Villagers take to streets for walk in over new school road plan concerns

MORE THAN 100 villagers took to streets in biting winds and rain for a ‘walk in’ to highlight their concerns about the road plans around a new £19.2 million secondary school in Diggle.

ORGANISER: Keith Lucas from Save Diggle Action Group

Keith Lucas from Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) led the locals of all ages, some carrying placards, from Uppermill to the site of the proposed school on Huddersfield Road.

Keith said: “The walk clearly showed for pedestrians – future school children – the proposed highways scheme is flawed and not thought out.

“There were so many danger hotspots on route. Encouraging young people to walk to the proposed school in Diggle would be, in my view, putting their safety at risk.

“It was really good to see tiny tots to people in their 90s turn up in such bad weather for the walk-in.”

He went on: “The road scheme design is universally disliked by local people for and against the school move to Diggle.

“Saddleworth Parish Council Planning Committee recently voted for the school to be built in Diggle, then made a recommendation for refusal of the associated highways works.

“If the local council can’t figure out or agree a safe and efficient way to get 1,500 children and 200 staff to a new Diggle school, why propose to build it there in the first place?”

WALK IN: Locals on the way from Uppermill to Diggle

Road safety concerns were priorities for ex-Saddleworth School pupils siblings Jessica and Matthew who took their respective babies, Rose, eight months, and Emily, two years, on the walk.

Jessica, 27, said: “I’m disgusted at the school move – it will ruin a beautiful valley. The school is a gift where it is.”

Matthew added: “The single lane traffic for buses will make things impassable.”

Mark Brooks, chair of Diggle Community Association, said: “Oldham Council must ask themselves if everything has been done to ensure the safety of 1,500 pupils squeezed down a single Diggle road and footpath twice a day for 40 weeks of the year.

“When many people say something is wrong then it usually is,” he observed.

Respected church minister 80-year-old Rev Duncan Rhodes, is a member of the new school’s technical committee.

He said: “The school coming to Diggle certainly could result in great advantages to students and people of Saddleworth.

“However, there appears to have been no clear indications of how traffic light controlled flows in and out of the village at the pinch point at the end of Huddersfield Road could work.

WALK IN: Some residents carried placards

“And there have been no opinions stated regarding the upcoming problem of traffic flows in and through Dobcross, on Spurn Lane, or on Ward Lane.”

Saddleworth Parish councillor Lesley Brown, who lives in Diggle, added: “I am very concerned about the illogical and seemingly badly planned move to Diggle.

“Diggle is a cul-de-sac and the road is a major problem. Who will pick up the pieces when the people opposed to the move are proved correct?

“There are already traffic issues with the primary school and nursery which is going to double its capacity and industrial units at Wharf Mill.”

The walk-in was staged just five days before Oldham Council planning committee makes a decision over the new build as debate continues to rage around safety and traffic issues.

Oldham Council’s Planning Committee will meet in the Council Chambers on Thursday, February 25 at 6pm to consider four applications relating to the proposed new school.

Members of the public can attend to observe proceedings and there is no need to book or signal your intention to attend this meeting beforehand.

pictures by Carl Royle

8 Replies to “Villagers take to streets for walk in over new school road plan concerns”

  1. The traffic problems exist now because of the residents restricting the road and creating a bottleneck as u enter the village. The plans include off road parking for these residents which I think is long over due.
    I think describing Diggle as a cul-de-sac is wholly inaccurate and misleading to those who don’t know the village. It has a through road so how can it be described as a dead end road!

  2. So Lesley Brown thinks Diggle is a cul-de-sac? It wasn’t the last time I drove through it.

    And what’s she doing on the March? Two weeks ago she gave an interview to the Saddleworth Independent saying her colleague who has a criminal record for downloading child pornography should be allowed to serve on the local council. And there she is marching alongside children. Were the parents aware of her views on child abuse?

    She’s a disgrace to Saddleworth.

  3. This minority “protest group” are shameful, going around giving interviews to newspapers and pretending to speak for Saddleworth. No they don’t. They speak for a handful of OAPs who hate change – I bet nobody has verified that “3000 signatures”. It’s all smoke and mirrors. And who the hell does Mr Lucas think he is? Strutting around Uppermill Park with his silly loud-hailer pretending to be King of Saddleworth. He doesn’t care about the education in Saddleworth he’s just a 67-year old man who doesn’t want the school to be built next to his house. Why is he lying and pretending it’s about road safety? Him and his supporters are just a bunch of self-interested propaganda-spouting fools.

    1. It’s sad to see such a personal attack and the suggestion this is all about self-interest.
      Your comment is factually innacurate. For a start, this is not about a ‘handful of OAPs’, there are members of all ages. It is also ageist – OAPs have every right to stand up for what they believe in (and I’m glad they do). OAPs tend to have grandchildren of school age, so may have an additional valid reason for wanting to be involved and fight for what they believe is right. There are two parts to why the school move is a bad decision 1) first and most importantly Saddleworth is being short-changed by having one of its most important community assets, that will need to last through generations, moved to land and a location that is at least second-best but probably worse that that 2) second, it opens up the floodgate to further development on greenbelt through Saddleworth which will change its unique character for ever

  4. Ive always suported SDAG and their right again. the most important thing to do is to save are green fields who cares if they dont build the school? so wot – just send ur kids to waterhead insted. Saddleworth dont need a school so if they end up scraping it who cares? Good luck to save Diggle im behind u all the way

    1. Did I actually just read that?

      As an SDAG supporter you are advocating that Saddleworth LOSES it’s secondary school just because you and your handful of vocal NIMBYs don’t think the green fields should have sports pitches on them? Tell that to the thousands of children who will have to travel to Oldham to be educated if you and your supporters get your way.

      What a narrow-minded and selfish viewpoint you and SDAG hold. Very sad.

  5. Keith Lucas talks about ‘danger hotspots’ on route. Has he seen the amount of school children walking from Brownhill’s two and three abreast in the road. Kids at Saddleworth school seem to think they are impervious to potential injury from being struck by cars; moving the school won’t change that. The stupid parking on the bridge next to the cafe by diners in the morning is adding further to the hazardous risks for pedestrians.

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