Early in the Summer the Government’s Educational Funding Agency (EFA) announced it would make a decision on the site of the new Saddleworth Secondary School and that an announcement was expected in the Autumn.
Saddleworth Independent Councillors Nikki Kirkham, Mike Buckley, Rob Knotts, Lesley Brown and Lesley Schofield have now written to the EFA chief executive requesting that the wishes of local Saddleworth people are fully taken into consideration when making the decision. To underline this message the councillors plan to present the EFA with a petition signed by over 3,000 Saddleworth residents, businesses, and parents requesting that the new school remains in Uppermill.
The location of the new school has been a topic of great concern throughout the district. An apparent ‘done deal’ announced by Oldham Council to build the school in Diggle, was overturned in June following a meeting between Saddleworth Independent Councillors and the EFA. Following the meeting the EFA decided to include the Uppermill site as an option. Since then survey work has been carried out at Uppermill to seriously evaluate the Uppermill option – survey work that has never before taken place.
Cllr Nikki Kirkham told Saddleworth News: “The EFA have said the school can be built in Uppermill, it just boils down to cost. We are convinced that it will cost a lot less to build in Uppermill as the playing fields and public transport arrangements are already in place. It all hinges on whether Oldham Council will subsidise the EFA costs in Diggle. Oldham Council money should be used to improve the school itself not on the expensive groundwork necessary in Diggle.
“Traffic is an insurmountable problem in Diggle and there is a real concern over pedestrian safety. We have written to the EFA highlighting the concerns of the Saddleworth community. We also have requested that Cllr McMahon, Leader of Oldham Council meets with us to receive the petition and discuss these concerns. To date the people of Saddleworth have never been consulted.”
The Councillors also plan to petition MP, Debbie Abrahams, and School Minister David Laws.