Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more


by Garth Harkness on 28 September, 2020

• Liberal Democrats uncover secret decision
• Public must be consulted about future uses for the site

Oldham Council has retained ownership of the current site of Saddleworth School in Uppermill after buying the new school site in Diggle outright instead of land-swapping it as planned with the developers who owned it.

Liberal Democrat Councillors Garth Harkness and Sam Al-Hamdani uncovered the decision – hidden from the public, local councillors and the school – after challenging senior council officers. Selling this land is a Government requirement for funding the new school.

Mick Scholes, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Saddleworth South, said: “The public must be consulted now about future uses for this important site in the centre of Uppermill before the land is sold. We need more affordable housing especially for younger people and local families who can’t afford to live here.”

Councillor Garth Harkness added: “We must use this opportunity to benefit Saddleworth. A new health centre is a high priority that I have campaigned for strongly.”

As well as a health centre and affordable housing, local residents have shown strong support for retention of the all-weather pitch for community use and investment in community facilities.

The funding gap for the new school is being covered by the council. The money from the sale of the old site will be used to cover this when it is sold.

Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “With the economy as it is, this comes with a certain amount of risk. The Council are confident that the site will cover the costs; we will be holding them to account on it. Having already seen the decision to axe the land-swap taken in secrecy, we must have complete transparency on any future decisions. Delivering a school good enough for local children remains our number one priority, but this must be done in a way where residents can trust the decisions.”

Mick Scholes and Councillors Garth Harkness and Sam Al-Hamdani welcome residents views on what future uses they prefer for this site.

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