate or unsafe, our children would have to travel to other parts of Oldham and beyond for their education. Is this what SDAG really want?”

28 comments to Councillor Brian Lord answers some objections of the Save Diggle Action Group over Saddleworth School

  • Saddleworth Voice

    Brian, were you once ‘Darth Vader’ in a previous life?

    Big chunk of candour in this Brian, and I’m sure you know it.

    I thought Councillors are elected to the local council to represent their local community?

    In fact Saddleworth Parish Council voted to “support Saddleworth residents in their campaign to oppose the building of the new school on the Diggle site” – You are a member of the Parish Council Brian?

    Over 70% of residents in a recent Saddleworth News poll said ‘no’ to Diggle.

    A fantastic school can be built on the existing site – which is what many, many people and Saddleworth Parish Council want – So why don’t you fight for what is right, support your local community (and school) and get the best, non compromise solution for Saddleworth?

  • Happy Diggle Resident

    Saddleworth voice – you state 70% voted against the Diggle site , the actual number was under 700 which is less than 3% of the population of Saddleworth ( 25,000 at the last census ) so don’t quote big numbers when your facts are wrong along with most of the SDAGs pricing of the current site.
    Let’s face it , the school is coming to Diggle whether you like it or not !!

  • Clifford

    Happy Diggle Resident – I’m entirely with you on the school being built in Diggle. But suggest you read the wording of Saddleworth Voice’s reference before trying to point out inaccuracies. You just make yourself look silly.

  • Saddleworth Voice

    ‘Happy Diggle Resident’ :-
    Which other poll can I refer to? Your poll? My poll? or an Independent poll such as Saddleworth News? to which I refer. Perhaps you should knock on doors in Saddleworth and canvas opinion which I believe SDAG have and are doing right now.

    Recent communications have suggested that they have now collected in excess of 1500 signatures opposing the move to Diggle in less than 4 weeks – I’ll tip them off about your door so not to worry.

    Have you seen any ‘pricing evidence’ of the current site?

    Prepare yourself because when you seen the facts, evidence and reality of the move to Diggle I believe it will make you shudder – the ‘land swap deal’ NO …. I’ll leave that for another time.

  • Keith McZone

    At the public meetings at the close of last year, Brian Lord came across as arrogant, willing to push the decision through, however I’m afraid he’s right with this.

    Please face facts. The school is moving to Diggle, end of story. Surely Oldham Council will work with SDAG once they get support for the good of the school. The land swap will benefit the Council with their finances (which will be put back into the community), the access will solve the traffic bottleneck, and perhaps breath life into the village. Not everyone in Diggle has such a narrow-minded view to go so far as oppose anything in the name of progress.

    Please get behind the development and let’s have a decent school that our pupils deserve.


  • Happy Diggle Resident

    Saddleworth Voice – no one has knocked on my door in Diggle !!

  • Saddleworth Voice

    Keith Mc:

    Brian Lord is not right with this one – he is in fact very, very wrong. The school is not moving to Diggle – a planning application has not even been submitted never mind opposed and/or overturned at a possible judicial review.

    OMBC will not work with SDAG in fact I believe they have not even had the courtesy to reply to their requests for a ‘common ground’ consultation.

    The land swap deal will not benefit the community.

    Life in Diggle village, I believe is breathing quite nicely – Thank you.

    This is not progress it is a compromise for Saddleworth and yes our pupils do deserve a fantastic school which they can get with a PSBP rebuild on the current site if political will and commitment from the likes of me and you; you exist.

    Care to join the ‘Save Saddleworth’ campaign?

  • Diggle Forever

    I, and a lot of other long term Digglers, would much rather that the school was built now and this ridiculous business could come to an end. A new school in Diggle would benefit ALL of Diggle, but particularly its young people. It’s time to get back to Diggle being a living and working village.

  • Sparkle

    Saddleworth voice , the facts were 70 % of 500 ish voters . Not a figure that would be taken seriously when taking into account total number of RESIDENTS in Saddleworth . The voters could have been from anywhere from anyone and could have multiple emails to allow themselves multiple votes .
    Petitions are taken with a pinch of salt also .
    The fact is
    Diggle will provide the best education with the best safety . And Saddleworth will remain the place where people chose to live .

  • Amanda Sandiford

    If the school being built has a long (as put by the council at one of the meetings) shelf life, I would agree entirely about it providing a secure and fit for purpose school for generations to come. It has, however, been stated (again by the council) that the new school has a shelf life of 20 to 30 years. How is this protecting our future generations education?! What happens when this new school becomes unfit for purpose? They won’t be able to rebuild on the Diggle site as the recreation areas are will be built on green belt! Will future generations be bused out of the area then as there will be no sites to build on left, the old school site will have been redeveloped with houses, so don’t try and fob us off with ” this school is for our children and future generations”. Get real….it’s about money and money alone and the revenue that new houses on the old site will bring…The pinch area on the road cannot be widened as there are houses on both sides, a drop off a pick up and bus turning area is a good idea, but it still doesn’t alter the fact that these cars and buses have to get in and out of Diggle….disgusting

  • Mum of 3

    no one has knocked on my door either!!!

    I keep seeing figures stating the majority are against Diggle, well i haven’t been asked, I’m all for a new school and if its Diggle then its Diggle. Most of the other parents I know with children at Saddleworth are all for the move too.

    Most people I know who are against the new school in Diggle either dont have kids at Saddleworth, live too close to the proposed school, are elderly or have businesses in Uppermill!!!

    There has been no general canvassing within Saddleworth that I’m aware of and nothing from school either.

    I’m a happy mummy, just want to see it built now, maybe my other 2 children will get a school fit for purpose, and a school they deserve.

    (right, must go n buy a sweet or pie shop in Diggle pronto lol)

  • HL

    thankyou to brian lord for a very overdue report on this issue. lets see the full breakdown costs for both schemes so saddleworth residents can have a fuller picture on this.

  • Lee Orton

    Mum of 3,

    Great idea about opening a sweet shop in Diggle! I bet Buckleys are looking for a new shop as we speak!

    Can’t wait to see Diggle reach it’s full potential after years of being the poor man’s Uppermill

  • Sparkle

    It actually surprises me that so many of SDAG and supporters believe they are so right with their opinions and supposedly facts .The financial side of it all is actually nothing to do with the position being wrong , who gains out of land swaps etc is totally irrelevant .
    A new school with Building Regulations will have to be built regardless of money , so why do they keep going on .
    Rebuilding on the existing site has been said over and over that it is not viable yet they keep going on that it is .
    We need a new school for our children and we need it fast , we have heard all the ridiculous arguments against building it in Diggle, we have heard a few good arguments against but still it is becoming clearer all the time that SDAG really are not prepared to think of the bigger picture and other people than them selves . Any disagreement with them is met with anger . Some of what they say we may even live to discover they were right , some totally wrong .
    OMBC are doing there best for us to keep our School ,and I for one ,along with many others who have children at or will be going to Saddleworth School in the future will support them and the school all the way .

  • Andy

    Well said Sparkle – the best response , I think it is becoming quite clear from all these comments , that SDAG have once again got it wrong by thinking everyone is against the move to Diggle , it’s obviously the opposite.
    I’m sick of reading what the SDAG think in its opionatated manner and as Sparkle correctly states , they use repetitive arguments that are going nowhere .
    We need a school and if Diggle is the only viable site ( Uppermill is NOT going to happen do accept it ) then let’s support this project and ensure we have a school that our children can thrive at.

  • Keith McZone

    @Saddleworth Voice – I live in Diggle and support the school move. I’ve seen more facts about the proposal in this statement from Brian Lord than any statement released so far by the Save Diggle action group. Lee Orton was spot on with his comment about the Sunfield Estate and the opposition that went with that development.

    I’d like to think that within the traffic and access plans then a suitable pedestrian crossing will be in place. One only has to witness the utter selfishness and stupidity of some parents who block Sam Road by double parking (even on the pavements) when picking up children from Diggle School. It’s a pity that it’ll take an accident to get the school to agree to take action on this issue.

  • kilkins

    I wish they’d just get on with it, they’ll be loads of moaning when all this faffing has delayed the build and the kids have to go to waterhead academy.Diggles purpose has been a through road to huddersfield for too long let’s get some life in it, wouldn’t it be great to live in a village that has the best school in greater Manchester

  • Andy

    I hope the SDAG and Saddleworth Voice note all the above positive comments in favour of the move to Diggle and understand they are in the minority ( by a very very long way ) , time they accepted the inevitable !!

  • Dorothy M

    I have noticed that everyone who seems to be against this school are ‘comers-in’. People need to remember they moved to a real village – not a middle class theme park. Saddleworth school was falling down when I went, 30 years ago. I hope Oldham Council have the courage to ignore this MINORITY of NIMBYs.

  • Malc B

    Dorothy M
    I think you’ve got it the wrong way round,its the comers in that don’t care about our wonderful green fields of Saddleworth,open your eyes and see who’s really running this new build.

  • Wabosso

    Just get it built…. I don’t want my kids to have to move mid-schooling to Waterhead Academy when Saddleworth school is declared unsafe due to all this faffing about.

  • Dorothy M

    Give over, Malc! It’s the foundry we’re talking about! Diggle has never been a chocolate box village and that’s a good thing.

  • Sparkle

    OMG , it’s the comers in is it ?
    MALC without comers in Saddleworth would not be the place it is , for gods sake think about what you are arguing about.
    This is not about who lives where ! why ! Or for what reason . It is about the building of a new school , 21st century standards , safe for our children to be educated , without travelling miles . It is about keeping a secondary school within the villages for the education of Saddleworth children .
    Stop playing the same old record , we are in an era of IPods and computers , let’s move on and keep the life and future in Saddleworth .
    The place everyone ( from towns and cities included ) would love to be part of !

  • Samantha Marshall

    Dorothy M – We are not talking about the foundry. Please keep up with the facts. The industrial buildings are not affected by this development. They are building totally on the green fields and Green Belt in the Diggle Valley.

    And to top it all the School will share an access road with an active industrial area.

    How can this be the right thing for Saddleworth?

    All I read in Cllr Lord’s statement is “highly likely” and “extremely likely”. Where are his facts?

    I’m supporting SDAG in getting it built where it should remain in Uppermill.

  • Andy

    Not sure how much energy and effort you are wasting still clinging onto a dead dream that the school will remain in Uppermill , no wonder it takes outsiders to innovate the area where inbreads refuse to accept the obvious and inevitable.

  • Concerned Parent

    To be fair Samantha… is the right thing for Saddleworth to have NO school?. That is what is going to happen if you all can’t stop bleating on about where it is built.
    Even if the school isn’t built in Diggle. I can guarantee that something WILL be built there.. Green Belt or no Green Belt ..
    Please stop messing about the with education of the children of Saddleworth and just build the school before the money disappears and the children all end up at schools scattered across Oldham.

  • Dorothy M

    Samantha, they aren’t building totally on the green belt. The vast majority is on industrial zoned land. It might have been grassy in the recent past but it hasn’t always been like that. People who live nearby should have been aware of the land usage. I would much rather have a school there than a load of ‘executive houses’ made of fake stone, that no local people can afford.

  • CS

    Do any of you “Uppermill is not viable have any facts of figures they want to share as you all seem so adamant its its not OMBC don’t seem to have any.

    The Diggle site is not done deal or best option by a long way.