A COUNCILLOR has hit out at plans to turn a public park into a secondary school.

This comes after more than 1,500 people have signed a petition against plans to turn Haslam Park, in Deane, into a multi-million pound secondary school.

At a full council meeting, Cllr Martin McMulkin attempted to challenge early-stage plans to turn the much-loved park into a school.

Cllr McMulkin said: “I was absolutely appalled to see that plans to turn Haslam Park into a school was even a consideration. I planned to voice my concerns during the meeting, alongside other councillors.

“But we were informed that we could not call in items that are part of the council’s policy framework or budget.

“A number of other councillors were also taken aback by the plans and even the executive member expressed their initial horror at the proposal.

“Cllr Adele Warren approved the disposal of the land, but with conditions.”

The conditions included assurances the park would be “reinstated like for like, if not better”, that councillors would be consulted throughout the process and that planning permission ought to be approved.

Cllr McMulkin added: “Unfortunately there were no solid details such as maps or drawings. There were only verbal assurances the park would be reinstated as part of a bigger masterplan for this project.

“While this is the very initial stage of the development, petitions, emails and letters to councillors will have made it clear that our public parks are treasured and should be protected.”

The land is set to be handed over the Department for Education to build a new school, provided the conditions are met.

The plans were drawn up to to tackle the shortage of high school places in the borough.

Residents have also opposed the plans for the school, due to the loss of green space, increase in congestion and dangers posed by nearby Wigan Road.

One resident, James Bottom, who set up a petition online, said the park was “a place where many go daily for exercise” adding that the park and has “benefitted many, both physically and mentally” particularly over the past 18 months.