Category Archives: community action

Cresswell protesters look for a way forward

Some sixty or so people crowded into Draycott Church Hall on Friday night to listen to updates on the Cresswell planning application, and to debate the way forward.

The meeting heard a detailed breakdown, by Jacquie Leach of the local community action group VVSM, of what had been happening in the days since the planning application was approved: and to hear about options on what to do next.
The meeting was organised by the VVSM volunteers.
Strangely, out of the seven parish councillors for Draycott and the three district councillors, only one had decided to turn up for this public meeting.

Shock

It was clear that many at the meeting were still shocked and upset by the decision of the Staffs Moorlands Planning Committee to approve the plans to build 170 new homes in Cresswell and double the size of the Blythe Park Industrial Estate.
Many protesters came from Draycott Level as well as Cresswell, disturbed by the thought that heavy goods traffic along Uttoxeter Road could double in volume.

Jacquie described hearing the decision as one of the worst moments of her life. She said that she and her fellow VVSM volunteers had put hours and hours into rebuttal documents only to see many points ignored by the committee.
She said that a new document, that Shelagh Wood and others have drawn up over the last few days, marking the things the committee had ignored, would be available soon.
What was even more upsetting said Jacquie is that they had prepared a thorough case, paying for professional reports and the services of a consultant.

What next?

Well, there will be a breathing space it seems: because VVSM has launched an official complaint – which means that the authorities, even the ones in Whitehall, may have to re-examine the fairness of the decision.
However, if that doesn’t work, many protesters agreed to carry on the battle, to the point of raising enough funds to drive the process on to judicial review.
(In fact nearly £250 was raised on the night to support this move).

During the debate that followed, one impassioned member of the audience got up to make a plea to the rest of the people there. He said that the elections were coming up – for the parish council, and for this area’s district-council ward – and that people could show how unhappy they were with their political representatives by either standing for election themselves or by voting in new blood, instead of just leaving in the tired old guard.
(The only exception, he said, was district councillor Colin Pearce, who had indeed shown significant support).

At the end of the meeting, contact lists were handed out. On them were the names and addresses of those who will have some influence over the decisions in the coming days – and everyone was urged to write to them saying how unhappy they were with what has been going on.

Shelagh Wood, VVSM chairperson, finished the meeting by saying there would be another update shortly – as time was running out….

NEWS: proposals action / dole money / church good bye / tennis finals

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2015
News of…:  further action on housing proposals / silence on traveller question / Draycott Dole tradition returns / curate leaves St Margaret’s / Draycott men reach tennis finals
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a local Women’s Institute Open Evening.  Check out the Events page!)

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Action!… from some

Understandably, many people still find it unbelievable that the SMDCouncil Planning Committee decided to go against their own experts’ advice and vote for major development in Cresswell. As it stands at the moment, the population and the industry in Cresswell will more than double in the next few years.
A video of the proceedings, taken by a member of the public, shows the debate – click here to see that video.

However, Draycott’s local community action group VVSM has not let the grass grow under their feet!
Jacquie Leach, the group’s vice-chairperson, was interviewed by the Cheadle & Tean Times, and her letter of protest featured large on the newspaper’s letters-page this week.   VVSM, it seems, are determined to continue the fight.
One councillor on SMDCouncil, Linda Malyon, has come out in vociferous support of VVSM, and she also thinks there may yet be a chance to defeat the proposal.

As to what happens next: we are not sure!
It’s now out of local hands – it won’t be re-considerd by SMDC or even Staffordshire County Council>
There was a thought that,  because it is so controversial, it would have to be considered by the Government in London, which could decide to ‘call it in’, but we now hear that that is unlikely…
VVSM have told us that a judicial review may be the only way to overturn the SMDC decision.

The chairperson of VVSM, Shelagh Wood, has called a public meeting for this Friday (13th) evening at Draycott Church Hall.  VVSM will report back on an emergency meeting they had with our MP Bill Cash.
If you feel strongly about this proposal – one way or the other – you are urged to go along, say your piece, and help to get action moving.

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One odd thing to observe has been the relative silence of many of our local councillors on some issues.

As we reported some weeks ago, Cresswell has been earmarked as a possible location for a small traveller/gypsy site.
In Werrington, which has been similarly earmarked, the parish council has organised large meetings and action. This past week, Forsbrook Parish Council, where there are two of the other possible locations, has also organised public consultations in Blythe Bridge and set up a petition website too.
However, our own Draycott Parish Council has been quiet on the issue so far.

To see a map of the possible locations of the traveller sites, including the Cresswell one, and the ones near Draycott Level and near Totmonslow, click here.

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Goodbye – and good luck

Sad to say, but as expected, the assistant priest at St Margaret’s Church, John Pretty, has now left the area.
John had only recently completed his training, but family circumstances have compelled him and his wife Angela to have to leave the place they love.

Revd John Pretty

The Revd John Pretty, at last year’s Draycott Fayre

Clearly, Angela, who was a deputy warden at the church, and John will be missed – not least because the rector, David Bickersteth, is also leaving St Margaret’s in a few weeks when he retires. The next twelve months will be a difficult one for St Margaret’s, without any clergy, as nobody has yet been chosen to replace either of them.

If you never got a chance to say our goodbyes, don’t worry.   John and Angela return for a small farewell party in three weeks time. (See St Margaret’s website for details)

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It is good to receive… on Mother’s Day

Being as it is Mother’s Day next weekend, there are the usual offers flying around. The Gandhi Restaurant, at the southern end of Cresswell, is offering a six-course meal on the day for £14.99.
Well, after six courses, at least no-one will need to eat (or cook) for the rest of the day…!

Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday, as it should properly be known) is also known in Draycott-in-the-Moors for the ancient tradition of the ‘Draycott Dole’.
Five hundred years ago, the then rector of the church left enough money in his will to enable an annual gift of money to go to the needy of the parish; and the money is always given out on this day.
Of course, nowadays, the money is (usually!) immediately put back into church funds – but it’s a nice custom, and is still strictly carried out.
To find out more about The Draycott Dole, click here.

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Top at tennis – even in winter

Draycott Sports Centre’s men’s tennis team is one of the most successful in Staffordshire, so they decided a few years ago to compete in the National Premier League (NPL) winter-season as well.
The good news is that this year, they have made the national finals of the league!

After playing against clubs across the Midlands – including Leicester, Derby, Sheffield and Milton Keynes – Draycott managed to make the playoffs, during which the pair of Craig Leese & Elliot Farmer defeated all-comers, to make the finals.

These finals take place in Sunderland on the 9th & 10th April.
Craig, who is also club captain, said: “The team are going to be training harder than ever to play in these matches, which will feature some players with international rankings…  Thanks so much to the other players – Elliott Farmer, Jack Redfern, Andy Cresswell, Matt Chandler and Ryan Hallam – who have brought us this far”.

Inevitably, the lads will be taking a coachload of supporters with them to Sunderland.   If you’d like to go along too, just contact the club.
If not, don’t forget you can follow the lads’ progress at the event on Draycott Sports Centre’s Twitter feed (@draycottfitness).

***
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: youth future / wind turbine – yes / campaigner’s death / woman bitten by dog

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early February 2015
News of…:  what next for Draycott’s youth club? / wind turbine allowed on appeal / school campaigner passes away / the mysterious new BTelecom box …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Valentine’s Ball. Check out the Events page!)

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Future of youth

The future of our youth club will come under the microscope in a couple of weeks, at a meeting on February 22nd.
Both Draycott’s youth club (the weekly Mish-Mash Club) and its Sunday School are run by St Margaret’s Church, but sponsorship is needed for the former, and there have been falling numbers at the latter.
So – what is to be done?  And does anybody new want to get involved?  Those are the questions…

If you are interested in this field of work, then the meeting will also be an opportunity to meet the new youth worker, who was appointed after Chrissi Thompson left.
Mick Smith has been working with kids for over ten years now – though he still makes time to play cricket when he can! Mick’s contract is until the end of October, though one hopes further funding can be found.
The meeting takes place on Sunday 22nd February at St Peter’s Church in Forsbrook, after the 10am service.  See details

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Bringing back kids’ football

At the other end of Draycott, in Tean, you’ll find another opportunity for youth.
Richard Amos, who is well known in local football circles, wants to see junior football re-established in the area, so he is holding soccer training sessions for local boys and girls every Saturday morning.
The idea is to get the youngsters so enthusiastic that it may be possible to form teams to play in boys’ and girls’ leagues from next season.

If you are a parent of a child from 8 years to 17 years, why not contact Richard and find out more? You can phone him on 01538 722578 or contact him by email.

Incidentally, it’s good to see that Checkley Parish Council are fully behind the project.  It would be nice to see similar enthusiasm in Draycott.

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Facebook queries…

If you’re a fan of Facebook, you may want to take a glance at the Draycott & Cresswell Facebook page.  Lots of snippets of local interest appear there, and so far it has nearly fifty ‘friends’.  Anyone can join, and then can post their own thoughts and/or photos.

On  there you’ll currently find people talking about the recent local appearance of an uncontrollable stray dog which bit someone, and also the latest on the mysterious BT box which has been suddenly been installed on the Cresswell lay-by.

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Wind turbine – backed on appeal!

After the shock news that 2014 was the hottest year on record, not just in Britain, but across the world, there seems to be a real feeling that something must be done to combat climate change – and so ‘green technologies’ seem to be getting more support.

This could be why the application for a wind-turbine at Fields Farm on Draycott Cross has now been allowed on appeal.  It was originally approved anyway by our parish council, but was then turned down by Moorlands District Council.
However, Fields Farm decided to appeal; and took their case to the Planning Inspectorate – which found eventually in their favour.

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Mandy Shenton

Finally, there is the sad news of the death of Mandy Shenton, who has died prematurely young.
Many will remember her as one of the tireless workers in the campaign to try to keep Draycott Manor School, the local primary school, from closing.  Her sons attended the school.

The campaigners’ efforts were in vain though; and the school was closed in August 2006, following a merger which resulted in the creation of William Amory Primary in Blythe Bridge.
The school’s old buildings are now used by Draycott Moor College.

Her son Frankie will run in this year’s London Marathon in order to raise money for ‘Breakthrough Breast Cancer’, and as a tribute to his mother.

As a matter of interest, there is still a Draycott Manor County Primary School page on Friends Reunited .

***
Would you like 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).

If you know of something that you’d like to us to mention, please email us.

NEWS: mobile library / target in sight / public walk / F-book pix

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late January 2015
News of…:  mobile library under threat; life-saver funds closer to target; join a country walk round the village; court news; put your photos on Facebook …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area – including the Valentine’s Ball. Check out the Events page!)

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Our libraries’ uncertain future

You may remember that last year there was a major consultation on the future of Staffordshire’s libraries.  Our nearest one, the one at Blythe Bridge, was particularly at risk – until there was a large backlash from the library’s supporters.
However the exact future of Blythe Bridge Library is still to be finalised, though it does look like volunteers will be given a major role in helping to run it.  A final decision will be made by the county council’s Cabinet on 18th February.

But, there’s other worrying news for our local library services. It seems like our mobile-library services could also face cuts.  The mobile library visits Draycott once every six weeks, stopping at Stuart Avenue and The Old Post Office.
If you are concerned about the news, you may want to report your feelings to the Parish Council – which meets next on 16th February at the Church Hall.

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Life-saver on the way

Better news is the news from the local community action group, VVSM.  Shelagh Wood from the group tell us that the campaign to raise funds to buy a community defibrillator for the village has really taken off over the last couple of months – and the group are now just a couple of hundred pounds short of the target. Congratulations to them for their hard work!
A defibrillator is a piece of equipment which could be absolutely crucial if someone has a cardiac arrest.

Most cash raised has come from the proceeds of the Wednesday night pub quiz at the Izaak Walton, where up to thirty people, divided up into teams, regularly fight it out in a battle of wits!  Landlord Del has upped the stakes by doubling the prize money recently…

All new teams welcome, or, if you just wish to come along on your own, just ask to be invited to join one of the regular teams.  In fact … some of them could do with some help! (No names, no …)

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Take in some fresh air in Draycott

Another date for you diary is the guided walk around Draycott & Cresswell in three weeks time on Sunday 22nd February.   Austin Knott, who is well-known to many of us for his wicket-keeping exploits at the cricket club, is leading the walk.

Cows in Cresswell

Our charming countryside

It should be fun, as the idea is not to charge around at pace, but to enjoy the countryside and learn a bit more about the sights that surround us.

All are welcome (though no dogs, except guide-dogs, please) – and it’s free to join.  You don’t even have to book – just turn up at 10am at Blythe Cricket Club (just up the hill from the Izaak Walton).
The walk is in association with the Moorlands Healthy Walks Programme

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Court news

Two men who have been charged with possession of and intent to supply a Class B drug have each pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Charles Milner, (aged 24, from Rookery Crescent in Cresswell) and Douglas Malbon (aged 25, from Stuart Avenue on Draycott Level), have each been sent for trial at Crown Court, to appear on April 13.

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Facebook photos

Finally, if you like taking photos, and want to share them, why not add them to the Draycott in the Moors Facebook site?  It’s what is known as an open ‘group site’, so… all you have to do is join the group, and you can then start posting.

Ice - in a pool at Newton

Ice – in a pool at Newton

At the moment there are photos on the site of winter-weather in Draycott, such as the one above.

***
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).

If you know of something that you’d like to us to mention, please email us.

If you find the photos on this webpage too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately.

NEWS: cricket funding / bird-watch / Old Lane traffic / more transparency

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid January 2015
News of…:  Blythe cricket new pavilion progress / more transparency demanded of local authorities / give one hour to bird-watching / Foxfield Railway success / traffic on Cresswell Old Lane …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Cricketing in winter

No… the cricket season has not started early!  However, the folks at Blythe Cricket Club in Cresswell don’t relax during these months; as maintaining and caring for the club’s future is a year-round activity.

The good news is that the club has been able to announce that it has been successful in progressing to ‘Stage 3’ of their Lottery Grant Application for a new pavilion/community-centre.   In practical terms, this means the club is now entitled to some grant-aid to help it to progress in matters such as designs, project-management and business plans.  Up until now, it has had to rely on its own fund-raising (and some helpful donations) to try to pay for all the administration costs of the application.
Let’s hope that this is the start of something big – the existing dilapidated pavilion really cannot take too many more years.

Blythe CC presentation

Gavin McAllister of the Your Housing Group presents a cheque to Colin Dawson (in the cap) of Blythe Club for £300 … as every little helps!

Meanwhile, fund-raising goes on: the latest news is that the Your Housing Group has come up with a grant of £300 to help towards better facilities for young players.

Incidentally, the statisticians have been able to reveal that 2014 was Blythe’s best-ever season.  Some fine bowling, and an outstanding performance from batsman Alex Heslop (with over 600 runs), really did the trick.
Well done to Blythe!

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Bird-watching at home

The seriously good thing about the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is that you don’t even have to leave your house to take part – yet you are making a serious contribution to the well-being of the wildlife of this country.  The RSPB use all the data you will collect to keep an eye on the ups and downs of the birdlife in our own areas.

And all you need to do is spend an hour (sometime over the weekend of 24-25 January) counting the birds in your garden. Easy!
The RSPB make it doubly simple by providing you on their website with a checklist of what to look out for.

There are a number of bird-enthusiasts in Draycott.

At Huntley Wood, Chris Jones & Arthur Trevor erected a bird feeding station during the summer, and they have been encouraging birds to feed there.  The idea is to get a perfect site for taking wildlife photographs, and they are also offering courses to anyone who wants to learn how to do so – see Arthur Jones Images .
The feeders make it possible to get remarkably close to the birds…

And remember the wildlife notice-board in Cresswell lay-by, which illustrates some of the less well-known birds that have been seen in this district. You may even see some of them on your garden-watch… with luck.

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Solar panels traffic

Thanks to John Holdcroft, who queried the yellow signs that recently appeared on the road from Draycott to Tean, directing traffic to ‘Solar Park Deliveries’.  (See John’s email)
These signs refer to the Novus solar-panels complex that is being built on land belonging to Lower Newton Farm, on Cresswell Old Lane. (See our coverage of the proposal).

Any traffic that goes along Cresswell Old Lane has to negotiate some very narrow stretches, but at least it’s a good thing that the complex’s managers are directing traffic away from the residential part of Cresswell Road.

How are householders in Cresswell Old Lane finding the traffic flow? Please let us know…  (see Comments)

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More ‘transparency’

The trend in government at the moment is for ‘transparency’.   The problem, it’s said, is that, in the past, councils and local authorities have tended to try to obscure what they do – because they dislike having to be accountable.

So, it’s interesting to see that Staffordshire’s Police Commissioner, Matthew Ellis, has decided to create what he calls a ‘Safer Neighbourhood Panel’ for our area of the Staffordshire Moorlands.
The panel, made up of local people and magistrates, will scrutinise the work done by police in this area and give feedback to their communities.  It’s all part of his drive for ‘transparency’ and ‘open accountability’.  To find out more visit the Police Commissioner website.
People interested in joining a Safer Neighbourhood Panel in the Moorlands area should email junaid.gharda@staffordshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk

We think it’s a good thing.   In a democratic society, surely voters should to be able to find out in a straightforward way what their representatives are up to; and be able to comment easily too on any activities.

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Steaming up

Finally, though the Foxfield Steam Railway is in the next district, at Blythe Bridge, it is near enough for us to congratulate it on its success in the 2014 Heritage Railway Association Awards.
It managed to pick up the award for Steam Railways – and the HRA praised the way that Foxfield has become a serious national visitor attraction.
We know that some people from Draycott volunteer at Foxfield, so congratulations to them too! It is indeed a fantastic achievement.

In case you are anxious to visit Foxfield, we should tell you that trains aren’t due to be running there again until April – but it may be worth sticking a note in your diary……

***
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).

If you know of something that you’d like to us to mention, please email us.

If you find the photos on this webpage too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately.

NEWS: traveller site? / charity ‘recital’ / road petition / clerk tribute

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late December 2014
News of…:  Cresswell to host travellers’ site? / ‘Death Of Nelson’ fund-raising event / Uttoxeter Road petition collects 350+ signatures / get together for Mary Edwards …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Travellers’ site for Cresswell?

This week’s edition of the Cheadle Post has something of an exclusive for the paper.  It reveals that it has managed to obtain some previously confidential documents of Moorlands District Council meetings.
These documents reveal which places across the district are being considered for future traveller/gypsy sites: as well as two in Blythe Bridge and one in Forsbrook, a parcel of land in Cresswell is also on the list.

According to The Post, the ‘former site of Cresswell Railway Station’ is being considered, a description which could mean the overspill car-park by the level crossing, which is near where the old signal box stood, or it could mean further along the line, near Railway Cottages.  It’s not clear.

Old signal box at Cresswell crossing

The old signal box, which used to stand by the Cresswell crossing (pic: Ben Brooksbank)

The Moorlands District Council is in a quandary, as it does have an obligation to provide traveller sites – but it faces objections to most of its preferred choices.
The council seems to be opting for smaller locations though – ones holding perhaps only three or four caravans – which might be why the one here in our locality looks attractive to them.

It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is.

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Give us an island

Last week’s Draycott Parish Council meeting heard that the petition asking for a pedestrian island somewhere in the middle of Uttoxeter Road (probably near Stuart Avenue) collected nearly 400 signatures, nearly all of which came from Draycott residents themselves.
It is of course a very busy, wide and open road there; and, despite there being a speed limit of 40mph right up until the A50, the fact is that traffic really does bomb along there. During rush hours, crossing the road can be quite hazardous.
The same report indicated that well over a thousand vehicles an hour pass along that stretch.

The petition will eventually be handed on to our district councillor, Mark Deaville, with the hope that he will take it along to the county council highways people.

(As we’ve already reported, Councillor Deaville is also working on the speed limit on the stretch past The Draycott Arms (from Cresswell Old Lane to St Mary’s Court), reduced from 40mph to 30mph.)

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Nelson tribute goes down well

The Wednesday night pub quiz at the Izaak Walton Inn raises money both for the local First Responders and for a fund to install a public-access defibrillator in the village.
It’s proving very successful in doing both – the defibrillator fund, organised by the VVSM community group, now stands at over £600, which is more than halfway toward the target.

The defibrillator fund was boosted this week by a sum over £60, collected in response to a very special event.   As a one-off, the forty people in the pub were all treated, at the quiz interval, to a rendition of the poem ‘The Death Of Nelson’.

Roger reciting

Roger recites the ‘alternative’ account of The Death Of Nelson

Whether Nelson himself would have approved of this particular poem, we doubt, as you can judge from this couplet:
The bullet pierced his heart, and Nelson fell down with a shout.
“Kiss me Hardy!” he whispered aloud (because there was no one nicer about).
Etc…!

Thanks very much to the reciter, a well-known member of the Cresswell Speed Watch team, whom we shall always think of from now on as … ‘jolly Roger’!

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Mary’s farewell

As we now all know, Mary Edwards has handed over the reins, as parish council clerk, to Kate Bradshaw.

Mary had been in post for nearly forty years – and has seen the transition from typewriter & tippex to computer & internet.  She has also observed the huge changes in the way that parish councils are being asked to work… so it really was the end of an era when she decided to step down.

However, decades of service like that should not go unrewarded, so it’s good to hear that there will be a special event in her honour, and a presentation, in early January.
She deserves it.

***
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).

If you find the photos on this webpage too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately.

NEWS: D-Day deferred / Christmas events / free electricity (?)

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early December 2014
News of…:  Deferred date for Cresswell housing-plans decision day / wide variety of local Christmas events / solar-panels offers – too good to be true?…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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No decision yet

It seems the agony will go on.  There had been a thought that the proposals for new housing & industry in Cresswell would be discussed next week by the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Planning Applications Committee .  However, the agenda for the committee’s December meeting has just been published – and there is no sign of the Cresswell application.
It may appear on the January meeting agenda.

In the meantime, it’s congratulations to Jacquie Leach and her fellow VVSM members who collated some 160 (yes, that’s right – one-hundred and sixty!) letters of objection to the plans, and made sure they were delivered by the due date.
VVSM is the local community-action group here in this district.

Their mammoth efforts did not go unnoticed.  The local MP, Bill Cash, was so impressed he devoted three-quarters of his column in last week’s Cheadle & Tean Times to praising the work done by VVSM.  He says he is totally behind what they are doing.  Praise indeed.

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Christmastime is here

There is an unusually rich crop of interesting Xmas & New Year events in the district over the next three weeks.

Our two churches are of course already into the spirit of things, each having carols by candlelight events and children’s special services and of course each has a ‘midnight service’ on Christmas Eve – though, sadly, there will be no Christmas Day service at St Margaret’s this year.

Chandni lights

Sadly, there are very few Christmas lights up in the village (at the time of writing), but at least the Chandni Cottage Restaurant seems to be in the spirit

We’re happy to say that the Draycott Christmas Tree Festival has been a success, and there is still a last chance to see it over the next few days.
Tickets are already selling fast for the Draycott Children’s Party too, as well as the two special dinner-dances in Cresswell!

All our pubs and restaurants have special Xmas menus of course, which are really worth checking out.
And live music fans are not ignored:  The Phoenix tell us they will do a “stormin’ party night” at The Izaak on New Year’s Eve.  A great way to see 2015 in.

For details of all these Xmas events and more, check out our What’s On page.

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“Halve your electricity bill” offer

It seems like door-to-door canvassers have been calling at certain houses in our area promoting the idea of solar panels.  The canvasser suggests that – so long as the householder allows solar panels to be put up on his or her house roof – the work will all be done for free and the panels would be maintained by the company for the next 25 years, also for free … leading to an immediate cut of as much as a half in annual electricity bills.
(The electricity created by the panels is sold to the main energy suppliers, under an environmentally-friendly scheme backed by the government).

Solar panels

This householder on Uttoxeter Road has chosen to have solar panels installed

It sounded too good to be true, so some of us looked into it.  Well, strangely, it seems to be all above board!
The ‘catch’ is that A-Shade-Greener, the company which has been canvassing in our area, takes a significant part of the profits from the electricity generated by the house’s solar panels – but the company says that that is their ‘payment’ for their investment, so it’s fair.
The consumer magazine Which did a special report on these kinds of offers and concluded that the householder could make more from such a venture if they do it themselves; but also admitted that the time and investment by the householder would have to be great.

However, as with any contract, it would be worth checking the small print before doing anything and also reading over any online discussions, but it seems it’s not as incredible a deal as it sounded at first.

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Christmas tree festival success

Congratulations to the organisers of the Draycott Christmas Tree Festival!  With over a dozen trees lining the walls of the old church, and longer opening hours, this year’s event has proved an even better occasion than last year’s… and, if you have not yet been along, you still have until the end of the week to see it all.

A welcome addition has been the music. A speaker system now provides carols and/or appropriate Christmas tunes as one wanders around.

Trees

All the contributed trees had to fit the entry rules, which meant they had to be under four-feet high, but all entrants came up with clever ways to enhance their decorations.
The most ingenious came from Blythe Bridge High School, where the pupils of the Derwent House designed a tree using chemistry-laboratory equipment!  Not surprisingly perhaps, they dubbed it a ‘chemis-tree’.  Very clever!

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The St Margaret’s Bell Ringers entered a tree which used a miniature ringing tower as its frame, while the Tean 1st Brownies used messages of hope to pin to its tree.
Draycott Moor College students turned their tree into a fun project.  They photographed a teddy-bear in a lot of recognisable sites around the village, and turned the photos into roundels to hang from their tree.  Again, so clever!

Other contributors included Draycott Women’s Institute, St Peter’s Church ‘Tiddlers’ group, Draycott Craft Club, other houses at Blythe Bridge High School, and more.

The disappointing thing was that no households entered a tree, and that more local organisations didn’t get involved.  After all, the effort is not so great – but the fun is enormous.
Maybe next year…?

Opening hours

The trees are all on view inside  St Margaret’s Church every day now until Sunday 14th December, during the afternoon (2-4pm) and the evening (6.30-8.30pm).  Admission is free, though a contribution would be welcome.

If you do go along, do ask if the ancient chapel is open.  The old tombs, which go back 500 years, are a beautiful sight – and much enhanced since some new spot-lighting was put in this year, making them much easier to see.

NEWS: Paynsley Hall / plan opposition / new clerk / xmas trees / theft

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late November 2014
News of…:  full opposition to housing plan / new parish clerk – but curate leaving / Draycott’s historic registers go online / Paynsley Hall “at risk” / xmas trees & holly for sale / Stuart Avenue attempted theft  …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Unanimous opposition

The parish council meeting which discussed the proposed new housing estate  for Cresswell saw a unanimous rejection of the plans by the council members.
It seems clear that the idea of building two new roundabouts in this area, one outside Blythe Park and one on Uttoxeter Road by Church Lane, is unacceptable.

Not onlynow does VVSM (the local community group) oppose the plans completely, but now the parish council have given a similar verdict, and Bill Cash, our local MP has also come out strongly against – so it seems like everyone in the district is “singing from the same hymn sheet”.

It’s still not sure that the Moorlands Planning Committee will having their vote on the plans at its meeting on December 18th – but it seems likely.
If you have views, you may want to talk to VVSM or the parish council before that meeting; as, afterwards it may be too late.

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Comings … and goings

After almost six months since the post was advertised, a new Draycott Parish Council clerk has been appointed.  Kate Bradshaw, who lives in Uttoxeter Road, and is already well known as the treasurer to St Margaret’s Church, will take up the role at the end of this month.  She’s going to be pretty busy – and we wish her the best of luck.
The parish council has also taken this moment to change its email address, which is now draycottparishcouncil@aol.co.uk.

However, otherwise, it’s bad news for St Margaret’s.  As we reported a fortnight ago, Chrissi Thompson, the youth club worker, is leaving at the end of the year, but now also comes news that the curate John Pretty is also resigning, as he is having to leave the area for family reasons – with effect from December 31st.
John and his wife Angela have been mainstays of the community at large – so they will be missed well beyond the church congregation.

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Time for history

Talking of St Margaret’s, history enthusiasts will be celebrating the fact that all Staffordshire’s historic Anglican parish registers (dating from 1538-1900) have just been published on the internet as part of the county ‘digitisation project’.
Records of 600 years of burials, baptisms and marriages in Draycott are now available to you at the flick of a keyboard!  The Draycott-le-Moors burial records cover over a thousand entries by themselves.. If you are trying to trace family history, it is an amazing resource.
However, if you are new to Staffordshire Archives Online, we suggest you go into our local library and get a little advice on trawling it first; as the huge size of the records can be overwhelming.

Paynsley Hall in 1960

Paynsley Hall in 1960, before parts of it were demolished

However, local history buffs may be depressed by the other news this month: the annual report from English Heritage about UK listed buildings has put the Paynsley Hall ruins on the ‘at-risk’ register.
Paynsley Hall is an ancient mansion on farmland in Cresswell. It was substantially demolished in the 1960s, though bits of it remain.  The remains weren’t in very good condition before – but EH says the condition of them now is even worse.
The ruins can only be approached by permission of the land-owner, though you can get a glimpse of them from the nearby public footpath (see the Cresswell-Paynsley Country Walk).

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Welcome the holly & the fir-tree

A little better news is that Christmas trees start to go on sale this weekend at the Draycott Plant Nurseries.  Our one from last year is still happily growing; so we can testify to their quality.
This year Neil is also providing some interesting varieties of holly, including Ilex ‘Golden King’, Ilex ‘Red Tips’ and the Ilex ‘Ferox Argentea’, the silver hedgehog holly. Ferox comes up like a 3-D effect with snowy tips.  Nice decoration…

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Petty crime

Finally, we have got a bit fed up of carrying reports of petty thefts recently, but unfortunately here’s another one.

This time it was an attempted garage burglary by two men in Stuart Avenue last week.  Even though it was before dawn, the attempt was foiled by a vigilant neighbour who frightened the pair off.  They weren’t caught.
As usual, the incident reminds us that sheds and garages are just as attractive to thieves as homes, so good security for them is a must.

If you have any help you can give the police, phone 101.

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A wildlife information board for Cresswell

It’s great to see a real community-style project come together.
The fact that Cresswell now has a smart new wildlife information board is down to collaboration between the local community action group, the area county councillor, the county wildlife trust, the local highways team, and even the district policing team.
It has all been what you might call – a ‘working together’!

The wildlife information board was the brainchild of Cresswell’s own Jacquie Leach, ably supported by her neighbour Louie Horlestone – whose knowledge of wildlife in our area simply can’t be beat. Louie also took some of the photographs.
Then, other members of the VVSM Community Group also promised support, added to which, our area county councillor Mark Deaville was able to donate £700 from his ‘Community Initiative Fund’.
You can see the results of all this work by going along to the lay-by in Cresswell (by the old telephone box).

Wildlife Board unveiled

Mark Deaville (right) unveiled the board, watched by Jacquie Leach (left) and some young enthusiasts

Unveiling

On Saturday morning (15th Nov), Mark Deaville formally unveiled the board. It was a cold morning, but VVSM were supplying hot coffee and scones, which maybe explains why the crowd was bigger than expected (!).

On the board are listed over twenty species which can be found in or around the stretch of the River Blithe.  Because there is a narrow strip of isolated land, between the river and the railway line (stretching from the industrial park right up through the side of Draycott to the A50 roundabout), wildlife does manage to flourish here undisturbed.  There are even over a dozen species which Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has described as ‘priority’.

Wildlife board - detail

The wildlife board shows a number of species, all surrounding the figure of Izaak Walton

It’s amazing to think that otters have even been glimpsed in this stretch, but SWT did confirm that this is very possible, as otters are returning in numbers to the Moorlands region.

Great Tit

Great Tit – pic L Horlestone

Other species which are worth looking out locally for are the birds: skylarks, wheatears, and water rails, all of which are becoming rarer.

Sturdy structure

“We are all very grateful to Mark Deaville for the grant,” Jacquie told us, “as a sturdy, metal structure like the one we have here comes very expensive!  To save money, we did the graphics ourselves, and put it up ourselves.  And it’s pretty strong, I’m glad to say.

“The real hope is that local residents will realise, even more, how wonderful the nature immediately around us is.  Even Staffordshire Wildlife Trust were surprised when we showed them the amount of the species that local people had seen and recorded here.
“We know also that a lot of walkers pass through Cresswell, so a board like this will make them feel welcome and, you never know, might encourage more visitors to our hamlet…”

Crowd at unveiling of the board

Crowd at the unveiling of the board

But… why is there a figure of the seventeenth century angling writer Izaak Walton shown on the board?
Jacquie explained: “There is a long tradition that the famous man actually did come to Cresswell to fish.  You’ll find this story mentioned in a few accounts.
Izaak was a great lover of nature – so it seemed right that he should be on the board too!”

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