School plans will "put children's lives at risk"

Proposals for site of new school Credit: Oldham Council

People living in Saddleworth say they fear plans being rushed through to build a new school will put children's lives at risk and devastate the countryside.

Plans by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council to create a new school for 1,500 students in the middle of Diggle, in Saddleworth, have outraged locals. Villagers say developing on green belt land and nearby Sites of Special Scientific Interest would damage the countryside for generations to come.

Saddleworth School is currently located in Uppermill. The council say this site is too small and is not currently considering redeveloping this site.

A spokesman for the Save Diggle Action group said: "This plan is ill conceived, impractical and above all dangerous.

"Ultimately the contempt of Oldham Council determined to rush the school through on this particular site will ruin what little countryside we have left and worse - lead to children's lives being put at risk."

Presenter and former Diggle resident, John Stapleton, said: "While I appreciate the need for a new school I would not support plans that would the devastate a beautiful area of countryside or destroy village life. I understand there are also questions over the safety of this site. I think it would be foolish to rush into this without a full and proper consultation with all the people involved."

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said:

“Originally we did want to locate the new school building at the rear of the Diggle site. However, this would increase the project costs by a prohibitive sum in the region of £2-3million, which is significantly over the allocated EFA budget for this project.

“Despite Oldham Council’s continuing budget challenge it has already put aside a substantial seven-figure sum towards the project costs that are not covered by the EFA’s own finite budget for this scheme such as improvements to highways and traffic issues.

“We remain committed to working co-operatively with all partners to find the best possible way forward.”