Campaigners fighting Saddleworth School move to Diggle granted judicial review

CAMPAIGNERS BATTLING to keep a new £19.2 million secondary school out of Diggle have been granted the right to proceed to a full judicial review.

Saddleworth School sign smallerCampaigners from Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) took their case to the Royal Courts of Justice in London to put their case before the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang DBE.

It was round one of SDAG’s legal opposition to the building of the new Saddleworth School on a site off Huddersfield Road, Diggle.

The group’s lawyer, Robert McCracken QC, presented their case while Oldham Council’s lawyer argued against appeal in a hearing which lasted more than three hours.

Keith Lucas, of SDAG, said: “The case has now reached a verdict and we have won this stage of our legal battle.

“SDAG have been granted the right from the Rt Hon Justice Lang at the Royal Courts of Justice today to proceed to a full judicial review.

“Oldham Council employed a leading silk to defend today’s hearing but the court found in our favour. This is a well-earned victory.

“I can only add how proud I am of the fellow SDAG committee team for preparing such a strong argument for our fantastic legal team, Alastair Wallace of Irwin Mitchell, and our brilliant QC Robert McCracken.

“It goes without saying that none of this could have happened without the loyal support financially and morally of all of our supporters.”

The site of new Saddleworth School
PLANNED SITE: Former WH Shaw Pallet Works on Huddersfield Road

Oldham Council’s Planning Committee originally approved proposals for a new school and related highways developments at the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site on Huddersfield Road on February 25.

However, just hours before the meeting, the council received a letter from objectors who claimed not enough importance had been given to the impact on listed buildings at the site and that the council would be acting “unlawfully” if the plans were passed.

Following legal advice, the council reconsidered the plans at a second planning meeting on April 13 and the proposals were again given the go-ahead.

In June, parents and local residents launched D4SS ­- Diggle for Saddleworth School -­ in support of the “expedient development” of the new school’s move to the village.

D4SS spokesman Keith Prior said: “D4SS are extremely saddened at this outcome that will only further delay the children of Saddleworth being provided with a decent school.

“It is of particular regret that there are no winners with this decision, only losers. Those losers are the children of Saddleworth who will again be denied the chance of being educated at a school with top quality educational, sporting and community facilities.

“We sincerely hope Oldham Council will continue to fight for the school to be placed in Diggle as it is clear this is without doubt the best available site that meets the needs of the children of Saddleworth.”

Oldham Council was asked for a response but said as legal proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.


23 Replies to “Campaigners fighting Saddleworth School move to Diggle granted judicial review”

  1. A very sad day for the children of Saddleworth. Yet another winter spent in a cold, damp building while the school try to make the best of a very bad situation.

    SDAG should be ashamed of themselves.

  2. One day a tipping point will arrive. Will our neighbours who so vigorously oppose and rejoice in their ability to continue to delay this much needed facility, be so pleased with themselves when the Health and Safety executive deem the current site inadequate, and pack our kids off to where ever can fit them in?

  3. I don’t know how the SDAG can refer to the continued delay in a quality school for the children of Saddleworth as a victory. To my eyes is a tragedy that yet more of our young people have to continue to experience a reduced quality of education due to the appalling environment in which they have to learn. They deserve a new state of the art school and I hope that the judicial review finds in favour of them not the selfish members of the SDAG.

  4. Meanwhile we have a dilapidated old mill gradually falling apart in the middle of the village. It’s a complete eye-sore. I simply cannot see why a brand new school fit for purpose would harm the look or atmosphere of the village (where I live!) at all. Let’s just get on with it, shall we?

  5. Uppermill is over run with tourists and has so many businesses that the traffic can be ridiculously busy it makes sense to move the school to a quieter location. The current school is ill equipped and falling down! The kids can’t get lunch as the canteen isn’t big enough! The list is endless…..the teachers are doing a fab job in an awful environment! These kids are our future they deserve a new school with all the modern equipment and facilities others kids have! Building a new school at the rear of the current Saddleworth school is just not doable, health and safety issues, space, disruption for the kids for years…..

  6. Please stop playing with our children’s future, they are the innocents in all of this mess in an already uncertain future. Stop all of this messing and peacocking about and get the school built in diggle.
    Let’s get another generation proud to come from saddleworth ??

  7. So sad to hear mr Lucas call this a victory, he’s proud, they’ve won etc etc. Meanwhile our kids lose, no new school and one falling around them. I keep hearing the same argument about it being built on the current site etc but the site isn’t the same as north chadd or anywhere else everyone spouts on about. The site isn’t designed well enough to build on safely while the kids remain there. They would also loose their sports facilities and let’s face it the site just isn’t big enough n yes it’s worth more to the developer, who gives a hoot?
    This hopefully is just another blip, another delay tactic. Oldham council can re submit n make sure they dot the i ‘s and the t’s. This doesn’t mean the school won’t go there. Unless of course the money is pulled and there is no new school at all. My 2 girls are currently at Saddleworth and will not see a new school, hopefully their education isn’t being compromised by the inadequate school and it’s facilities and teachers leaving left right and centre. My son will not go to this school in it’s current state, he needs so much better than they have to offer.
    It’s a real shame SDAG and their supporters couldn’t have backed the build and saved their money (cos yes they are self funding this fight) for a more deserving cause.
    The people who have put their names and money forward do not have children at the school but a vested interest in their views from the kitchen windows n parking their cars on the road. It has nothing to do with the school or the kids education, what a shame.

  8. How much more money is going to be wasted delaying the new school? As a Diggle resident and a mother I welcome the school and support it being built in Diggle.

    How long do we gave to put up with an existing school that is inadequate and an eyesore deralict mill in Diggle?

  9. Such a sad day for Saddleworth. Although SDAG are claiming this as a win, I very much doubt that any of those truly affected by this decision will see it as such. Of course, I mean the kids. I urge the Indie to take photos of classroom M9. You need to see first hand the conditions the kids are subjected to. The hole in the ceiling where it collapsed just has a board over it, the plaster falling off the walls. We are losing good teachers due to the conditions – 33 new teachers had to start this year to back-fill the vacancies…. think about that. That is 33 classes with no continuity in learning. That is 33 classes that have to learn a new teacher and 33 teachers to learn the kids. Why? Because we want to keep the eye sore of a wreck.

    These delays are giving the wrong message to the kids of Saddleworth. This is showing the kids that the community do not support their educational needs.

    So sad.

  10. Offering support and empathy to the children and staff at Saddleworth School, who must YET AGAIN feel utterly demoralised by SDAG’s appalling anti-community tactics. SDAG are a tiny teensy minority, and they know it, but they shout loudly and throw money at a damaging campaign. No genuine rationality underpins their wish to deny Saddleworth children a quality learning environment in a location which enriches and stimulates. It is pure selfishness, based on desperate claims. Saddleworth School kids and staff, keep the faith that beyond this debacle, the school will be built, Diggle will lose an eyesore, and the village will be reinvigorated by positive change. Supporters, make your voices heard as SDAG claim they’re speaking on your behalf. They are not! Shame on them, they should hang their heads.

  11. So very sad that SDAG claim victory !!!! Should be ashamed of their actions !!! The move to Diggle would be giving Saddleworth Secondary Education a secure and bright future , with the added benefit of supplying Saddleworth with a fantastic venue for community events more than the existing school is able to provide .
    This is not just about the kids deserving a building fit for purpose , this is about children suffering now as a result of SDAGs delaying tactics and admitting defeat ! not victory as they believe .
    The Losers ! The kids sitting their exams over the next couple of years who all believed they would be educated in a brand new school fit for purpose .

  12. I’m sure the lawyers rejoice the victory as they are the only ones gaining from this decision. The children, teachers, council certainly aren’t. Rising costs for the council either means less funds for the build or higher council tax for residents in future as the costs are passed on. An environment conducive to learning can make a marked difference to attainment – the SDAG campaign seem to think that doesn’t matter for those who will now never be taught in the new school

  13. Sdag are an absolute disgrace, they have no concern for the site at all and would of been happy to watch it fall to the floor in front of their eyes.

    Funny how they only showed false concern for the building once the school was proposed to be built there.

    Joy and Keith Lucas have sold there false concerns for the buildings to a few other gullible supporters. They don’t care about the kids or the building and are both an absolute disgrace

  14. The Diggle site will make for a fantastic school which will benefit hundreds of thousands of children! SDAG need to accept this and stop being so selfish!


    I had lunch last week with one of SDAG’s “secret backers” and she told me that SDAG’s true agenda is to make sure Saddleworth School doesn’t get built ANYWHERE. They were told off-the-record 6-months ago that the School will NEVER be rebuilt in Uppermill and if they continue their fight, the school will have to close for good. So they held a strategy meeting and decided it was a sacrifice they were willing to make at our children’s expense.

    Make no mistake, SDAG are very dangerous and if Keith Lucas wins his bizarre personal vendetta against Oldham Council, then Saddleworth school will close FOR GOOD…

  16. Let’s stick to the facts. Our children deserve a decent school, they are our future. Please, please write to our MP, the education secretary, national newspapers, any influential people, we need to make everyone aware of how thousands of children are bring denied a safe school due to an extreme minority of ‘not in my back yard’. Obviously due to his links he has got further than others may have. Many thought he would be laughed out a long time ago so we were maybe not as proactive as we should have been but we can not sit back and do nothing. We need Saddleworth School.

  17. My comment is quite simple. Why can’t my grandaughter, who started at Saddleworth School this year have a school which is fit for purpose? Why can’t she and the other children and teachers be safe? Why can’t they have a school which is not dilipidated. Why can’t they learn and be taught without all this nastiness? Why can’t they be proud of their building and not just proud of Saddleworth school and what it stands for. Why should they be worrying about their future. Why why why???

  18. Amongst these comments, this is unlikely to be popular, and I’m not looking so ‘save’ Diggle, but i am keen to a) see things done properly without ‘side’ deals that profit the few, and b) have a school built on a site that is the most suitable for pupils and residents alike. Diggle fails on the first requirement, and neither Uppermill, nor Diggle satisfy the second! Whatever is built and wherever this is, no funds exist for new equipment (computers, labs, sports equipment, books !!!). Our primary schools are better equipped!
    What value is a new school with old, broken or entirely unfit equipment?

    1. There’s plenty of life left in all the desks , chairs , books, shelving etc etc . The equipment isn’t the problem at all , just the building and the limitations of the site it’s on at present .

  19. Good to see so many strong voices opposing the delay tactics of a few Diggle residents. It is 40 years since I left the school that was in dire need of upgrading. Most other secondary schools in Oldham have been improved since then. I chose not to send my son, who has just finished his MSc, to the school because he I was unconvinced it could offer what he needed. Basically at least three generation’s education has been blighted. It’s time to stop this nonsense over whether listed bricks and mortar should be protected and consider how much more the investment in future lives and chances is. The judicial review is a moral travesty wasting time and money. Shame on those who think it noble!

  20. It is a shame that Oldham Council over the 30 years since I left school haven’t maintained the school. Why isn’t anyone asking that question and holding someone to account. Money is spent on other schools in Oldham. I don’t think Diggle is the correct place for the school. Diggle is a true village you dont put a massive secondary school in a village with hundreds and hundreds of cars! It is madness. This could have all been resolved years ago. Why haven’t the council thought of buying the land at Wellyhole a fantastic spot for a school with lots of land for expansion.

  21. I would like to know just exactly what the Save Diggle Action Group think they are saving? If they believe that the future of Diggle is protected by not having a fit for purpose school in the area of Saddleworth then they are grossly mistaken. If a new school is not built soon the area will slowly start to die. The current school at Uppermill cannot be rebuilt on the existing site, it is not large enough to allow development to take place around an existing school. If the school is pulled from the area and children forced to travel distances to be educated then people will stop wanting to live here. If people are not attracted to want to live here then the rest of the facilities, shops, services will slowly turn in to being like other rural depressed areas. The SDAG are nimby’s of the worst kind. They are playing with children’s futures, they are messing with the infrastructure that keeps a region alive, they are people who have had their education, had their working lives in decent surroundings and comfort and now think they can leave our children to rot in a dump of a building. I hope they waste their money on this JR, they are clearly gloating at the pain they are causing and I hope the significant majority who actually have not been heard on this matter now start to unearth these luddites and make them accountable for their impact.

  22. It is very demoralising to have to watch this small group of people called the SDAG perform delay tactic after delay tactic. Each time they have opposed or petitioned the council during the process, they have left it until the last possible moment to attempt to force OMBC’s hand and make them cancel or postpone the decision making process. Leaving it until hours before planning meetings before issuing legal letters, leaving it until the last legal moment to start the judicial review. Stalling, Stalling, Stalling. It seems to be a game to them, and there is only one set of people who are currently losing that game and its the school kids and staff. I just hope that this is glaringly obvious to those who are judging the judicial review and common sense prevails and that SDAG are shown to be exactly what they are.

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