Category Archives: community action

Rail-path group back to action

Things have been a bit quiet for the Friends of The Cheadle-Cresswell Railway Path  over the last six months.
The group formed in July last year, and had a good summer, with the volunteers raising funds, clearing some of the undergrowth from the path and doing some path-laying. However there has been no meeting since November.

But, the group’s secretary Oliver Griffiths, says the return of the good weather will see the resurgence of the group. All, says Oliver, that he is waiting for is some permissions from the leaseholder of the path and from some adjacent landowners.
And then meetings will re-start. All are welcome; just keep an eye on the group’s Facebook page for more info.

For those that have forgotten this story, our old branch rail-line, which went from the centre of Cresswell, via Totmonslow, right up to Cheadle, is now mostly a ‘permissive’ public-path/greenway, available to walkers and horse-riders. The path was nominated as such in 2012 – see our archive report.
Nine-tenths of it is open to the public (see article on the other tenth).

Busy route

This line was once a very busy route.

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A local industrial company headed up by a man called Robert Plant was the first to get the project properly underway in the 1880s – in those days, most railways were built by entrepreneur businesses, not by the government.
The idea was to construct a track which would leave the main Uttoxter-Stoke line at Cresswell, swerve north-eastward to Totmonslow where there was a small station, and then go north to Cheadle. It would carry not just passengers, who could then reach Stoke (or Derby) via Cresswell, but also transport freight – coal from the Draycott Cross pits.

Building started in 1888, when the first sod was cut in the April of that year by Edward Plant, Robert’s son. Within just a month a quarter of a mile had been laid, but, with subscriptions coming in slowly, work kept stopping. It wasn’t until four years later that the first section, from Cresswell to Totmonslow, was completed!
Finally, thirteen years after the commencement, the full line to Cheadle was completed.
Less than seventy years later, in 1963, the line closed to passenger traffic, though it did keep open for freight for a while.
The full story of the railway can be read in the Cheadle Branch Line Wikipedia entry.

Railway to greenway

Very few signs that the line once existed are still there. The rail-tracks themselves were lifted five years ago, making the way easier to use for walkers.

However, the old Totmonslow station building remains in the form of a cottage ‘The Ranch’. You can also still see the ruined station platforms at both Cresswell and Totmonslow.
Cresswell Station House was pulled down around the early sixties, but for a while before that, had been rented out as a home.

The local historian for Tean, Ivy Willetts-Brunt, remembers that, in the 1930s, her cousin Jack used to go daily to collect cold fish delivered to Totmonslow Station (by then also known as Tean Station). It was needed for the Tean Fish & Chip Shop!

Thanks to all those who have sent us photos of the old railway line before the tracks were pulled up. But can anyone help us with more information? Rough dates for the photos we have shown would be a start…
Also, some more anecdotes and stories about the use of the line would be good. For example, we were once told that the station house at Cresswell was once rented out to the well-known sixties pop-group The Marauders. Is that really true?
Please use the comments box below….

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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.

***
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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

NEWS: Local Plan / Armistice events / potholes!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2018
In this post we have news of…: Moorlands Local Plan / Armistice Day events / pothole misery …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a pop-jazz band evening…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Plan coming to conclusion

The latest draft of the Staffordshire Moorlands ‘Local Plan’ is now published,  and copies can be seen in libraries and on-line. This is the fifth draft, and, in effect, this is the last, as no more changes are likely outside of a massive surprise.

It only reveals what we already knew: that Draycott, in effect, will soon become an urban village, as part of a ribbon development with Blythe Bridge. Blythe Bridge’s village-boundary is even to be extended this way.
Previous protesting comments from local residents did not shake the planners’ resolve.

So… Draycott will see two new housing estates in the next couple of years. Two already have permission to go ahead – one of 168 homes at Cresswell, plus one of 118 homes bordering the A50 on a site behind Chandni Cottage (which will soon grow, to become 300 homes). Overall, 1500 homes are set to be built in the Blythe Bridge/Draycott/Caverswall ‘ribbon’ area over the next 15 years.
Plus… the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road already has outline permission for further housing & employment ‘opportunities’ in the near future.

As for employment sites, Blythe Park in Cresswell is set to be one of the biggest developments across the region. Our local community-action group VVSM are on record as saying that “… what this means is that ALL of Staffordshire Moorlands’ quota for required rural allocation of employment-sites is now to be found in … Cresswell ! What’s more, the expected Blythe Vale allocation, which will stretch from Blythe Bridge to Cresswell, could mean dozens of workshops and small factories being built on the land there on top of the ridge over the next twenty years. All this will change the face of this village.”
Residents in Cheadle Road will also note that a new employment park is also earmarked in the Plan, on a site off New Haden Road (just down from Draycott Cross).Moorlands Local Plan symbol
(What’s a little mysterious is that sections on traveller-site allocation haves been left out. Previous drafts had sites in Draycott and Cresswell strongly tipped, but this current draft is silent on the matter. Watch this space, as they say.)

This final draft is now open to consultation, but only for legal points – one can no longer challenge the locations or numbers of homes & employment sites.

So… what’s next? Staffordshire Moorlands Council will submit this Plan for approval to a government inquiry in the autumn.
And there you have the only real reason to comment on the current Plan – because anyone who does make a comment will also be offered the chance to put their case before the government inspector in the autumn – in fact this is the only way you can ‘qualify’ to take part in the inquiry. It seems a daft way to do it, but there it is.
So, yes, fireworks could start again in the autumn – but don’t count on it.

SEE: Staffs Moorlands Local Plan Spring 2018 Revision

– – –
Pothole misery

Once upon a time, a pothole in the roads was an unusual sight. Not any more.
In the 200 yards along Cresswell Lane, between the A50 flyover and Blythe Business Park, motorists now have at least five chances to crack their axles. Pothole in Cresswell Lane
This length of road is in such a poor state that, as soon as a pothole is repaired, it breaks up again.
Motorists who know this stretch play a dangerous game, of swerving round them.

The plague of local potholes came to a head during the recent snowfalls: if you can’t see a pothole, you can’t avoid it. One poor driver smacked into the huge, snow-covered pothole outside Grange Farm (on Cheadle Road) – and told us all that his van had to be off the road for over a week for repairs.
Residents attending a recent council meeting also complained of the pothole that has suddenly appeared outside Hilltop Farm on the road between the Draycott Arms and Totmonslow; cars swerving round that particular pothole (in a stretch where fast-moving traffic is prevalent), have already caused some real near-misses.

Responsibility for repairs falls to Staffordshire County’s Highways Department who are promising £5million to sort the issue, as of April. The county even has a dedicated Potholes Update webpage!
But, as far as we are thinking, the answer to it all is drive more slowly… the potholes are probably here to stay.

– – –
Armistice commemorations

It may seem a long way off, but in November the country will be remembering 100 years since the end of the First World War. A series of commemoration events across November 11th will look back at the day the nation emerged from all that misery.

Draycott is being invited to take part, as are all other parishes across the UK, by ringing its church bells in a ‘joyful peal’ in the evening on the day.
And the St Margaret’s Bell-Ringing group would welcome any new-comers who feel they could contribute. Recently the group has struggled a bit to find enough members, so volunteering to help them could be your way to take part in the Great-War Armistice Event Day.St Margaret's church in snow

Ring a bell at St Margaret’s!

Anyone can ring a church bell – but you do need some practice, so expressing your willingness is best done now or as soon as possible. Your man to contact is John Clarke, and he will tell you what’s what.

If you are interested more widely in how Staffordshire will remember Armistice Day, there is a free event taking place next Sunday (10th March) in Stafford – the Staffordshire Great-War Commemoration Conference – and all are welcome. If you have an idea, or just want to join in, this could be a meeting worth attending.

***
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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

NEWS: burglary / help for poor / pollution report … and more

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-February 2018
In this post we have news of…: restaurant burglary / local firm helps poorest / pollution report / summer fayre progress / un-open Forsbrook…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a pop-jazz band evening…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Chandni burglary

There have still been no arrests (at the time of writing) concerning the Chandni Cottage Restaurant burglary which took place two weeks ago (Feb 5th). A well-organised group of thieves broke into the restaurant, at the eastern end of Draycott, in the dead of night.
They smashed in a window at the back; and stole equipment, goods and some cash – causing around £10,000 worth of losses. They even took the charity tin.Chandni Cottage

The thieves managed to get away with some hefty pieces of kitchenware, which makes police think that they must have had a van, and been properly prepared, being as it was such a difficult operation.
The same gang may have even been behind some similar incidents across the area.

The thieves were pretty brazen, but let’s hope they made some mistake which will lead eventually to arrests. If you think you may know anything, there is a confidential police hotline – call 101 and mention “incident number 587”.
It’s been really distressing for the owner, Yasmeen Yacqub, but we are happy to say that she has since said she won’t be cowed, and will carry on whatever!

– – –
New Haden generosity

If the reports from the Cheadle Food Bank are anything to go by, the situation for the poorest in our community is getting worse and worse. Requests to them for emergency supplies have risen 30% on the same time last year.
The food bank hands out tinned and non-perishable goods to those who turn up to its drop-in sessions. The Cheadle group serves not just people from the town but the surrounding villages, such as Draycott.

However, the food bank organisers rely on people like us to keep a supply of goods going, so, because of the rise in need, they have launched an extra appeal for funds, this time specifically aimed at businesses.
We are pleased to say that the first firm to respond positively is one from our small district – New Haden Pumps in Draycott Cross Road, which has stepped in to donate £150. Well done to them.

– – –
The fun of the fayre

It’s already that time of year again, and the Draycott Fayre organisers have already started booking acts for the event, which returns in July.

Draycott Fayre 2016 - 25 years banner

Parish councillor Pauline Clarke shows the 25 Years of Draycott Fayre banner last year

But now comes the nitty-gritty bit – who is doing what? …from hawking round posters to taking money on the gate.
The first meeting to discuss such matters takes place on March 2nd. Can you get along, and offer your services or thoughts?
Everyone who works putting the day together is a volunteer, from top to bottom – so, no matter how small, your contribution will be valuable. All are welcome at the meeting.
For details, click here

– – –
‘Missing’ notification

You might think our own local council here in Draycott is pretty bad when it comes to sharing information with its taxpayers (and it is) but the next-door council in Forsbrook takes the prize this month.
As must happen after the death of a councillor, which happened at the beginning of this year, a vacancy must be announced so that members of the public can put themselves forward for the post.
(In fact, some people in Draycott would have been eligible, as the locality rule means that residents for a few miles round are also able to stand).

So we watched the Forsbrook Council’s website, and we watched the council’s Facebook page. And we waited and waited. Nothing.
However, it then turned out that there was a notice after all – a piece of paper pinned to the council notice boards… but by then it was too late for us.

Forsbrook broke no rules in doing this, but, judging by this, they aren’t great fans of openness in local government, apparently preferring to keep such information under the radar, instead of trying to get the information out far and wide to as many people as possible.
So… who now gets to decide who will be the new, incoming councillor? Well…the councillors, of course!   They will now look for someone they themselves approve of, and ‘co-opt’ them.

– – –
Pollution report

As required by law, the developers who are soon to be building a housing estate and factories in Cresswell had to commission a report examining the state of the land on which they are about to build.
(The report, which must be carried out by a reputable land-analysis firm, looks for contaminants, floods risk etc.)
Well, the report has just been published. It is very lengthy and you probably need a degree to understand it fully, but it is important.

The local community-action group, VVSM, have been through the report and done their own review, breaking it down into simpler language. The review (click here to check it out), which also has links to the details of the report, is worth five minutes of any local resident’s reading time.

The biggest result is that the report’s authors admit finding contaminants in the soil, though they personally do not think there is enough there to halt the building. What they do recommend however is that a thick layer of fresh top-soil should be placed on the fields to act as a ‘buffer’ between the incoming residents and any nasty stuff down below.
The report’s authors admit too that there are simply locations across the site where they don’t know what will be found – until the digging starts. In fact, they recommend that construction workers, who will be moving in soon, wear protective clothing.

It’s all a bit worrying. The VVSM folk point out that, when cadmium in the earth is disturbed, it often just floats into the air; and, yes, cadmium is believed to be buried there somewhere.
In the end, the people of Cresswell (and the incoming residents of the planned estates) must rely on two things – the honesty of the construction firm which is honour-bound to report any unexpected finds, and the diligence of the local authority’s environment officers, who are supposed to monitor the excavations.  Erm, fingers crossed, eh?

***
This post has been edited since being originally published.

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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

NEWS: neighbourhood plan / church re-fit / bye to Bill? / Chandni 5*

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: repairs programme for St Margaret’s / Draycott to change MPs? / will YOU be part of plan process? / Chandni Cottage Restaurant report…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Valentines Ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Church’s birthday re-fit

You may have noticed that our parish church of St Margaret’s is currently covered in scaffolding. It turns out that this is all due to some necessary repairs ordered by the Church Of England authorities – and will cost a stinging £40,000…

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The 13th century church developed a leak in the roof a while back, which was fixed eventually by the church’s own volunteer project manager, John Clarke.  John is well-known for his unstinting efforts to keep the ancient church viable. (See the Saving The Bells story).

However, then along came the compulsory Church Of England ‘Quinquennial’ five-year review – and that report has demanded the repair of virtually the whole main roof. The trusted restoration experts, Midlands Conservation, are undertaking the work because of the great historical value of the building.
Fortunately, the church wardens at the church have been putting money by, so this won’t bust the bank, but it does mean fund-raising efforts (such as the Draycott Summer fayre) will have to be intensified.

Curiously, the refit comes just as the church is about to celebrate its 750th anniversary – which makes it a sort of birthday present!

– – –
Got a plan for our neighbourhood?

People in Draycott district have been kicking around the idea of developing a ‘neighbourhood plan’ for some years now.
Well, slowly, slowly, the Draycott Council has been progressing the idea. In fact, it now has formal approval for the project, and has been given a grant of £5000 to make it happen.

A ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ outlines what a local community wants to see for itself in the future – especially as regards large planning developments (for and against). The government supports the idea of NPs and gave them official backing in its Localism Act in 2011.
The most important thing about Neighbourhood Plans is that they give formal protection to what a district wants for itself – for the ways it views its green spaces and how new building projects should ‘fit in’ etc.

Next stage of the process here in Draycott is where YOU come in.
An open forum has been called for Fri 26 Jan (see details), and everyone in the district (including Cresswell, Totmonslow and Draycott Cross) is invited to come along to express views.
An expert will be on hand to explain more, and to outline how you can take part even more than just saying your piece, even how you can get to sit on the district committee if you want.checkley neighbourhood plan posterA number of other districts have already pushed ahead with neighbourhood plans and they say they do energise the community. Checkley & Tean have been particularly energetic (see pic above) – have a look at their website’s N Plan pages to find out more.

– – –
Goodbye to Sir Bill?

There now seems to be backing for a proposal to move Draycott district out of the Stone parliamentary constituency and into the Staffs Moorlands parliamentary constituency.
The government’s Boundary Commission has been taking public comments on the proposals and Staffs Moorlands councillors are the latest to come out in favour of the idea.

Sir Bill CashIf it goes through it would mean a change of MP for us, as we would move out of the remit of Sir Bill Cash (see pic right), and would find ourselves being represented instead by another Conservative MP, Karen Bradley, who currently holds the Staffs Moorlands constituency.

However – a lot of political commentators say the proposals have no chance of being accepted.
(So…bit of a waste of time really…!)

– – –
Chandni celebrates

Nice to see that Chandni Cottage, the Indian restaurant at the Blythe end of Draycott, has got a five-out-of-five rating for its food hygiene standards, following a visit from environment inspectors. It had a less than excellent rating the previous time inspectors visited, so they’ve done a fair job to turn it around.

Chandni CottageIt’s well deserved. Yasmeen Yacqub and her team have been in place ever since the restaurant opened in 1996, so they know the business well, and they know their customers well.
It was from listening to customer demand that they developed fat-free versions of most of their dishes, put together the recent refurbishment, and even organised a ‘diners club’ which enables members to taste cuisine from around the world.
Actually, the customers play a full part in the Chandni’s outlook – exemplified by one group of regulars, headed up by Andy Bird, who even go out on country walks to raise money for charity.
That would build your appetite up…!

***
Do you have news you’d like to see written 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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

NEWS: VVSM end / Anthony exhibits / best to Dave / trees success

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-December 2017
In this post we have news of…: VVSM action group disbands / Anthony Hammond exhibition / Dave Trigger’s operation / Xmas Tree fest goes well…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including loads of carol-singing get-togethers!!..  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
VVSM no more

One bit of news that residents may not welcome, but will certainly be welcomed by all the developers who want a bit of Draycott, is that the local community-action group VVSM has decided to disband (see their announcement).
It seems like not enough people were coming forward to help keep the group running, and the weight of work was just too much for the few people left.

It’s a great shame, as VVSM can rightly claim much of the credit for the fact that, back in 2009, the developers who wanted to build a gas power station in Cresswell eventually withdraw their application.
The group went on to hire legal teams to fight the next big problem, the Blythe Park housing estate application, and managed to expose an awful lot of facts that had been kept hidden and even misreported, thus slowing down the progress of those plans.
They also contributed to the general life of the community, installing a defibrillator in Cresswell among other achievements.

However, as VVSM say in their latest post, it does seem as though everyone in the district, from householders to politicians, now just think that there is very little that can be done about development issues… and have given up. This may explain why no new members have come forward.

It may be something we regret though. The housing-estate at Blythe Vale has now been approved as well the one at Blythe Park, so the developers will now next be looking hungrily at Cresswell ridge (on the skyline above Uttoxeter Road) where outline planning permission for further development is already approved.
Without VVSM in place, those developers will certainly have a much easier ride.

– – –
Fun with trees

Congratulations to Pauline & John Clarke, the organisers of the Draycott Christmas Tree Festival. Once again, they created an event that really did try to pull the local community together – and there really aren’t enough of such events in Draycott.

Among the groups that decorated, themed, and submitted trees were the Draycott Women’s Institute, the local cricket club, the bellringers group, Forsbrook School, the Draycott Brownies and more. Draycott Manor School did the event a compliment by putting in four trees!
The most thoughtful tree (we think) was the one from Forsbrook Primary, which was a Poet-Tree (geddit?) with poems written by the children hanging from the branches.

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However, as usual, it’s a shame that more groups, families and businesses did not take part.
Community spirit does seem to be declining in Draycott, especially compared to all the wonderful things happening in the villages surrounding us. What can be done to improve it?

– – –
Anthony gets exhibited

It’ll soon be the kids’ holidays, so if you’re looking for a quick trip out, why not try Newcastle-under-Lyme Museum? There is lots of stuff for kids there.
But the reason we mention the museum particularly is because local man, Anthony Hammond, has an exhibition on there at the moment; it runs until January 8th.

Anthony Hammond soldier sculptureAnthony specialises in carving sculptures out of tree-trunks, which he does with a specially adapted electric saw. Many of us will have seen him doing his stuff at the Draycott Summer Fayre.
He was recently in the papers for a fantastic carving of a World War One soldier (see right), which you can also see at Newcastle.
Well worth a visit.

Incidentally lots of you ask after his grandmother, local-legend Betty Hammond. Apparently, she is doing well at the moment, even if she is less mobile than she was. This Christmas will be her 104th!

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Best wishes

One person who has been sadly absent from village activity for quite a while is Dave Trigger, one of the three councillors who represent this district on Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

Dave has a wealth of knowledge about local government and about engineering (his specialist subject) and he often brings a lot of common sense to the table whenever he has got along to a Draycott Council meeting in the past.

He has faced a major operation, which – everyone hopes – will go some way to getting him back on his feet.
If you still haven’t completed your Xmas card mail-out, you could add him to it…

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NEWS: Xmas fest / Blithe project / darts! / community cash

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-November 2017
In this post we have news of…: Christmas tree festival / River Blithe clean-up / 50 up for Phyllis / darts at the Arms / community fund pay-out…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including loads of Xmas events!!. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Get in the Christmas (tree) spirit

The people of Draycott come together as a community too little sadly, but one time they definitely do bond is for the annual village Christmas Tree Festival.
This is a great project – as it allows anyone from the district & surroundings to decorate a small Christmas tree and enter it into a display.

A lot of people who enter into the spirit of the project have a theme in their decoration, whether it’s to highlight the good work of a local organisation, or to spread general thoughts of goodwill. It’s not a religious thing necessarily – you choose the look and the ‘message’ for yourself.

Draycott Christmas Fest 2014 6

The trees are along the two side aisles of the church making them easy to see

There’s no big hassle to it either. Your family could decorate a small tree (real or artificial, but it must be under 4 feet high) any time over the next day or two – and then simply deliver it to St Margaret’s Church during Saturday (2nd December) – the day the organisers are accepting the trees.
The exhibition of trees then stays up in the church (during which time the building is open to the public during the afternoon) from Sunday 3rd until Sunday 10th.

It’s all free too: no fee to enter a tree, and no fee to get into the church to see the exhibition. If you need more details email Pauline Clarke, but, really, it’s as easy as that.
To see the full details of ‘rules’, click here.
Go on. You know you want to!

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Money in time for Christmas

It’s taken quite a while, but at last money from the ‘Newton Solar Array Community Fund’ is being distributed. This is the money set aside by the company that runs the solar farm near Totmonslow, as a sort of gift to our community for any disruption caused, and comes to about £2000 per year.
The company has entrusted Draycott Council with the cash, to hand out as the councillors see fit.

Well, the first round of applications has now been completed, and the winners are:
Draycott Church & Community Hall, which receives £500 toward the cost of new fireproof curtains
Lee Warburton, a local resident, who has asked for £285 toward the cost of installing new floral planters in the village
The Draycott Speed Watch Group, which will get £350 to purchase a radar-gun when it formally starts up
Councillor Steve Jones, who asked for £300 to be used to fund a project in Draycott for children
Another request for £1000 as part-payment against Mary Edwards’ project to re-surface part of Church Lane (see our story about this) was put on hold while more information was sought
Some other requests were either withdrawn or postponed until the next round of applications.

Steve’s project is probably the most intriguing one. He has set up a youth group called ‘Gaming Potion’, which aims to get kids off smartphones & gaming consoles and into ‘real’ hands-on games.  The idea is to arrange occasional day-long events over the next year or so, to be held at Draycott Church Hall – one is already arranged for late December (see our Events page) .  He’s also looking for volunteers who like tabletop gaming to help out.

It’s great to see the community-fund being taken up like this. If you feel that you have a project which would benefit, just click here and fill out the form.
The next lot of applications will be considered in the new year.

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A different kind of streaming

Officials from the South Staffordshire Water Company may have been reading this website when they came up with their latest idea.
We wrote a story last month mentioning that the River Blithe (which runs right down from Draycott & Cresswell to Tittesworth Reservoir and then to Rugeley), was not in great condition.

Cresswell Bridge silt

River Blithe passes under Cresswell Bridge

Well SSW are now offering grants up to £10,000 to farmers who have land around the course of this river – if they take part in a land improvement scheme.
It sounds really worthwhile.

For more info, phone Nina at SSW on 01922 638282; and if you are a farmer who decides to take part, will you let us know how it goes?

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Arrows at the Arms

The refurbishment at the Draycott Arms pub has been moving along nicely – so much so that a darts team is now making regular use of the snug.

The Draycott Arms team is doing rather well too, holding a mid-table position in the Ipstones Darts League – though organiser Andy Bird does point out that “we don’t take it TOO seriously; it’s more about fun and getting together really”.

The team, which is made up of both men and women, could do with a couple more members in the squad however.
Are you free on occasional Tuesday evenings? Do you think you could throw an ‘arrow’ straight enough? (Well, straight enough not to damage the surrounding paintwork..?!!).
Just email Zara at the Arms, or just drop in, and you’ll get a friendly welcome – as well as more information.

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Fifty years in the Institute

And finally… congratulations to Phyllis Sales, a lady who, when she commits to something, really does commit!

This month, Phyllis celebrates fifty years as a member of the Draycott Women’s Institute. Being a member has probably kept her as young as she is…
(Wouldn’t it be great if other members collated some of her memories, to add to the village’s treasure trove of recent history?)

The Draycott branch of the Women’s Institute meets monthly to hear talks and organise worthwhile projects.
It’s been expanding recently, so if you’d like to join up with a nice bunch of people, just email them for information.
Only one membership rule though: you do have to be a woman…!

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
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NEWS: speedwatch group / money available / fun nights ahead / history book

In this post we have news of…: Speedwatch group for Draycott level / community fund deadline / a rockin’ time for all coming up! / local history book is back … …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Remembrance Poppy Ball. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Draycott speed watch

Good news! Enough people have now volunteered in order to make the formation of a Draycott Speedwatch group possible. Although Cresswell has had a Speedwatch group for over five years, so far it’s been hard to raise the necessary enthusiasm for a sister one in Draycott.
This good news because if there’s one thing that residents report a lot it’s the excessive speeds of some motorists roaring along Draycott Level.

Speedwatch groups work with the local police, and are issued with official jackets and radar guns. This gives them the right to stand on the roadside and monitor the speeds of local passing motorists. They report the worst offenders.

You may have seen the thoughtful comment by Zara Hutson, the owner of The Draycott Arms. She says: “We are the only village in the area that doesn’t have some form of speed-reducing features – along the straightest and fastest stretch around! Everywhere else has humps, bumps, islands and lights, but Draycott doesn’t even have a mid-point (traffic island) for crossing halfway at a time.
“The speed some people abuse this at is terrifying.
“For me the new housing development itself are good things – a slightly bigger population will hopefully kick start a community that has stagnated. However, the access for the development at that (eastern) end of Draycott needs reviewing first, along with traffic calming measures throughout.”

If you think you can spare an hour every fortnight and join the Speedwatch group, contact Kate Bradshaw. Kate, who lives on Draycott Level herself, has very strong views about speed, and also thinks extra houses at Blythe Vale will cause an issue. The development, she says: “…would cause carnage … it is totally in the wrong place because of its proximity to traffic coming off the roundabout.”

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History book re-issued

As we reported before, all the books about the history of this district (a History Of The Parish of Draycott-en-le-Moors by Matthew Pointon) recently sold out.

Cover of Draycott history bookHowever, Mathew tells us he is still getting requests for copies, so he is now doing his best to satisfy the late-comers. He’s arranged an account on Lulu.Com (the self-publishing website) – which means the book is newly available!
Fortunately for us, Matthew is disregarding inflation rises since the first publication and is keeping the cover price at £10 – though VAT and p&p will push the cost up slightly. To order a copy, just click on here and follow the prompts.

Those of you who would prefer an e-book/Kindle version may want to wait a couple of weeks though. Matthew is in the process of figuring how that might work!

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Lots of local events to go to

As is usual at this time of year, suddenly there are loads of events being announced. As most of them are in walking distance (almost), you don’t even need a car to get to them!

Half-term is always good for kids round here of course with kids’ sports camp days in Cresswell, and soccer sessions in Blythe Bridge. (This latter venture is being funded by Forsbrook parish council – nice to see a parish council being so pro-active).
However, it’s not just about kids: for the adults, there are quizzes, dances, rock concerts, talks and more, all within a three-mile radius. Don’t forget the fireworks display at Forsbrook too.swinging sixties band with dr shevlin

And if you want a night for memories: howazbout a Swinging Sixties gig? If anybody remembers Doctor Shevlin, who worked at both Tean and Blythe Bridge surgeries, it’s good to report that retirement has not slowed him down – he is the guitarist with the ‘Swinging Sixties’ band (see pic above)…!

To check all the details of all the local events over the next couple of months, just click here.

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Apply now to community fund

It has been a long time in coming, but finally money from the local Solar Farm Community Fund is going to be handed out.
This is the money donated every year by the owners of the solar farm in Newton (Cresswell), to be used to underwrite community ventures across the Draycott civil-parish area (which includes Totmonslow, Cresswell, Draycott Cross etc).
Our local area-council has the task of sorting through the applications and choosing the best initiatives.

So far, only one set of applicants has managed to meet all the criteria: the committee of the Draycott Community Hall (aka the old Church Hall) in Church Lane has asked for £500 to help them install some insulating & flame-proof curtains. Anyone who knows the church hall will know how huge those windows are, and £500 won’t even pay half the cost of curtains for them, though it will help of course.

Draycott Church Hall windows

One of the Draycott Church Hall windows

If you thinking that you have an idea to improve the local community, the deadline to apply for the current round of grants is November 10th. Check out how to apply by clicking here.

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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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

NEWS: repairs / illegal planter / lots of industry / river trouble

In this post we have news of…: volunteers do self-help repairs / illegal planter / industrial hubs dumped in Draycott / River Blithe in trouble …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a harvest supper. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Doing it for themselves

Well done to those folk who have recently decided not to wait for whatever authorities to act, but to get out and fix some local street items themselves. According to a correspondent on the local Facebook page, it was all done by “community-minded” residents.

So… one of the parish council notice boards – the one on Draycott Level which was kicked over some time at the beginning of last month – now stands again! Its legs are a little shorter now, but as they are buried up to their top in soil, no one notices.
The torn felting on top of the Cresswell bus-shelter roof has been waiting a little longer for repairs, some six months or more, but it too has had a repair in the past week and now has a lovely new covering tacked on to it.

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The government is very much saying that local people must now volunteer to get out there and fix things in their communities themselves if they want them done – and it looks like someone is taking that advice to heart.

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Illegal weeds

One little job that, sadly, hasn’t been done by the authorities is the removal of the old planter (on our main junction, of Uttoxeter Rd and Cresswell Lane). A year ago, Draycott Parish Council promised to remove this eyesore, which has broken legs and is full of weeds, but so far they seem unable to locate a man & van to do it.Planter Draycott Junction

It further turns out, as the council’s clerk revealed at the last meeting, that it is probably illegally sited. It seems that you can’t just plonk a planter down in a public space – you need permission, and a licence to say you have permission. (Who knew?)

Maybe the news that it is an illegal will hurry along said removal.

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Pity the poor Blithe

We had an interesting email from Nigel Peake the other week. There are probably very few people who know this village as well as Nigel, and he says that in all his days he has never been so concerned about the river.
He wrote:  “Sit on the bridge and watch the river go by??! A joke!!!! The river is virtually weed bound, hardly any river to see. I’ve mentioned this to a Parish councillor in the past, and as usual, naff all done. I was born and bred in Cresswell, and I’ve honestly NEVER seen the river in such poor condition.”

The River Blithe runs into Draycott from Blythe Bridge, before going on to Tittesworth reservoir and eventually meeting the Trent at King’s Bromley near Rugeley. It’s quite a significant river, and is the real reason that Blythe Colours settled here over a hundred years ago.

Nigel is right of course. It’s partly the invasion of Himalayan balsam – the weed that spreads like wildfire – which is choking the river, and partly the constant need to keep de-silting the water-course, which isn’t happening.

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Even the tributary into it, which runs from The Hunter pub through Paynsley fields and meets the main Blithe at the Blythe Business Base, is virtually invisible right now.
Further up, near to Wastegate Farm/The Hunter, the landowner is even now putting in extra drainage pipes, presumably to help it along.

Anyone got any ideas on how to save the Blithe?

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Bringing industry to Draycott

The chance to comment on the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s ‘Local Plan – Preferred Options 2017’ has now passed. The results of the feedback should be known in the New Year, but we already know that many of the comments were deeply unfavourable.

Residents in both Draycott and Cresswell felt a bit frustrated that any comment by them objecting to the Blythe Park expansion, or to the Blythe Vale development, would be ignored – as the approval for both has already been passed, and the Local Plan only looks at future scenarios.

But, surprisingly, there was a mention of the developments in the council’s documents. They figure in the section on the council’s industrial strategy policy: –

•   8.26          Note that: no rural employment allocations are proposed … given that in May 2016 the Council granted outline approval for a major residential and industrial scheme in the countryside at Cresswell (Blythe Park expansion) covering approx 8.58ha of employment land.  This satisfies the District’s residual employment land requirement for 2016-2031.
And –

Note that: the 48.5ha allocation of land at Blythe Vale (Policy DSR1) for mixed uses responds to a special regional requirement for high quality, employment development independent of the general employment land requirements for the District set out in Policy E2.

In other words, ALL the region’s industrial development, for rural areas, for the next 15 years is allocated to … Cresswell & Draycott !

So, expect the fields along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road to be changing over the next few years – from quiet arable land to widespread warehousing and more.
And none of our political representatives, from local level to Parliament, seem that bothered.

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
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NEWS: grand opening / assault / Local Plan / fest success

In this post we have news of…: new community facility opened / man attacked / Local Plan emergency meeting / Cloggerfest success …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a meeting to discuss a Speed-Watch project for Draycott Level. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Assault

The Saturday night at the beginning of this month (2nd Sept) was not a good night to be out late on Draycott Level. A very loud group of lads were singing their way along Uttoxeter Road at 1.30 in the morning, a man was robbed and assaulted, and it was probably this night that a notice-board was kicked over and broken.

The worst incident, of a young man being assaulted, took place on the pavement almost opposite Stuart Avenue. The man was kicked and robbed of his wallet and jacket by a small group of youths who had jumped out of a car that was following.

Broken notice-board Sept 2017

The parish notice-board on Draycott Level – kicked over

An ambulance was called – but fortunately the injuries were not serious; and a friend, who had been walking with the victim, though he was chased, did manage to get away unscathed.
Curiously, the car had returned by this point – and the jacket and wallet thrown back (though some money was apparently missing).
Naturally, the police are looking for as much information as they can get. The car involved was a silver-coloured hatchback with one front light missing. If you know anything, they’d like you to call 101 and mention the reference number, which is 59 (Sept 3rd).

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Local Plan discussion

Draycott Parish Council called an emergency meeting this week to discuss the new proposed Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan – the strategy which will decide how infrastructure issues such as housing will be allocated in the region for the next fifteen years.

About twenty members of the public attended and the general mood was not favourable. Many residents said how disillusioned they were with Staffs Moorlands Council and how they didn’t believe in the fairness of the planning process much anymore.
Mark Deaville, our councillor on SMDC, attended (though our other two SMDC councillors did not). He said that, yes, growth (especially in new homes) was needed if Draycott/Cresswell was to get funding for better infrastructure projects such as traffic-crossing refuges, but also said: “Confidence in the Moorlands planning department is at an all time low”.

Some people also said that confidence in the actual councillors who sit on the council’s planning committee was also very low.
They pointed out that the latest proposals could see three roundabouts along Draycott Level (plus a new one coming in Cresswell) in just a one-mile stretch!
There was also general unhappiness that virtually the total quota for new industrial development for the whole Moorlands is being allocated to Draycott/Cresswell…

It would have been good to hear from all our parish councillors about what they thought of the proposals, but only Mark and Roger Holdcroft (the chairman of the parish council) actually spoke up with considered responses.

What happens next is that the clerk of the council will collate the public’s responses, and then incorporate those into the council’s own comments. She is hoping to publish these comments on the council’s website by this Saturday (16th).
Comments on the proposals must be put forward by Sept 22nd. Every adult in the district is allowed to make comments on the Plan – and Roger Holdcroft is urging people to do just that.
If you do nothing else, check out paragraph 8.26 in the Plan, and comment on that – that’s the most significant paragraph as far as Draycott is concentred.

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Grand opening

Much much better news is that the ‘Colin Dawson Community Hub’ on the local cricket club’s ground in Cresswell is at last open for business. Paid for by Lottery money, with generous donations from supporters also underwriting it, it is a magnificent building which will be warm and cosy all year round.
It has a large function room, a well-stocked bar, and a couple of smaller meeting rooms.
It really is a great achievement.
In the photo below, you can see : Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (NSSCL cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club’s Lottery Bid) and Simon Owen (club chairman).

In front of the new hub: Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club's Lottery Bid), Simon Owen (club chairman)

All smiles in front of the new community hub

Opened formally this last weekend – Draycott’s oldest and most well-known resident, Betty Hammond, cut the ribbon – surrounding householders were also invited to come along and look round (and eat the free food!). The ones we spoke to had nothing but praise.

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The next step is to invite local groups and events-organisers to use the centre; and a list of charges will be published soon.
We were told that a small part-time post is being created – to employ someone to go out into the community and publicise just what a great resource is on our doorstep.
In the meantime, Alison Grimley, who has been overseeing the project on behalf of Blythe Cricket Club, says just to email her if you are eager to start using the centre in the near future.

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Cloggerfest success

A ‘new’ Cloggerfest was initiated this year.
Cresswell’s own two-day rock & nu-folk music festival is an annual event designed to appeal to the whole family. However, after a spot of bother happened last year, this year security was tightened, and the festival changed from a free event to a ticketed one.

Ange Heathcote, who organises the set-up, told us that all passed peacefully this year, partly thanks to some friendly police officers who were helping out the security effort! In fact some people without tickets were turned away on the advice of the security team.

Ange reported too that the admission fee did not deter people – some £2000 was taken on the gate and camping facilities were fully booked up weeks before…
The organisers on the music side told us also that the music fans themselves were well-happy with the line-up of bands and the quality of the sound; while the charity-events organisers (the local Rotary Club is big into this festival) said the kids enjoyed themselves too.

So… roll on Cloggerfest 2018!

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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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment