Some sixty or so people crowded into Draycott Church Hall on Friday night to listen to updates on the Cresswell planning application, and to debate the way forward.
The meeting heard a detailed breakdown, by Jacquie Leach of the local community action group VVSM, of what had been happening in the days since the planning application was approved: and to hear about options on what to do next.
The meeting was organised by the VVSM volunteers.
Strangely, out of the seven parish councillors for Draycott and the three district councillors, only one had decided to turn up for this public meeting.
It was clear that many at the meeting were still shocked and upset by the decision of the Staffs Moorlands Planning Committee to approve the plans to build 170 new homes in Cresswell and double the size of the Blythe Park Industrial Estate.
Many protesters came from Draycott Level as well as Cresswell, disturbed by the thought that heavy goods traffic along Uttoxeter Road could double in volume.
Jacquie described hearing the decision as one of the worst moments of her life. She said that she and her fellow VVSM volunteers had put hours and hours into rebuttal documents only to see many points ignored by the committee.
She said that a new document, that Shelagh Wood and others have drawn up over the last few days, marking the things the committee had ignored, would be available soon.
What was even more upsetting said Jacquie is that they had prepared a thorough case, paying for professional reports and the services of a consultant.
Well, there will be a breathing space it seems: because VVSM has launched an official complaint – which means that the authorities, even the ones in Whitehall, may have to re-examine the fairness of the decision.
However, if that doesn’t work, many protesters agreed to carry on the battle, to the point of raising enough funds to drive the process on to judicial review.
(In fact nearly £250 was raised on the night to support this move).
During the debate that followed, one impassioned member of the audience got up to make a plea to the rest of the people there. He said that the elections were coming up – for the parish council, and for this area’s district-council ward – and that people could show how unhappy they were with their political representatives by either standing for election themselves or by voting in new blood, instead of just leaving in the tired old guard.
(The only exception, he said, was district councillor Colin Pearce, who had indeed shown significant support).
At the end of the meeting, contact lists were handed out. On them were the names and addresses of those who will have some influence over the decisions in the coming days – and everyone was urged to write to them saying how unhappy they were with what has been going on.
Shelagh Wood, VVSM chairperson, finished the meeting by saying there would be another update shortly – as time was running out….