Category Archives: development

NEWS: turning worries / badger cull / housing plans / RIP Carole & Mary

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early July 2020
In this post we have news of…: concerns about the Blythe road turning / end to cull / more housing on the horizon / St Mary’s loss

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Junction issue

Now that traffic flow is picking up again with the easing of coronavirus lockdown, we return to the issue of the new road-layout on the turning into Blythe Bridge. Already there have been collisions there, and one councillor has expressed serious concerns.

Road map: A521 turning

Road map shows the sharp hairpin bend turning

For traffic coming into Draycott from the A50 roundabout, the turning into Blythe Bridge is quite a nasty left-hand hairpin bend – so, up until the end of last year, there used to be a slip road, to make the turning easier.
But the slip-road has now gone; a new pavement has been built on top of it. (This new pavement connects the new Blythe Fields estate to the junction).

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But, the new arrangement causes two problems.
First, large wagons have to move into the dual carriageway’s outside (right-hand) lane, then slow down considerably, and then take a large turning circle across the inside lane just to get into the turning.
Secondly, because the turning is so badly signposted on the dual carriageway, motorists unused to the area see the turning late, and have brake a lot as they approach the turning, just to make this sharp manoeuvre.

Councillor Barry Yates, of next-door Forsbrook Council, is so concerned about this that he’s asked for a formal site visit & report from the local county councillor.
We’ll keep you posted.

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Recovery means … more homes

Many of us will have heard in the news that one of the ways that the government wants to solve the homes crisis and also to get the economy on track is to spend ‘billions’ on enabling construction projects.
That sounds great at first, but Draycott people may want to just think a second about the implications.

(The government has also promised the “most radical reforms of the planning system for 60 years”. We all know what that means – huge developers will get even more of their own way – for example, SMDCouncil has been humiliated more than once already over the Blythe Fields development).

The implication of the announcement is that St Modwen Ltd will be able now to more easily hurry through the next phase of its development in Draycott, building even more homes along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road. As the planning officer said at the time: “Having built the access road (to build the first part of the site), it’s now much easier to work on building the second part.”

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites – Draycott on left

There is outline permission for building all along the ridge, on both sides of the A50, as far as Cresswell (see yellow zone in pic above). Watch this space.

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Badgers update

What with the coronavirus crisis, other news has got lost a bit.
One item was that the national badger cull has now been called off.  The experiment, of trapping and killing badgers (humanely) inside special zones, was to try to see how much badgers spread tuberculosis to cattle. Farmers were largely for it; animal conservationists against it.Badger (pic from Wikipedia)
The reason it matters to Draycott is that, although the details of the ‘killing zones’ were secret, some locations were leaked – and we know that one such zone was not far from here.

The project was called off just as female badgers were producing litters – which will please the conservationists, but not the farmers…

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May they rest in peace

Finally, we have lost two long-standing members of our community.
Mary Crowther, who was 97, and Carole Toft, 80, both died last month. Both worshipped at the small Catholic church of St Mary’s in Cresswell, where they will certainly be missed by the remaining congregation.
RIP.

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The Future is coming

The next ten years could bring big changes to Draycott, and could completely change the district from being a semi-rural district into a suburban ribbon.
Resident Mark Stewart has written this piece, warning that we just don’t seem to be waking up to these facts.
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Five years ago, I wrote on this website about the way we were all sleepwalking into a possible development explosion in Draycott-Cresswell. Three years ago, the late parish councillor Steve Jones added: “The biggest threat to Draycott is the Constellation Project development plan…”
And, as far back as 2014, the VVSM group pleaded with the then village council to vigorously get behind an official ‘neighbourhood plan’, in order to pre-empt potential large development.

All these warnings were ignored at the time, by residents as well as the village council, and suddenly we are now faced with 350 new homes going up here in this village in the next two years, increasing Draycott’s population by a whopping 90%. And there is the distinct prospect of even more building to come following that.

And Draycottians are still sleepwalking.

More building to come

St Modwen Homes openly plan to carry on their current (Blythe Fields) development further, into ‘Phase 2 and Phase 3’, which will see them building almost as far as Cresswell, along the top of the ridge overlooking Draycott and the A50, with a mix of more housing and light industry.

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

The grey line running vertically through this photo is the A50. On the left side of it Phase 1, in red outline, Blythe Fields, has already started. The next two phases (in yellow outline) will see building stretch almost as far as Cresswell Pumping Station.

You’d think this would be alarming – but nobody, either councillors or residents, seems to be paying attention.

Thanks to this apathy, the planning authorities see Draycott as a pushover.
Staffordshire Moorlands Council (remember the shocking way they ignored official & expert advice in 2015 in order to pass the Cresswell Blythe Park estate development?) have already approved more development here, percentage-wise, than in any other of its wards or parishes. SMDC planners are already making provision for Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Who is standing up for us?

The ones who really should speak up for us, our political representatives, have been barely visible in these planning matters. Our MP, Bill Cash, who represents both Blythe Bridge & Draycott, has only sent letters (nothing more), while our own Draycott village council, which should care most of all, has been slow, feeble and muddle-headed, to say the least.

Blythe Fields outline diagram

The current Blythe Fields estate of 180 homes (up near the roundabout in this photo) only fills 10% of the land already approved for development (in red outline) in the district of Draycott

So, because of such apathy, the current SMDC Moorlands Local Plan has been able to allocate virtually the region’s whole quota of housing for semi-rural areas in … guess where? Draycott-Cresswell… An amazing stat.

The apathy goes deep. A few months ago, in view of the seriousness of the situation, a local resident put in a proposal to the village council, that one of its members should be appointed to take special responsibility for The Future (including planning matters) as a way of bringing some urgency into meetings. But the idea was rejected out of hand.
(Even though, at the same meeting, a councillor was indeed given a special responsibility – to monitor village odd-job tasks!  You couldn’t make these things up…).

Another example: we all know about the current traffic chaos caused by the works – yet back in the summer it took a some local residents to make a great fuss before councillors even bothered to react to the Highway Department’s plans.

Compare our Draycott representatives’ apathy to councils in places like Cheddleton, where similar proposals have brought councillors and residents out on street demonstrations and where they have twice defeated the proposals; and in Tean, where the village council is threatening judicial review against ‘excessive’ development.

And some residents are losing patience with their village councils’ inaction.  Recentl, in Creswell, a village near Staford, every member of the parish council was forced to resign when householders simply lost patience with their represnetaives, and demanded they step down.

Housing

Yes, of course, this country, and this county, desperately needs new housing, but it’s not quite fair to place so much in one area.
But it’s simply a lot easier for authorities to shove housing, even in large numbers, into areas where they know locals are not united.
Belatedly (and well after the Blythe Fields building started), a ‘Parishes Together’ group has been established, where village councillors from Draycott, Checkley and Blythe Bridge get together to talk about joint matters of interest. But this initiative looks to be far too late in the day to stop large development; and right now it is still just a talking-shop.

Boundaries

One excuse Draycott village council put up at the time for its lack of action over the Blythe Fields development is that most of the ongoing (i.e. Phase 1) building works fall into the boundaries of Blythe Bridge & Forsbrook council.

Blythe Fields on Forsbrook Draycott boundary

The St Modwen developments cross the Forsbrook-Draycott official boundaries

Through a strange lack of logic in the way parish council boundary lines were originally laid out years ago, land that should properly be in Draycott was allocated to Blythe Bridge. (Last year a resident called for Draycott Council to request a change of boundaries – this was again rejected).

But, when it comes to massive planning developments on their doorstep (ones like Blythe Park), all affected councils have a full right to get involved. If Draycott Council say “it’s not in our boundaries, we can do very little”, then they are wrong.

And Forsbrook & Blythe Bridge’s council‘s view? It actually supports the Blythe Fields development. (Keith Flunder, a district councillor for Blythe Bridge, said about his electorate at the time of the application: “People in general are in favour”.)
And why shouldn’t they have support it? It means loads more council tax for them (as much as £5,000 a year or more), and they will get few of the social and environmental problems – which will nearly all accrue to Draycott.

Maybe it all doesn’t matter to most of us?

Of course, the fact is that most of Draycott’s population simply don’t worry about these issues. Year in year out they vote for the self-same groups of people in elections (or don’t vote at all); while (to be fair to the councillors) participation from all but very few residents in any major new initiatives in the village is lacking.
So, we may lack leadership, but then we also lack community spirit. (The local community-action group, VVSM, after some amazing achievements, folded in 2017 – mostly because no new support was coming along.)

Maybe it’s simply that we believe that we can’t change things, even if we wanted to.
In fact, on the village Facebook page, this resident’s view seems to be the most accepted:  “…find some positives! The houses are not cheap so it should bring some extra cash. Extra cash means an extra boost to local economy, and a better local economy means we get better produce, products, services (here’s hoping) etc”.  Some residents even believe that those who don’t like the idea of huge expansion ‘should simply get out of Draycott‘.
Only a couple of small voices ever object to the lack of protest, such as this one: “…after destroying some beautiful countryside, on the new housing estate they have built so far what can only be described as the most bland red-brick buildings imaginable…

Hello to the Future

So…… As it stands, planning decisions indicate the following:
The last census (2011) put the population of Draycott at 1000 but, in ten years time, it could well be 3000 (including Blythe Fields).
One can predict that the village’s traffic flows, pressure on schools and doctors’ surgeries, and social disruption will all grow.
On the other hand, we may get a shop, and more business for our pubs.

However – whether we are happy with this vision or not -, should we really all sleepwalking into it?

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Ref:  Original Blythe Fields planning application

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

NEWS: floods / houses for sale / voting / poppies

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early November 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including two fireworks displays …  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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Fancy a garnet?

As we reported before, sales are already underway for the houses on the coming St Modwen housing estate, which is being built at the west end of Draycott.
The sales brochure too is now published with a street-map of how the estate is to be arranged and where each type of house is going. The cheapest housing will be sited alongside on the estate’s border with the A50 highway, with the more expensive on the Draycott Level side.

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The brochure also lists (nearly) all the types of houses that will be available on ‘Blythe Fields’. A ‘Garnet’ style house is the most expensive at £360,000.
Curiously, the only kind of housing that is not advertised for sale in the brochure is the low-income housing; nor does the brochure tell you how to apply for that housing.
Curious… Hmm.

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Torrents lead to floods

The torrential and unceasing rain a few days ago led, as you’d expect, to flash floods pretty much everywhere, including here. Zara Hutson, who co-runs the Draycott Arms, captured this amazing shot (below) when the flooding was at its height on Cheadle Road just outside her doors. Flash flooding Cheadle Road draycott
Most of it was, fortunately, just flash flooding, and receded quickly once the rain ceased, but we still have well-known problem areas which have more long-lasting flooding.
The drains on certain stretches of Uttoxeter Road, right through Draycott to Tean, are simply no longer coping well, and water lies in dangerous pools on these busy roads after heavy rain.

It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you are on (– is the Staffs County Highways Department incompetent? …or… is the government starving local authorities of money, which is why repairs are so slow? -), the fact is we’ve been waiting years now for some of the drainage systems to be sorted.
Sadly, no one should hold their breath that it will all be fixed soon.

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Happy days … another election!

… yes, we are being sarcastic of course.
However, this one really is a biggie, there’s no doubt about that, and will (if we get a definite result) change this country for the next five years.
We are in the constituency of Stone.

So… if you are not registered to vote, get yourself sorted now. Already, across the country, thousands of people (mostly younger people) have been doing just that – and you still have time. The cut-off date to register (to vote in the election in December) is November 26th.
Click here to find out the process. It’s pretty simple.

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Poppies for remembrance

Some people on the village Facebook page were puzzled – but pleased – to see a lot of poppies attached to lampposts in the village, and wondered who had put them there.
It’s actually pretty straightforward – they were put up by order of the Draycott village council, and congratulations should go to the council’s clerk, Denise Wheat, for organising the distribution.
Cresswell Poppy display 2019The poppies are to mark Armistice Day of course, which falls on November 11th (Monday) – though the main ceremonies will be carried out on Remembrance Sunday (which is on Nov 10th this year) – see our events page for details of what’s happening.

Last year many village councils adopted this neighbourhood poppy display as a one-off initiative to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, but our council has decided to do it again this year.

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DIY for £300,000

Ever fancied buying a charming old property and completing doing it up? Now’s your chance if you have £300,000 or so.
That’s the asking price for Totmonslow Farm Cottage (see pic below), which is on the market at the moment and being sold by Kevin Ford Estate AgentsTotmonslow Farm Cottage
It’s smaller than it looks (2 bedrooms) and needs some renovation – but the Totmonslow rural area is still a great place to live.
We’re off to buy a lottery ticket…!

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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

NEWS: traffic flow / tea club? / ‘new’ graves / saintly connection

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid October 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a fireworks display …  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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Settling down (?)

Well, ten days into the St Modwen Roadworks project, things are settling down, and, if they continue like this, matters may work out better for everyone than we had hoped for.
Only the one lane through the works is to be available at any one time, but, with patience, it might work.

What we’ve seen is that, as the ‘outgoing lane’ (i.e. the one on the way to the roundabout) is the open one at the moment, traffic is moving relatively smoothly.

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(It might not be so good though when Phase Two arrives in mid-December – which is when the open lane will be the eastbound one, ie for incoming traffic, not outgoing).

It seems like all the publicity that we as a community have generated (the local newspaper has had the roadworks as its lead story three weeks in a row!) has made a huge difference. Motorists are clearly avoiding Draycott Level, and so the general flow of traffic is lighter at the moment, which is a big help.
People we know are also getting up earlier to go to work, and using diversions, which is all sensible.

However, St Modwen/Staffordshire Highways say the open lane could be “closed at any time” if circumstances require it.  It is a bit of a shame that they can’t promise to give full notice about which lane (incoming or outgoing) is going to be free at any one time – and we would urge them to think how they can do that better.

In general though, if everyone crosses fingers for the next four months, we might be okay.
Might...

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Tearoom group

The new HideOut Tearooms in Forsbrook, which are attached to the Roebuck pub, are now up and running, and the owners have come up with a really nice opening offer: if there is a community group that wants to put on tea&sandwiches sessions for elderly residents, the tearooms will supply the food gratis.

There are already ‘friendship groups’ in Blythe, organised through HomeLink or at the village hall, but this would be the first in Forsbrook (we believe) if it comes off.

No such venture exists in Draycott/Cresswell – even though we have some suitable venues, including the church hall and the new refurbished snug at the Arms, and even the under-used ‘community hub’ at the Cresswell cricket ground.

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Churchyard revelations

Some cutting-back has recently taken place in the ‘old churchyard’ at St Margaret’s – and graves that have not been seen for years have been revealed.

Whoever did it (probably pruning experts from the diocesan authorities, but no one seems sure) has cut a man-sized hole through the foliage of the giant yew-tree in the churchyard’s south-west corner. (The yew is reputed to be around one thousand years old!).
This hole enables a person to get right inside the branches & foliage towards the main trunk; and see the graves there that had been grown over.

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Almost nineteen old graves have been newly revealed.
Inevitably, there is a Bagnall there, as Bagnall has been such a common name down the years in this district, but there is also a Weston. Family historians will be pleased to see them.
They have been covered over so long that it’s not clear if they are on the official graves-list, which was drawn up in the 1980s.
It all adds to the account of Draycott’s history, and it’s good to be able to see these stones again.

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Cresswell and Saint Henry Newman

Talking of local churches, not many people will know that Cresswell St Mary’s has a slight relevance to the news that Britain has a new saint.
Last Sunday, the Pope said that, after a deal of research, it was now believed that the nineteenth century English cardinal, Henry Newman, was holy enough during his life to now be declared a saint.

Dominic BarberiIt’s interesting though that the priest who converted Newman to Catholicism was a Father Dominic Barberi (pic right), who lived in Cresswell for a while during 1844.
The former priest at Cresswell, David Hartley (who has since moved on) wrote an account of Barberi’s achievements for this village website. If you want to know more of that story, click here.

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

If you’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

Roadworks decision

Finally common sense has prevailed on the current Draycott A521 Roadworks Project being conducted by St Modwen Homes.

At the very last minute, St Modwen has “found a way” to compromise, and we now have a partial solution to the roadworks issue. It will not totally satisfy all, but it is a halfway-house.

There won’t be a contraflow, which the community would have liked best, but the time-frame (nineteen weeks) also means that St Modwen can still just-about open its housing estate there on time.

Intervention

On the original plan, there was to be no way to the A50 roundabout in or out of Draycott.
It took a last-minute intervention by Philip Atkins, the leader of Staffordshire County Council, to make the difference. It looks like he banged a few heads together, and we now have the compromise.

So… at “most times” there will be one lane open through the roadworks, either going out of Draycott, or coming in. But no contraflow.
Instead of ten weeks for the project time-frame, as St Modwen hoped for, it will be extended by a further two months, so – in theory – it should be all done and dusted by the end of February.

A dedicated webpage has been created to keep us immediately up to date (in theory) with any changes on the works site, and alerting us as to which direction the ‘free’ lane will be using in each week.

Yes, this compromise will not suit everyone, and we too think that there were more intelligent solutions, but… at least we got some result.

People power

For once, we can see that social media has been a power for good.
Although the roadworks plan was announced in late July, our respective village councils were slow to react, and even sat on their hands.

So it was left to the people. It took a strong popular response, especially from village websites like this one and from the two community Facebook groups (Draycott and Blythe Bridge), to get the debate up and running.
This strong response forced Staffordshire Highways/St Modwen to back off, and they postponed the original start-date (which had been Sept 7th). As we know, it was then postponed a few more times, until this final start-date of October 8th.

However, we also have to thank the two county councillors – Mark Deaville (for the Draycott end) and Keith Flunder (for the Blythe Bridge end) who, alerted to the strength of local concerns, now both waded in to the conflict.
We suspect it was pressure from these two that brought Philip Atkins into the issue – and he had the power to force a re-think from St Modwen…

(St Modwen’s engineers had said it was impossible to keep a lane free because the included drainage works under the road would mean the whole width of the road would be being used all the time.
Now they have come up with a solution.
Curious, that…).

Let’s hope that, even though it’s a compromise, it all works out…

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – just a bit further down this page.
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Roadworks meeting – questions need asking

At last Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen Homes have realised how arrogant they have been over their treatment of residents concerning the proposed roadworks on the A521 (at the west end of Draycott Level – see pic below).
Now, a public meeting about the issue has been arranged, for next Wednesday (October 2nd), when St Modwen planners have agreed to meet residents.A521 road closure plan (St Modwen)As we’ve been saying in our reporting, the proposed roadworks, which are to build an access to the forthcoming Blythe Fields estate & a pedestrian crossing & traffic lights, will completely close the stretch of dual carriageway (all four lanes) – thus blocking off Draycott from the A50 roundabout.
Diverted traffic will have to go through Blythe Bridge in both directions – a possible nightmare scenario of congestion, as we all know.

The works have now been postponed four times – from Sept 2nd to Sept 16th to Sept 30th, and now to October 7th.

The work is being carried out by St Modwen, but has been authorised and ‘passed’ by Staffordshire Highways Dept.
The work is a necessary pre-condition for the building of the new Blythe Fields housing estate.

Confusion

The two authorities have handled this situation incredibly badly.
The first notices were issued at the beginning of August, but councillors did not seem to realise the implications.
Only after a series of (unanswered) letters to Highways from this website did the fine details of the works even start to trickle out; and St Modwen did not even directly contact residents until September 9th (a week after the first date to start the roadworks!); while the official ‘alert’ on roadworks.org has been downright confusing and contradictory for months, right up to today.

In mid-September our local county councillors finally took the issue on and met with the two authorities to express residents’ concerns – but it is only in the last two days that the St Modwen have finally made an announcement of this public meeting – and the Highways Dept at last issued a public letter and put an information page about the roadworks on their website.

In their official literature, both Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen pride themselves on their ‘communication’ – a claim which has been seen to be hollow.

Meeting

Seven questions at least will need to be answered at the meeting on Wednesday.
1 – Why no contraflow?
2 – Do they seriously not expect the already congested road into Blythe Bridge to become gridlocked?  What provisions have they made for emergency vehicle flow if jams do occur along this strtech of Uttoxeter Road?
3 – What does ’24-hour working’ actually mean? How will it affect the residents near it?
4 – If the ‘alternative parking’ is to be provided for residents on Uttoxeter Road, how far along are they in discussions with the car-park owners?
5 – How far back from the works will motorists be advised that it might be a good idea to turn away and avoid the works?
6 – Why was the communication on this, and the postponments, handled so badly?
7 – When will Highways demand that Roadworks.org sorts out its act?

Contraflow
Many residents have been wondering why a contraflow system could not be put in place – this would mean at least two, or even one, of the lanes of our dual carriageway could stay open, easing the congestion.
But, in an interview with the Times & Echo newspaper, St Modwen have said no – saying that such a move would lead to the roadworks lasting not the planned three months, but twelve months, and that this was unacceptable to local communities.
To be fair, their engineers also claim that deep excavation needs doing (for drainage passages) – which means maximum width work is required.

Of course, cynics might say that St Modwen are desperate to see the roadworks finished as soon as possible, and never mind the congestion. Why?
Because homes are already sold on Blythe Fields, and moving-in dates are promised for the Spring…

Blythe Fields homes construction

Blythe Fields homes are already under construction

24-hour working
To hurry the works along even quicker, St Modwen have gained permission for 24-hour working. The main heavy working will take place between 7.30am and 8pm, leaving light working for through the night. But what exactly is ‘light-working’?

Blythe Bridge congestion
The official diversion is the turn-off opposite Chandni Cottage into Blythe Bridge – past the doctor’s surgery, the Black Cock and the Co-op etc. We all know how difficult this road is for motorists because you have to zig-zag in and out of parked cars. It gets worse when buses need to get through, and even emergency ambulances struggle.
So, to our admittedly untrained eye, it looks only like a recipe for gridlock.

St Modwen are vaguely saying the answer might be to provide some off-road parking for the householders along that stretch, and then encourage them to use it.
They need to be pinned down on this proposal.

Meeting

Not to be too cynical again, but this meeting looks like just a rubber stamp situation. If the authorities were genuinely looking to consult or explain, they’d have had this meeting three months ago.
However, you never know… and we are always hopeful!

The public meeting takes place at Blythe Bridge Village Hall (next to the doctor’s surgery) on Wednesday October 2nd from 2pm to 7pm, and all are welcome.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – just a bit further down 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)

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

NEWS of: church funds / Totmonslow housing / police Facebook / footpaths

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early August 2019
In this post we have news of…: parish council doze through Totmonslow development / report those footpaths / police join Facebook / fayre funds for church… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Sausage & Cider Festival…  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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Village council lack of action

The recent news that a development for five houses at Totmonslow has finally got planning permission launched a surprising discussion at the last Draycott parish council meeting.
Pete Wilkinson, one of our newly elected district councillors, had dropped in to observe the meeting. He expressed his deep unhappiness with the Totmonslow news, saying that the new cul-de-sac which will be built for the development is too dangerous: the cul-de-sac will exit straight onto the main Draycott-Tean road, too close to the brow of the hill for Mr Wilkinson’s liking. In fact he said accidents would be the inevitable result.

He is not the only one who feels this way. Among the official objections to the original proposal were comments from half-a-dozen residents and from Checkley Parish Council too (even through the development is inside Draycott-in-the-Moors area, and only borders on Checkley’s area).

Then Mr Wilkinson asked how Draycott Council had responded.
Silence.
It turned out that, though our village council were aware of the application, and its various updates, even discussing the issue a year ago, they had just … forgotten to make a response.
So what we see here is that the neighbouring parish council and a number of local residents had managed to put in official responses, but our own council, whom we depend on, had failed to.

It seems to us that this really is not good enough. Village councils should be there in the front-line, battling away on issues that affect the community, not dozing on the sidelines. Whether they agreed with the Totmonslow proposal or opposed it, their first duty was to make some sort of response. And they failed.
Ad this is not the first time (see Council’s dismal record).
So, again, we would ask Draycott Council to … just please wake up.

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Watching the detectives

According to surveys, the main public issue that bothers small communities like ours is crime. This is quite surprising, as small districts don’t usually suffer a lot of crime.

Moorlands Police logo
Our local Moorlands police are aware of this concern; and put on monthly meet-the-PCSO sessions at both Blythe Bridge and Tean to try to reassure residents.
But they have now gone a step further and last month launched their own Facebook page. It will list traffic reports, news of convictions & arrests, diary dates for consultation events and so on.

In one way, this doesn’t seem like a big contribution to crime-fighting – but it is part of the drive by local police to publicise what they do, in order to make us feel safer.

But, what do you think of this latest move by Moorlands Police? Is it just a gesture, or a useful initiative? Use the comments box on this webpage to express your thoughts.

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Hurrah for the fayre

The final receipts are in for the annual Draycott Fayre, which was held just a few weeks ago. Once all costs are taken out, the fayre raised a handsome £4000-plus for the parish church fund. St Margaret’s is nearly 800 years old, and, without such donations, would simply start to crumble.

In fact, the last annual report for the church tells us that it spent a staggering £50,000 in the twelve-month on maintenance (which admittedly did include major roof repairs). Fortunately, some grants had become available, and there were donations of £12,000 from local well-wishers, but you can see how money can get swallowed up very quickly.
(Surprisingly, this current annual report for the church has not been made available online, even though previous reports have been. A copy is available in the church itself though).

So, if you went to the fayre (see highlights below), you can have the satisfaction of knowing that a great heritage & community asset is safe for another year, thanks to your support…

 

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By the way, an even better series of photos of the day than the ones above has been created by Neil Archibald, and is available online for all to enjoy – check out the Draycott 2019 Fayre Album

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Report blocked paths a new way

Most footpaths in Draycott-in-the-Moors are maintained very well (though there are some problems in Cresswell where overgrown and blocked paths continue to be a long-standing and thorny issue).

It has been very frustrating trying to report problem issues over the last few years. Staffordshire County Council (who are responsible for path maintenance) have set up easy online ways of reporting potholes, flytipping, problems with bins etc – but not an online way to report footpath problems.
Until now.

Near NewHouse track

A blocked footpath

At last, you can report local footpath and bridleway problems on a custiomised webpage, thanks to a newly set-up and simple online process.
Click on Staffs Public Rights Of Way Issues.
Having created your online account, you can also track the issues you have reported (to make sure they do get fixed); and also can see matters reported by others.

Lots more people are walking for health – and our district has plenty of good countryside footpath routes (see some examples by clicking here and here) – so let’s make it as easy as we can for us all to keep walking.

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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.

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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.

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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)