Recently elected Independent Councillor Nikki Kirkham talks to Stuart Coleman about her impressive victory at the local elections and her fight to keep Saddleworth School in Uppermill.
Stuart: Hi Nikki how do you feel?
Nikki: Brilliant, absolutely ecstatic, so happy.
Stuart: Did you expect to win with such a large majority?
Nikki: No, not at all. I think the people have spoken, the result speaks volumes.
Stuart: How did you feel leading up to the election?
Nikki: I was so nervous, you just don’t know how these things will work out. It’s so difficult to read. You can never count your eggs.
Stuart: Was there any indication that you had such a large majority?
Nikki: The general feeling, when we were canvassing, was that we were going to do really well. I had no idea it would result in a 479 majority. Its fantastic!
Stuart: So, why did you do so well?
Nikki: The school in Diggle, that’s the main issue. I think that’s why the Lib Dems lost so many votes, they just haven’t listened to the people. I recognise that there are a minority who want the school in Diggle but the majority don’t. I think the Lib Dems stance on this issue has really hurt them.
Stuart: Would you describe your win as a protest vote?
Nikki: Not as such, I think it says to politicians and decision makers that the people are tired of not being consulted. They deserve to be listened to and shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored. If they didn’t have a voice before, they will have one now. I will do everything in my power to ensure they are heard and listened to.
Stuart: So when Oldham Council are asked about how they deal with issues in Saddleworth they claim they always consult. Do you feel that this is the case?
Nikki: I don’t believe that at all. We have tried to liaise with Saddleworth School, the EFA and OMBC and we’ve come back with nothing. All we are given are general responses to specific questions and out of date reports. A lot of people are disillusioned and are sick of being fobbed off. They are tired of hearing ‘its a done deal’ when it clearly isn’t. We’re going to contact the Education Minister, as an Independant Group, to arrange a meeting, so that we can tackle the Saddleworth School issues head-on.
Stuart: Have you got the support of the other Independent councillors?
Nikki: Absolutely, yes, we work as a team.
Stuart: How does that work with Independents? By default you all have independent views and stand for your own reasons? Do you come together on specific issues?
Nikki: We come together on a lot of issues, sometimes we don’t agree and sometimes we do, thats the point of being Independent. The thing is, the other political groups are bound by party dogma, they have to walk the party line. We don’t, we can think and decide for ourselves. With regard to the school, we come together because we all agree, building a school in Diggle is fundamentally flawed and wrong.
Stuart: So given that this was a landslide majority would you say that the Saddleworth people are saying no to moving the school to Diggle?
Nikki: Yes I would, a 479 majority speaks for itself and it speaks volumes.
Stuart: So given that you’re now the elected to represent Saddleworth North would you say that you can make a difference and can give the people of Saddleworth the voice they deserve?
Nikki: Yes with their support I will make sure that our concerns are heard and addressed.
Stuart: Thanks Nikki and good luck.
To see the Election results for May 2014 go to: http://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200038/elections/1364/election_results_may_2014