Category Archives: community action

NEWS of: new defib / fayre good report / ‘tower captain’ / laptops needed

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late August 2021
In this post we have news of…: Third defibrillator for Draycott / reports of the fayre / bell-ringers’ news / save your old laptops

For news of an arts & crafts market and other events in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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New defib for village

Excellent news is that Draycott-in-the-Moors now has a new public defibrillator – which was installed at the Draycott Arms just a couple of weeks ago.

Defib at The Arms

A defibrillator is a little unit which is used to deliver a mild electric shock to anyone who is in cardiac arrest, and so it can save lives. It is not a substitute for calling 999, but, when minutes count, it can be used while you’re waiting for the ambulance.

Well done to the parish council for facilitating the project, but well-done chiefly of course to the donors. These units are not provided by the authorities; cash is needed. And well done too to the Arms; the system will feed off the pub’s electric supply – without that, the mechanism could fail.

The new unit brings the number of defibrillators in the locality to three – joining the long-established one in the Cresswell kiosk and the one at Draycott Sports Centre. It’s hoped one may be installed at The Golden Keg in the future.

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Fayre enough

It’s a bit after the event, yes, but we should mention the Draycott Fayre, which took place on August 22nd.
Despite having to be organised very much at the last minute (to ensure it was Covid-friendly), things went smoothly and a good day was had by all. The Stunner newspaper did the event proud by giving it a centre-spread in its pages, using photographs taken by Neil Archibald.

Centre-pages coverage of Draycott Fayre in the Stunner (Cheadle & Tean Times)

(Neil Archibald is one of the stalwarts at Draycott St Margaret’s Church. Many of the church’s congregation were helping on the day, because the funds raised go toward the maintenance of our 800 year-old church).
Neil has put an album of dozens of photos of the day on to the Flickr website on the internet – click here to see them. There’s a nice sense of humour to them, so well worth checking out!

Of course, the numbers of visitors were well down on previous years, so the church won’t get its usual level of funding from the fayre this year, but still well-done to John Clarke and his team for making it happen, against the odds…

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Aye aye captain

Talking of John Clarke, congratulations to him on being appointed ‘Tower Captain’ at St Margaret’s. The moniker sounds grander than it is (!), but it is an old title, meaning the leader of a church’s bell-ringers.

The Draycott St Margarets bell-ringing team, with John Clarke third from right (pic: St Margaret’s website)

The team at the church will be busy practising over the next months for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year, when bells will ring right across the country.
They always need volunteers (and it’s great way to keep fit), so, if you fancy a go, email John.

If you enjoy bells (and who doesn’t?), there’s nothing more calming than to sit outside the church on an evening when the team are practising (usually Thursdays). It’s a great way to relieve stress, honest…

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Old makes new

Finally, don’t throw away your unwanted computers. Members of our local Rotary Club are asking for donations of second-hand hand laptops/tablets, which they will refurbish and pass on to neighbourhood schools.

The need for more computers for children is a Covid thing, because so many kids have had to go online for their education, and sometimes even just to catch up on what they’ve been missing – so kids without a lot of access to a computer are having a hard time.

By the way, if you’re concerned about any data that might be still on your computer, don’t worry. The promise is that the computers will be first ‘wiped’ by a professional technician, which makes it a great option.
Rotary’s Peter Nixon is also offering to come pick up the old computers; or you can drop them off at Blythe Bridge Library. Contact Peter for details.

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Planters project – done!

Over the last four years, the Draycott planters project has gradually come to fruition. It’s been a long and hard slog, but it now seems complete, and this summer has seen a lovely flowering of the plants in them.

The village ended up with eleven planters in all: two at the eastern ‘gateway’, two at the end of Stuart Avenue, two at the Cheadle Rd bus top, and one each at the ‘Village Centre’, Brookside, and Totmonslow – though the ones at Draycott West and at Cresswell have sadly been stolen in the last couple of months.

The whole initiative (see pics of examples, below) was the brain-child of local resident Lee Warburton, who took it on himself to construct most of the planters, with donations for the wood coming from the community (firstly through a Crowdfunder scheme in 2017) and a matching grant from the ‘Draycott Solar Fund’. Combined, all this raised around £500.

  • Planters, Draycott bus shelter
  • Planter sponsored by Horizon, Stuart avenue
  • Planters at Stuart Avenue
  • Planter, by Lee Warburton

However, then there was a big hiccup – the County Council introduced some red tape into the process. As ‘street furniture’, the planters needed licences. And so followed a pause of a frustrating few months!
Things only got fully rolling again in 2020, with the purchase of compost and flowers via the Staffordshire Covid-19 Fund, at which time students at Draycott Moor College came along, giving much-needed help with the planting.

Also round about this time, the village council felt it was time to make the whole scheme ‘official’, and stepped in to adopt the project (though its involvement did cause some £500 of unforeseen extra costs).
A further grant of £250 from the Solar Array Fund was sought, to pay our local horticulturalists (at Draycott Nurseries) to maintain the planters professionally for 2021 – and so keep the good blooms in fine shape!
All in all, the project has cost around £1500 since it kicked off, including those grants and donations from residents.

(Pic: Facebook)

It should be remembered however that much of the effort, including building and varnishing the planters, has been voluntary. Lee should get the most of the thanks, but a number of other residents have been instrumental too.
And now, the project is complete.

Future

The future seems safe too, as Draycott Nurseries have offered a sponsor arrangement, in which they will stock the planters each year. Grateful thanks go to Draycott Nurseries.

The ultimate responsibility (and maintenance) lies with the village council however. So, it has been out there recruiting volunteer local residents, who it wants to look after the individual planters – watering, weeding, feeding, and keeping a watchful eye.

With a little luck, and some good growing years, these nine planters will keep the village looking colourful for some time to come…

Just a little addition…

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the nine ‘official’ planters are not the only attractive horticultural sights in the neighbourhood.

Church Lane car park display

The planter at the end of Draycott Old Road has been there for over five years, tended by a local resident there, while the displays at the Church Lane car-park, Grange Farm (on Cheadle Road) and at the entrance to Meadowside, all also tended by local residents as a labour of love, are always guaranteed to lift the spirits.

You never know: at this rate, Draycott could start thinking about entering the Britain In Bloom competition!

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NEWS: milestone / DCAT / houses for sale / outdoor spinning

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-March 2021
In this post we have news of…: listed milestone repaired / new local action group / outdoor gym! / speciality houses for sale.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Heritage monument repair

It’s not always realised, but a lot of those old cast-iron mileposts you see around the Moorlands are actually ‘listed’ monuments. The parish of Draycott-in-the-Moors has a dozen certified heritage structures, and the milepost opposite the entry to Breach Lane in Totomonslow is one of them.
Which is why it was a matter of concern to see it falling to one side.

Totmonslow milestone in 2020

This particular milepost has been in place for 200 years, so maybe it was not surprising that it was starting to totter. It is on the side of a bank too, so it’s possible the heavy rains of this last winter were making the ground under it very soft.

Totmonslow milepost 2021

A conscientious resident reported the issue to the clerk of the village council, who passed the matter on to the heritage department of the county council. You might not believe this – but the repairs were completed less than a month later! Now all is well again. So, for once, the system worked, and it worked very well.

(Just a little footnote: the parish has three milestones altogether, the others being on Cresswell Lane and on the Hilderstone road. Strangely, only the Totmonslow one is deemed to be of heritage importance. No one is sure why).

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New action group

Things have been very tough over the last twelve months, as we all know, but at least the year 2021 is a chance for new beginnings. Cross fingers.

Here in Draycott, spring has brought not just daffodils but the new DCAT (Draycott, Cresswell And Totmonslow) Community Action Group. A trio of active local people (who already manage the village Facebook group) – Lee Warburton, Louise Parks & Bev Reardon – have started the ball rolling.
The idea is to make a concentrated effort to gather the views & ideas of residents, and drive those ideas forward. The next step is formalise how this DCAT group will work. Watch this space!

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Get spinning

As we all know, the first step back to normality (we hope) comes soon, on March 29th, when some Covid rules will be relaxed (though only a few, admittedly).
One organisation that has thought this through is the Draycott Sports & Fitness Centre, where some activities are set to return.

One activity that they have announced is one that has never been tried before – outdoor spinning! Yes, the static bikes used for spinning will be hauled outside, and participants will do what they do out in the fresh air. That makes the whole thing Covid-permissible.
So, if all those hundreds of Peloton adverts on the TV have inspired you, but you don’t have a bike of your own, then here’s your chance to have a go!

First session is on 31st March – but do book early. Bikes are limited. /

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Got half-a-million to spare?

A couple of houses have come up for sale in the district, and both offer quite a lot of privacy (if you like that sort of thing).
The Old Cart Shed, as it’s called (see pic below), is one of the results of the renovations at old Totmonslow Farm, where the old barns were marked for demolition a couple of years ago. And (you guessed it), this new house is on the site of the old structures.
It’s a classy new-build with field-views, definitely not your standard red-brick. Trouble is: your pockets will need to be deep, as it is on the market for over £500,000.

At the other end of the district, at Blythe Vale, hidden away up Woodlands Lane, you’ll find a bungalow for £300,000. (For an extra £50,000, they’ll throw in a plot of empty land too). It’s next to one of the service entries to the new Blythe Fields Estate, so you could probably use the facilities on the estate (playgrounds etc) if you wanted to.


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Whose Community-Fund is it?

In the last few weeks, there has been a flurry of applications to the Draycott Community ‘Solar’ Fund. There have been some very interesting ideas, from a range of groups and individuals from our district – DCAT asked for money for upkeep of the village planters, another group asked for money for flower bulbs for a community display etc -, each project asking for a couple of hundred pounds or so.
Then suddenly it was realised that, over the last year, just one organisation alone has been getting thousands of pounds from the fund… in fact, much more than all the rest combined…

Checking over the paperwork, it turns out, over the last few months, that Draycott Council, which has the responsibility of administering the fund in trust for the use of the community, has itself in fact been dipping into it – and has awarded itself over £4000, which amounts to two years worth of the annual income of the fund! This struck some of us as fairly egregious…

Solar Array Fund

The Draycott Community Solar Fund was set up in 2016 by the ‘Lower Newton Farm Solar Array’ firm as a charitable gesture to the surrounding district. Through the fund, the business was passing on some of its profits to the community – as a kind of thank-you to the local people. The idea behind the fund was to specifically help local projects (ones that would ‘benefit the community’).

Lower Newton solar panels
Lower Newton solar farm, seen from Cresswell

Instead of administering it itself though, the firm arranged for around £2000 a year to be transferred to Draycott Council – and it asked Draycott Council to take the responsibility, in trust, for handing out this cash.
Over the years, the annual Community Fund papers reveal that the fund has helped the Church Hall Committee, the Cresswell Community Group, the Draycott Planters Project, the Children’s Ju-Jitsu Centre in Cresswell, the ‘Gaming Potion’ children’s play sessions, the St Margaret’s Bell-Ringers, the local First Responders, and more. The largest amount given out to any one group was £500 and no group has ever had more than one award.

Draycott Church hall interior
Draycott Church Hall’s new curtains were paid for by the Community Fund

The process was straightforward – filling in a simple application form, going through a basic interview with councillors (discussing the merits and potential difficulties of the project, and the possibilities of raising other, matching funding) and later submitting a short report on how it went. Then, last year, things seemed to change.

Late in 2019, the village council found it had under-estimated the cost of installing the speed-signs for its traffic management project.
So, one councillor said, why not take the outstanding amount out of the Community Fund? The idea was nodded through; no councillor opposed the idea. We’ve seen no formal application form, and observed no full discussion on the merits of the application in the records. The fund’s current balance sheet shows that this amount came to around £3000.
(In the end, none of the council’s own money was spent on this speed-signs project).

Since then, the council has used the Community Fund more than once to defray some of its costs – it has earmarked money from the fund for printing its own newsletter (!) and for the cost of a new council noticeboard, the total of which will amount to over £1000.
Application forms should have been submitted, and proper discussions held for these applications – so we have asked for more information to see if these happened, but got no info yet.

Whose money is it anyway?

The councillors are not doing anything ‘wrong’, as such. The wording of the original gift from the Solar Array business is simply that the community must benefit from it, and that the councillors must dispense the money according to their own policies.

When challenged, one councillor said, “our projects DO benefit the community”. (We found that a slightly feeble justification as everything the council does should ‘benefit the community’, even down to stuff like purchases of printer-ink, though we hope they don’t want to take the fund’s cash for that too…).
Another justification that a councillor put forward is that ‘no-one is using the fund’. It is true that, after some busy years, there was a quiet period for the fund in 2020 – but that seems slim justification.
Is the council desperately poor? No. It is funded by the council tax to the tune of £9000 a year, of which £5000 a year is income which it can freely dispose of. In fact the councillors are currently sitting on a very healthy bank balance of almost £20,000.

Draycott VAS speed sign
Draycott speed sign – paid for using Solar Fund money

So, surely, isn’t what the councillors are doing flying in the face of the spirit of a Community-Fund?
The accounts of the fund show that, down the years, the council has awarded local community-based groups around £2500, but has awarded itself the lion’s share of the fund, some £4000.

What to do?

Well, what can one do? One would hope the councillors would be embarrassed, but – unless residents email the council to express their dissatisfaction – the councillors will probably just carry on dipping into the fund for the council’s own projects.
Our big hope is that the council will simply realise that the fund is best spent by community groups, not by itself.

We would hope too that the council now gives the Solar Fund a proper, pro-active publicity campaign (through the local newspapers, and direct publicity mail to local grass-roots organisations) so that more local people realise just what monies are available to them, and then use it.
Also, for the sake of transparency, we would hope that, in future, we could see on the council’s website: the full criteria for awards; and each application form as soon as it is submitted.

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If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: Covid stats / happy Sir Bill / Facebook’s worth / open library

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-January 2021
In this post we have news of…: our MP is a happy man / local Covid statistics / respect to library volunteers / our Facebook handles a crisis….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Covid statistics

There’s no doubt what subject dominates the local, national and international news – it’s Covid. Despite the lockdown in November, Tier 4 in December, and lockdown 3 this month, the disease just seems to get more and more of a hold – even in our tiny corner of the world.

Everybody wears a mask these days… (pic Pexels.com)

The stats make for tough reading, but here they are.
Since the starts of the pandemic, our region (the Staffordshire Moorlands) has had over 4,000 cases identified – meaning that at least five per cent of us have been infected. The figure is probably much higher though, as many people either had milder symptoms or showed no symptoms at all, and so do not show up as ‘identified’ cases.

The good news however is that the ‘rolling rate’ of infection (the amount of people testing positive in the last seven days) in the Moorlands is now less than in the rest of Staffordshire. It is, at the time of writing, around 260 cases per 100,000 people (Staffordshire county as a whole is over 500).
As for the stats for Draycott, you can drill down to as far as the district of ‘Blythe & Caverswall’ (the official district that Draycott falls into). Just click on this link, and enter your postcode in the box to get the figures.
If you remember, our little district was a ‘hotspot’ problem area in November – but, as you can see, that is not the situation any more, thank goodness.

However, as everyone knows, the scenario is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Our regional ambulance service had its busiest day in its whole history on January 4th and no one thinks it’s going to get easier for the health services for some weeks.

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Community Facebook proves its worth

Community pages on Facebook get a lot of criticism – critics say they are full of tittle-tattle, spite and rumour-mongering. However, the Draycott one is pretty good (in our opinion) – probably because it is well managed by the volunteer locals who administer it.

The Draycott one especially proved its worth last month when a water-main burst on the junction by the Draycott Arms. For three days & more, the road was under water and closed to traffic.

Burst water main Draycott

However, it wasn’t more than a matter of minutes into the incident before the facebook group was in action, warning other residents of the issue, and keeping the community at large across the whole situation with running updates up until the road reopened.
Congratulations to the group.

Incidentally, there is now a second Draycott Community Facebook group. It’s not clear why a second group was felt to be necessary, but it’s there anyway. It’s private, unlike the main Facebook group (which is public to view), so, if you want to see the posts on it, you must formally join it.
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Open library

Hats off to the volunteers who run our local library at Blythe Bridge (see pic below). At the start of this current lockdown, ‘community-managed library branches’ (i.e. those run by volunteers, not paid staff) were given the choice to stay open or not. Of course, they did have to show that their buildings could be Covid-secure, but after that, it was the volunteers’ choice.

Blythe Bridge Library

Many county library branches said, no, they would shut. In fact, in neighbouring Shropshire, all libraries shut! This is why we say hats off to the volunteers at Blythe Library (who include in their numbers people from Draycott). They believe, as the government does, that “Libraries are an Essential Service” – and so they are keeping Blythe open (under conditions) two days a week, as they have done since September.
Much respect to them.

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Sir Bill has a smile

In amidst the gloom, one man can permit himself a smile at least.

Sir Bill Cash

Sir Bill Cash, our MP, has campaigned all the forty years of his parliamentary life to get Britain to leave the European Union. He has a long history as a ‘rebel’ within the Conservative party when it came to Europe.
Well – whether you agree with his stance on Europe or not – his dream came true on January 1st, when Britain formally exited the EU. In fact he is so against the idea of any sniff of union with the EU that it wasn’t clear he would support Boris Johnson in the final vote on December 30th – but in the end only two Tory MPS refused to support Mr Johnson and he wasn’t one of them.

So – what now for Sir Bill? He’s over eighty, and his biggest dream has been achieved. Will he choose to retire at the next election? It’s a possibility, and then we’d have a new MP..

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If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

News: Xmas / Covid update / burglaries / new dojo space

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-December 2020
In this post we have news of…: yes, we will have Christmas / local Covid cases rise again / burglaries in Stuart Avenue / reporting Covid breaches….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here
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Christmas spirit

draycott-christmas-tree-pallet-2020

Thank goodness, despite everything, we have Christmas to look forward to. Already decorations are up in the village.

This year, one nice project to inspire us all has been the pallet-trees idea – i.e. Christmas trees for local house-fronts, made out of old pallets painted green. Lee proposed the idea on the village Facebook page; the willing Mr Wall made a fair few of them; and then residents made a charitable donation to get one (see right). It worked well!

For those who want the full traditional Christmas as well, in-person church services will happen after all – despite Tier 3 restrictions. Both St Margaret’s and St Mary’s, our two churches, will have Xmas Day services – and St Mary’s even has a Christmas Eve vigil as well. For details, see our What’s On page.

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CV update

But Covid still dominates our lives.
As you’ll know from our last posting, our small neighbourhood (we come under ‘Caverswall & Blythe Bridge District’) was the worst hotspot for Covid during November for the whole of the West Midlands.
Thankfully, cases went gone down thanks to November’s lockdown… but the bad news is that, even in the current Tier 3 (Tier 3 is the toughest of all), our rate has gone up yet again. Figures released for the week ending 13th December showed an overall rise in the Staffordshire Moorlands (of which we are a part) of 14% against the previous week; and we are still a hotspot, considerably above the national average.

The really bad news is for our over-60s, whose death rate is spiking. No one is sure why, but older people’s ability to fight viruses does diminish in the cold weather, so that might be it.

Information from BBC Coronavirus Facts Project

Yes, the effect of the November-Lockdown is definitely receding…
So, the official advice is … please be careful out there, and do get a test (all Draycott / Cresswell / Totmonslow people are eligible for one).

A little bit of good news though is that the award-winning ju-jitsu club in Cresswell, the Breathe Academy, is pressing ahead no matter what. They are going to open a new facility on the site in January – and the even better news is that it will be ‘Covid-secure’.
The club, led by Tara Bundred, is always ambitious, which is to their credit. If you have children wishing to learn self defence through martial arts at the new facility, bookings are already underway.

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Locks can be your friend

Police are advising householders to keep properties locked when they go out (including rear doors).
The advice follows two burglaries in Stuart Avenue (at the west end of Draycott), when some jewellery and clothes were taken in the afternoon of December 2nd. The four burglaries (there were two similar a few miles away at the same time), frankly, look amateurish & opportunist, but that doesn’t mean the effect of them on a householder isn’t very distressing.
We understand arrests have been made, but any more information would be useful – contact the local police on 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you’re not sure of the best way to protect your property, give our local community support officer, PCSO Jonathan Staples, a call.
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To report, or not…

In a small area like ours where neighbours depend on each other, we are always encouraged to report ‘suspicious’ activity to the police.
However, a poll on the Draycott Facebook page revealed that local people are oddly ambivalent about reporting Covid breaches. The poll asked if you would report a group of a dozen young men gathering together for more than fifteen minutes (a clear breach of the Covid rules). Though nearly half said yes, over half said that it would be none of their business…
Yet, on the same page, a large majority agreed they would report a sighting of two young men sitting in a parked car in a residential area for fifteen minutes.

It’s not clear why the difference. We are told by the medical experts that the Covid rules are there to help fight a highly infectious disease which can kill and which already has hurt families deeply – but do some people not believe that?
Anyway, the police continue to issue warnings and sometimes even fines for breaches, and would certainly like it if you’d help out by being eyes & ears – see details on how to by clicking here

***
If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: Covid rises / Remembrance Day / pumpkin fest / MP’s silence

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late October 2020
In this post we have news of…: bad local figures for Covid / Remembrance will happen / pumpkins across Draycott / silence from MP over planning….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here


Covid latest

As we all know, the pandemic has taken a sudden turn for the worse, and unfortunately our area (Staffordshire Moorlands) is one of those with a fast-rising rate of cases – see graph below. (For the big picture, see BBC News Covid Figures Updates).

Last week, the Moorlands figure was 209 cases per week per 100,000 people – which compares badly with a national figure of just 123. (Stoke-on-Trent was 234, and Manchester 470). Yes, we are in the orange blob next to Stoke on the map below.
Even though Stoke is not that far ahead of us, the city has just been put into Level High (Tier 2).

Moorlands map Covid mid October 2020

It’s really not clear why we are entering a red zone; around us, neighbouring regions – Derbyshire, Stafford, Uttoxeter etc – are doing much better. Of course, we won’t know the reality of the situation for another fortnight, which is when infections may (or may not) turn into crippling illness.

The point is: Draycott may feel like a sleepy outpost sometimes, but – without panicking – we now need to be extra careful.
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Remembrance goes ahead

Poppies may be on sale already, but there had been Covid-related fears that the main Remembrance Sunday event in our area would have to be cancelled.
Thankfully, it will go ahead after all – but … with no parade.

In most years, the British Legion branch takes part in a parade through Blythe Bridge to the war memorial by St Peter’s Church. That’s not happening this year.
However, those who wish to can lay a commemorative wreath at 11am on the day, Sunday 8th November, although the council would prefer the occasion to be supervised – if you want to lay a wreath, please email Forsbrook Viilage Council for advice. As it’s outside, observers can attend, but in well-distanced groups (of no more than six apiece).
STOP PRESS (AS OF 31/10/2020 – Because of the lockdown starting midnight on Wednesday 4th Nov, not only is our local Remembrance Parade (due Nov 8th) cancelled, but now so too is the wreath-laying at the war memorial in Forsbrook

At St Margaret’s in Draycott, a separate service will start at 10.30am (led by Rev Sam Crossley and lay-preacher Cllr Kate Bradshaw) and there will be a two-minutes silence at 11am. The leading bellringer at St M’s, John Clarke, will sound the bells either side of the silence.
But… to be present in the church for this, you MUST prebook your space, via admin@stmargarets.org.uk. Anyone can be present outside the church, of course.

On the day, there has usually also been a Blessing Of the War Graves at St Mary’s Cresswell. However, at the time of writing, it’s not clear if this will go ahead.
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Speak up Bill!

There are now only a few days left before end of the public consultation process concerning the Conservative government’s drive to change the planning laws. Depending on your point of view, the government’s ideas are virtually a free-pass for developers or a way of speeding up an inefficient system.

What’s for sure is that many of the government’s own supporters, including Tory councillors in our own area, are deeply unhappy. Even Tory MPs have been speaking out and campaigning against the new proposals.
Except…it seems… Sir Bill Cash, our local (Conservative) MP.

Less than ten years ago, Bill wrote a famous article in which he asked: why are MPs silent over planning?

Bill Cash planning article, 2011

He lambasted his fellow MPs for not speaking out as housing developments were being laid out across large swathes of greenfield land.
So you’d think that Bill would have quite a lot to say now, because both Draycott (which faces around 500 new homes in the next ten years) and Cheadle (which he also represents) contemplate massive increases in development.
But… we’ve heard nothing. Many of us would welcome his views, so c’mon Bill – say something!

If you do want to take part in the public consultation on the government’s white paper ‘Planning For The Future’ you have until October 29th; click here to see the details.

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Life goes on

To end on a happy note… Walking round Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow you may notice many pumpkins on display on people’s fronts. What you are seeing is the Draycott Pumpkin Fest, which runs until Nov 2nd.It’s all the brainchild of local resident Lee Warburton (who also put together the village planters project) and he’s been using the village facebook page to explain the idea. But, in essence, it’s simple enough – decorate a pumpkin (real or artificial, doesn’t matter) at your home, and then put it on show for the delight of those walking by.

Pumpkin Fest beauties in Cresswell Old Lane – thanks to Dave Cole

In these times, it’s great to have someone who can bring a little cheer, so … Happy Halloween, all…!

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NEWS: Lockdown blooms / politics zooms / new use for phone-box / black lives matter

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid June 2020
In this post we have news of…: blooming planters! / life-saver for Draycott phone-box / council meets online / protest signs in Cresswell

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College gets Draycott flowering

Even in lockdown, there have been all sorts of attempts in the community to keep people’s spirits up.
One of the most noticeable has been the sudden flowering of the eight planters in Draycott. Last month, Draycott Moor College students & staff volunteered to help out on the Draycott Planters Project, which was set up by local resident Lee Warburton two years ago – and it is their efforts which have created the wonderful displays you can see now.
(The college, unlike most other schools, stayed open, because some of its children are at-risk and some were also the children of key workers).

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The project received £250 from the County Council’s Covid-19 Fund, and Draycott Council also contributed.

The students have actually been pretty busy during this time, as they have also been helping out with the Draycott Community Coronavirus Support Group. Well done to them…

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Support for carers and NHS

The Thursday Night Clap For Carers was another activity that brought many of us together, even if it was only from our front gates.
However, although the whole thing officially ended a couple of weeks ago, it looks like one last revival of it is now planned – for Sunday July 5th, which will then be a ‘proper’ finale.

In Draycott at large, music seemed to accompany the Thursday Clap. At St Margaret’s Church, they would ring the bells at 8pm on those days (thanks Dave!); and in Rookery Crescent (Cresswell), Vera Lynn would sing ‘We’ll Meet Again’!
Let’s hope music features again on July 5th.

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Politics made easier

Covid or not, decisions still need to be made, so politics carries on, even if it’s under strange conditions.

Draycott Council have been ‘meeting virtually’, using Zoom, the online video-conferencing system. In fact, it has been very successful, with as many as twelve people (including councillors) tuning into the meeting on June 8th.

The obvious benefit of Zoom is that it enables anyone with a computer to check in and see what’s going on – no matter the weather or how one is feeling.

Other great things about Zoom conferencing is that it forces groups to allow one person to speak at a time, and also enables everybody watching to be able to hear very clearly what is being said. All these are real boons, because it’s often difficult to catch what is being said at a ‘normal’ Draycott Council meeting.
It would almost be preferable (we think) to hold all meetings via Zoom in future… Well, it’s a thought anyway!

Sir Bill CashThe lockdown has led to one problematic thing in the Houses of Parliament, because MPs who are not physically present there are not allowed to vote in debates – not even those MPs who are at home because they or their loved ones are at-risk. It’s a strange situation.
We wondered if our own MP, Bill Cash (see pic) – who is 80 years old after all -, would fall into that category. However, it seems he is living in his London flat, so he can attend debates.
So, no need to stop writing to him if you have concerns he might be able to help with.

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Life-saving equipment for Draycott

It seems Draycott Council have now decided to officially take ownership of the old BT phone box in Draycott. (It’s to be found up against The Old Post Office house, diagonally opposite The Draycott Arms.)

draycott phonebox

Phonebox at old post office, Draycott-le-Moors

It’s in a bit of a state inside, quite decayed, but BT were offering it to the council for just £1…

But what to do with it?
Well, the council has also now decided to put a defibrillator in there, like in so many other former phone-boxes. (In fact, the old kiosk in Cresswell also now houses a defibrillator, and has done since 2015.)
A defibrillator is a piece of life-saving equipment which can be used – by anyone – to help revive people who are suffering cardiac arrest.

However, it’s not clear yet how the council intends to pay for refurbishing the Draycott kiosk and for installing a defibrillator; more than £2000 will be needed.
By contrast, the Cresswell kiosk project was a community effort, run by VVSM, the local action group, and the way they paid for it was by fund-raising through jumble sales and begging for donations.

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Black Lives Matter

As we all know, Draycott-in-the-Moors is quite a sleepy place, and sometimes you could be forgiven for thinking that events in the outside world do not affect us.

But it seems some things are too big to be ignored. Covid is one of course, but now signs are appearing in the village reminding us of the terrible recent event in America where yet another African-American man died at the hands of the police – the George Floyd affair.
The news of the event seems to have shocked the world, and there have been demonstrations in many countries – and even  the British Parliament held a minute’s silence to remember Mr Floyd.

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Signs have now also begun to appear in Draycott-in-the-Moors.  (Interestingly, the signs in Cresswell have hearts drawn over them – a message of hope.)
Perhaps some matters are simply so important that they can penetrate even into quiet lives like ours in Draycott.

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NEWS: scarecrows / speeding / homes for sale / Old Lane restored

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid May 2020
In this post we have news of…: scarecrow happiness / speeding on empty roads / historic homes for sale / Cresswell Old Lane is back!

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Scarecrow togetherness

Congratulations are due all round for the wonderful Draycott-in-the-Moors Scarecrow Festival  that took place across Draycott & Cresswell on the bank holiday weekend this month.
Nearly fifty households took part and there were some stunningly inventive and very humorous creations! Most importantly though, it brought people together.

Three people should be singled out though.
Chief among them is the main festival organiser Kate Bradshaw, who was tireless, despite the fact that she has plenty of other responsibilities.
Also, Helen Bickerton, who heads up the team at our local community-library centre at Blythe, deserves praise for stumping up the prizes, and taking part in a long day of judging.
And also Lee Warburton. Lee is basically the main man behind the village Facebook page, which has been so vital a lifeline during this current crisis, and it was he who collated the photo album of the festival. If you haven’t seen the album, click here and check out the brilliant entries.

Draycott Scarecrow 2020 First prize to Norman and Nella at 95 Uttoxeter Road

Scarecrow 2020 first prize to Norman and Nella on Uttoxeter Road

It’s not a coincidence that it is these same three individuals who have also pulled together the local Coronavirus volunteer support groups which have been working across the district to make sure no one who asks for help goes unaided.
Yes, each team’s individual volunteer plays their part and we shouldn’t forget that, but a big debt of gratitude is owed to these three in particular.
If they don’t each get a Certificate Of Thanks from the village council at the end of this year, then there’s no justice in this world.

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Speed-crow

One scarecrow in the festival was about more than just fun, it was making an important point.
The empty roads of the last two months have, unfortunately, encouraged some complete idiots to treat some our long stretches as racetracks. Two long straight runs, one along Uttoxeter Road from Blythe roundabout and the one to the railway crossing in Cresswell, are both 40mph limits, but sometimes you wouldn’t have believed it.

This clever scarecrow (pic right) on Cresswell’s Sandon Road, with its silver foil speed-gun and frowning face, didn’t fool anybody of course, but let’s hope it made the idiots think, at least for a second.

In the meantime, we are still waiting for the two speed-warning signs which should have been up in Draycott by now. Nearly eighteen months ago, the village council were given £5000 by the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership to purchase and erect them – but the project only limps along.

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Historic homes for sale

The recent easing of the restrictions on the property market means that three of our most interesting and historic homes are now properly back up for sale.

First: the old School House in Cresswell, which is so called because the Catholic church in the village maintained a small primary school on the site for many years.
Second:  Totmonslow Farm Cottage (seen from the back, right), which would once have belonged to the farm estate, but now it is separate.

Totmonslow Farm Cottage from the back

Totmonslow Farm Cottage, from the back

And then there is the 200 year-old Izaak Walton pub in Cresswell. It has been ‘dark’ for some time now, so it was no surprise when the brewery-owners sold it last year.
However the individual who bought it managed to get planning permission to re-develop it (with support from the village council) as a family home – which was a surprise, as it is Cresswell’s only ‘community asset’.
However, again, it is now back on the market, and goes to auction on June 1st.

Incidentally, it is hoped that the memorabilia from the Izaak (regulars will remember the old photos that used to line the walls, the old fish-figure weather-vane etc etc) might be saved for the village. The clerk of the village council, Denise Wheat, is on to the job – good luck Denise.

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Cresswell gets it right

Finally, the long-running saga of the road-sign on Cresswell Old Lane is over.
Some eight years ago, a keen-eyed resident noticed that the eastern half of Cresswell Old Lane was wrongly called ‘Cresswell Old Road, not just on Google Maps, but even on one of the official road-signs. And so he reported it to the authorities.
The details of this long-running saga to get the name corrected have been tiring and frustrating (even if a bit humorous at times!), but at last the sign has been corrected.

Cresswell Old Lane sign – right at last!

But… safe to say that the residents of Cresswell Old Lane can sleep sound in their beds at last, knowing that they are now definitely living in the road that they are supposed to be living in…

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NEWS: online council / stay at home events / knight errant

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late April 2020
In this post we have news of…: Village council goes to video / virtual coffee-morning / VE Day is ‘virtual’; scarecrows go ahead / Draycott knight errant!

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Council works remotely

The present crisis means that any kind of gatherings are a problem – but life must go on. In terms of councils, the government advice is that they must take up video-conferencing.

A household-unit takes part in a video conference

So, for its meeting on Monday May 11th, Draycott village councillors will all meet online, on ‘Zoom’. As the law demands that the public must be able to observe such proceedings, residents can also ask to be included in the invitees.
Anyone who has used Zoom knows what happens: we sit in front of our computer screens in our kitchens, and we will see the faces of all the others who are in on the conference-call and also hear them. (If you are shy, and don’t want to be seen, you can just switch off the camera on your own computer).

To apply to be part of the council’s Skype meeting, please contact the Draycott Council clerk;  for those who need it, Denise has done a great how-to guide, which she will then send you. But… you must apply by May 8th.

Yes, it’s not the best way to do such meetings, but we do hope that Draycott council takes a lead from this work; and puts all meetings online in the future; so many other councils do it, and it’s a great aid to local democracy.
Welcome to the 21st century…
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A virtual cup of coffee

This lockdown is not one we wanted, and life is going to get a lot worse for some, but there are some good people really trying their best to make life as bearable as it can be for us all in this district.

Lee Warburton and Kate Bradshaw are particularly to be congratulated for keeping the village Facebook page and the Draycott Coronavirus Community-Support going – both are invaluable lifelines.
Also, the QQS Dance Studio, based in Cresswell, has a weekly podcast of cheerful tunes, which is great, and our local library maintains a local community phone-line – and we even know of a certain lady who baked cakes for everyone in her street (well done Bev!).

But congratulations too to Sam Crossley, the new curate at St Margaret’s Church. He’s come up with a few ideas, including an online weekly church newsletter and a weekly ‘virtual’ coffee-morning!
The coffee-morning works a bit like the council’s video-meeting; and it’s open to all local residents. The best bit about it is that if you really don’t know how to set it up, Sam has promised to personally guide you and your computer through the process.  Click here for details.
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Celebrations postponed … and initiated

Well, it was inevitable, even if sad, that the Draycott 75th Anniversary Celebrations for Victory In Europe (VE) Day would have to be cancelled. On May 8th, the due date, most of us will still be in lockdown.

It’s sad because St Margaret’s Church had organised a tea-party, a pealing of the bells, and even a lone piper, to have made it a day to remember.
One of the organisers, John Clarke, is hoping however that some degree of normality might have returned by August, leaving the way open for some sort of celebration of the anniversary of the actual end of World War Two, i.e. Victory In Japan (VJ) Day, on the weekend of 15th/16th August. We shall see.

Fayre vehicle rally 2019

Hundreds of vehicles and engines usually come to Draycott for the fayre

John is also sure concerned that the annual Draycott Fayre, which usually takes place in mid-July, might have to be cancelled. The fayre is the highlight of the year in Draycott, so that really is a shame.

In contrast… well done to Kate Bradshaw (again) who is behind the forthcoming Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow Scarecrow Festival.  In these stay-at-home times, the premise is pretty straightforward: stick a scarecrow in front of your house, or in your front garden, for the three days Friday 8th to Sunday 10th May. If you want to add a ‘theme’ to your scarecrow, that’s ok too (people or memories or WW2 books are the suggestions).
PS – they don’t have to be made of straw – any material will do….
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Draycott knightKnight to the rescue!

Finally, if the latest stats are to be believed, a form of lockdown will have to go on for some time, especially for older people. This is not great news, so a bit of cheerful eccentricity is always welcome to keep us going.

And… to the rescue, to bring some cheer, we have the mysterious Knight of Draycott.

He (we think it’s a he!) can be seen occasionally striding the lanes of Draycott (he seems to have lost his white horse), waving to householders confined to their homes.

Draycott knight & squire

Draycott knight & squire. Thanks to Emma Myatt for the pics

Carry on with your quest to bring smiles to Draycott, sir Knight!

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