Category Archives: countryside

NEWS: village assembly / rural crime / Colours archive / council shenanigans

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late April 2018
In this post we have news of…: the forthcoming annual village assembly, rural crime questionnaire, the Blythe Colours archive on the move, local council inaction …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a local police drop-in session…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Village get-together

It’s that time of year again when this village will be holding its annual community assembly – the yearly meeting when the residents come together to discuss how life is going in the village. It’s a custom that goes back over 150 years. (For more about village assemblies, click here and for their rules, click Parish Assembly rules).

This year however, the village councillors who are supposed to organise it have seemed less than interested in sorting it out. A date has only recently just been advertised for it (it is a fortnight away); it will be cut to just one hour this year; and it’s still not clear what will be happening in the meeting!

However, from what we can gather, it will be a local-information event. It’s hoped that village groups from Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow will take a stand at the event and be prepared to talk about what they do.  However, if you also want to raise an issue for general discussion, just ask for it to be put on the agenda – any local elector can do it.
But it’s all a bit last-minute…

The 2018 Draycott-in-the-Moors-Parish assembly takes place at Draycott Church Hall on Monday 14th May from 6.30-7.30. To book a stand, email Dawn Plant

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Questions about crime

If you look at a map of our district of Draycott in the Moors civil-parish, you’ll see that the vast bulk of it is rural. Even most of us who live in the ribbons along Uttoxeter Road or Sandon Road overlook fields.
And this is why the Staffordshire Police Commission is asking communities like ours to help fill in the latest crime survey.

This questionnaire is about crime in rural areas specifically – whether enough is done to combat it, and why people in rural areas don’t report crime as much as those in urban areas.Deputy Police Commissioner Sue Arnold with Sgt Rob Peacock
The Rural Crime Network questionnaire only takes a few minutes to complete. If you do fill it in, you’ll make one of our local police officers, Sgt Rob Peacock (seen above with the Staffs Deputy Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold) a very happy man.

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Blythe Colours archive on the move

The difficult situation for the Cheadle History Centre will likely have a knock-on effect for history-lovers in Cresswell. (The centre at Cheadle has moved out of its current premises because the lease is up, and they have nowhere else to go).

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Volunteers from this website worked with the Cheadle history group to save the Blythe Colours Archive (see story), which consists of nearly three filing cabinets of material – all fascinating stuff if you lived and worked at the Cresswell factory over the last fifty years. It has been stored since 2015 at the group’s rooms in Cheadle High Street.
But where will the archive go now?

A temporary home has been found for it, but if nothing else turns up soon, it may have to be transferred out of the Moorlands to the Hanley Library Archive Centre. However, if you have ideas on what alternatively could be done with it, please use the Comments box at the bottom of this page.

Fortunately, we did manage to index all the material, and one of the volunteers has made a fantastic digital archive of it all, so progress has been made even in the short time it has been at Cheadle.
The website showing the material is really good, and well worth browsing if you have an hour or so to spare.

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Council Shenanigans

(Our local Draycott Council gets up to so many odd things that we simply haven’t been able to keep up, so we have given the council its own little section called ‘Council Shenanigans’. However, some people don’t like to read reviews of our leaders – so we suggest that those folk now click on to something else!)

Local Plan… not
Community-level councils such as Draycott Civil-Parish Council have very very few set responsibilities – but one of them is to comment on planning matters.
So, we were interested to see what our councillors would think of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan Final Version. As the official body representing the electors here, our council’s views would have been taken seriously.

And what thoughts did our council contribute?
Umm… None.

This is pretty poor of them.
Virtually the whole of the Local Plan’s ‘rural areas allocation’ of housing & industry for the Moorlands has been shoved into Cresswell – thanks to the Blythe Park development plan – so, surely our council should have been falling over themselves to get their views heard (whether for or against).
However, apparently they thought not. (They have had since February to discuss the matter).
Poor Cresswell… ignored by its own councillors!

The last time our council put in thoughts about the Local Plan was back in the summer of last year, but they were supposed to renew them in time for this final consultation. They didn’t. It’s not clear if they forgot, or just didn’t bother.
Some residents did put in views though, which you can see on the Local Plan Comments page – including thoughts from VVSM, the Cresswell community-action group.

Public participation
Nearly all community-level councils, such as Draycott Council, have a public q&a session at the start of their meetings, because otherwise members of the public would not get a say (the public is not allowed to interrupt the actual formal proceedings).

However, in a strange move a couple of months ago, the council decided to put the q&a session to the back-end of the meeting.
This was very strange, as the poor old public would have had to sit through the one to two hours of proceedings just in order to be able to ask one question…
Not surprisingly, an objection was put in from the public… and the council reverted, and we are now back to a bit of sense.
If you want to put a question in person to the council, you are once again welcome to attend the start of council meetings at 7.30, and put your question then.

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RIP Jean

One of the grand old ladies of this district has passed away.  Jean Edwards (born into the well-known local Shelley family) died at the end of April aged 93.
Her wish was not for floral tributes or the like at her funeral, but for mourners to give donations to her beloved St Margaret’s Church.

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

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

NEWS: no more buses / new use for barn / local budget talks / sports sponsor

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: Draycott to lose its last bus / 19th century barn to be home / council discusses budget / sports centre gets new sponsor / footpaths survey…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a winter ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Bye bye buses

Plans have already been approved to remove the last bus service from Draycott.
Sadly, cuts to bus-subsidies by the county council mean that the No 12 route (run by D&G Bus, from Stone through Cresswell and Draycott along to Longton), is for the chop, as, without subsidies, it would be no longer viable to run.

Cresswell bus-shelter

Cresswell bus-shelter – soon to be redundant

In a statement to us, D&G confirmed the bad news, saying, “Due to the low numbers of passengers that service 12 carries, it is highly likely that the service will be withdrawn entirely once the funding is taken away on April 1st 2018.”

It’s a sad decline for the district.  Only a few years ago, the Hanley–Uttoxeter Express ran through the village! And now we will be reduced to nothing.

There is still an outside chance something can be worked out before April, and we will be looking to our community leaders on Draycott Council for some ideas. However, the authorities at Stafford would want some really strong or innovative suggestions from our councillors to make them alter their course. Based on recent experience of our councillors, one can’t see that happening…

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Budgeting issues

Draycott councillors also have another big issue on their minds, which should make their next meeting (on January 15th) a tense one.

For years now, the council has been underpaying its clerk (a council clerk is a sort of executive, non-elected administrator to a council). It turns out that the clerk – according to the guidelines laid down – should have been paid for nearly a quarter more hours than she is currently getting.
As you can imagine, this increase in her wages will cause a large hike in the council’s expenditure – and, as the council is funded by us, the taxpayers of Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow, it could mean in turn a large percentage hike in our ‘parish’ council tax.
Alternatively, the councillors could raid the emergency reserves to make up the deficit, or cut some of Draycott’s already thin services…

What will they do?
Decision-time for them is Monday 15th.

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Nineteenth century barn gets new life

At last, planning officers at SMDC have given a decision on the future of the old barn (see pic below) that stands just opposite the Draycott Arms.
A local farmer, George Plant, had put in an application to turn the building (which is pretty run-down now, and was used for hay-storage in the past) into a smart new home.
Well, George has his wish, and has been told he can now go ahead.
Rocks BarnHowever, those in that part of the village who were worried about a ‘loss of character’ may be pleased to learn that the present structure, which goes back to the 1880s, will not be demolished. Part of the planning permission is that builders must retain the walls and the ‘look’ of the old barn.
It will live on…!

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New support for sports centre

Yes, we are going through bad times at the moment in this part of the world: inflation is creeping up, there is a stagnant housing market, and there isn’t much left over at the end of the week to play with.

This is why the recent news that Draycott Sports Centre has attracted a new sponsor is definitely a positive story. In just the last few months the centre has worked out a deal with A-Star Tutoring, a company that provides private teaching to kids of all ages.

The company, which is based in Newcastle under Lyme, believes that sporting ambition is a good match to education prowess. We were told by them: “As educators, we strongly believe that sporting activities have a direct effect on the ways in which individuals perform in the classroom… Students with sporting backgrounds tend to extend their sense of competition within the context of academic subject areas, which encourages them to set high targets for themselves.”

In the near future at Draycott Centre expect to see the likes of tennis tournaments etc bearing the name & logo of A-Star Tutoring.

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Improve our footpaths

Even though we have miles and miles of footpaths in our small district, we have no regular maintenance of them by a recognised volunteer group. So, apart from the little bit that individuals do to care for stiles & destroyed signs and to report blockages, we have to rely on county council ‘rangers’. And the fact is that the environment department has taken a hammering in terms of cuts, so the rangers are doing less and less.

Oak Hill, Totmonslow stile

Near Oak Hill. Some landowners do make an effort to maintain stiles… nice one!

So, our nearest campaigning group, the Leek Ramblers, is urging everyone who loves walking in the countryside to complete the survey currently on offer from the county council – the Staffs Rights Of Way Consultation.
The Ramblers are warning that paths may close unless our voices are heard, so, if, like them, you want to keep the local countryside fully open, you need to complete it.

This consultation was due to have been halted by now but, under pressure, the county has extended the deadline to January 15th.

***
Do you have news you’d like to see written up on this website? If so – just email us!

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

NEWS: car fireball / Blythe Vale go-ahead / footpaths concern / baby ballet!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid- November 2017
In this post we have news of…: car in explosion at Draycott Cross / approval for 118 new homes / footpaths consultation / ballet for babies…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including Remembrance Sunday events. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Car in fireball

Details are slowly emerging of the weekend’s horrific car-crash at Draycott Cross.
On Friday evening, two cars collided near to Field’s Farm on Cheadle Road (half a mile up from the Draycott Arms) and, minutes later, one of them started into flames.
Fortunately some other, very courageous motorists at the scene managed to drag the young woman who was driving the car out of the vehicle … but only moments before a sudden fireball explosion.
The young woman, who has not been named yet, has severe injuries to her legs and is being treated in hospital.

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A local well-known couple, Karen & Tony Buckle, were in the other car – luckily, the pair were not injured.  In fact, Tony was one of the brave rescuers who – probably – saved the young women’s life.
A full account of the incident is on the front page of The Stunner newspaper, including a dramatic photograph of the blazing car.

What’s not clear is how the accident occurred.  Although the incident took place not far from a bend, in the darkness of night-time, yet it is a clear stretch of road just there.  Modern cars rarely burst into flame, so the police are also looking into why that happened.

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Disappointment – with result, with council

Many local residents are expressing their disappointment at the result of last week’s SMDC Planning Committee decision over the Blythe Vale housing estate application.  The developers, St Modwen, got the go-ahead they were looking for (with just one vote against), so we can expect work on building the 100+ homes (behind the Chandni Cottage restaurant) to start sometime next year.
It was always going to be a tough proposal to fight, as it had the full recommendation of local planners and is part of a national scheme – both of which facts mean that it would have taken a strong team-effort to have seen it overturned.

However, there is also great disappointment about the role of Draycott parish councillors – who did almost nothing to oppose the application, even though they claimed to be fully supporting the local residents who feared it.
Not only did our own council not even put in a formal comment on the planning-application website (even though distant Checkley Council did!), none of them even turned up to speak against the application at the decision meeting  … A spokesperson later claimed that all seven councillors had busy lives, implying that this made it too hard for even one of them to get there.

The residents of this district have a right to wonder if these people should even be on the council, if their ‘busy lives’ make it too difficult for them to make some effort over what is the biggest thing to happen to Draycott for the past 25 years.  We shall see: elections are due in 2019.

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Footpath maintenance under threat

Draycott & Cresswell are fortunate in having an extensive network of miles of public footpaths.
If one uses local footpaths regularly, the science says you’ll be healthier, happier and more at peace with yourself – great for thinking-time!
However, budget cuts mean that maintenance of our paths network is declining.Footpath fingerpost at CresswellUndergrowth is nearly choking this stile at Cresswell

Staffs County Council, which is responsible for local footpath maintenance, recognises that this problem has now turned into a major issue, and has started a public consultation to see what we all think about the current state of our footpaths & bridleways – and their future. However the county’s proposals are already causing concern; the Staffordshire Area Ramblers has filed comments already, not all favourable.
If you want to take part in the consultation yourself, click here  – you have until December 25th to put in your thoughts.
We wrote up a recent article on our local footpaths – it might give you a few ideas to go on with.

The local Draycott parish council has a special responsibility for monitoring foortpaths in our district; let’s see what response they make.

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Babies get balletic

Finally, this is a sentence we never thought we’d write: “baby ballet is coming to Draycott”…     But, no, not a performance by a troupe of six-month old prima ballerinas, but … some lessons for them!

We are not exactly sure what ‘b-b’ is but babies apparently get quite a kick (or a pirouette?) out of the classes.  Children up to six years can take part.
The classes get under way in January at Draycott Sports Centre.
So, we look forward to a fully staged performance by the pupils in twenty years time!

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

NEWS: big planning / community-hub opens / dangerous rail area / Totmonslow self-build?

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: how Draycott is part of a national strategy / unfenced railway line / chance to build your own home / new community-hub opens on cricket ground /…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Cresswell Cloggerfest Music-Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Draycott on the national planning agenda

The application to build over 100 homes at the east end of Draycott (by the A50 roundabout) seems to have caught everyone by surprise.
(It’s always a clever move by a developer to make a controversial application during the summer months as everyone’s attention is elsewhere – usually on a beach!)
Certainly our local newspapers and our local politicians seem to have made virtually no comment at all, which is both a shock and a shame, as this is a very big deal indeed.

What few of us realised is that this site, the huge so-called ‘Northern Gateway’ or ‘Blythe Vale’ site in the centre of Draycott is actually not just a local venture, but is part of a regional & national planning framework, linking major industrial centres like Stoke and Derby to the major networks.
The local community action group VVSM have been doing the research and came across a really interesting document proving this.

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It means that – once the economy picks up – this district is in line for a lot more industry and a lot more housing, and, as it’s part of a national strategy, we may not be able to do a lot about it. You have been warned…!

Anyway, at the moment, only the application for the 100+ homes is on the table. If you feel strongly about this development, you only have until 27th September to comment on the proposals. See the Blythe Vale Homes planning application by clicking here.

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Pavilion success

Happier news comes out of our local cricket club. The new pavilion/community-hub, on the Cresswell ground, is finished at last, and looks really splendid. The old pavilion had its charm, yes, but this smart new structure is the bee’s knees!
It cost over £500,000 (with help from the Lottery Fund) but it looks like it is well worth it.

An open invitation is now going out to everyone connected with the parish to come and take a look at it on Sunday 10 September (between 11am and 4pm). If you fancy going, please email the club, by this Friday, to say you’d like to be there, as it’s a matter of trying to judge numbers.

The pavilion/community-hub could turn into a major asset for the district as, apart from being a base for the cricket club, it is open for hire to local organisations – already a weekly yoga class has started up there. So, if you too run a class or such, you might want to check it out too.

If you can’t make it on the 10th, why not stroll along to see the first team’s last game of the season, on the 9th. With a bit of luck (and sunshine), the day will – hopefully – see the team crowned champions of League One… what a party that will be!!

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Open railway

For some time now, some of us have been wondering what Network Rail is up to by the Cresswell rail-crossing. A hundred yards along the main-line (in the Uttoxeter direction), the fencing that should be alongside the tracks, to stop both trespass and thoughtless kids from wandering onto the line, is simply… not there. It is completely wide-open.

An unmade road, which leads to a small group of six terraced homes (‘Railway Cottages’ by name) passes right by the unprotected area. The owners there form a small community (they get together to look after the unmade road and repair it, for instance) and have applied to Network Rail to fulfil its responsibilities, but, so far, no joy.

tidying the road to Railway Cottages

Repairing the road to Railway Cottages

If you also find this worrying, why not add your voice to the community’s, and write to Network Rail?
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Build your own home

It’s not often a chance comes up to build your own home, especially in beautiful open countryside… but this is what is on the cards right here in our parish – in Totmonslow.

Totmonslow Farm, which is no longer a full working concern, is the site of two potential conversions. A little way over from the historic old farmhouse itself, you’ll see some former farm buildings, which have not been in use for some years … though they do have charm of their own.
They are now up for sale, with planning permission: going to public auction on the 20th September.

Both sets of buildings also give a deal of space – click to see the details of The Barns, and of The Old Cart Shed.
It could be a dream come true for somebody…

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

The worsening state of our public footpaths

It is now almost two years since we last had a piece on this website about the state of our district’s public footpaths (see Save Our Footpaths).
There are around twenty miles of field-paths and other rights of way in the Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow area; and sad to say, things have hardly got better for them since that last article, and are in fact are now much worse.

It’s bad all over

Since our last article, the Ramblers Association has published the first ever national survey of the state of footpaths (November 2016). They reported thousands of signs missing and not replaced, and it looks like our region (West Midlands) is one of the worst for this.
Across England & Wales, a third of all paths need improvement, and one-tenth of paths are blocked altogether!

Sadly, that story is replicated in Draycott, where even some stiles are impassable, simply being drowned in vegetation or missing. There are even local paths which appear to have been deliberately blocked.
The biggest problem of all (say The Ramblers Association) is that county councils, which are primarily responsible for clearing and maintaining paths, simply aren’t coping. Councils, hits by cuts, say they just don’t have the resources.
And so… the footpath network declines, fewer people use it, and the vicious cycle goes on.

Local walkers have let us have photos of local problems (see the gallery below) – but, even so, not all the local issues have yet been photographed. (If you too have local photos, please email them to us).
Thanks to everyone who has already sent in photos and thoughts about our local footpaths.

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Incidentally, many of these photos were taken before the recent rains, so don’t go thinking that all that vegetation growth is simply because of the wet weather. These photos reflect what is a normal state of affairs.

The most shocking thing is the blocked path up near NewHouse, south-west of Painsley (the path known as Checkley 63). It passes through a copse, and someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it impassable.
But mostly, the problems are lack of maintenance and sheer vandalism.

Good signs

It’s all not bad news.
The county-council did restore a number of fingerposts a few months ago and repair some gates.
It seems some money may be made available for repairs in Draycott, with Brookside earmarked to receive the cash.
And the Cheadle-to-Cresswell Railway-path group has big plans to clear the old rail-track and make it passable for horses as well as walkers.
It’s not much though, compared to the overall decline.

Stopping the rot

How do we stop the rot?
Draycott Area-Parish Council must do more. One of the few direct responsibilities that such area-councils have is to monitor their local footpaths-network… and many small councils do do their bit – but there is little evidence that here in Draycott councillors are doing more than grumble. Action would be nice.
In fact, we were promised a footpath report from them two years ago. But nothing has ever appeared. Let’s see one!
The council’s basic responsibility is to defend our interests in a coherent way, so a little leadership would also help. How about the council creating a sub-group (with volunteer residents) to cope with the issue?

Second: it’s up to us, as individuals. It is quite legal to carry a pair of secateurs with you and snip away at vegetation overhanging paths or stiles. (Only snipping, mind! More than that will require permission).
There is, unfortunately, no local Ramblers branch (the nearest are ones at Stone and Leek), but, if you are keen on saving paths in general, you could join The Ramblers.

Thirdly: we can all report issues. The Ramblers Association is urging us to report path problems through their ‘Pathwatch’ scheme (they will then alert the local authority for you). They’ve even created a mobile-phone app that allows you to report features on the go – straight from your pocket.
And, if you want to keep Draycott Council on their toes, you can also report problems to them.

Landowners have a responsibility too. Farmers who receive Common Agricultural Policy payments should keep to cross-compliance rules, which say that visible public rights of way “must be kept open and accessible”.

But first… let’s have that report from our parish council. It’s well overdue. Then we can really get started on looking after our local footpaths network – a valuable (and free and healthy) public amenity.

See also:  Recommended Walks on Draycott’s footpaths

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

NEWS: lane meeting / pottery waste / new PCSO / bad February

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late February 2017
In this post we have news of…:  public meeting about Church Lane / pottery waste for Cresswell / goodbye Adam, welcome new PCSO / a rotten February…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Arts & Crafts Spring Fair. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates & news about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Church Lane meeting

It’s not often our area council calls a public meeting on one particular subject, but that is what happened a couple of weeks ago, when there was a village debate on the future of Church Lane (the unmade road that leads up to St Margaret’s Church).
A good half-dozen of the householders from the lane were there as well as representatives from the church and the church hall and other members of the public – though, unfortunately, the farmer whose vehicles use the lane was not there.

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

There is no doubt that the track is a mess, with large potholes and ruts, and, as it meets the main road, it is even slightly collapsed. However, as it is an ‘unadopted’ road, the Highways Department will not carry out any repairs to it.

The debate centred on two things: is the track somehow a community responsibility, and so therefore should the council (as well as the residents there) contribute to any repairs?; and secondly, what level of repair (and costs) would be reasonable?
As you can imagine, these are not easy questions to answer.

Church-goers argued that the lane up to an ancient church and its community hall was a wider responsibility than just for the properties there, and so it was a legitimate case for use of some local council tax money.
But what percentage should each property, user and council pay? There was much discussion about that too.

Councillor Winfield also provided some quotes for a range of repairs… but there was also debate about that.  At the top end, it was estimated that the cost could run to £17,000. The church representatives pointed out that that was an almost impossible sum to raise, and asked for just urgent repairs – which could come to as little as £4000 – as at least that was achievable.

In the end, the meeting broke up with a decision to approach each of the concerned parties and try to see what compromise can be reached.
Finding a solution to please everyone looks like it could be a long and arduous task. (A full report will appear on Draycott parish council’s website in the next weeks).

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Saggars in Cresswell

Thanks to all those who have told us about the dozens of lorry-loads carrying pottery waste that have been seen on the unmade lane behind Rookery Crescent in Cresswell.

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It would seem that broken pottery moulds, including saggars, are being shipped there for burial in land-waste tips on some of the farms along there (see pics).  As far as is understood, this is perfectly legitimate – but some residents are investigating if any rules have to be adhered to.We’ll let you know what transpires.

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Police vacancy

PC Adam CharlesworthWe have been fortunate here in our district to have had a most approachable and likeable PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) in Adam Charlesworth (see pic right). Adam has run some very relaxed public drop-in sessions and also made sure to be present at a number of our community’s events.

However, Adam has taken his leave of us. He always told us that his dream was to be a full police officer (PCSOs are not) and so when he applied for and got a full post, he seized it… and good luck to him.  He deserves it.

For the moment, Jon Staples, the other area PCSO, will take on Adam’s role too, but shortly PCSO Dan Nettleton will be stepping into Adam’s big shoes. If you want to welcome Dan, he can be contacted via email: daniel.nettleton@staffordshire.pnn.police.uk

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Good riddance February

One month we will never want back is February 2017.
Storm Doris came ripping through with 70mph winds, and one than one local garden fence is now in a recycling skip…  the rain that came with (and also followed) it caused flooding on some of our outlying roads … and there was even a flurry of snow!
There was an assault on a woman dog-walker in woodland in Draycott Cross – the culprits have not been discovered yet.
A tree collapsed and fell on Cheadle Road just a few yards from Brookside – fortunately no car was passing at the time.
Graham Walker, a local farmer, woke up facing a £6000 bill after criminals dumped loads of illegal waste on his land in the middle of the night.  The culprits also dumped waste on the water-company site up at Draycott Cross.
And a Draycott woman was arrested on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred (see Sentinel story).
Yes, good riddance to February 2017!

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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).

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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.

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Save our footpaths and stiles!

This is the time of year when the state of the public footpaths and stiles and footbridges in the Draycott area tends to go into decline.  With fewer people walking the fields because of the cold weather, stiles get overgrown; and some rogue land-owners now think they have more chance to block paths without it being noticed.
So – how are the paths doing in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow?   The answer is: not good.

Parish responsibility

One of the few issues that parish councils are encouraged to take a positive and specific interest in is their local network of footpaths.
In fact, we were promised a footpath report from Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council during the summer, but it has never yet come to the table…
Yet, many parish councils, however small they may be, do make the effort.  In next-door Milwich Parish, the parish council has fostered their Footpath Maintenance Volunteers, and a full footpath survey has been undertaken there.  The Milwich volunteers get training; and then go out and fix what issues they can.

Wouldn’t it be great if Draycott Parish Council made the same efforts?

Problems

The problems in this parish area are very many.
The number of overgrown stiles is bad enough (see photo gallery below), but some paths have been deliberately blocked: the most notorious is the obstruction placed on the path known as Checkley 63, south-west of the old Paynsley Hall.   It’s impossible for a dog to get through here, let alone a walker.

The other way that vandals or rogue land-owners make life difficult for walkers is by simply removing signs. Outside Blythe Cricket Club in Cresswell, the fingerpost was simply chopped down; while, south of Paynsley Hall Farm a few years ago, a whole metal kissing-gate was removed… no more to be seen… as well as some wooden stiles with their official footpath signs.  Although this incident was reported to the parish council, it seems never to have been reported to the police.

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And some paths have just been allowed to become obscured over time.  The strangest occurrence of this is the path over the old railway line in Lower Newton.   One can see the next stile just down the embankment – but the trees and shrubs growth make it virtually impossible to get to it, or even see which way the path runs!

Fortunately however, some particular paths do seem to get care.  Although Jacob’s Ladder (on Cheadle Road near Brookside) gets regularly overgrown, someone is clearing it regularly too, which is good news.  And many land-owners, yes, do take their duties seriously, there is no doubt.

Some parish councils often arrange for the clearing of paths that have been overgrown, working with the land-owner’s consent.  Winter is the best time, as then one does not interfere with nesting birds (the nesting period is roughly March 1st to 31st July).  Local Ramblers groups can help with legal guidance.

What can be done?

The ultimate responsibility for maintenance of public field-paths and rights of way is with Staffordshire County Council – but cuts have meant they simply don’t have the capacity to respond.  (This is why parish councils are more and more being asked to take on the responsibility, in partnership).
And a walker is allowed to cut back vegetation, but ONLY enough to get through.  More than that, and one should report a problem.   (See Advice to Walkers)

So – the easiest way to report a problem on a footpath is to report it to Draycott Parish Council, quoting the Ordnance Survey map reference number if possible, who will then pass it on to SCC.
However, you can also report a problem direct to SCC – using their online Report-A-Problem page.     The genius of this page is that it hosts an online map of all footpaths in the county – to help you identify the name of the footpath on which you saw the problem.

But… if you really want to take the matter seriously, you could also contribute to the current Ramblers Society campaign, which is called The Big Pathwatch.  During these present months, the Ramblers are asking walkers to pick a square kilometre of our countryside and highlight any path problems you encounter there.
You don’t have to be trained, or a member of The Ramblers; and it doesn’t matter how many square kilometres you pick. After all, it should be fun to do, as well as a matter of serious note-taking!
Sadly, the Ramblers tell us that no-one is working in Draycott parish, though volunteers are already surveying paths in next-door Hilderstone, Forsbrook and Blythe Bridge – so… at least you have a free choice in this parish!
To see more about The Big Pathwatch, click here

What you can do right now

Well, wouldn’t be great if our local field-paths could be preserved for future generations?  We’ve lost a few – even in recent years – so we should not be complacent.

If you are concerned, the thing you can do right now is write to a local Draycott parish councillor and ask them to ensure a council footpath-monitoring sub-committee is set up.   It would certainly be a start.

[See also: Land-Owners’ Responsibilities]

See also:  Walks on Draycott’s footpaths

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Name that animal

Lots of people in our district are talking about the impact any new-build development might have on the wildlife here – especially in the ‘wild corridor’ that runs alongside the River Blithe.  Because of the unique situation, some birds and animals do thrive here unexpectedly.

Can you identify these birds and animals that can be found in Cresswell, and nearby fields, and along the river-course into Draycott proper?  (They are all mentioned on the Wildlife Board next to the Information Kiosk).

Cresswell wildlife board (without captions)

Local wildlife …

If you find the photo on this page too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately!
[Just remember to press the back-button to get back to this page.]

How did you do?   If you want the answers, click here

If you think any locally-seen significant bird or animal has been missed off the list – or flora and tree-types – would you let us know?  Just use the comments box below, or email us.

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

NEWS: solar farm / mobile library / Pointon paints / tennis day

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early June 2015
News of…:  solar farm coming? / uncertain future for mobile library / Rob Pointon paints the gardens / familiar tennis look  …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a tennis-for-all open day. Check out the Events page)

– – –
Solar panels on the horizon

There has been quite some interest in a proposal by a renewable-energy firm to put up a ‘solar farm’ on fields at Draycott Cross.  Last week around fifty people went along to a presentation by the firm to learn more about it.

What’s proposed at this stage (though no formal application has yet been tendered) is that a large number of solar panels will be erected across some thirty hectares of farmland.  The electricity they generate will be transferred to the National Grid.
Residents have been chatting about this already on the village Facebook page – see Draycott on Facebook.

The company, Solstice Renewables, tell us that opinions at the presentation were divided, with some people pleased to see a green energy initiative in the district, but with others concerned about its effect on the look of the landscape.

If you want to make up your own mind, follow these links…
To see more about the proposal, click here
To see more about how it will look and how our community might be affected, click here

– – –
Mobile library under threat

As we predicted, Draycott’s mobile library service is being targeted for the axe.
Staffordshire County Council, which runs the service, wants to make cuts across the board, and the library’s users should prepare themselves for the worst.
The authority says that less than 1% of the population of Staffordshire now uses the mobile library.

Mobile library in Draycott

Mobile library stops by the Draycott Arms/St Margaret’s Court

The mobile library comes round here once every three weeks, stopping at Stuart Avenue and St Margaret’s Court.   It’s a particular boon for older people who can’t get over to the branch library at Blythe Bridge too easily.
It is true of course that the service is not well-used here in Draycott, but then it’s not very well publicised either…

The initial proposals have already been published (click here to see them) and there will be a consultation period in July and August.

– – –
Rob’s on his easel again

We’re told that the present spell of uneven weather will alter in mid-week and it will be a really sunny June.  If that’s true, no-one will be more pleased than local lad Rob Pointon, who has a big event this weekend.

Rob was raised in Draycott (his mum Janet still lives here), so he’s hoping a few neighbours and friends will go along this Saturday & Sunday to the ‘Wildacres’ property in Consall (ST9 0BE) which has some terrific wild-flower and wildlife-friendly gardens in its grounds.

Rob Pointon at wildacres

Rob Pointon at wildacres

Rob has developed a skill in speed-painting and he has been furiously daubing canvases of the changing scenes in the gardens.  His twelve new paintings will be for sale when the gardens are opened up for visitors as part of a charity drive for the Moorlands NSPCC branch.
You don’t have to buy a painting of course; you can just go along to enjoy the gardens and the cream-teas!  However, if you are acquainted with Rob, he says he hopes you’ll stop by and say hello.
For more details, click here.

– – –
Tennis open day

Another event this weekend takes place on the Sunday (7th).
As part of the  Great British Tennis Weekend Project, Draycott Sports Centre will be putting on introductory tennis sessions for juniors and adults.

We often forget that Draycott is one of the major tennis clubs in north Staffordshire; so it comes as no surprise to hear the Draycott Men’s Team, the 2014 champions, are once again leading the pack in the the City & Suburban Tennis League.
So… if you really are interested in tennis as a sport for you, Draycott is just about the best place to be in this whole region!

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