78% in an independent poll said build Saddleworth School on the existing site in Uppermill

(source: Saddleworth School Poll on Saddleworth News)

90% of those asked are signing our door to door petition

Over 3000 people have signed a door to door petition asking for the EFA and OMBC to build new Saddleworth School on the existing site in Uppermill and it's growing

Come and JOIN THEM
Sign our online petition TODAY

Why Are People Supporting Us

Please read this email sent to SDAG from Sarah and Andrew. It's one of the reasons why we are fighting day and night for this campaign.


Both myself and my partner would like to join the Supporters Group. We live on Huddersfield Road, Diggle directly opposite Shaws Mill. The proposed plans for a school going here has had such an impact on us that we have put our house up for sale. Something which we didn't want to do, but feel we have no options as we are both shift workers and would not be able to sleep with the noise a school generates.

We would like to assist in the campaign anyway in which we can. We have lost any hope of changing the current proposals but agree that the more support we can generate the better.

Many Thanks

Sarah and Andrew

The letter below, to the EFA, is from a resident of Diggle and someone who has a strong attachment to education through his governorship of a very successful school. It is a frank, intellectually rigorous and profound statement of facts. Please take the time to read:

Attention Jane Brighouse
Dept for Education
Castle View House
East Lane
Wa7 2GJ

Re: Proposed new Saddleworth School – Greater Manchester

Dear Jane,

I write regarding the proposed development of a new school in Saddleworth, which I believe has, or is about to have, received funding via Interserve as part of a wider based £48m funding for other schools in the area.

I am a local resident of Diggle, the village of 1500 residents where the proposed school for 1500 pupils+ staff is proposed to be built. Diggle is an independent village on the fringe of an area of 8 independent villages forming the Parish of Saddleworth. The current school is located in Uppermill, which is the commercial and legal centre of the area and where any new school should also be built.

My concerns are on several levels. Firstly poor or almost no public consultation has taken place – I went to a Saddleworth Parish Council meeting last night to hear that these plans have been well advanced for well over two years, and even over 4 years in some respects, yet the first mention whatsoever to local residents was at a public meeting only two weeks ago. This could at best be described as un-democratic, and at worst hugely arrogant. (FYI - At the meeting the council voted to support the local residents against the Diggle site).

Secondly, we are all told that the EFA have forced the team looking at this to only look at "new sites", as opposed to redevelopment of existing sites. The proposed new site is wholly unsuitable (which I will come to below), but the argument that the advocates of the Diggle site have used to hugely substantiate their argument is along the lines of “it’s a new green field site or nothing since the EFA will only finance on this basis”. If this is the case then the EFA is inadvertently condoning the use of part green belt land that will be the blight of this village for generations to come. The land proposed is open pasture land that whilst has been part designated as for possible "brown low industrial" use was also to my knowledge never publically consulted with local residents on either. If, on the other hand the EFA will only finance new school builds as we are told, then the EFA's policy must be held up as an illustration of inflexibility and total disregard for local opinion. The proposed land will be acquired in a "land swap" with the old school site that will afford the developer a huge profit with the development of executive houses – I am not convinced this fact has not unduly affected the proposal. I do believe, however, that the proponents of the new school (including the existing Head and Chair of Governors) do have what they believe are the best interests of Saddleworth at heart – but they have allowed themselves to be backed into a corner where it is the new site ... or nothing. The existing site could accommodate a new school with the same number of current pupils (as per a plan from the EFA website overlaid on the current school site attached). I am very unclear why the proposed new school suggests 1500 pupils when there is no demand for these extra places from Saddleworth itself (there may well be demand from outside Saddleworth but a brand new Academy has just been built in Waterhead that covers all the adjacent catchment area).

Thirdly the site is totally unsuitable for several environmental reasons. This was actually partially acknowledged publically at the Parish meeting last night by the Chair of Governors (who is also on the Parish council) but it kept coming back to "the new Diggle site ... or nothing". The proposed site, as already mentioned, is part green belt. It is on a flood plain and had been widely reported as being an unsuitable site for this reason alone. It is located at the far end of the Saddleworth area with only one access road in and out. The resultant traffic increase from 1500 pupils/parents/buses, plus staff and the evening activities simply cannot be absorbed on the existing road. Whilst on a map the road looks like an established main road, it is actually in effect a one way road due to its narrowness and houses built to the street edge on both sides. (I attach pictures taken today and a map showing at what point these were taken in relation to the new site) so you can clearly see that an already poor access area will be made substantially worse. This same road is also an emergency access road for the 3 mile Standege railway tunnel which presents its own safety considerations. I realise that some proposals to build an alternative parking area for residents might seem to alleviate this on the face of it, but even when there are no cars parked two buses cannot easily pass each other. The noise and light pollution associated with both the actual school itself (as well as the traffic) will be unbearable for the local residents. There is only a footpath on one side of the road (with no potential to build on the other side due to existing houses). There is also an existing industrial site that will use the same access road as the school which will inevitably create risk of accidents.

I am sure that the professionals involved in this planning may well have assured you that these problems can easily be overcome (which they cannot), but this still comes back to the main point. The site of the existing school, located at the heart of Saddleworth with good transport links is by all opinions the best location for the new School also. The EFA have been presented by the new school advocates as inflexible in consideration of the existing site – the EFA will therefore take the blame should this school go ahead and will have to bear the responsibility for this blight on the village for generations to come.

I urge you to reconsider this in light of these arguments and await your consideration in due course.

Yours faithfully

Melanie, one of the SDAG Founders, gave an amazing speech to Saddleworth Parish Councillors to try and persuade the Parish Council to support there own 2008 Green Policy Paper:

"We are here today to ask for your support to our campaign. We are pleased that the Parish Council adopted the policy in 2008 about protecting the green belt in Diggle against future developments. Developments which are not in keeping with the current design and buildings within Diggle. Myself and my partner moved to Diggle 3 years ago. The main reason that we chose to move here was the beautiful greenery.

My partner is from Newton Heath and his family used to visit Saddleworth especially Diggle for days out, walking along the canal and taking in the views. They couldn't afford holidays to the Lakes or abroad and saw this as the perfect alternative. It was his aspiration to one day live here. This dream has now come true and we feel that future generations of children deserve this aspiration too.

One day when we have children we hope to send them to Saddleworth school, but under the current proposals we feel that the school will be in no fit state, or we will be in the same situation where we are told now, that the school is not fit for purpose.

There are many reasons we object to the school being built in Diggle, of which I will mention a few, but the bottom line is we feel Saddleworth children are being short changed. They are the ones loosing out in this deal. We feel the decision is too quick, too sudden and too cheap, and above all it is a disaster for Diggle.

We do not understand why the school cannot be re-built on the existing site. Uppermill currently has the infrastructure in place to support a modern secondary school, removal of the school will undoubtably have an impact on Uppermills economy.

Diggle still has village status to maintain, it has minimal facilities and it cannot support 1500 pupils and its staff.

Safety concerns for children are of utmost importance. I feel this has been overlooked. It is being proposed to be on a busy narrow main road. All traffic effectively has to enter and leave by the same route. The proposed development will bring even more traffic and additional buses. It is also the emergency route for the Standege tunnel, no soultions to these problems have been proposed.

The EFA are offering £15 million and this is not thought to be sufficient. Why should Saddleworth children be short changed - this in my opinion is not ethical we should be their voices. I don't want my children to turn around to me in 15 years time and say mum, dad why didn't you try and stop this? It feels like we are being rushed into a decision and being blackmailed by Oldham council telling us if we don't take this funding now we won't get anymore... I feel this to be highly unfair.

Construction of such a school will mean the total destruction of the green areas in the valley floor - once lost will never be recovered. We should be protecting our green-belt land.

There are the issue of floods risk. According the the council's own hybrid SFRA report, undertaken in January 2010 when the site was being considered for the new Saddleworth school the recommendation was that this site was not a preferred option for the school, this was due to the risk of flooding from Diggle brook and the residual flooding from the Huddersfield narrow canal.

Our objections are not about whether Saddleworth needs a new school or not. They are based on the view that the proposal is for the wrong location, and for the wrong reasons which will result in an inferior educational facility for children's long term future. A different approach could provide this without having to divide communities."

"As the then Principal of Bolton Sixth Form College, I was allocated over £40m for the re-building of a 1600 College. It is very obvious that Saddleworth will have a school building which, very soon, will not be fit for purpose"

"Out walking the dog this morning and looked down at the beautiful landscape and felt really sad that this soon might have a modern architectural monstrosity ruining this unspoiled landscape - this can't happen!"

"There are numerous reasons why a school should not be built on the old Shaws site, most notably, that the site is built on a flood plain; tarmacing large areas of the flood plain will increase the rate of run-off into the river and therefore increase the risk of flooding in the centre of Uppermill...."

"What will it be next? They'll be converting Denshaw church into a cool loft, selling off water from Dovestone Reservoir, tarmacking Castleshaw valley. Soon we won't be able to enjoy a pint of local in the Church Inn. They cancelled the Beer Walk - they'll be coming for the beating of the bounds soon too. Council is thick as thieves with 'developers'. Only thing being developed is money for them!"

"Gorgeous area - let's preserve it"

"This is such a beautiful corner of England, this must not happen!"

"No more room in Diggle"

"This isn't just about a new school. It is about changing the housing demographic of Oldham Met Borough to make the council more self sustainable. The council leader even stated that in the first public meeting. The school land is prime for premium houses."

"I thought it was odd when I went to the Saddleworth Show that I was asked to sign a petition to save Saddleworth School, then I saw a proposal for Diggle. Personally as an ex student of Saddleworth I think it's a crying shame to not put the money into redeveloping the site. Maybe if they had spent some money along the way to keep it more functional, it wouldn't have ended up this way."

"To actually put forward for a new School to built on the Shaw's site beggars belief. All I can think there must be ulterior motives as the logical site is the present one. Over the past 3 Winters it has been practically impossible to travel safety in Diggle for residents let alone having a new School thrown into the mix. Have any of the Councillors who are recommending this crazy scheme ever drove thru Diggle at rush hour.

If you consider :
Traffic / Parking / Dropping off and picking up pupils.
The position of the proposed School in relationship to Huddersfield Road.
Winter conditions.
The majority of new Schools are built on the existing site.
No credible reason has been given why Saddleworth School can not be built on its existing site.

I reiterate my belief that there must be ulterior motives behind this ridiculous proposal, which over time will come to light."
"The catch phrase for the Diggle Blues Festival is: 'Diggle Blues Festival - where the blues meets the greenery.' In view of the proposed new school, building houses on the village green, and building houses up Ward Lane, perhaps it should be 'Diggle Blues Festival - where the blues meets the building sites.'"

"Diggle, and the infrastructure through and around it is simply not big enough for a secondary school! The school will be bigger? But they are increasing the intake? So no better off there then! All that traffic would go one way at 3pm...out of diggle, one way. Not split as it is now, heading out towards greenfield or the other way towards diggle/dobcross. £15million? Couple of local schools have had almost double that for partial builds! I cannot see how our children, or surrounding areas will benefit!
'Worried parent of saddleworth school child and uppermill resident'"

"How can Oldham Council ever think of building a school in this rural valley. It's just so heartbreaking."

"As the local primary schools are already full I would like to ask where all the children from this huge housing estate will be educated."

"I really hope and pray this land is saved and quickly, keep up the good work x"

"Heres a thought, where will the kids go when it snows cos the first place the bus misses is Diggle we had non for at least two weeks this winter so be prepared for lots of lost days "

"I've witnessed so many stand off's between 2 vehicles at the beginning of Diggle. And I never even considered how bad the winters are in Diggle but I wont drive or attempt work when it snows and that's why I always leave a pair of Wellies in my car as the winter in Diggle........... expect to walk a lot!"

"I hope that the Council and planners will take on board the fact that the school CAN be replaced on the present site and do so. As far as I can work out:
It will be more cost effective for the school (meaning better facilities).
It will annoy far less people.
It is a REAL possibility.
Supports local business.
The road doesnt need to be re built (cost and disruption).
The current site is safer (putting over 1000 young people next to a dangerous road, an old industrial site, canal and train line is asking for trouble).
There will be far less impact environmentally.
Far less disruption/destruction to the special aesthetic of Saddleworth.
Building on 'brown field' (the current site) is the desired standard over building on 'green field' (diggle).
Saddleworth school has already got a brand new sports pitch and to re build it would be more money wasted that could go into the new school building.
People will feel like they can effect change and that planners and councillors listen to their views and act on them.
It is in the best interests of students to have the very best school that will facilitate learning. By building a school in Diggle we will be teaching our children that it is ok to destroy the environment and that it is ok that the few can profit over the expense of the many and it is ok that the opinions of the majority are ignored. A school's function is to facilitate learning; what will our children be learning from us by building something that the cons far outweigh the pros (try it yourself, make a list of pros and cons for building in Diggle vs building in Uppermill). There are downsides to building in Uppermill but they are short term implications that can be negotiated and overcome.
Lets think long term about the best value for money school we can get. "