(See the article below to read the statement made by the Diggle Action Group.)
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “Oldham Council met the EFA today to discuss progress on the Saddleworth School project.”
“The Save Diggle Action Group says the EFA confirmed that many schools in the Priority School Building Programme will be built on their original sites, often on existing playing fields, and that they have no objections to that happening. It also says the EFA has no objections to temporary accommodation being used where appropriate.
“This is absolutely correct. All that is theoretically possible, but not in the case of Saddleworth due to its layout, size and the costs of doing this.
“The EFA advised Oldham Council there is a finite budget for this scheme and they are committed to delivering the most cost efficient solution within this budget.
“Building on the existing site would require us to transport pupils to other sites on a daily basis for two years – potentially far away – and we would need to make changes to highways and utilities. The option of building a new school on the site with the finances available is not therefore considered the most cost effective solution.
“As part of this process the EFA requires Oldham Council to put forward a deliverable school site.
As promised at the recent public meeting, we continue to work in close partnership with the EFA to do this and will be issuing further information to consult Diggle residents very soon.
“Clearly there are issues, such as highways concerns, with the proposed site and we want to work actively with the local community to find the best solution.
“It’s also important to note that the proposed Diggle site is designated for industrial use. Green Belt land would only be used for sports facilities, which does not alter its current status.
“Saddleworth needs a new school. We must focus on the children and their education needs to find answers that work as best as they possibly can for all parties.
“There’s no perfect solution here – planning is never simple. But future generations are depending on us all to unite and work together to find a way forward.”
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