Category Archives: development

NEWS: elections day / footpath preserved / new 40mph zone

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early May 2019
In this post we have news of…: double elections, both parish and district, on Thursday / 40mph to come on dual carriageway / Draycott footpath is safe… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including an Exhibition about the Blythe Colour Works…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Voting

This week is Local Elections Week: with all of us going to the polls on Thursday (May 2nd) to elect members for Draycott-in-the-Moors village council and also members for our ward on the Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

Both elections look to be very interesting as each will have a lot of fresh names on the ballot paper (following resignations of some long-time faces). Because of the way the maths of it all works out, a number of these new faces will definitely be elected, come what may.

One thing to remember when casting your votes is that you don’t have to use your maximum allowance (each of us gets seven votes in the parish council elections, and three in the district council elections).
Thus, for the parish-village election, you are entitled to vote seven times – for seven different people. However, by doing that, in this election, you virtually nullify your effort!  (It’s all to do with the maths).
So some experts recommend you don’t use all your votes, but only vote for the candidates you really really support.
You can only vote once for each candidate.

It’s good too to see that most candidates in the village-parish election have taken the campaign seriously, and have delivered ‘manifestoes’ through our letterboxes. It makes it easier for us voters to select candidates.
But, if you live in Draycott Council’s boundary area – of Draycott, Cresswell, Draycott Cross, Totmonslow, Newton, Draycott Waste (i.e. along the Hilderstone Road) – and haven’t had an election manifesto through the door, you can always phone the candidates to get a rundown of what they are promising.

These elections take place this Thursday (May 2nd). The polling station for all of us in this area is Draycott Church Hall, from 7am to 10pm.
There is no election this year for the county council.

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Go slow(er) in Draycott

There is always a silver lining to every storm-cloud, and the project to build a huge new housing estate, the ‘Blythe Fields’ estate, on the fields above Draycott (i.e. behind Chandni Cottage) has produced a couple.

One is that the county Highways Authority are now demanding a 40mph limit on our Draycott bit of dual carriageway – the stretch between Chandni Cottage and the big roundabout. (Up to now it has been a 60mph limit).

A521 : 60 limit speed signs

There is currently a 60mph limit on entering the dual carriageway stretch here – but not for much longer, probably

All the traffic on and off the new estate will have to pull onto that stretch – and there is also going to be a pedestrian crossing there – so a new 40mph limit there would make sense.
Pretty much all residents we spoke to have  welcomed the move.

However, like everything, the proposal is subject to public consultation.
You have until May 29th to make your views known, for or against – click here for details on how to do that (look for ‘A521 Proposal’).

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Footpath ring-fenced

Talking of the Blythe Fields Estate, one thing we were worried about was whether the public footpath over the ridge (it goes from the Izaak Walton, over the A50 footbridge and along & down to Chandni Cottage) would be respected. It is right next to the building works.

But, credit where credit is due, and the developers, St Modwen, have ensured there has been no interference with the footpath, which is now fenced (see pic).Blythe Fields foot path
Incidentally, building work has already started up there, with the construction roads now almost complete (see below).

Some are estimating that houses there could be up by the end of the year, if not earlier.

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

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

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

NEWS: Vale?…Fields / Candidates needed / Road sign confusions / Betty is 106!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late March 2019
In this post we have news of…:  Blythe Vale changes its name / just days left for village nominations / street names craziness! / Bessie reaches a grand old age… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a family tennis tournament…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Vale … to Fields

St Modwen Developers are wasting no time in getting on with the building of the new housing estate on Draycott Level (on the ridge behind Chandni Cottage restaurant).
The signs are already up; the ‘site access road’ is in action; and even the advertisements for the properties are already online.   (One odd thing: their website gives a list of the nearby schools which are among the ‘benefits’ of living here, BUT William Amory Primary has been excluded from the list, which is a bit of a surprise…)
The previous name we knew it under, ‘Blythe Vale’, has been changed to Blythe Fields.

Blythe Fields board

Flying the flag for ‘Blythe Fields’ in Draycott

So, from all that, one can guess that St Modwen clearly have no fears that the latest (revised) expansion plans they have submitted for the estate (which mean the latest version of the estate will grow to be almost the size of the one coming to Cresswell) will get the necessary planning permission… !
The proposals go before the Planning Committee at Leek next month.

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Your Village Needs You

It’s to be hoped that we get more energetic local councillors soon – ones that are capable of dealing with these big issues in a way that our current representatives seem unable to.
And, if things go right, we may indeed get some as soon as in a few weeks, because the latest round of council elections is almost upon us.

Election promotion posterBut, for a democracy to work, ‘good & true’ people need to come forward and stand as candidates; and there are only a very few days left for people who wish to stand for election to Draycott Council to put in their nomination papers.
(Draycott Council covers Draycott, Cresswell, Draycott Cross & Totmonslow).
The Staffordshire SPCA is urging village councils to run campaigns to get candidates to come forward, and some have; already other nearby councils are energetically running such promotions, calling on their residents to come forward to stand as village councillors – next-door Checkley Council is even running a promotional video.
Sadly, even though we are so close to the deadline, Draycott Council has not yet chosen to run such a campaign. One can only wonder why.

Seven candidates are needed to stand for Draycott Village-Parish Council alone – that’s how many seats there are on the council.

So. Do you think YOU could make a difference?
If you do, print out the official documents and fill them in.
If you are not sure, read our Guide to Becoming a Draycott & Totmonslow & Cresswell councillor.
But remember – the nomination papers must be delivered (by hand) to Leek by 4pm on April 3rd… which is not long away…

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Bessie rocks on

One person who is well-remembered for a being a great Draycott village councillor is the redoubtable Betty (aka Bessie) Hammond who served for thirty years. She has retired from the role now – which is not surprising, as she turned 106 last week!

Bessie at 106

Enjoying the birthday tributes!

Unlike her 100th Birthday party, last week’s party was a smaller affair, as Betty gets a little tireder these days than she used to, but a pub room still had to be arranged to cope with all the guests!

It’s amazing to think that, when Betty was born, in 1913, the First World War had not even started and horse transport still ruled the road…   It’s even more amazing to think of all the babies that have come into the world in her hands: she spent many years as a sort of unofficial midwife to the working people of Draycott & Cresswell.  In fact, she was tireless in her public service. Read our article – Betty Hammond’s Life-Story.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were more people like Betty?

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Odd – and then odder

Even Betty would have been perplexed though if she had had to deal with the very odd case of the Incorrect Road-Sign that got even more incorrecter… (sorry for the bad grammar!)

Those of you with long memories will remember that back in 2013 we wondered why the road sign at one end of Cresswell Old Lane was labelled (wrongly) as Cresswell Old Road. We even wrote an article about it.

cresswell old road sign

The wrong name…

We reported the issue to Staffs Moorlands Council – but nothing was done. So, eventually, we took the problem to Draycott Council, who agreed to pass on our concerns in an official letter.

And, hey presto… soon the clever people at Leek got the sign changed.
Or.. did they?

'Caverswall old lane' new sign

Caverswall??? Should be Cresswell !

The road-name sign was changed, yes, but to say ‘Caverswall Old Lane’ … Ooops!!!!

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

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

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

NEWS: developers’ dates / jail term / more b&b / have a hall party!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late Nov 2018
In this post we have news of…: development set to heat up / jail for Draycott racist /  church hall party venue / Arms set to be an Inn …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Turkey and Tinsel Dinner Dance…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Construction to start in 2019

After years of being on tenterhooks, it now looks like it will be early next year that we will be experiencing the expected development construction round here.

As regards the Blythe Park expansion in Cresswell, the local community-action group (VVSM) did their best again to slow down the process for more appraisal, as they have successfully done in the past, but this time they could not persuade the powers-that-be.

Propsed Blythe B Park link road

Cresswell plan. The diagonal thick blue line is the railway. The red lines are the roundabout and new link road across the business park – the fat red space on the right is the new warehouse to come. The blue line is the boundary of the whole development site (pic from SMDC Planning Website)

The proposal for a roundabout & link-road & giant warehouse was passed by the Staffs Moorlands Council last week. (Check out the details here).
What this means is that 2019 will be a year of lots of traffic disruption in Cresswell while the roundabout is constructed.

Meanwhile, the other huge development in Draycott area is the one next to the A50 roundabout – the coming ‘Blythe Vale’ housing estate.
The developers in this instance, St Modwen, are so anxious to press on with starting preliminary construction works that they have put in an application to use Woodlands Lane as a temporary construction-vehicles road as soon as possible. (Woodlands Lane is the unmade road that starts by the Chandni Cottage restaurant).
If they get permission for that – (BB & Forsbrook councillors have already okayed it, but Draycott Council has not yet discussed it) – work on the site will start early next year.

So… the year 2019 will see lots of construction & lots of construction vehicles in our neighbourhood.  Sigh.

The final piece of planning news is that the application for houses to be built on the north side of the railway line in Cresswell (on Railway Cottages Lane) has been turned down.
The SMDC planning department said it would be incorrect to allow development such as this in a quiet spot such as Cresswell.  Erm… they clearly had – erm – forgotten (?) about the massive housing estate about to be built just 200 yards away!
It honestly makes you wonder if planning department’s left hand knows what the right hand is doing…

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Xmas parties anyone?

We had the pleasure of having a good look round the Draycott Church Hall the other day. The refurbishments are now all pretty much done, and it’s a credit to everyone involved.
The heating is all up to date, and new insulated fire-proof curtains keep the heat in. The kitchen, and the toilet, have been renovated and the whole interior looks bright and airy. Even the lighting has been renovated – there is bright lighting, for meetings, and low light, for parties.Draycott Church hall interiorDespite the difficulties of the access road, which has a number of potholes, the numbers of groups using the hall have increased as a result.
So… the hall is now open for even more business!

It would be an ideal venue for a family gathering (there is even a ‘secure garden’ out back for the kids to play in) and the floor is a smooth wood, ideal for a little waltzing (or more energetic styles)!
Sixty is about the maximum number it can comfortably hold, but it still looks full with just thirty. There is parking for forty cars.
If you’re looking for a ‘happy place’ for your Christmas gathering, why not check it out?
(For costs and contact details, click here).

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Beds & Breakfast galore

Congratulations to Zara and Brayn at The Draycott Arms, who heard last week that their application to create new b&b accommodation has been passed – so they are now all set to get started on the renovation…
Thus, sometime next year, The Draycott Arms (should it now be called The Draycott Inn??!) will be able to offer four B&B rooms.
Zara & Brayn are a hard-working young couple with great ambitions for this village – so we think it’s great news.

Hilltop Farm Barns signThe Draycott Arms is not far from Hilltop Farm Barns, where Nola and Bill run the other Draycott accommodation.
The farm has its large Horseshoe Cottage for hire as a self-catering holiday home; it has three bedrooms and so comfortably sleeps 6 people.
In fact, if you fancy a peek at Horseshoe, Nola & Bill are holding their annual Christmas Get-Together Morning in a few weeks’ time (see What’s On page for details). The event raises money for repairs at St Margaret’s Church, and all are welcome.

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Jail term for racist

Finally, a disturbing thought.
Some of us were quite shocked last month when a Draycott resident, Barbara Fielding-Morriss, got a one-year jail term for ‘inciting racial hatred’.  Ms Fielding Morris, who once stood for election as an MP, expressed her unpleasant views about Jews in her writings and publicity.

At first, twelve months in jail seemed an excessively harsh sentence for a 79-year old lady, whom many of us just viewed (frankly) as a bit of a crank.
But, talking about it in the local pub, it was brought home to us that words can be as dangerous as anything else, because they inspire others to do harm.
What happened was that someone at the bar reminded us that, only last month, a man with a gun had attacked a Jewish congregation in America, killing eleven people, shouting that he hated Jews.
To most of us, racism just seems barmy, so we often don’t take any racist views we hear very seriously – but, as this case demonstrates, the courts rather think we should.

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

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

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

Planning; planning; no-plan

We have updates about: the Blythe Vale site at eastern Draycott; the coming roundabout in Cresswell and its nearby pinch-point; a completely new application for housing in Cresswell; and the death of the Draycott Neighbourhood Plan.

Some developers are very clever… They go into a flurry of activity in the summer months, knowing that potential protesters are busy with holidays etc and that August is often a month-off for councillors and MPs.
So…. yep… lots about planning in this post!

Blythe Vale

The proposed housing estate up on the ridge, which will overlook Uttoxeter Road on Draycott Level, is a done deal and will happen, so all that’s left now is to sort out the infrastructure – the roadways, drainage etc.
Sure enough, an infrastructure application has now been submitted at SMDC’s planning offices. It seems that the roadway coming down off the ridge will emerge near the Chandni Cottage restaurant, onto that bit of dual carriageway. The developers (naturally enough) reckon it won’t affect traffic flow.

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

The Blythe Vale site – the current Draycott development is the red-ringed site on left

Conservationists will also be interested to see how the developers St Modwen) have proposed handling the newts and other wildlife on the site; and which trees they intend to remove.

If you have thoughts, you are invited to put them in, using the online comments page. You have until the 15th August.

Preliminary work on the site – surveying etc – starts this weekend.

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Cresswell roundabout

The plans for the roundabout at Cresswell seem to have hit an unknown buffer. They were supposed to go before the SMDC Planning Committee as long ago as Easter, but they keep being deferred – and no one really knows why.
One of our district councillors, Dave Trigger, gave a little talk a few weeks ago about the pros & cons of the roundabout plan, and he said he could see no particular problem with it (click here to see what Dave said) – so what’s holding the plan up?

One rumour is that the developers have not yet come up with a suitable way to help out the bat population that will be disturbed.
Another rumour is that the issue is the so-called pinch point (where the road narrows to a tight squeeze) up the hill past the Izaak. The original 2015 application promised that a pedestrian path would be installed here, but we’ve heard nothing since.
Yes, the owners of Izaak Walton Farm have now moved their wall back from the edge of the road (thus enabling a small green path alongside it for pedestrians), but, even so, a few yards of the road further up still have no pavement.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Maybe this is the sticking point…?

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Houses by the railway?

The summer has produced its usual crop of planning applications – including one for eight houses at Cresswell.
If you know Cresswell, you’ll know the unmade road off Cresswell Old Lane that leads up to some old Victorian terraced houses (called Railway Cottages). The proposed houses would be built along this unmade lane, with the railway at their backs.

The fact is that the current Moorlands Local Plan does stipulate that Draycott & Cresswell should take another ten houses on top of the Blythe Vale and Blythe Park developments – so this application would indeed fit Local Plan requirements.
(It had been supposed that the required extra houses would eventually be built on the big field on Uttoxeter Road – the one between the church and the Draycott Arms -, but maybe not, after all).

But… there is no barrier stopping the public from going on to the line at that point.  Is this really a safe place to build homes?
If you have thoughts on this application you have until 22nd August to submit them (see the application Comments Page).

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Neighbourhood Plan, not…

Our local community council, Draycott Parish Council, doesn’t inspire confidence at the best of times but it reached a new low with the collapse of its ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ process.

The government has been encouraging villages and small communities to adopt ‘neighbourhood plans’ as a way of indicating how they want their futures to be. They carry some weight in law, and it’s one way to help stop inappropriate developments.
Parish councils are responsible for watching over their adoption process.

Back in 2015, the newly-elected Draycott councillor, Jacquie Leach, put some work & effort into kick-starting an NP for Draycott on the council’s behalf (though she stepped down from the council in 2016 due to personal issues and so did not finish the work).
Since then however Draycott Council has seemed barely interested.

The council applied for a grant of £3000 last year, but the money had to be returned a few months ago – because not one penny of it had been spent…!
Just as embarrassingly, the council recently announced on its website that it would be holding a Neighbourhood Plan roadshow-stall at this year’s Draycott Fayre – but no such thing appeared.
When councillors were asked what happened – blank faces! It turned out that they had forgotten to get someone to organise it; and that none of the councillors had been particularly appointed to be responsible anyway.

(Roll on the 2019 local elections…!)

checkley neighbourhood plan poster
The worst of this is that, more than any other community in the Moorlands, Draycott has been subject to one planning development after another, and really needs the safeguards that a Neighbourhood Plan can provide.
Meanwhile other nearby councils – such as Checkley & Tean (see above pic) and Forsbrook & Blythe Bridge – are cracking on with theirs, leaving Draycott far behind.

***
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: roundabout details / Izaak price cut / new space for hire / rail petition

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: details of new Cresswell roundabout / Blythe CC hub price-list / petition to improve rail line / discount in Izaak pub cost ……
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Valentines Ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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‘Cresswell Circle’

Detailed plans are now in for the large new roundabout which is to be built in the middle of Cresswell. The roundabout will service the new housing estate & expansion of the adjacent industrial site.

All the measurements are listed on the plans, and it looks like the roundabout will be some 25m across – about half the width of a football pitch – with a grass mound in the middle. Basically it will be built on the field behind the present lay-by; and the current length of Sandon Road opposite the lay-by will be re-worked, as a residents’-only access frontage.

Cresswell Roundabout details

All of us have just over a month left to look over the plans and to comment on them. Click here to get a better close-up of the plans, and click here to make your comments (by March 7th).
If the plans get the full go-ahead (which is very probable), we should see the work starting around Easter-time – so start to expect traffic delays about then…

Blythe Park Roundabout Development pic 2017

This artist’s impression shows the roundabout and planned houses in bright colours; and the existing buildings in dark shades (pic: SMDC Planning website)

What’s interesting is that the construction-works this year will also include the new central roadway through the whole Blythe Park development – at the far end of which (on a virgin plot beyond the current industrial park) will also be being built a large new factory-warehouse for a garden-furniture company.

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Community hub open for business

Better late than never, the price list for the hire of the new pavilion at Blythe Cricket Club (in Cresswell) is finally with us – and the prices aren’t bad at all.

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

All smiles in front of the new community hub

If you remember, the brand-new facilities at the club opened at the end of last summer to great fanfare – in large measure, thanks to a huge £500,000 grant from  the Big Lottery Fund. Part of the club’s deal with the Lottery was that the ‘hub’, as it’s known, must be open for use by the surrounding community too.
The new-build includes new changing-rooms, updated toilets and baby-changing facilities – but, most importantly, as far as local residents are concerned, there is a shiny new large space (and bar) which is available for hire to the public.
And the prices are OK (well, we think so) – £50 for a half-day (not including bar & bartender). Check them out for yourself – see the official Blythe Community Hub – price list.

It’s an irony of the way that things go in the modern world that we have now have four community spaces for hire in our district (the village hall, the Cresswell dojo, the sports centre and now the cricket club), as well as – sometime in the next few years -, another one which will come as part of the forthcoming Blythe Park Housing Estate.
So, we have a plethora of ‘community hubs’ – but not even a little local shop!!   Oh well.

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Railway petition

Once all the new building developments are completed over the next five years, Draycott-Cresswell is going to start snarling up with lots more traffic – the amount of cars owned by Cresswell households alone is set to double.

It’d be nice to think then that the railway service into Stoke or Derby (from the rail station at Blythe Bridge) is an option for more comfortable travel. But, as anyone who travels the line at peak time will know, the carriage/s (yes, often there is just one coach!) is absolutely jam-packed. Not pleasant.

So the MP for Stoke South, Jack Brereton, initiated an online petition in early December, in which he called on the government’s railways minister to force the local operating company to renew the rolling stock and improve the service.

Trouble is that poor old Jack has only got 45 supporters so far. Oh well.

– – –
Izaak reduced

By the way, still no word on what is likely to happen to the Izaak Walton Pub in Cresswell. When it closed in last year there were quickly rumours that a small resto-pub chain was interested, and there were high hopes that the old place would open again soon.

Izaak walton Inn new sign

Seems like those hopes were dashed, and the caretakers have had to stay on ever since – though the asking price has been reduced, down to £325,000.
The whole pub-hospitality business is a very difficult one at the moment, but it certainly would be good to see some sort of future for a place that is so iconic of the whole village.

***
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

– – –
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…

– – –
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.

– – –
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…!

– – –
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.

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

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

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Doing it for themselves

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

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

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

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Illegal weeds

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

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

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

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Pity the poor Blithe

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

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

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

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

Anyone got any ideas on how to save the Blithe?

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Bringing industry to Draycott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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NEWS: new cllr / Church Lane end? / traffic lights / new shop?

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early April 2017
In this post we have news of…:  new councillor for Draycott / Church Lane project stumped / disappearing traffic lights  / a shop for Draycott?…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a cabaret evening of ballroom-dancing – c
heck out the Events page).
For daily updates about life in our district, check the village Facebook page.
To receive an email each time there is a new post on this site, click the
Follow button (see right)

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Welcome councillor

Pat McLaughlinCongratulations to the newest member of Draycott Council.
Patricia McLaughlin (see photo, right), a chartered surveyor who lives at the Blythe end of Draycott Level, was voted in by a landslide on Thursday (6th) evening in the local council by-election.  She was voted in with 98 votes, compared to her opponent’s 52 votes. She becomes one of Draycott Council’s seven members.
Our commiserations to the gallant loser, Roger Leach.

Pat said in her manifesto that she will aim to unite the different parts of the district, which, as she observes, have become “disjointed”. We wish her the best of luck.

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Shopping to return to Draycott?

English: Draycott-in-the-Moors Post Office. (n...There hasn’t been a shop in Draycott for many years now: though there are still fond memories of Evelyn Robinson and how she ran the old post office (see picture, right – it was adjacent the Draycott Arms), not to mention the general shop at the Blythe Bridge end of Uttoxeter Road  (near what is now The Golden Keg Restaurant & Pub).

However, Zara & Brayn at the Draycott Arms pub are nothing if not enterprising, and they want to establish a shop-area in what used to be the public-bar room at the pub. The room is under reconstruction at the moment, but it should be all done and dusted sometime in the summer.
Zara is now looking round for a second-hand refrigerated unit to hold the perishable goods (if you know of one, she’ll be happy to hear from you).

In the meantime, a questionnaire has gone out to most local households asking residents what they think of the idea.  If you haven’t had one, or just lost yours, just click here to see the form, print it out, fill it in… then just take it round to the pub…

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Cul-de-sac for Church Lane project?

Over the past three months there has been a deal of discussion (see more…) about what to do about the awful condition of the road surface on Church Lane.  The lane is really more of a track than a road and is full of nasty potholes.
However, it’s an important thoroughfare, as it leads up to St Margaret’s Church & graveyard and to the community hall too.

At the last Draycott Council meeting however, our local councillors admitted defeat.  The project is too expensive and too-consuming for them to get involved with, it seems, and the local county-councillor, Mark Deaville, is taking on the issue instead. Mark is applying to Staffordshire County Highways to have the lane ‘adopted’.  However, he admits it’s a pretty long shot.

So what do the church authorities and the dozen-or-so residents of the lane do next?  We met one resident, Mark, who was doing a manful job patching up the potholes this week. His patches are just exactly that though, and he admits his work may not last for very long.

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It’s a difficult issue.  We suggest the wardens at St Margaret’s start a crowd-funding page to try to raise the cash for proper repairs.
Well…   Anybody got a better idea?

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The case of the disappearing lights

Talking of works not getting done, does anyone know what the sudden appearance and then disappearance of some temporary traffic lights at the Uttoxeter Road-Cresswell Lane junction was all about?Traffic lightsWe were told it was going to be some preliminary work on the giant new roundabout which is going to be built there as a part of the re-development of Cresswell (see: the Roundabout Design diagram).

Maybe the developers changed their minds…?  Hmm.  Unlikely…

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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)

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….