TWO former women borough councillors have raised concerns over a plan to put up a statue in Oldham town centre to legendary suffragette campaigner Annie Kenney.

Val Sedgwick, an ex-Oldham Mayor, and Barbara Beeley, a previous borough and now longtime Saddleworth parish councillor, argue heroes and heroines should receive honours in the place they were born.

But although suffragette Annie was born in Springhead, the unveiling of her specially-commissioned statue will take at the Old Town Hall, Parliament Square on Friday, December 14 — the same day as the unveiling of the Emmeline Pankhurst statue in Manchester.

Annie Kenney came from Springhead which, at the time, was an urban district council in its own right in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

And they say her links with the Saddleworth area were further strengthened when her ashes were scattered at Dovestone.

Val Sedgwick said: “It is fairly certain Annie never worked at Leesbrook Mill but at Woodend Mill and the placing of the blue plaque is therefore questionable.

“It is not so much Annie Kenney but the principle behind it. Helen Bradley has a blue plaque in Lees, Henry Taylor is honoured in Chadderton, Lord Rhodes in Greenfield – all in areas where they lived.”

Mrs Sedgwick, a councillor for 24 years, asks: “In the future are all statues and blue plaques to be in Oldham town centre even though Oldham is only one of the seven townships which make up the borough?”

Parish councillor Barbara Beeley said: “There are additions to the road signs on the way in to Springhead which proclaim Springhead to be the birthplace of Annie Kenney and Thomas Steele VC.

“To have the blue plaque in Lees and Annie’s statue in Oldham looks as though people don’t know — or don’t want to accept the facts — their local history.

“I managed to get the signs recognising Annie added to the Springhead signs. I have told Oldham council she never worked at Leesbrook mill but they still went and put the blue plaque there. Val and I were not invited to the ceremony.

“There is a whole debate about centralising everything: what about famous people from other areas - where are they honoured ?”

Sean Fielding, Oldham Council Leader, said: “It’s disappointing for someone to question where we’re placing the Annie Kenney statue now - after almost two years of public fundraising, and with just days to go before it is installed."

He went on: “Full Council approved a motion in March 2016 asking permission to investigate funding sources and deliver a permanent memorial to Annie Kenney in Oldham town centre.

“Valerie Sedgwick, then a councillor, attended and voted on these plans.

“She did suggest amendments seeking recognition for Chadderton’s Lydia Becker, but she did not question or object to the statue being erected in Oldham.

“Annie Kenney spent a lot of her time working in, or involved in political activism, around Oldham, and this statue is to commemorate 100 years since women got the vote: something every woman – and man(!) – in our borough has benefitted from.

“I understand there’s been some debate about where Annie’s Blue Plaque is sited, but that’s a matter to take up with the English Heritage society, which does the great job of looking after these assets.”

He added: “The Oldham event on December 14, exactly 100 years since women first exercised their vote, is going to be fantastic.

“There’ll be a peoples’ march with a brass band, hundreds of residents, actors and even members of Annie’s extended family to mark the occasion. I would urge everyone to attend.”