This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the biggest-ever construction project in Draycott’s history – the A50 road.
However, it has been thirty years of pain for some locals, so don’t expect a celebration…
In 1985, the ‘A564’ stretch of dual carriageway was opened – changing its name very soon to the ‘A50’. It stretched from Blythe Bridge Bridge to Uttoxeter.
The project was a massive one, causing years of disruption in Draycott. The parish was cut in half by the road, into the Cresswell and Draycott sides; and it required five bridges and underpasses to keep them in touch with each other.
Also, the ancient trackways of Cresswell Lane and Cresswell Old Lane were re-routed, which is why they look different on old maps.
But there was one huge problem: the new road was made of concrete.
Concrete is hard-wearing, cheap and easy to lay; but the traffic surface noise, a sort of intense whining, can be unbearable to listen to – as many residents then found out.
The question is then: why, in this whole thirty years, has the surface never been replaced – thus making life so much easier for residents?
The highway engineers who built the road knew what the problem would be.
At one time (when the route of the new A50 was planned to be north , not south, of Draycott Level), the Department of Transport paid for double-glazing to be installed in houses in Uttoxeter Road, Stuart Avenue and Draycott Old Road. The department was fully aware of the noise issue.
Even on the A50 nowadays there is a thirty-foot high embankment running alongside the road, designed to prevent noise travelling over to the Draycott community. However, when the wind is blowing at you, despite the embankment, the noise is still pretty intense – low-level of course, but constant. Some residents have described it as a ‘stress’ torture.
But – the engineers may not be at fault completely. It seems that they may have underestimated the huge use the A50 would get. After all, it was actually planned as the ‘Tean Bypass’ when it was built – whereas now, it is, in reality, the north Midlands link between the M1 and M6!
For over twenty years, Draycott residents have been complaining to the government. Studies had shown that changing the surface material would reduce ‘impressible’ noise by a quarter.
The major push was in 1999, when a petition was put together, organised by the parish council of the day. It garnered thousands of signatures, took one year’s effort & work, and eventually reached the minister in charge – and precisely nothing happened…
Since then the parish council has continued to keep in touch, almost on a monthly basis, with the Department of Transport, but nothing alters. As one former parish council chairman glumly remarked to us – there is almost no point in keeping on trying; they have never listened…
The latest attempt was earlier this year, when our MP Bill Cash wrote to John Hayes detailing areas of importance for noise mitigation to be considered. Mr Hayes simply replied “There are no immediate plans to resurface the A50 – as the road surface is in a safe and serviceable condition”.
As far as road builders (and the government) are concerned, concrete is fantastic. It needs few or no repairs, and has a life expectancy of forty years. Yes, it’s much more difficult to dig up than asphalt is – but who needs to dig up the A50?
Will change happen?
So, if all the above is true… why was the Doveridge stretch of the A50 (near Uttoxeter) recently replaced?? Well, the whisper is that the Uttoxeter Labour MP Janet Dean absolutely worked her socks off (until she lost her seat in 2010) to make sure it happened.
So… she has shown us that change can be achieved.
Also, road builders are using concrete less and less, because of the environmental issues.
To try to put a dent in the government’s intransigence, this year the parish council has decided to change tactics. Mark Deaville, the newly-elected council’s vice chairman, has taken on the task of spear-heading the efforts to create change. This is the first time the council has appointed one of its own members to take on the task personally (in the past, it has often relied on the clerk to do the work) – and this is surely an advance.
Mark is a vastly experienced politician, so he is the obvious person for the job. If you have views, contact him: he wants to hear from you.
Now… it’s over to you.
Do you have views about having to put up with thirty years of A50 noise pollution?
If you do, join the Draycott Facebook group – and get talking!
Or … why not jot down your thoughts in the Comments section further down this web-page?
What you say could make a difference…..
[References: History of Draycott-en-le-Moors by Matthew Pointon, pg174 / Photos courtesy of the Barry Phillips Collection ]