A FRESH attempt will be made to establish a “desperately needed” secondary school in Radcliffe.

Bury Council has announced that a new bid for a free school will be submitted in the Government’s next wave of applications, before the deadline of September 30 this year.

A petition has also been set up calling on the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, to build a new secondary school.

Radcliffe has been left without a high school since Radcliffe Riverside shut in 2014 — more than a decade after the town was promised a new high school, following the amalgamation of Radcliffe and Coney Green High Schools in 2003.

One resident described the situation as "a farce that has been going on since 2004."

Another individual posted on Facebook: "A new school was promised when my eldest son was 15. He is now 27."

An estimated 1,700 children are having to travel outside the town to receive their education.

Bury Council leader, Rishi Shori, who represents Radcliffe West, said: "By this coming September we will have submitted a formal proposal for a new secondary school for Radcliffe.

"There have been positive discussions with the Department for Education and we will be in talks over the summer with potential sponsors.”

The former Riverside High School site in Spring Lane has been identified as a potential location for the new free school.

The school plans propose to create 600 secondary and 210 primary school places, which could be expanded to 1,050 and 420 places respectively in the future to meet growing demand.

At the annual Mayor making meeting this afternoon, Cllr Shori said Bury Council would fund the initial set up costs.

Previous attempts to bid for a free school in conjunction with the Chapel Street Community Schools Trust were unsuccessful.

Conservative Cllr Paul Cropper, who represents Radcliffe North, welcomed the bid for a new school but said he was “sceptical about the timing of the announcement" after the ruling Labour party lost two seats in Radcliffe, and narrowly held onto a third, at the recent local elections.

Cllr Cropper said: "A new school is welcome. Whatever group you are from, we need a secondary school in Radcliffe; that is for the good of this town. Families are having to send their children elsewhere. During the holidays, there are massive problems for parents who have to arrange out-of-school care for their children who attend schools in different areas."

Pupils are travelling to Little Lever High School, Philips High, Castlebrook, Tottington and The Derby High School to name a few.

Cllr Cropper added: "We are willing to work with anyone to get a new school but I am sceptical about the timing and Labour's historically being against free schools."

A Labour spokesman responded: "This announcement is totally consistent with the meeting with the Conservative Education Minister in April which was positive. This is the next stage in that process. We are actively working with the Conservative Government to deliver a free school."

In their manifestos, newly elected Conservative Cllr Sam Hurst and Independent Cllr James Mason promised to campaign for a new secondary school in Radcliffe.

Cllr Hurst said: "The Labour Party are desperate to regain the support of voters who have lost faith in them."

A petition has been set up by newly elected Labour Radcliffe West councillor Beth Mortenson.

The petition, described as "apolitical", states that a new high school in Radcliffe is vital for local children and that their "educational attainment is adversely affected by having to travel outside of the town."

Cllr Mortenson said: “I had to travel to a high school in Prestwich. I am determined that other young Radcliffe people do not have to do the same. We need the support of Radcliffe people to send a clear message to the Government that we want, need and deserve a new secondary school and I would urge people to sign our petition."

To sign the petition, visit http://chng.it/Q94zZmjc46.