NEWS: Council resignation / N Plan pops up / Songs Of Praise / community police / council indifference

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late March 2018
In this post we have news of…: resignation of council chairman, neighbourhood plan sessions, council indifference to Cresswell, police surgeries, church sing-along …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a family tennis tournament…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Council resignation

Just one month after the Draycott Council’s clerk resigned, so does the council’s chairman.
Roger Holdcroft, who is highly respected, and who has hardly put a foot wrong in his time on the council over the last three years, felt he could no longer carry on in the chairman position.
So, a fortnight ago, he issued a resignation letter – which you can read by clicking here.
It all follows months of unheard-of scenes.

Roger HoldcroftAs you can read in his letter, Roger (pic, right) felt that he was being undermined by some of his fellow councillors, and even worse, was being unfairly slandered and ‘trolled’ by them or their supporters.
With that kind of atmosphere, it is clear he felt there was just too much disrespect, and that it was too unpleasant, as chairman, to be in the middle of it.
It is fair to say that some of the shenanigans that this council gets up to didn’t meet with his full approval either.
Mr Holdcroft remains an ordinary councillor though.

Oddly enough, this is the third resignation in eighteen months. In Jan 2017, another Draycott councillor resigned her seat altogether, after saying she had experienced “harassment” at the hands of other councillors.

Amazingly, there has been little or no reaction from any other councillor to the resignation, who all remained stony-faced as the letter was read out at the latest meeting of the council.

(NB — the chairman of a parish council is not its ‘leader’ or spokesperson – this is a misconception. The chairman’s role is little more than managing the council’s meetings, but is nevertheless a responsible position).

– – –
Time for a sing-song

Is the popular BBC programme ‘Songs Of Praise’ really coming to our district?
Well, no, not really – despite the posters you will see around the place…

The fact is that one of the members of the Draycott St Margaret’s Church congregation thought it would be a lot of fun to have a localised Songs Of Praise, as a chance for the community to come together for a sing-along of favourite hymns and tunes.
We don’t get the chance these days for a good sing-song, do we?, so this should be a happy event.

You too can also get extra-involved by suggesting a favourite hymn to be sung on the day. Contact Kate on 07715 284580 if you have ideas about one.

The event takes place on Sunday 29 April at 6pm at St Peter’s in Blythe Bridge (the sister church of St Margaret’s) – and all are welcome.
But… no, the BBC won’t be there!

– – –
Planning neighbourliness

Another call for community involvement is seen in the growing desire to put a local ‘neighbourhood plan’ into place.
After a failed attempt here in Draycott two years ago, it looks like this time the idea has a bit more steam to it: the volunteers of the working-group behind it have been given grant-money and are a bit more confident of success this time around.

(A few semi-rural areas like ours already have neighbourhood plans either established or almost established.
Nearby, both Checkley (see pic below) and Forsbrook real are well on the way to getting their plans ratified).checkley neighbourhood plan poster

Our own plan is still at the baby stage, so nothing has yet been decided – which means you still have the chance to influence it. Over the next fortnight, there will be three ‘pop-up’ open sessions, where you can go along and have a chat, and say your piece.
It’s worth putting in your penny-worth, if you are interested in the future of our district, as, once a plan is set up, local authorities and developers must (yes, must) take notice of it.
Check our What’s On page to see dates and times of these sessions.

If you really can’t make the sessions, at least fill in the form – it’s only half-a-dozen questions long – and get it back to the working-group.
Click here to see (and print off) the form.

– – –
Getting down with the police

A few years ago, there were regular crime & order ‘community surgeries’, which our local PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) put on for us every month. It was a chance to talk about issues from dog-mess in public places (illegally left) to more serious problems such as drugs and more.
Sadly, they were discontinued when there were changes in the personnel of our local police.

However, along has come a new PCSO, Daniel Nettleton, and he has restored the sessions. Every month now, you can meet up with PCSO Nettleton at Blythe Bridge Library and chat about matters. If it’s very serious, there is even a closed room at the library for confidential chats.

Daniel is very keen to see folks, so make a note of the dates he is going to be there (though you can phone him at any time too, of course).
He’s at the library 10am-noon on 14th April, 12th May, 9th June, 14th July – and so on.
He’s a nice fellow too, and may even make you a cup of coffee!

– – –
Council Shenanigans

(Our local Draycott Council gets up to so many odd tricks that we simply haven’t been able to keep up, so we have given the council its own little section -‘ Council Shenanigans’. If you are fed up with our council, you might want to look away, as this section will just make you feel worse…)

What’s the biggest infrastructure project prospect for our district at the moment? Yes, it’s the Cresswell Blythe-Park roundabout (which is planned to be just 100 yards from the railway crossing). It will bring significant disruption to the residents of Cresswell.

Blythe Park Roundabout Development pic 2017

This artist’s impression shows the roundabout and planned houses in bright colours; and the existing buildings in lavender shades (pic: SMDC Planning website)

In fact, it has been deemed such a major set of works that the planners at Staffs Moorland Council decided they couldn’t pass it without the approval of the Planning Committee.
Then, the planning committee in turn deemed it so important that they have asked for more time to determine it, and now it won’t be discussed until May. The local MP, Bill Cash, has got involved too.
It’s a big one!
On the consultation web-page, nearly two-dozen residents (and Bill Cash) have put in their formal comments expressing their concerns.

And what has our Draycott Council done?
Erm.
Nothing.

Despite being on the list of official consultees, the council has made… no response on the consultation web-page,
When the matter was put before the councillors at their meeting in February, they made … er… no comments.

No wonder some residents of Cresswell feel this council is not taking any notice of them and is just indifferent to their problems.

***
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23 responses to “NEWS: Council resignation / N Plan pops up / Songs Of Praise / community police / council indifference

  1. Dear editor,
    Once again your one sided diatribe is doing nothing but demonstrate the ridiculousness of your website.
    You openly condone that those in the parish did not follow the democratic right to stand for the election. Why do you not state that Mr Leach, who lost by a landslide, should have stood down thereby preventing an election.

    Mr Leese openly stated there was harassment in the council, I didn’t see your editorial comment beneath his opinion defending the council by stating there is only hearsay evidence of harassment. Instead you fan the flames.
    Your petty angst against the council is doing absolutely nothing to help the community. You are deliberately making the parish look a farce instead of either getting behind the council or more importantly standing yourself.
    What a waste of time, the only good thing about your website is that it makes everyone chuckle with your continued one-sided diatribe. Keep up the comedy
    Matt Edwards

    ++
    Ed’s note
    Matt, this is getting tedious.
    1/ As you should know, in 2017 enough Draycott electors asked for a ballot rather than a co-option. Mr Leach was the only candidate who came forward at that point. With only one candidate, there would be no election, and therefore no election costs.
    Councillors asked other residents not to stand, as, if they did, an election would have to be held, and costs incurred.
    However, at almost the last minute, Mrs McLaughlin did decide to stand opposing Mr Leach, thus leading to an election, and £3000 costs. Her choice.
    2/ Please cut the abuse out. Surely, in a democracy, one can have a vigorous discussion without this personal abuse.
    It would also be good if you would address the very serious issues that have been raised instead of the abuse.

    You prefer not

    Like

  2. Mark (Ed), apologies for not replying sooner.
    I feel the need to clarify to the public a few points raised from my original post.
    Nobody wants harassment. Indeed it is twelve months since I personally apologised to the clerk and chair for the tone of my own comments in the run up to the last Council election that was irresponsibly forced upon us.
    However, Mr Edwards is right: incredibly your editorials seem intent on fueling more conflict.
    As the Constellation Partnership swoops down on its prey (us) what have we been doing for the past six years – running around pecking at each other like chickens, and where has it got us? Your website is often interesting and your comments at PC meetings are valued. Being a Social Crusader is very admirable, but you have occasionally used this to masquerade your associates ‘opinions’ as facts which does great harm to the parish – evident right here in Mr Leese’s comment “This website informs us about serious haraassment (sic) in the council, and the council doing nothing about the roundabout “. These are untruths and a clear case of how this article has poisoned another residents outlook against the Parish Council.
    In a reply to Mr Edwards you admitted yourself that you know that ‘the parish councillors voted unanimously against the Blythe Park development back in 2014’ and confirmed their opposition in 2017. The PC’s approach is in line with being advised that collective responses to SMDC carry much less weight than multiple individual complaints. So the Council is not full of moles for Mr Barratt as has been constantly implied by Jacqui and others. We oppose this massive unsustainable development, as I stated in my response to the SMDC consultation, but we must use correct methods and be open to the perspective of all our residents, not just a hostile vocal few.
    Steve Jones, Draycott councillor

    Like

    • Dear Grendel
      …. Your comments are very hurtful.
      jleach2

      Like

    • ++
      Ed’s response to ‘Clarifying’
      Thanks for these comments. However…
      1/ Re the election “irresponsibly forced on us”. As you know the 2017 Draycott by-election came about because the current council chair Mrs McLaughlin decided to stand as a candidate at the last minute (many others deliberately refrained from standing so as not to cause an election). I wonder how she’d take your comment.
      2/ I’m not sure who “all these people” pecking at each other are. In fact, sadly, it is only a small few who seem to think a debate is worthwhile; the harassment issue has not even been fully discussed by Draycott Council. I’d hope that you – as a councillor – would think an open debate is worthwhile too.
      3/ Not sure who these “associates”, whom you say we are colluding with, might be. Perhaps you could give proof of this assertion.
      4/ Which opinions do you think “masquerade as facts”?
      5/ Mr Leese is entitled to his opinion as much as anyone, so long as it is fair. Perhaps also you could explain why you find his commnents to be ‘untruths’.
      6/ Not sure where you get the idea that Draycott Council’s opinions “carry less weight” than the public’s. I’d be interested if you could tell us.
      7/ As Draycott Council is unanimously “opposed to the development”, would you tell us what significant actions it has taken to follow that up?
      8/ Not sure what you mean by the “hostile few”. If you mean the people who oppose the development, then that would mean you and your fellow councillors are also part of the “hostile few” (?) I’m sure that cannot be what you mean, so it would be interesting to hear your explanation.

      Like

  3. Dear Matt,
    Please please stop. This isn’t helping. I’ve suffered enough.:0(
    jleach2

    Like

    • Mrs Leach
      You are the first to criticise the council and anybody who doesn’t agree with your views. What about the rest of us who have different views on the parish?
      Yet – – – hide. You stepped down from the PC, I have been told many different reasons why you resigned and none align.
      You have accused the PC of bullying and harassment.

      On a separate note. It’s interesting how the website editors only comment on certain messages…
      Hang on, I’ve heard that Mr Leach is ONE of the editors. The credibility of this website is shot. It appears you are using this media outlet as your own personal agenda because you think it may make a difference.

      Similar to encouraging the Chairman and Clerk to publish letters in the media at large. What are you trying to achieve?

      We have lived in the parish for fifty years, grown up here and enjoyed the lifestyle. This is the first time we have ever encountered such childish fighting and it’s just plain boring. Do something positive instead of MOANING.
      Now – – – – iet.
      Matt Edwards

      ++
      Ed’s Note
      Matt, we’ve blanked out certain phrases in your post because they were ‘flaming’, or they invaded privacy.
      As we’ve said before: if you wish to give your own views of the work of the council, we’ll happily publish them.
      On a matter of fact: neither Mr Leach (nor Mrs Leach) are editors of this website and never have been. You only had to ask…
      For over five years, Mrs Leach headed up the VVSM group, in opposition to unpopular planning proposals in our area – which work some people regarded as very “positive”.
      This correspondence is rather going round in circles, so we suggest it stops here; we can wait until a fresh discussion comes up.

      Like

  4. The deadline for submitting comments regarding the Local Plan has now passed. Did the Parish Council put in a comment?
    The whole of the Rural Allocation for the Staffordshire Moorlands regarding housing and industry is in Draycott Parish! Are they aware? Do they care? I also notice that there is also no comment from them regarding the Blythe Business Park roundabout application even though they have been listed as “consultees”.

    Like

  5. Dear Rand and Matt,
    Please do not condone bullying and harassment. Ask questions rather than making statements.
    jleach2

    Like

    • I fail to understand how anyone is condoning bullying, you should well know that there is no evidence of bullying or harassment other than accusations thrown around on this website by contributors.
      Until there is any substantive evidence you and others must not jump to conclusions.
      Matt Edwards

      ++
      ED’s note
      Matt, contrary to what you say, there have been no accusations on this website from contributors. We simply reported the March meeting of Draycott Council, in which one councillor stated serious charges of harassment/bullying against him.
      As we understand it, the ‘substantive proof’ for the allegations lies in some slanderous emails, which have now been archived for evidence.

      Like

  6. Your website is a waste of time. Such one sided rubbish with no consideration for the facts. You call yourselves journalists but you are nothing more than irrelevant bloggers.
    Matt Edwards

    ++
    Editor’s Note
    Thnaks Matt. If you want to present a different look at the facts, or tell us where we have gone wrong, just contact us.

    Like

  7. Whingeing website

    Ed , your constant whinging against the parish council is becoming boring in the extreme, why don’t you take up one of these vacant seats and then maybe we would take more notice of this daily diatribe.
    Rand

    Like

    • What a strange email Mr Rand!
      This website informs us about serious haraassment in the council, and the council doing nothing about the roundabout, two very serious problems, but your responsse is to blame the people who bring it to our attention!
      Haven’t you got your priorities wrong?

      I find this website very useful as it tells us things we might never get to find out about.

      Also, you want the people who write emails to get out and do something else instead, but in fact I recognise a lot of the names here as people who have joined action groups.
      But I haven’t heard of your name as someone who stands up for this community.
      John Leese

      Like

      • In response to your rather strange message Mr Leese I fail to understand how anyone is condoning bullying.
        Where is the actual evidence other than hearsay? I’m sure you’re not the kind of person who jumps to conclusions without knowing the full story.

        On a second issue you question a commentator’s commitment to the community because their name is not associated with ‘action groups’. Why is a a requirement for a resident to be involved in action groups? I’m assuming you are referring to groups against the development (please tell me if I’m incorrect).
        Just because you are against the development doesn’t mean that your view is the only one acceptable. We live in a democratic society where we all have the right to air different views and act individually. People in the community may favour the development therefore negating the need to join such groups. Also a person’s commitment to the community is not measured by involvement to action groups.

        This website is continually bemoaning the Parish Council for not acting against the development. Considering the PC is independent and acting on behalf of ALL residents both for and against, just because the PC doesn’t act in the way a few demand doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Therefore we are all getting a little bored of the one-sided diatribe.

        Finally a little note regarding the Chairman of the PC resigning. In a previous post the Editor notes the Chairman is merely a figurehead at meetings and doesn’t control the PC only presiding over discussions. Therefore why is it a big deal when he resigns from this small role, he hasn’t resigned from the PC.
        Matt Edwards

        ++
        Editor’s Note
        Thanks Matt.
        Just a note on the facts.
        1/ The parish councillors voted unanimously against the Blythe Park development back in 2014. Asked again in 2017 at a council meeting to say if any of them had changed their mind, members said no. As far as the record goes, no councillor has ever said they were in favour of the development.
        2/ You ask why we think Mr Holdcroft’s resignation is “a big deal”. It’s because, chairman or not, he is a councillor – who says he was slandered and undermined while carrying out his elected role. That means it’s significant.

        Like

        • An investigation

          With regards to this continued comment of slander. The editors of the website appear to have acted as judge and jury without presenting any substantive facts.
          Ironically you all moan about the council not acting but then are sad when it’s leader stands down saying he did an excellent job. Make your minds up which it is.
          I also thought journalism was meant to be fair and equal. Where is the other side to the story, why are these so called slanderous emails being hidden. Most importantly if there has been slander, harassment and bullying I assume the recipient has reported this to the correct bodies. If not then why not as we cannot condone such behaviour in our society if we are to act in a democratic manner.
          I myself am writing to the council to ask exactly what is going on and to find out if an investigation is being undertaken. It is essential the core principles of our society are not compromised for the benefit of the few.
          Matt Edwards

          ++
          Ed’s Note
          Matt
          1/ none of us are saying slander has actually occurred. We are simply reporting that, at a local government formal meeting, accusations of slander were made. Not judge, nor jury.
          2/ Mr Holdcroft did an excellent job as the chair of the meetings, in our opinion. The council as a whole has a lot it could do better – in our opinion.
          3/ We don’t know any more than you what it is next in this saga; and we have not seen the offending emails.
          4/ I think we all on this website would, like you, like to see an enquiry into all this, even if it is simply one carried out by the council itself. Good luck with your request.

          Like

  8. I was saddened to hear of Roger Holdcroft’s decision to resign as Chair of the Parish Council.
    I sincerely hope that Roger will take this further, as bullying and threats cannot and should not be tolerated. We do live in a democratic country and just because someone does not agree with your thoughts and ideas does not give anyone the right to resort to these tactics.
    If nothing is done about this type of thing it will carry on.

    Thank you Roger for all your work as Chair of the Parish Council and also Kate Bradshaw for all her work as Clerk.
    Shelagh Wood

    Like

  9. Hi Mark, re: Roger H’s resignation – I don’t recall you being there, perhaps you were but it’s simply untrue that the Cllrs were ‘stony faced’ about this.
    I myself said to the council and to RH that “Nobody should feel pushed out of positions because of what are really just differences in opinion”.
    I know you and a few other associates have a long-standing grievance against the Parish council, so I understand the tone of your pieces, but why not include a few more details in your editorial?
    Draycott Cllr Steve Jones

    Like

    • Thanks Steve.
      The report is based on accounts from people who were there.
      You defend the allegations as just simple “differences of opinion”, but that viewpoint seems greatly at odds with RH’s apparent belief that they were hurtful & aggressive (which is why he wanted out of the chairman’s position…), so, yes, we’d be happy to include more details about this if you have them and want to supply them.
      Draycott Community Website Editor

      Like

    • Let me quote from the chairman’s resignation letter: “As I have pointed out previously, I have been troubled by emails sent in the past from Councillors and on occasions their relatives, which have been blunt to the point of rudeness and even somewhat threatening in tone. I find this unacceptable.
      As I mentioned at the last meeting, in the closed section, I was also very distressed by the anonymous email, suggesting fraud on my part and possible Police involvement in relation to my opinion being expressed about the Clerk’s salary.”

      This comment from Roger Holdcroft is not what you state, a simple “difference of opinion” but demonstrated gross misconduct by the writers of the emails.
      People are entitled to their own opinions but they are not entitled to:-
      a) Be untruthful and make comments that cause defamation of character
      b) Show any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, or humiliated.
      jacquie.leach

      Like

    • Mr Jones, if you really are a councillor, I’m surprised by the way you and your supporters have reacted to this article.
      As a local resident, I would hope instead that you would have
      1 / condemned any vicious emailings to your chairman, and even call for an inquiry
      2 / but more importantly than that, explain why your council did nothing about the roundabout!
      3 / stop whingeing about how “unfair” this website is and urge your fellow councillors to grow up, accept criticism, and instead start to do a job for this community which is in dire need of action.
      M K (name and address supplied)

      Like

  10. Roger’s letter should be sent to the Staffordshire Moorlands District officer responsible for investigating misconduct in a public office.
    The clerk, Kate, also received some unacceptable emails and comments which at one meeting had her in tears.
    This cannot continue.
    Jacquie Leach

    Like

    • Represent community

      I suggest all those complaining about the council do more than write a few emails – and go out and represent their community.

      Oh hang on, Mrs Leach resigned and caused an election, which her husband subsequently lost. Another weighted cost to the council.
      The Chairman stood knowing what the role involved, if he couldn’t take the heat….etc.
      I agree with Steve Jones. Reporting (if that’s what it can be called) on this website is poor to useless.
      Matt Edwards

      ++
      Editor’s addendum
      Mrs Leach resigned from Draycott Council, citing ill-health in Jan 2017.
      She led the local community-action group, VVSM, from 2011 to 2017.

      Like

      • You state in the article that Mrs Leach resigned due to harassment, you say here that she had ill health….which is it?
        Your webpage is inconsistent at best.
        Matt Edwards

        ++
        Editor’s Note
        Mrs Leach said back then that she resigned due to ill-health, partly brought on by harassment

        Like

        • Correct complaints?

          May I ask if it is known whether Mrs Leach made the correct complaints about the harassment she received and what was done about this.
          As I have previously mentioned, I’m writing to the council to ask exactly what investigation is bring undertaken.
          We cannot and must not allow three members of the Council to be bullied and harassed by members of the community without recourse.
          Matt Edwards

          ++
          Ed’s Note
          There were statements made at council meetings, and a letter to the Monitoring Officer’ at SMDC. But only Mrs Leach could give you more information.

          Like

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