Category Archives: community action

NEWS: shelter expense / Remembrance / speed madness / history at risk

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early November 2016
News of…:  An expensive bus-shelter / WW1 Draycott man remembered / speed demons back in the village / Paynsley remains “at risk” …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a decorated christmas tree festival. Check out the Events page)

For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Paying for a bus shelter with no buses

What do you do with a bus shelter when no buses come to it any more?  That is the dilemma that Draycott local council finds itself in.
The bus-shelter next to the Draycott Arms – which was built and is owned by Draycott Council – was crumbling and decaying, but then again, no buses have stopped there for two years (since the Uttoxeter express bus was cancelled) – and it’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever get a bus along that route again.
So – should anyone bother doing anything about it at all?

Well, Draycott Council felt they should repair it, and so they put £500 into renovating  the whole roof at the end of the summer, plus a further sum into repairing the perspex glazing for the noticeboard inside.  Now it turns out that they may well have to put in a further £100 in, because now the structure is swaying in high winds and needs bracing…
(To add insult to injury, someone has taken to dumping piles of old wood at the back of it as well).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is all taxpayers’ money of course, so all of us should be thinking about what the solution could be to this particular headache.
If you have a thought, why not present it at the next council meeting, on Monday November 21st?

– – –
Remembrance

We are almost exactly in the middle of the four years of the 100-year anniversary of World War One, which lasted from 1914 to 1918.

This year there is a special commemoration at Stoke Railway Station to remember the men of the North Staffordshire Railway who died in World War 1.  Of those who went to the battlefields, one in ten NSR men never came back. One of them was a Draycott man.

Stoke Railway Station war memorial

Stoke Railway Station war memorial

Sergeant Philip Hawley Bagnall, who joined up in 1914 and was killed just one year later, lived in Draycott before the war.  He is remembered on the Draycott Church war memorial, as well as on the Stoke Railway Station war memorial.
Lev Wood, of our local history society, researched his story, which you can read for yourself by clicking here.

On this year’s Armistice Day, Friday 11 November, the event at Stoke station will see the names of all those NSR men who died being read out to passengers and public on the platform. The reading will take five hours, with one name being announced every two minutes. A two-minute silence will follow at 11am.
If you can’t get to Stoke Railway Station, a parade & silence is being held in Blythe Bridge on Remembrance Sunday (the 13th).

– – –
Speedsters are back

The community speedwatch team in Cresswell has been hit by a couple of resignations, so it no longer has the personnel to get out regularly with a radar-gun and do the useful work they were doing.
The planned Draycott Level speed-watch project seemed never to have got off the ground.
The official speed-camera vans, which for a while were seen pretty regularly round here, also seem not to be putting in so many appearances.

And that is all a shame, because the threat of speed-cameras does deter offenders… and now the biggest idiots seem to be back, seen bombing up and down the local roads once again.  We observed one moron doing what must have been eighty, in a car with a souped-up engine, along Cresswell Lane one Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago; while the forty miles an hour limit on Draycott level is hardly ever kept to at all, is it?

Dead badger on Cheadle Road

Dead badger on Cheadle Road

The speed disease seems to be spreading to Cheadle Road (the really narrow, bending road up to Draycott Cross).  The road-kill there is not just badgers either.

By the way, if you see a dead badger, you are supposed to report the sighting – click here to check what to do.

– – –
Paynsley … continuing to decay

Once again the annual report from English Heritage about UK listed buildings has put the Paynsley Hall ruins on the ‘at-risk’ register.  Sadly, this notice about Paynsley seems to happen year after year: the remains of the medieval moat keep decaying, but no one seems to want to do that much about it.

Paynsley Hall was an ancient mansion on farmland in Cresswell (just behind what is now Blthe Park) .  It was even the site of a small skirmish in the English Civil War in the 1600s when the Parliamentarians ransacked the place.
It was substantially demolished in the 1960s, though very small bits of it remain.  The remains are, as we say, in very poor condition, though actually it is hard to know just how poor, as the remains can only be approached by permission of the land-owner, which is rarely given.

Two years ago, Draycott Council promised to make enquiries, but nothing seems to have transpired.

***
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: hacking / leadership issues / RIP Barry / road safety

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late August 2016
News of…:  primary school Chinese hacker / has Draycott PC served Cresswell well? / road safety poster competition / RIP Barry Phillips…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Sausage Festival! Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Hacked off

If you’ve tried logging on recently to williamamory.co.uk, our local primary school’s website, this is what you will see on the homepage…

William Amory school website hacked

Yes, the William Amory School website has been ‘hacked’: somehow or other a very clever internet-nerd has figured out all the passwords to the website and ‘broken into’ it; and replaced it with whatever she or he wants.
It looks to us as though the villain in this case must be from the other side of the world…

It’s not quite clear how this breach occurred, but it is a warning to us all. If you maintain a home-made website you really do need to back-up all you create AND keep your firewall up to date – though, even that won’t help against a very determined hacker unfortunately…

– – –
Cresswell – poor cousins?

People living in Cresswell might be forgiven for having a hollow laugh at the new words all over the homepage of Draycott Parish Council’s website.
The words read “Let’s find a way to defeat the effects of the Cresswell 168 houses and industrial park extension recently passed by SMDC! Together we can be strong!

The fact is that Draycott Parish Council’s record on fighting the Blythe Park development has been rather weak.
Look at the facts:
When trouble was happening in Draycott Old Road with the college earlier this year, the council summonsed the college authorities to public question-and-answer sessions, to explain what was going on – and not just once, but twice!
Also, because there has been flooding of the ditches in Draycott Old Road, the council has asked the county councillor to make a special effort and draw up a special report about it.
So… the council does manage to act sometimes, especially over issues in the Draycott side of the parish.

But … when it comes to a huge problem in Cresswell (the Blythe Park housing development), what exactly has the council done during the last twenty months? Er…Written a few letters. And that’s it.

By contrast, when housing issues (often much smaller than ours!) have arisen in other Moorlands parishes, the councils there have shown leadership.
For example: in Leek East, a big demonstration (against The Mount housing plans) was organised; when they faced an unwanted development, Kingsley Council called an ‘extraordinary’ public meeting of locals; and Werrington Council organised a protest of residents outside Moorlands House.
These parish councils have stood up and united their communities.

The hundred-and-seventy Cresswell residents who signed letters opposing the Blythe Park application might feel just a little let down by their own community leaders on Draycott Parish Council; and a bit annoyed by the empty sentiments on the parish council’s homepage.

– – –
Farewell Barry

A sad occasion last week was the funeral of Barry Phillips.

Barry Phillips 2015

Barry Phillips

After a working life at Blythe Colours, Barry became something of a local historian, doing massive amounts of research not only on Blythe Colours itself but on World War Two in this district, especially about the American ‘Bolero’ Camp in Cresswell, even going to America to meet former soldiers who had served here.

He contributed his researches to the Draycott-en-le-Moors Online History website, the project which led directly to the definitive book about the parish A History of The Parish of Draycott-en-le-Moors by Matthew Pointon.

Barry had lots and lots of stories about this area, and he will be sorely missed.
We send our condolences to his wife Linda and his children, who are now grown-up.

– – –
Draw a poster to keep us safe!

Finally, it has been a great summer for activities in our little district. From the local dance-hall to the sports clubs to the churches and to the library and the pubs, everyone has tried to lay something on to make the summer of 2016 memorable.  They all deserve a round of applause…  And it is not over yet – check our What’s On pages.

If your kids might enjoy a local stay-at-home project, they still have the chance, with a local road safety competition.
The local community group is asking kids between 4 and 11 to design a poster which will try to remind motorists to keep within the speed limit when going through our district.
When the kids have finished the poster, all they have to do is fold it up and push it into the letterbox in the Kiosk Information Centre (see pic below) in Cresswell lay-by. The posters will then be displayed – with prizes for the best ones.
Final entry date is Thursday 1st September.

Cresswell Information Centre

Change of use – from telephone box to ‘Information Centre’

As we all know, most of the parish is covered by a 40mph speed limit, but it’s the sort of law that gets broken as often as it gets observed… sadly… so this competition is a great idea.

***
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: beautifying Draycott / S106 ‘mistake’ / happy arrival at St M’s / map of new estate

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early July 2016
News of…:  Cricket club gets S106 apology / happy event for Rev Jonathan / residents get floral! / map of planned Cresswell housing estate …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including summer play-sessions for children… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Club gets an apology

You wouldn’t Adam&Eve it…
You may remember that we reported last month on the clauses in the formal agreement permitting the ‘Blythe Park Housing Estate’ to be built in Cresswell – the so-called ‘S106’ agreement.
Page eleven of the agreement indicated that Blythe Cricket Club, just up the road from the site, would earn up to half-a-million pounds if the agreement went ahead.

Well, the cricket club committee were furious about this announcement – because they had never discussed or agreed to anything of the sort!

Vice-chairperson of the club, Ali Grimley, has been after Staffordshire Moorlands Council like a terrier… and, after a long month of chasing it down, she has finally got a definitive reply from them:
From the information available, it appears that the principle of the ‘potential’ community use of the Cresswell cricket club pitches facilitated by securing a commuted sum from the Blythe Park planning permission does not appear to have been previously discussed with the club and I can only apologise for this lack of engagement.

So… — it was all a mistake…!!
It seems unbelievable that such an important document – signed, witnessed and sealed by lawyers – should have such a profoundly wrong supposition in it.
We probably have not heard the last of this, especially as it has embarrassed the club greatly – and club members may well wonder if a simple email apology is enough.

Incidentally, the clause has not yet been removed from the online version of the document.

– – –
News street-map

Talking of the S106 Agreement, it includes a street map which shows how the new housing estate is likely to be laid out. (Double-click the pic to make it larger).

Cresswell housing estate street map

As you can see, a new roundabout will be where the Cresswell lay-by on Sandon Road is at the moment. A brand new road will lead into the estate from there, while the current entrance road will be bollarded off.
The housing seems relatively crowded for 170 homes – but some will be in multi-storey flats.

It seems like a fair few trees will be planted too.  VVSM, the local community action group, told us that it wants to take on a watching brief – to make sure the developers keep their promises – and it is currently looking for more members to join up and help in the task.

– – –
Floral arrangements…

Hats off to the residents who have shown great community spirit in trying to beautify our district.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The old planter at the start of Draycott Old Road was really looking rather shabby – so… well done to Sandie Banks Lyle and her helpers who restored, repainted, and restocked it… It really looks great now.

On the edge of the St Margaret’s car-park, some publicly-spirited soul has planted the rather empty looking mound… and it is now flowering nicely (see below).

Flower bed by St Margarets car park

And in Cresswell, the local residents group have been cutting back some of the vegetation which was making getting to the bus-stop so problematic.

It’s great to see people care.
And the reason this all matters is that: the district council (Staffs Moorlands DC) is withdrawing its grant, which has been given in the past to the parish council, to pay for a handyperson to do these kind of small jobs.
SMDC says it now expects community volunteers to take on such tasks…

All we could do with now is someone to sort out (get rid probably) of the ugly looking and dilapidated planter at the Draycott crossroads (see below).

Draycott crossroads planter

Over to you, Draycott Parish Council!

– – –
Congratulations in orders

More good news is that last month our vicar the Reverend Jonathan Roberts and his wife Sophie (see pic) became parents for the third time.

Reverend Jonathan Roberts and wife

Such is Jonathan’s dedication to duty, he even spent an hour away from the happy nursery to attend the Draycott St Margaret’s Fayre (he is ‘rector’ of St Margaret’s Church) – before hastily rushing back …

It must be something in the Draycott air…

***
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)

Blythe Cricket Club – looking good, about to look even better

It is proving a crazy twelve months for Blythe Cricket Club as it refurbishes its club-house and changing rooms at the Cresswell ground.
But crazy in a good way!

It all started five years back, with an exhausting period of writing reports, undertaking negotiations and the rest – and then late last year Blythe were awarded just under half-a-million pounds in a Big Lottery grant!
The money has a specific purpose: to knock down the old pavilion, and create a brand-new club house – which will double as a purpose-built new Draycott & Cresswell community centre during the week.
New changing rooms (for women as well as men) are also part of the plan.

Blythe CC building work2016

Building work by the pavilion earlier this year

If you’ve walked the public footpath along the side of the ground, or you have been to watch a game there recently, you’ll have seen that work is already under way.

Community centre

But… why have the club-house double as a community centre?   Well, it was a condition of the lottery grant that the new building be open to the community – and the club are pretty happy about that anyway.
Club chairman Colin Dawson told us: “Our teams only really play cricket at the weekends (though the juniors sometimes play in the week), so there is plenty of time when members of the local community could use it.
“It will be ideal for a variety of uses, some ‘official’, such as a possible NHS outreach centre, to the more casual, such as meetings or dances and luncheon clubs. Anybody from the community is welcome to come forward with ideas on what they would like to do in it.”
It really will be purpose-built too, as for the first time at the ground, there will be disabled toilets.

Bye bye pavilion

As the pavilion finally comes down, it will be the end of an era.
The pavilion was built in 1926, when the ground was owned by the Blythe Colour Works.  The owners at the time, the Wildblood Family, were the old-fashioned type who believed in ‘providing’ for their workers.  It was they who created the cricket ground (as well as the tennis courts).

However, the poor old wooden pavilion can no longer stand the winters, so it was simply empty half the year.  The new centre will be weather-proof!

Cresswell residents will be pleased to hear that the problem of congested road-parking on the top of the hill will be much alleviated, as parking facilities are also being improved.

Future

The idea is of course to ensure that the club has a future for another 100 years.

It will also be more community-oriented than it has been in the past. A few years ago Blythe had no children’s cricket teams, but now around a dozen teams use the ground including under-nines to under-17s.
Sadly, the senior women’s cricket team had to fold because it couldn’t attract enough players.  Hopefully, it will return one day.

Blthe Cricket:: New structures, some te,mporary, some not!

New structures, some temporary, some not!

The residents too should find that, from now on, the new centre gives their community projects a place in which they can focus, and make good things happen!
(The crazy thing is that the new housing estate about to be built in Cresswell also has a community centre as part of its plans, so very soon Cresswell will have two community centres within 100 yards of each other!!).

With good fortune and a ‘following wind’ as they say, the new developments at the ground will all be finished by Christmas.

In the meantime, why not go along and have a look for yourself?  If you go on a Saturday afternoon, you can even have a drink at the club-bar….

“We are a Hamlet”

This latest entry on this website has been written by local resident, Rin.
She has become more and more dismayed by the proposals that Staffordshire Moorlands Council have for our parish, and especially for little Cresswell.  If the plans go ahead – linking the Blythe Park industrial complex to a large housing estate and then on to a second, even larger industrial complex right along the River Blithe to Blythe Bridge -, it will change our parish completely.

This is Rin’s plea to the authorities to change their minds…

***

“WE ARE A HAMLET”

WHY O WHY don’t the council listen and consider the views and impact on the lives of people that they are supposed to be representing – whom we have placed in that position of trust – to do right by them?

“WE ARE A HAMLET”

This is my own perspective regarding the proposed expansion and I am sure that it has been said before but just to reiterate re the traffic increase.
It is hard enough to attempt to get out of the junction of Sandon Road Cresswell which joins Uttoxeter Road Draycott at peak times.
I use the word ‘attempting’ as anyone who tries to do this knows just what an exasperating and lengthy process it is.

“WE ARE A HAMLET”

The thought of the extra traffic accrued from the proposed housing will bring the area to a standstill even if the houses proposed have only one vehicle – and I am sure that there will in most of the homes be two. We are talking at least 200 extra vehicles in these areas at peak times.

“WE ARE A HAMLET”

We are then having to consider the expansion of the industrial site with huge storage facilities to be built and again extra vehicles which the council has now proposed.
Traffic, extreme noise and road dust, will be going through this area constantly throughout the day and night making the day time as busy as the aforementioned peak times.

“WE ARE A HAMLET”

I know that some expansion has to go ahead but once again I have to state that we live in a HAMLET – the sort of place the government has stated should not be built on.

YES IT CERTAINLY SEEMS TO BE A QUESTION OF THE OLD ADAGE
“NOT IN MY OWN BACK YARD”

As a disabled person I moved here because the area was flat and easy for someone to get to me if I needed help.  This help will not be easily available if the council’s plans go ahead.
The small village of Blythe Bridge will be solid, the large A50 roundabout – which is terribly difficult to get across already due to peak time congestion and the frequent accidents occurring …  the extra traffic increase will be exacerbated.

My doctors and family help all come from the Blythe Bridge area which is why I came to live here. The council’s proposals will make me feel very vulnerable again.  There does not seem to be any thought from them and they have not taken into consideration the knock-on impact of all of their plans.  They seem to see what they want to do and nothing else.

To conclude, as previously mentioned although I am sure that most of this has already been said before, I am speaking from my own perspective.  I urge EVERYONE who may be in the same position as myself to speak out against these plans and show the council that they cannot just do as they please when the people, that they are supposed to be representing, voted for them and to a degree gave them their jobs believing in them as people. We are believing in them as representatives for us as we are affected and don’t want their proposals.

These proposals need to be stopped before they begin as it will be too late once they go ahead.  This can not be done by a few, and people cannot assume that their Input is not imperative to this campaign. Your voices as people are very very important and CANNOT BE LEFT TO A FEW!

Your voices are needed if you want change, so I am asking you all on behalf of all like myself whom can only fight to a degree due to ill-health, please speak out if it will affect you.  If we are all in this together, that will change things. There are enough of us if we try.  If you are not in favour of these proposals PLEASE GET INVOLVED.

THANK YOU.

***
If ou want to know more about how to object to the council’s proposals, Bev Reardon has written up a suggestion for what you should do on the village Facebook page.
If you want to comment on Rin’s words, just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.

Draycott St Margaret’s 2016 Summer Fayre

Time to get your diaries out – because the liveliest day of our summer is almost upon us…  Yes, the vibe around the Draycott Summer Fayre (which is now confirmed for Sunday July 10th), is already buzzing!

Welcome return

The big news is surely the return of Y-Ddraig .  This fantastic group re-enacts the Viking era, with authentic costumes and encampments. They were massive hits at the 2013 and 2014 fayres, and it was only other commitments that prevented them coming back last year.

Viking conflict

The ‘Vikings’ enjoyed themselves with a number of battles

The lads and ladies of the group also demonstrate, and teach, bloodcurdling Viking fighting skills – though they have had their come-uppance in previous years when they challenged the village’s children to battle… (!)

As befits the 25th year of the fayre, the rest of the line-up is incredibly strong too.
The organisers have pulled off a real coup to get the Staffordshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, twenty youngsters who really know how to play. They will be in the marquee.
The Joliba African Drums are coming along too, and they do more than just perform. What they do is encourage children to join in by having some quick tuition – and the afternoon finishes off with a performance by and with the children.  That will be definitely worth staying for.

With the Dog Show, the Children’s Sports and Tug-of-War tournament also there, it is going to be a busy afternoon in the main ring.  (If you think our dog has the makings of a champion, be sure to get to the fayre by 11am to register – the dog show is planned for 11.30).

Enjoying an ice-cream at Draycott Summer Fayre!

Enjoying an ice-cream at Draycott Fayre …

For younger children, instead of the usual Punch & Judy, there is the Coverdale Puppets experience (from Merseyside).  Check out their performances on YouTube, and you’ll agree that fun is the name of their game…

Relax, relax… as well

But the day is not just about ceaseless activity!
Thank goodness for the ‘Saint Margaret’s Bar’ and its cooling beers and ciders (and other drinks). A big thank-you to The Draycott Arms which will be running it this year.  Zara Hutson, from the Arms, has promised a proper ‘beer festival’, so if you enjoy a pint, it really will suit you.
The staff of Draycott Moor College has once again showed terrific willingness to join in community activities – they will be running the barbecue.  And don’t forget the wonderful Tea Shop run by Christine Wibberley & friends.

And you don’t even have to walk to the fayre! If you live in Tean, Cresswell, Blythe Bridge or Draycott, then jump on the special Fayre bus.  POPS, the Potteries Omnibus Preservation Society, will be running a vintage bus around the villages all day.

A proud owner of a vintage machine at Dracott Fayre

A proud owner of a vintage machine, at the 2015 fayre

And – all the familiar sights will be on show too…    The vintage car and machinery rally, the funfair, the stalls selling everything from ice-cream to plants, the local community groups’ charity stands, the ‘country-crafts experience’ and even the popular family games will all be in evidence.
(If you or your local group wants a stand at the fayre, it is not too late to apply.  Just email the Fayre Organiser, and he will help you sort something out – £10 a table.)

Party, party on Saturday

For those that love to dance or just appreciate some live music, well, you will get your chance on the previous evening, ie the Saturday evening (9th July), when the marquee will be put to good use, hosting a band and disco.
The wonderful Jacque Rabbit band (featuring local lad Richard Ward) will be headlining the night; and Peter Wright, who is so well-known to all of us, will be running the disco.  Support band are Styx & Stone, who hail from Hilderstone just thre miles away.
It really is a fun summer’s night entertainment – so try to get your tickets early for that event – just email the Fayre Organiser£4 in advance, £5 on the night.

Volunteers

Please remember that this is a local event, run voluntarily by local people for a local charitable cause (the ongoing, and expensive, maintenance of our 13th century village church, St Margaret’s).
So, thinking of that – do you think you can help, by volunteering?
On the Sunday (and even the Saturday evening) there is always a need.  People are required for all sorts of tasks – from the basic, like stewarding on the car-park, right through to ‘shepherding’ the main acts.
If you can spare even a little time, or have some expertise, please email the Fayre Organiser John Clarke.  He will be very happy to hear from you!

The fayre is held, as usual, right in the centre of the village, on Uttoxeter Road (ST11 9AE) – with gates open at 11am.    The day closes around 5.30pm with a church service in the marquee.
Entry is £5 but children of school-age come in free.
On-site car-parking is free.

Updates

This page was last updated on July 8th.

For those who wanted to see the North Staffordshire Pony Club, a bit of unfortunate latest-news: the club have had to pull out of their fascinating ‘Musical Ride’ routine – twelve ponies and their riders that weave patterns to music.  Maybe next year…

Fayre volunteers will also want to keep an eye on the special Fayre Facebook page.

It looks like it’s going to be a good ‘un this year!

NEWS: broader-band! / community money / Izaak jobs / garden days / fly-tipping

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2016
News of…:  superfast broadband in Cresswell / £2000 community grant / catering jobs / show off your garden / fly-tipping…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a ‘Black & White Ball’… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Money for the community

As you drive on the A50 towards the Blythe Bridge roundabout from the Uttoxeter end, you’ll see what looks like fields of snow to your left. In fact, it’s the Lower Newton Farm ‘solar array’ with its nearly fifty thousand panels.

This solar farm was ‘energised’ as they call it (we would just say ‘started up’!) at the end of March last year, and if it meets its targets it will have supplied enough energy by now to have met the annual electricity demands of 3,400 households.  It’s all a very environmentally friendly site, as residents saw on the Open Day last year; and should have saved the UK 6000 tonnes of Co2 emissions in the last twelve months.
Recently, the builders of the site, Novus Energy, sold it to BlackRock, a major investment concern.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)

A photo of a typical solar farm array. The one at Newton has slightly lower frames

But what will probably be of most interest to most of us is that BlackRock has agreed to pay £2000 per year into a community fund for all Draycott-in-the-Moors area – to be administered by Draycott Parish Council .  And the first payment will be in April.

So – what do you think the money should be spent on? All ideas welcome, though they will have to be approved by the parish council.

– – –
Untidy Cresswell

When we wrote an article about ‘Untidy Draycott’ some months ago, there were mixed reactions.  Some people thought it was outrageous to say the village needed extra tidying effort, some said we weren’t critical enough.
A lot of the input came from you, the readers, who supplied us with photos and sightings.
Sad to say we keep getting more and more such photos, not fewer.

Fly-tipping at Railway Cottages

The latest photo we have received (above), from ‘Tricia T’, is of some fly-tipping near Railway Cottages, which are on a track just off Cresswell Old Lane.  It’s a shame.

Please keep your photos of sightings coming.

– – –
Izaak looking good

One site that has got a heck of a lot tidier in the last few weeks is the area around the Izaak Walton Pub.  Yes, someone has really got stuck in, cutting back overgrown greenery, and clearing away any litter, and doing minor repairs.

Weathervane at Izaak Walton

Weathervane at Izaak Walton. Which way does the wind blow for the pub now?

As you might have guessed, the reason for this is that the Izaak is re-opening shortly, under new management – after a year of being empty.
A sign outside the pub says that the management is recruiting bar and kitchen staff.

If you have been trained in catering, now is a good time for you, as the Draycott Arms is also advertising for staff!

– – –
Broad(er) band at last

Householders in Cresswell tell us that they’ve received a letter from ‘Superfast Staffordshire’ announcing that superfast broadband is now finally available in most of Cresswell.  Draycott Level up to the church has had it for a while. It’s not quite clear to us if Totmonslow has it yet. If you are not sure if you are ‘on the grid’ yet, try using the Broadband Availability Checker.

It’s been a while coming, but we should be grateful to the county council that they have sponsored this project.  If it had been left to the market, it would have been much longer in reaching us.

Cresswell broadband cabinet

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing yet!
Yes, it is now a fibre-optic cable all the way up to the ‘green cabinet’ but it’s still a copper cable from there to individual homes.  And it isn’t an automatic fix; one still has to talk to one’s internet-provider about getting the faster speeds.
But it does mean that people in Cresswell and Draycott can now have a better, more reliable connection if they want one.

– – –
Open gardens

There was an interesting idea last year put about by some of our local community leaders that it would be good to have a ‘gardens competition’ for charity.
That idea didn’t work out, but we all agreed that there are some hard-working and skilful gardeners in our district.

Well, we’ve just had an email from the National Gardens Scheme (the NGS) asking if we’d mention on this website that the scheme is looking for local garden-proud householders to help them out.
The idea is that you open up your garden for a few hours (charging a small admission fee) and that the money goes to both the NGS’s chosen charities and also to your own chosen charities.

If you are interested contact Graham & Judy White, who will come along and advise you the best way to go about it.
Well, why not, when it is all for charity, show off your bloomers? (!)

***
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)

The benches of Draycott in The Moors

See if you can remember…: how many public benches are there in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow?  It’s probably more than you think – answer is at the bottom of this page. Have a guess!

We thought it might be an interesting mirror on our village to go out and find benches we have here and photograph them.
And this article is about what we found out.

Quiet places

When we conducted this mini-survey, it came as no surprise that many of our benches are to be found in the two church graveyards we have (at St Margaret’s in Draycott, and St Mary’s in Cresswell).  Obviously, they provide a quiet place to sit and remember loved ones.
Some of these graveyard benches have even been paid for by grieving families, who have dedicated the bench to a relative’s memory.

Interestingly, the local Women’s Institute have paid for two benches to be set up.  They installed the one at the top of Cresswell Bank – a good place for a bench, as you can have a breather there after walking up the rise! – and the one on the track outside St Margaret’s.  Both were erected to commemorate  the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1977.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The one on the Cresswell lay-by was installed by the local community-action group, VVSM , which wanted to honour the memory of the former stalwart of the parish council, Ken Shelley. There was quite a moving ceremony in 2013 when two parish councillors and the Cresswell Catholic priest did the formal unveiling.

The bench slap bang on Draycott crossroads is the most resplendent.  At first, because of the large lettering, it looks like Draycott Parish Council has erected it as a tribute to, erm, itself (!) but the smaller print will tell you that it is meant to remember the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Responsibility

It’s not totally clear whose responsibility these public benches are.  The Parish Council clearly has to look after the Diamond Jubilee bench (and did carry out some maintenance on it last year in fact), but who looks after the rest?  If you know, please let us know too, using the Comments Box further down this page…

Mostly, they are placed on Highways land, so permission to put one up has to be sought from the County Council; and the parish council will also be asked if it wants to approve the request.
But neither the county nor the parish council has to be responsible for maintenance.

One bench that had to go – for safety reasons, as it was rotting away – was the one at the end of Brookside (off Cheadle Road).  It was demolished last year.
Wooden benches do need repair, and it is interesting to see that one of the newest ones – the one on Cresswell lay-by, put up by VVSM – is made of ‘new plastic’, meaning fewer repairs.  Though… not everybody likes the look of plastic. (What do you think? – use the Comments box).

Public space

We got to wondering though – what is the point of the benches?  Maybe you know different, but we rarely (if ever) see anybody sitting on one!   (And they can come expensive; Draycott Parish Council paid nearly £1000 for the one on the crossroads).

Admittedly, they can be lovely memorials, so that is a good purpose, but, being wooden, they do need a deal of maintenance…
Would it be better to plant a tree perhaps, or even establish a ‘natural’ sculpture?

However, when we talked about this in the pub, a good point was made.  In this country we do not have many ‘public spaces’ where people can just gather and gossip. (All we could think of was Trafalgar Square.)
So the theory is:  benches are ways of creating a ‘public space’.  That is, well-placed ones can become a focal point for local people to stand around and chat – and every community needs some of those.
Though… maybe not in winter…

The best benches for this ‘gathering’-type purpose are the ones at the cricket club.  There’s nothing better than sitting down on one, with a drink & sandwich, and admiring the view – and the cricket. And passing the time of day with someone.
One of the cricket club benches is on the public footpath that passes through the ground, so one can sit there anytime.

It was surprising to us that there is no bench on the green at Rookery Crescent (Cresswell).  It would work as a focal point in the way described.  If you live in Rookery Crescent, let us know – would a bench on your green be a good idea?

Answer

So – how many public benches are there in Draycott-in-the-Moors?
Well, including the one on the public footpath on the cricket club ground, we made it eleven.  Maybe we missed one or two, but we think that’s right…


This survey of local benches was put together by a volunteer who wanted to write something for this website.  If you fancy doing something similar, we have a lot of suggestions for interesting subjects; just contact us and we’ll let you have the list of subjects –or come up with one of your own.

Also, don’t worry about spelling&grammar; we have someone who sorts that out!

NEWS: school sale / flooded drains / sad death / community date

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early February 2016
News of…:  Draycott Moor College property up for sale / rest in peace Doctor Dave / date for annual community meeting announced / are financial cuts to blame for flooding? …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Valentines dance… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Million pound property

If you have almost a million pounds, you might be interested in a desirable property in Draycott.  Yes, that’s the guide price for the land & buildings of Draycott Moor College (the old primary school) which goes to auction next week.
However, you’ll have to be the patient sort – as the present tenants, the Horizon Education Group, have a lease until 2023, and cannot be forced to leave until then…

The college, which cares for troubled youngsters, has been successful in attracting more pupils recently, and has been growing, even taking on some younger children. The roll-call now stands at around twenty-six students, some of whom come daily from quite some distances away.
The growth has been such that the college has now decided it needs to build its own car-park on the site.  The latest hope is that this will be completed by Easter – which will make the parking in Draycott Old Road less congested.

Interestingly enough, the whole college site was suggested last year as a possible development area for new houses.  (Draycott has been asked by the district council to find enough spare land on which to build twenty-five homes).  Perhaps any buyer will be aware of that, and see it as an investment?

– – –
Goodbye Doctor Dave

Doctor DaveIt’s not often that a resident of Draycott is the subject of a front-page splash in the local papers, but that is what happened when the sad news of the death of Dr Bhupendra Dave was reported. It shows how well-respected he was as a local figure.

Doctor Dave, who had served as a doctor in Cheadle for many years before retiring just over a decade ago, lived quite near to the Draycott Arms.
We send our condolences to his wife Devila.

– – –
Preventable (?) floods

A couple of weeks ago we reported on this website on all the flooding in Cresswell, which you might call flooding ‘due to natural circumstances’, as parts of Cresswell are in a flood-zone.
But… there was also flooding on the Uttoxeter Road just before Totmonslow, flooding in Draycott Old Road (where sandbags had to be used), flooding on the dual carriageway slip road, among a number of incidents where you could say the flooding was different – as it was quite preventable.

Now that the waters have gone down, people have been out to find out what went wrong, and a lot of it seems to be down to poor or infrequent clearing of the ditches and drains.

Blocked pipe on Uttoxeter Road

As you can see from the photo above, the pipe which should have taken any excess water off the Uttoxeter Road and siphoned it into the parallel ditch is simply so choked it couldn’t do its job.
Also, a number of drains are just silted up, as you can see in the photo below (also on the main road). However, some people also believe that the culverts under some roads have simply collapsed.

Silted up drain

Draycott Parish Council is so fed up about one incident near Draycott Old Road that it has written to the neighbouring Forsbrook Parish Council to ask them to help sort out the root causes, as the problem originated on Forsbrook’s side of the ‘border’.

But, at the end of the day, our guess is that the financial cuts have bitten so deep that the county council can no longer keep up its commitments to maintain smaller districts like ours.  Parish councillors at Kingsley (which is a village the other side of Cheadle) seem to think the same thing, and have written a strong letter to the Chief Executive of Staffordshire telling him not to ignore small villages.

– – –
The people’s meeting

A date has just been announced for the local ‘parish assembly’ – an annual event where Draycott & district residents are asked to come together to discuss the issues that bother them in the community.  By law this gathering must be held in the Spring, and is quite an old tradition, which applies only to villages and small towns – cities and larger towns are not entitled to hold an assembly in this way.

However, too often, these meetings are usurped by politicians… when in fact they are meant to be a meeting for the ordinary people of a district, when they can raise and discuss whatever questions they want.
If you’d like an issue discussed, Kate Bradshaw is putting together the agenda – contact her if you want something discussed or you have a query.
The Draycott Parish Assembly is scheduled for Monday April 25.

***
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)

A year in the life of Draycott website

A lot of people ask us: how popular is this Draycott-in-the-Moors website?
Well, we asked the technicians at WordPress (the ‘platform’ that hosts this website) to provide us with the statistics for this website’s performance in 2015, and they have just got back to us with their report.


The headlines are: that there were 74 posts (about one every five days) in total; and that pages on the website were viewed on about 38,000 occasions in 2015, by about 14,000 visitors. Of course, many of those ‘visitors’ are the same people coming back time and time and again, but – when you think that there are only nine hundred adults in the Draycott parish area – that’s still pretty good!
However, not all the website’s visitors come from Draycott parish.  Amazingly, one in twenty visitors were listed as coming from the USA, Australia or Canada.  We suspect that these visitors are ‘ex-pats’ keeping an eye on their old home!

And visitors liked to comment.  There were 150 comments published on the website during last year (and we had double that amount in direct emails from people sending us their ‘private’ thoughts).
Anyone can ask for an email alert to be sent to them asking to be notified every time a new article is written; and there are 200 such ‘followers’ at the moment.

Most popular

The most popular page on the site was, not surprisingly, the ‘What’s On’ page with over 1200 views across the year.
However, the one single news page on this site to get the most hits was our report in February on the way that Staffs Moorlands Planning Committee approved the Blythe Park application (see ‘Shock Result over Cresswell Planning’). On the day it was published it got a massive 347 views, but it has since gone on to pick up over 600 views so far.

But – that is pretty much all the technicians can tell us.  There is no way to track which actual individuals visit the website or which UK districts they came from.
So, what is our guess about readership?  Well, we guess that about half of the population of Draycott/Creswell/Totmonslow regularly access the site.

Who, what, why

The other questions we get asked are usually about our motivation.

We often get asked: who’s behind the website?
Well, Mark is the guy who does most of the processing work, mostly because he’s retired and he’s got the time!  He also takes the responsibility, because he has the experience of life. (See: About this Site)
However, there are also around another twelve local regular people who submit snippets of info and photos.  Now and again, someone will write a whole piece; and, if they want to be credited, their name will be on the piece.
The fact is however we could do with some new blood; we’ve been doing this three years now, and it’s quite tiring! If you fancy chipping in and doing a bit, email us.

What’s the point?  Well, it’s not money! This site is done purely as a labour of love.
But we also all think like ‘democrats’ – the more a community talks to itself, even about things it disagrees about, the better it will be.
Surely, it is good to support the people doing good things, and to ‘nudge’ anyone who forgets that we owe certain duties to our neighbours…?

How do we choose things to write about?  Well, we don’t really choose in any particular way. Someone just suggests something, or mentions something that’s happened – and it goes on the list, and someone researches it. Or something is suggested in our letters-bag.
If you yourself want something mentioned, just drop us an email. It’s very easy.

And that’s all it is really.  Have a great 2016!

***
Want to comment?
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)