Oldham Council are faced with finding a site for a new Saddleworth Secondary School within less than five weeks or they risk losing £15 million pounds in subsidies from central government.
Saddleworth Parish Councillors were informed at the council meeting on Monday evening that four sites were being considered in the Saddleworth area but, to date, none had been purchased by Oldham Council.
The site favoured by many is the old pallet works on Huddersfield Road, Diggle but only part of this site is currently for sale. The two fields to the front of the old, grade 11 listed, office building.
There are major problems with the current school which is over 100 years old with facilities and services starting to break down. Parish Council Chairman, Brian Lord, pointed out that rebuilding on the current site would be very problematic. He said it would be difficult to accommodate pupils whilst the build took place as the grounds are not large enough for the amount of portable classrooms that would be needed. To avoid relocating pupils, it was felt it would be better to look at alternative sites.
If a school was to be built in Diggle on the front two fields of the pallet works, it would be very close to the road and would undoubtedly cause problems for the residents of Diggle. The road into Diggle is already a bottleneck for traffic and regularly becomes blocked during rush hour. A new road through the valley would alleviate this problem but, with current budget cuts, there is no money available to build it.
The Parish Council will write to the Secretary of State to inform him of their concerns and will request that they be included in all future discussions.
A group of Parish Councillors will be visiting the North East in the next few days to view examples of the type of school that can be built for £15 million. Most schools that have been built recently in the North West have cost, on average, around £30 million. The new Waterhead Academy, for example, cost £35.5 million.
Diggle News would be interested to hear your views and ideas. All comments will be forwarded to the Parish Council and the Diggle Community Association.