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Saddleworth School update from Brian Lord

Chair of Governors at Saddleworth School - Brian Lord

Chair of Governors at Saddleworth School – Brian Lord

Chair of Governors at Saddleworth School, Brian Lord, has written to Saddleworth News to give an update on the school situation.

He said: “I would like to outline where the situation regarding the new school is at.

“It is expected that in the next few days OMBC will sign a section 151 and section 77 agreement with the EFA. This means that they will underwrite any costs incurred by the EFA if the new school is not built in Diggle and that they will purchase the land.

“It may well be that this has already been done by the time you hear this. This means that there is absolutely no chance of the school being built in Uppermill. There is no longer any point arguing the merits of either site. The EFA, who are the ones offering the money, have said very clearly that they will not pay for a school in Uppermill.

“With regard to the Diggle site please be aware that both the school and OMBC wanted the new school to be built on the rear part of the site but the EFA could not accept this on the grounds that the costs involved to deal with the listed building (the clock tower), the demolition costs (even allowing for the sale of the stone), the contamination, the flood risks with the Canal being so near and the fact that the stream runs under part of the buildings would mean that it would be far too costly to undertake and that the extra time required to prepare the site would be too long. We fully understand their concerns and continue to work in partnership with them to get a new school which can be built within the budget and timescale. Thus the only option is the front field.

“The school’s Technical Working Party is meeting each week and are trying to ensure that we have a state of the art building, designed to deliver outstanding educational opportunities for our children and which is built sympathetically to its surroundings and that it can provide excellent community facilities for the area. The Head teacher and I will meet the builders, Interserve, to develop the final plans which will then be presented to the Planning Committee for approval. I hope that when we have something more concrete then we will share it with you.

Mr Lord said that when the plans are registered with the Council (probably mid-summer) residents will have the opportunity to have “their say” in the application.

“I hope that all of Diggle’s residents will accept the facts and get behind the school in its efforts to provide the facilities for our young people to have a school which they can be proud of,”  he added.

63 comments to Saddleworth School update from Brian Lord

  • Saddleworth Voice

    ‘Saddleworth’

    John is not patronising – you are.

    Diggle can not provide a ‘great’ school – it is a floodplain, bounded by canal / railway & restricted road access. The spend to mitigate these issues (& the all weather SportEndland pitch) will come directly off the EFA £17m & capital receipt of c£1.6m.In reality leaving c£14m for the school build – this will not provide a ‘great’ school – indeed quite the opposite it will be a poor compromise with less facilities than the current offer.

    I believe SDAG are not looking for alternative sites in Saddleworth they have identified the existing site to be ideal & have provided viable plans

    ‘Grandpa Greens’ will not benefit from move to Diggle because bulk of business is tourism & tourists will choose not to visit when their much beloved walk down the canal is desecrated.

    ‘Diggle Chippy’ will not benefit because again bulk of daily custom is from outside Diggle – these customers choose to visit, have a higher spend and will choose to stay away rather than face hassle of ‘chip barm’ school children, waiting time & access.

  • John Trickett

    Saddleworth, I am not patronising you, apologies if this is how you feel my point has been put across.
    I do though feel that OMBC should have taken into into account all aspects of the relocation before making their decision. I put the question to the last OMBC meeting, as to whether they had consulted with local businesses with the question ‘would there be any effect of the school relocation?’ in order that OMBC could perhaps assist if needed (as I state, they have on Yorkshire St in Oldham centre). The answer was no, there has been no consultation. In my opinion that is wrong.
    As to whether Diggle can provide a great school, again that is a matter of opinion, but mine is based on the money available, far less than other similar school builds in Oldham, and the well documented issues with the Diggle site. Therefore we disagree in our views.
    But IF the relocation does go ahead one of us will be proven to be correct, and if that is the case I genuinely would like it to be you as I want the best deal possible for local children.

  • John Trickett

    Cllr Brian Lord,
    Sorry but to me there is a clear distinction between:
    The letter from the Secretary of State for Schools in which he says;
    ‘We (ie the EFA) are not responsible for the sourcing of the land and the location of school buildings. This is the responsibility of the local authority.’
    and you saying the EFA have rejected the Uppermill site and the back of the Diggle site.
    These two statements are contradictory.
    Therefore it appears to me that the decision to build in Diggle, and on the front of the site, is purely the decision of OMBC. Am I right?

  • John Trickett

    Saddleworth voice,
    I dont think any of the £17m from the EFA can be spent on infrastructure change, it has to be spent on the school build (OMBC would have to confirm that). But OMBC did say they would put additional money into the access road changes. Now if that money was to be added to the £17m then that could give more money for the school itself. That is why I think using the existing location gives a better chance of a great school, rather than money being spent on infrastructure change.

  • Saddleworth

    Saddleworth voice , that is your opinion . At least I got a polite , sensible answer back from John . We are all entitled to our opinion.
    Plenty of members of SDAG have commented on very many blogs about other possible sites for the school , the latest one being the paper mill in Greenfield has been suggested by many .
    Also I agree with John that the money available is for the school , OMBC have to supply the money for altering the road infrastructure etc if required .
    I am confident that Interserve can deliver this build within budget .
    I am confident the decision will be the right one , plans may not get passed and I will accept that . But we will not accept building on the existing site for reasons said many many times already . As stated by Mr Milburn , and I believe is not scaremongering , if Diggle doesn’t happen and Saddleworth loses the funding , we may very well end up with no school within Saddleworth . It is not scaremongering as no one can guarantee the existing school will remain . It is very close to being unfit for purpose as it stands .

  • Saddleworth Voice

    Brian

    ‘Uppermill was offered but rejected by the EFA.’

    Come on be transparent – this relates to the BSF proposal in 2008/9.

    This is what I become so frustrated of – just tell it like it is Brian

  • John Trickett

    Cllr Brian Lord,
    Having read again your response to my question re EFA involvment in site selection, I can understand why you’re saying that David Laws is correct, as the excerpt I’d provided could make sense as referring to the Diggle site only. Therefore its only fair that you see the excerpt in context with the remainder of the letter.
    Even though the letter is available to all on twitter, it isnt my letter and I dont feel comfortable sharing the entire letter on Saddleworth News.

    This letter, from David Laws, Secretary of State for Schools, is why I think the decision to site the school in Diggle has been made by OMBC, given the budget and timescale that the EFA have set them, and the EFA is not saying that the Uppermill site or the rear of the Diggle site would not be allowed.

  • Father of 4

    Just to say that I agree with John SDAG should carry on the campaign. Plus just to explode the myth that urban campaigns don’t have any affect. The Saddleworth wind farms were stopped by a combination of councillors and the public. It was the public that won the day.
    So good luck SDAG keep it up and I’m glad to see that the local Saddleworth public are getting behind you.

  • Cllr Brian Lord

    Once again can I make a few things clear.
    The EFA provides the money for the school buildings only. It is up to OMBC to provide a suitable piece of land. OMBC offered the Uppermill site and the back of the Diggle site but both were refused by the EFA. When OMBC offered the front site at Diggle the EFA accepted it.
    OMBC can only offer sites. The EFA decides which is to be built on.
    Saddleworth Voice suggests that the EFA were relying on information from 2008/9. This is absolutely untrue. When The John Barnes plan to redevelop the Uppermill site was proposed they employed a firm of surveyors to revisit the site to see if his ideas were viable. Their employee turned up just after the start of the Easter term THIS YEAR – 2014 and reported back to the EFA. The EFA did not pay out thousands of pounds to fully cost the Barnes plan as they clearly stated that it would cost far more than if they built on the Diggle site, would take 8 months longer and would cause disruption to the pupils education for upto 2 years. So there was absolutely no point in wasting thousands of pounds costing a site on which they were not prepared to build on.
    The decision to build at Diggle has been taken and once the Section 151 has been signed (any day now) Oldham would pick up a tidy bill if the school were not to be built in Diggle.
    If the school had been built in Uppermill Oldham would have missed out on millions of pounds it would receive as a capital receipt for the sale of the present site (The difference in value between the Uppermill land and the Diggle land – all of which they have promised to spend on the school)
    There is no point arguing the case for an Uppermill build any longer. People need to get behind the school to get the best buiding they can without continuing to oppose the offer and risk it being withdrawn altogether.
    Brian Lord
    Chair of Governors

  • Ilpirata

    ‘The Saddleworth wind farms were stopped by a combination of councillors and the public. It was the public that won the day. ‘

    You say that as though it was a good thing.

  • Emma Smith

    Ilpirata,

    Exactly. People claiming a glorious victory in stopping a wind farm says everything about the “keep Saddleworth as it is” brigade. They want to stop all wind farms spoiling their ‘lovely’ view and carrying on importing gas from Russia.

    Well, good luck with all that

  • Father of 4

    Once again Cllr Brian Lord seems to get his facts in reverse order. It could just be that there has been so much spin Cllr Lord may have forgotten which way he is now turning. Plus how an EFA “employee” can have done a survey in Easter 2014 is a miracle since we’ve not reached April yet.
    Anyway I must say I’m intrigued by the “millions” of pounds available from the land swap. Can he elucidate? Is it 1.6 million? Or is it 2 million, 3.4.5 ……. The more this flawed planning application goes on the less we all know. And it looks like a long race, first of all plans ready by April, then early summer, now mid summer. Come on you will be lucky to see this ready for submission by September at this rate!
    And I feel if truth be told Cllr Lord is as much in the dark as everyone else. That’s why he keeps beating the same old drum but no ones listening anymore.

    Fact is everyone wants a new school for Saddleworth but the majority want that school to stay in Uppermil. That’s one fact that is consistently obvious. But the school head, it’s board of governors and OMBC want it moved to Diggle. Sadly education has become the loser in the debate.

  • Cllr Brian Lord

    Father of 4
    My e-mail said ‘at the start of the Easter Term’ – not Easter. The start of the Easter term is of course January!
    I am of course unaware of the financial details of the land deal. These prices are commercially sensitive and not available until everything is signed off.
    There has been slippage in the time line and I am as frustrated as anyone else at the hold ups.
    The majority of people may wish the school to remain in Uppermill but sadly the EFA have said that they will not pay for a school on the present site. I have no power to change that and doubtless neither have OMBC.

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