Category Archives: elections

NEWS: crash inquest / verge parking / register your vote / Sandon Rd spat

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2019
In this post we have news of…:  inquest results for road crash / parking on verges to be illegal? / are you registered to vote? / Sandon Road planning spat… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including choir concert…  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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Fatalities were avoidable

So, at last, we know something of the circumstances which led to the sad death of Becky Smith and her child Corey. The two died in a road accident on Draycott level last August, but the coroner’s inquest has only just taken place.
It is a very sad story indeed, as it indicates that these deaths were probably quite avoidable.Draycott Road accident Aug 2018
According to witnesses to the court, including the one child survivor of the accident, Becky was ‘foaming and shaking at the wheel’. This means that she was probably suffering an epileptic fit as she was driving. In fact, Becky had indeed been diagnosed epileptic – but she had not informed the DVLA; and ‘active’ epileptics are not allowed a driving licence.
Investigators revealed that the toddlers in the car were not using booster seats.
And medical evidence revealed Becky was over the driving limit for cannabis.

A sad list of three avoidable factors… which just go to show that the rules are there for a reason.
Thank goodness that the driver of the other vehicle in the crash was not badly hurt.

One silver lining to this terrible dark cloud is that the accident was not caused by speeding, as many residents had feared.
In fact, we now know that two out of the three fatal accidents in the last year in Draycott were actually down to other reasons, not speeding.
The third fatality, that of motorcyclist Martin Barker in January, has yet to come before an inquest.

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Ready for the elections?

If you want to take part in the forthcoming Draycott Village Council elections, you must ensure you are registered to vote within the next weeks.

There are very few qualifying conditions to get a vote, so don’t let that put you off.

If you can’t remember if you are already registered, you will have to go to a local office and check the electoral register.
If it turns out that you are not already registered, it’s very easy to register in time. Click here to learn more about how to do it.

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Parking on pavements – for and against….

An interesting post & photo appeared recently on the village Facebook page which read:
“Can I ask that whoever keeps parking on the pavement on Uttox Rd looks at this photo and realises that Pushchairs, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and those with mobility aids cannot get past due to the car parked on the pavement and the car behind it.”verge parking pn Uttoxeter Rd
The problem of parking on pavements/verges in Draycott is not a new one.

Over four years ago, Draycott village council was dealing with complaints from motorists trying to pull out from side-roads (e.g. Stuart Avenue) who were finding it difficult, as verge-parked cars were blocking their line of sight.
But the council simply followed the legal line: “…it is not illegal to park on verges though it is illegal to obscure the vision of other vehicles. Residents are advised to call the police when this is the case”.
But there is also the fact that the grass verges were designed to be part of the attractive presentation of the village; and a run of churned-up, muddy verges goes against that vision.  So the village council does need to be pro-active, not just stand back from the issue.

Since then some householders have got so fed up, they’ve applied to the Staffordshire Highways Team to have white posts installed on their verges to stop the errant verge-parkers…

White posts on Sandon Road

White posts on Sandon Road

Yet… there is after all the other side of the coin.
Some motorists do deliberately half-park on pavements in narrow side-streets, as an act of courtesy, because they are just kindly trying to make room for others – especially around the corners of bends, where it is (actually) quite considerate.
Some park on pavements & verges because they are sick of getting their wing-mirrors clipped by passing cars driving too close!
However, there is no ‘right’ by a householder to park on pavements, even ones outside their own home.

Some residents have cleverly through through this issue and re-designed the front yards of their houses as two or even three-car parking lots. This also means they get a discount on car-insurance, as all the family’s cars can be accommodated in a ‘driveway’ (driveway parking gets a discount in car insurance).

But it is a growing issue – because more and more families are owning more and more vehicles.
It is so problematic that local councils in Staffordshire are set to follow the example laid down in London, where parking on pavements or verges is strictly illegal.
(As you might guess, the British Parking Association has even launched a ‘Positive Parking’ campaign to push the idea).
Even our local council here in the Moorlands region is considering the idea.

But …. what do you think?
Have a look at the comments on this subject (just scroll further down this page), and use our Comments box there to let us hear your thoughts too.

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Construction at Blythe Park…  without the roundabout?

Never a month goes by in our district without a new planning story!
This month, we learn that the period of public consultation about the latest situation concerning the access road onto Blythe Park in Cresswell has been extended, from March 6th to March 27th. No one knows why really.
However, the extra time limit could have been given because the developers have had a bit of a slap from the Highways authority.

The developers want to forget building a promised roundabout for now, and continue to use the current access road on to the business park.
But, in responding to the developer’s application last month, Simon Haw, head of Staffordshire Highways, pointed out the lack of traffic-forecast information in this plan – meaning he was minded to object to the application.
This is not good news for the developers, so maybe they need the extra time to scramble around and get such information sorted.

In the meantime, a group of local residents have added their objections to the plan too. They have written up their feelings in a formal letter which has been submitted to the Planning Committee.
See the letter by clicking here.

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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

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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 address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: elections in / book success / accounts (?) / bowls club

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-June 2017
In this post we have news of…:  the recent election results / local history book success / council’s invisible accounts / bowls club open …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Fun Tennis Tournament. Check out the Events page)

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

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Results are in

Well, that’s it for elections for a while (hopefully!).
Since last year’s referendum, we in Draycott have had a parish-council bye-election, a county council election, AND a general election. The next lot is due in 2019.

As for the results, Tory candidate Mark Deaville was re-elected as one of our Staffordshire county councillors for the Cheadle & Checkley ward (which includes us) with a whopping 56% of the vote. No-one else was in sight. Sadly, the turn-out was just a measly 28% of the electorate.
Soon after the election, the Conservative administration on the county council confirmed that Mark will resume his post as the county’s Cabinet member for highways. Congratulations to him.

In the general election, it was a similar story with Conservative Bill Cash storming home to be (again) our MP for the Stone constituency. Oddly, the trailing Labour candidate did get a huge increase his votes too – but that is explained by the total collapse of the local UKIP vote.

Weirdly, Mr Cash has just put up a new website – https://billcashforstone.wordpress.com/ – about his work in this constituency, but it is the most amateurish piece of work we’ve seen in a long time. It’s hard to believe he approved it.
Sadly, Mr Cash has turned off the comments function of this website; it would have been nice to be able to put a comment on!

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Email a photo now

Our local library at Blythe Bridge has a photography completion running at the moment – and they are looking for photos of this whole area (including Draycott).
The idea is that the photos should be of a local quiet spot, somewhere where a person can just sit and contemplate the world. It could be your own back-yard, or it could be somewhere where you stop for a moment on your walks.

Draycott churchyard

A place to stop and think: Draycott St Margaret’s churchyard…

It’s easy to take part – just email your photo to the library – and you could be in with a chance of winning a prize!
Click here for the rules etc.

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Successful history book

Congratulations to local boy Matthew Pointon whose book about the history of Draycott-in-the-Moors raised over £700 in profit.
Matthew, who took not a penny himself, asked for the profits to be divided equally among the two historic churches in Draycott – St Margaret’s Parish Church and St Mary’s RC Church at Cresswell.

The parish council, who put up the initial money to see the book published, decided such an achievement needed a special event to celebrate it; and a History Event was held at St Margaret’s on June 3rd.

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During the afternoon, Levison Wood, the chairman of the local history society, led a special history tour of the village, which was very successful; and tea & cakes were served (for free!!).  Alongside that were special displays remembering the long, long history of this village.

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Bowls – a true Summer sport

One of the disadvantages of a lot of summer sports is that they can be cancelled because of rain. However, not so in crown-green bowls!
The sturdy members of the local bowling club in Cresswell pretty much carry on in the rain – unless it’s lashing down.

Sue Stepek, the club’s secretary, says the club is still keen to find new members – from absolute beginners to skilled champions.
Basic membership is £10 for the year, though that means you have to pay £1 each time you use the green. The clubhouse on the site was refurbished last year, so it’s a comfortable experience.
The great thing is that the green is pretty much open all the time; it’s sited at the entrance to the business park in Cresswell, so it is open 16 hours a day!

The club get-together is always on Thursday afternoon, so that is a good time to wander over and introduce yourself if you want to have a go, or get some guidance.

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Invisible accounts

Lastly, you may have seen on the noticeboards that Draycott Council has finally published its end-of-year accounts, and we all have until Friday 21st July to examine them, and, if need be, query them.

Trouble is: how do you get to them, to see them?

Most local councils now put a print-out on their noticeboards, or publish them online.  This what next-door Milwich Council and Dilhorne Council have done. The government is urging every council to do it one of these ways.
Some councils (including next-door Hilderstone Council) even publish the chairman’s annual report online.

But not Draycott Council.  At least, not yet.
In this district, what we have to do is first apply to the council clerk for permission to see them, and then (presumably – but who knows?) we have to trudge round to an address somewhere just to see the papers.
Wouldn’t it just be simpler – and more democratic – to publish them online on the council’s website?
Please?

====STOP PRESS:  A week after this article was written, these accounts were published online after all – see Draycott Council Accounts 2016/17. Thank you to the council for responding to residents’ requests).=====

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

NEWS: pavements under pressure / new car park / dumping action / election day

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early May 2017
In this post we have news of…:  how our pavements are gradually disappearing / police action on illegal fly-tipping / new car park for Draycott Old Road / county council election.…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a special Plants Sale Day. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates & news about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Pavement loss

It’s that time of year again… yes, suddenly, after a winter of stillness, everything in the fields and gardens is growing like mad.
This is great for farmers and gardeners, but actually not so good for our pavements, which are currently suffering their annual ‘vegetation encroachment’, as it’s known. Basically, this is when field edges start to spread and spread, sometimes covering the whole pavement.

It is mostly the rural and less well-used pavements that suffer the most of course.  Mud splashed onto them contains seeds which just start to germinate – and bingo!

A community group member tries to clear a badly overgrown pavement in Cresswell

A community group member tries to clear a badly overgrown pavement in Cresswell

You may wonder – who cares?  Well, the problem is it reduces the width of pavements to such an extent that they are no longer wide enough for pushchairs, buggys and disabled wheelchairs… meaning such items have to be pushed along the road itself, which is clearly dangerous.

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In our area, Draycott Parish Council has taken responsibility for keeping public spaces tidy and shipshape and, up until only a month ago, had a grant to enable it to do just that.  It even set aside £400 earlier this year to hire someone to clear mud & vegetation-encroachment off the pavement between the Draycott Arms and Totmonslow (though it’s not clear if that work has been carried out yet).

Certainly, so far, the council has struggled to keep the pavements growth free, as our pictures point out.

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Police take action in Draycott

A couple of months ago, we reported on the news that huge deposits of illegal waste had been dumped on local farmers’ fields here in Draycott.
(It’s amazing to think that, in 2016, there were almost a million incidents of such fly-tipping in our country – criminal gangs dump the truckloads of waste under cover of darkness anywhere where they won’t be seen.)

The big question is: where do the gangs keep this waste while they are waiting for an opportunity to dump it?  It seems they often store it secretively in large barns or warehouses until they have enough to make a truckload run worth their while.

This whole matter came up yet again last week when the police decided enough was enough and launched dawn raids on a number of addresses.  Sad to say, one of them was in Draycott. See – dawn raids by police report

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Parking problems … over

One piece of good news for residents in Draycott Old Road is that the long-awaited car park for Draycott College (see pic) is now finally completed (though much behind schedule) and seems to be working well.
Draycott College car park
Up till recently, the residents in the road were complaining loudly that parking by staff and workers at the college was swamping ‘their’ street.
All should be well now…. hopefully.

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An election before The Election

Finally – don’t forget… before the Big Election on June 8th, we still have the small matter of the county council elections.  Here in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow we are part of the Cheadle & Checkley ward, and we have the chance this week to vote in one county councillor to represent us.  See the list of candidates.

The local community action group, VVSM, thought it would be a good thing to get the candidates’ views on important local issues, such as planning developments, highways and so on. Not all the candidates responded, but most did – see what the candidates had to say by clicking here.

Voting day is this Thursday (May 4th).

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

NEWS: 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)

Draycott By-Election 2017 – the candidates

With the Draycott Council by-election coming up soon, on Thursday 6th April, we thought it was time to find out something about the two candidates.
We posted letters to both of them at their homes, asking them to tell us something about themselves and to let us have a photo. (This sort of exercise is carried out frequently on village websites like ours.)

We asked each candidate five questions.
Just one of the candidates presented an election statement, outlining why they hope you will vote for them.  The other did not reply.

Candidate answers

Roger Leach
Roger LeachWhat have been your main jobs in life?
•    For 11 years  I travelled the world with the Royal Navy sometimes on nuclear submarines, receiving a medal for the Indonesian Campaign.
After leaving the Navy I joined the pub trade in London. I then moved to Leicester where I worked Everard’s Brewery and was a publican for several years.
Finally I took a degree in wine and became a wine merchant  importing and selling  Italian, German and French wine.

In what ways do you think you have contributed to life in Draycott Parish in the last five years or so?
•    I led the Community Speed-Watch in Cresswell .
•    Fundraising for VVSM has also been one of my voluntary pursuits. With friends I organised a Curry Night, Elvis Night, sponsored walk, raffles, quizzes, canal boat trip and lottery.
•    Volunteering at the local library has enabled me to meet and understand the needs of local people.
•    Contributed to stopping the construction of a 950 megawatt Power Station in Cresswell.

Do you feel there are special skills or special knowledge you can bring to the role?
•    There are huge traffic issues in the Parish. The knowledge I gained from Speed-Watch and working with the police would be useful.
•    Fundraising is a huge part of helping communities to improve where they live.
•    Working in the library enables me to learn about groups that have an important role to play in supporting communities.
•    Ensuring that residents have a say in planning and development.

What would you like to achieve for the community?
•    Bring the community together and have fun achieving this.
•    Encourage younger members of the community to become Parish Councillors.
•    Improve communication between the Council and residents

Patricia McLaughlin
Ms McLaughlin has not submitted an election statement to us by the deadline.
However, her election flyer was published on the village Facebook page for her – see Candidate Flyer

To check who the candidates are on the local government official site, and who ‘proposed’ them for the role, click here.
Draycott-in-the-Moors Council’s Facebook site
is also regularly updating information about the candidates; and the election and how local people can to take part in it.

NEWS: housing change / pies! / election hot air / kids’ project

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid March 2017
In this post we have news of…:  local social housing changes / successful fund-raising at Chandni / Draycott Pie Day / election hot air / kids’ safety project…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Arts & Crafts Spring Fair. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates & news about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Get on housing list

Nowadays, many of us, but mostly our young people, find it very difficult to get a home. Decent affordable housing is in short supply.
One of the best things is of course to be on the local authority’s waiting-list, and many are.

However, the waiting-list system here in the Staffordshire Moorlands region is heading for a shake-up next month – and people needing a home may miss out if they do not make themselves aware of the change.
It’s worth registering for the new local social housing allocation scheme now, to be sure that you don’t lose out when the changes are implemented in four weeks’ time.
See details by clicking here.

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Let’s eat pies

It’s only a month now until we celebrate Draycott Pie Day.  This splendid idea was dreamt up by Brayn and Zara (see below) at The Draycott Arms, and this year is a chance for YOU to show off your baking skills too!

Draycott Arms - Brayn and Zara
Yes, there is to be a proper pie contest – open to all-comers.
Just bring along your pre-baked pie on the day (Friday 14 April) and submit it to the judges. Pies will be marked on appearance, flavour, pastry quality & the story behind the making of it. There are prizes!
Check here for the rules.

– – –
Coppafeel cops cash

Talking of food and such, congratulations to the regulars at the Chandni Cottage Restaurant in Draycott, who have raised almost £1000 for the breast cancer charity CoppaFeel.
A few months ago they held a special auction evening and also did a sponsored walk, and the monies are now all in.
Brilliant!

– – –
Election hot air

As many of you will know by now, there is to be a by-election to fill the vacancy on Draycott in the Moors Council.  There are two candidates, and voting will take place on April 6th.
The by-election will cost the council £4000, a lot of money…

The whole business has seen a lot of hot air raised as people expressed dozens of opinions on what they thought of everyone else involved in the process. One of the by-products of all this was that a number of good potential candidates were persuaded not to stand and that is a shame.
The main stumbling-block seems to have been that a significant number of residents were against the idea of a ‘forced’ co-option (where the choice of the next councillor becomes a private decision for the six remaining councillors only), while on the opposite side a significant number were against the idea of a ‘forced’ election (where the electors decide, but which is a costly process).
The few good ideas to try to achieve a compromise got swept away in the torrent of noise, sadly.

However, the council must sort this out.  It is quite possible that another councillor may resign in the next couple of years; and we might have the same crazy situation all over again.
It’s time for a little leadership from the council.

– – –
Kids project needs dosh

Finally, it’s great to see that Tatsu Dojo, the martial-arts & fitness centre on Blythe Park in Cresswell, is running a project to help the children of our community, especially the vulnerable ones, become more aware of how to keep themselves safe.

Tatsu Kai dojoThe project needs money though, so the organisers are hoping businesses will come on board and take some advertising on the centre’s premises.  As it’s for a local project, Tara and her team are only targeting local businesses so far.
If you run a local business, and think you can help, click here for details.

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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)

Nominations week in by-election

There are only a few days left now for candidates to be nominated for the Draycott Parish Council by-election. Nomination forms must be properly filled in and handed in by 4pm this Friday (10th March) to be valid.

(A parish council is the most local bit of all local government in this country. Incidentally, despite the name, it has nothing to do with any church organisation…)

Standing for election in this parish area

Any adult (18 years or older) who lives in (or near), regularly works in (even voluntary-work), or owns land or property in Draycott, Cresswell, Totmonslow or Newton is entitled to stand for election to Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council.
(There are a few exceptions to this rule – see Electoral Guide).
There is no charge for standing at an election to a parish council…

This means that: someone who lives in Stoke but works in Cresswell is eligible; someone who lives in Stafford but who owns land in Totmonslow is eligible; someone who lives in Uttoxeter but who carries out regular voluntary work in Draycott is eligible; and someone who lives just over the parish border (in, say, Blythe Bridge) is eligible. Surprising – but true!
For more details, see the Electoral Commission page
However, you must also be on the electoral roll to stand (though you do not have to have your voter registration in this particular district, it can be anywhere in the UK).

No experience needed…

* You need no qualifications or experience to stand for or sit on a parish council.
*You do not have to be a member of a political party, or any grouping at all…
*You do not even have to be British born
*The duties of a councillor are not that difficult: you make of it what you want to.  The simple minimum is that you should try to attend a monthly meeting (except August) of the council.
*You can withdraw off the council whenever you wish.
*You do not have to pay any money to be on a parish council (but you receive no income either).
The Electoral Commission has an easy to read guide on the whole business.

To stand or not to stand

Some community leaders, as you may know, have expressed real concern over the prospect of a by-election this year.
If a ballot is held, it’s estimated the cost could be as high as £4000; and Draycott Parish Council will have to foot that bill, quite a burden.  (All councils nowadays are responsible for their own elections, and must keep cash in reserve for just such an eventuality).
So… some community leaders are asking potential candidates to consider carefully before they decide to stand.

If more than one candidate is nominated by the end of Friday, a by-election will be automatically triggered.  If only one (or none) is announced, obviously no election is necessary and so there is no need to spend the £4000.
As far as we know at this point (7pm on Monday) only one person, Roger Leach (the Cresswell Speedwatch organiser) has announced he is definitely standing.
However, any candidate can also withdraw their candidacy even after they announce it – but they must do it in person by 4pm this Friday.

Co-option

The debate has caused some friction on the village Facebook site; and it is hard to know what to suggest to people who feel they really do want to contribute to their community by being a parish councillor.  Their next opportunity will not be until May 2019.

One thing that has been suggested is that the current Draycott councillors could say publicly whom they are likely to ‘co-opt’, if the post were vacant.  (Co-option occurs when no candidates are nominated).
If the community knew whom the councillors would choose, then other candidates might agree to the council’s choice; and withdraw. Possibly…
However, the councillors have been silent on the matter so far.

NEWS: Father D going / job vacancies / buy a barn! / can you vote?

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late February 2016
News of…:  Cresswell’s priest is leaving / parish handy-person post / grassland & barn up for sale / are you registered to vote?…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including lunches for Lent… Check out the Events page)

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Popular priest to leave

Well, the bad news (for us, if not for him perhaps) is that Father David Hartley, who has been priest at St Mary’s RC Church in Cresswell for the last six years, is moving on.
Father David is returning to his roots by taking a new parish in Oxfordshire – but he will be sorely missed here.

How will he be replaced?  The fact is that Father David looks after three parishes (Meir and Caverswall, as well as Cresswell) and holds down a number of official (voluntary) posts, so he’s one of those people who often needs to be in two places at one time…   However, he also takes a keen interest in community affairs – he was even asked if he’d consider being a Draycott parish councillor – but he simply didn’t have the time!

Cresswell Information Centre opening

Father Hartley cut the ribbon for the Cresswell Information Centre opening

Draycott’s historians will miss him too, as he has enthusiastically carried out researches into the Catholic history of this ‘Paynsley district’ – as Catholics used to call it.

It’s not clear when exactly Father David will be going.  Though his new role down south commences at Easter, he expects to be here in Cresswell for the main 200th Anniversary Celebrations of St Mary’s in May 1st.
Let’s hope a grand Farewell Party for him will mark the occasion too!

– – –
Want a derelict barn of your own?

Talking of history, there’s a chance to own a little bit of our local history – if you have £150,000.  If you ever walk up the bank past The Draycott Arms, you’ll have noticed a derelict old long barn on the right-hand side of the road.  No-one is quite sure how old it is, but it is now part of the sale of five acres of land there.

The barn and the huge, empty field around it are currently on the market, and being handled by Eaton & Hollis.  See the details.

– – –
Vacancies

If you’re looking for part-time work, two local opportunities have come up.

In the next village along going south, the parish council there are looking for a handyperson.  They want someone to carry out regular maintenance of public benches, notice-boards, planters and bus shelters, and also carry out minor repairs.  Altogether, the contract pays £2970 a year (equipment provided).
See the details here, or take a look at the council’s notice-boards (nearest one is in Saverley Green).

Our own Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council could take a lesson from Fulford, because our parish council has been saying it wants to employ a ‘lengthsman’ (aka a handyperson) for the last four years, but doesn’t seem to have figured out that advertising the post might be one solution to the problem.

Draycott Arms

Want to work at The Draycott?

Also on the local vacancies list is an opportunity for a sous-chef at The Draycott Arms. The pub is willing to see the right candidate as soon as they apply…

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In… out?

Finally, don’t lose out on your chance to cast a ballot in what David Cameron has called the “biggest vote in our lifetimes”.  Yes, the European Referendum vote is now set for June 23rd; and you need to make sure you are properly listed on the Electoral Register if you wish to take part.

All you need to know about being on the Electoral Register can be found on the SMDC Elections Page.

Incidentally, on the same day we will all be being asked to vote for who should be the next Staffordshire Police & Crime Commissioner.  Already a number of candidates are lining up for this one – even the Green Party is putting forward a nomination.

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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)

Last thoughts before the election

Mark Stewart gives his personal view on what voters might want to consider before they vote this Thursday to elect a new local Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council.

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Parish councils have hardly any powers, and very little money to spare, so they are not like other tiers of government.
Therefore… virtually the only thing that makes parish councils important is that they have personality – including a passionate desire to inspire their community, to listen to their community, and to lead their community.

Do we feel we have had that from Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council in these last years?  Is fresh blood needed?

Long time

It is almost twenty years since Draycott council had an election.  Four of the current council (out of seven) have never had to face the electors at all – they have actually been ‘co-opted’ on.
This is not to say that the current councillors have not done what they had to do; they seem to have all done their duties properly.

But, especially as it has no mandate, this current council does not seem to have inspired local people or created great achievements.  A couple of individual councillors do some good work, but, as a team, the council just seems… tired.

At the Annual Parish Assembly on Monday night, the chairman’s ‘annual report’ was over in two minutes; because there was, presumably, not a lot to report.
This is all the more strange because this last twelve months has seen a huge impact on parish councils because of the changes brought about by the government’s Localism Bill and the new Transparency Code – but this was not mentioned at all in the report.

Action

Councillors also complain that hardly anyone comes to parish council meetings or takes an interest – but in what way has the current council tried to encourage contact & participation?  Its meetings are almost those of a select club.
It even has had to be virtually forced into openly publishing its decisions and agendas.

In fact, without the drive and commitment of local organisations like the Summer Fayre Committee, the congregations of the two churches, the Church Hall committee and the untiring energy of the VVSM action group, the wider community in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow would be very under-served indeed.

In my opinion, any newly-elected parish councillor needs to be someone who will ‘step up to the plate’, as the saying goes, of the new challenges.

New blood?

Is fresh blood needed?  In my humble opinion again, yes.
And, after May 7th, there will be newcomers on the council for sure, because statistically that has to happen: five of the nine candidates standing are completely new faces – and there are only seven seats.

Will they be any better than the old ones?  Who knows?  And it is always a mistake to allow experience and expertise to flood away.

But, the government has brought in lots of new rules to try to make parish councils function in more democratic and accountable ways, and also to drag parish councils into the 21st century, so at least any new councillor will come fresh to that situation; and they will know that, under the new rules, they must try as hard as they can to communicate with the electors.

How will we know who to vote for?  (See: candidates page)

It seems to me that electors will want to ask all the candidates – “How will you work to make the new parish council inspire me?  Will you be open and accountable, and reach out to residents in the community and co-operate with them?  Will you try to work as part of a team on the council so that it can work efficiently to ensure a better outlook for us?”

If they cannot answer those questions satisfactorily, one wonders if they should even be standing at all.

MS
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If you too have a personal opinion you’d like to see published on this website, please email us.

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).

Getting your vote in – a timetable

Have you had your polling card through the door yet? You should have, but don’t panic if you haven’t.

The polling card informs you that you are eligible to vote, and gives details of how to do it. Of course, you don’t actually need the polling card, but it is reassuring to have it, and it does give almost all the details about voting that anyone would need…

Suppose you haven’t received a card? Well, the district council should have also dropped you a letter explaining who is registered to vote and who isn’t in your household.
If you have not got that, you can double-check if you are eligible to vote, by contacting Elections@staffsmoorlands.gov.uk or phoning 01538 395500.
You cannot vote in any of the forthcoming parish council elections, district council elections and parliamentary elections unless you are registered.

If it turns out you are not on the electoral register, no worries, because you can still register – many of us use the simple, straightforward online process these days. Go to www.gov.uk/registertovote to register, or phone 0345 605 3015 (you’ll need to have your National Insurance number handy).

However, to be eligible for this election on May 7th, you MUST register by Monday 20th April 2015… which is just a matter of hours away…!

Postal ? Proxy?

If and when you know you are definitely registered to vote, you can consider postal or proxy voting.
A ‘postal vote’ is good for someone who has difficulty getting out and about, or who will be away on the day, as it means you post your ballot paper, instead of having to go up to the polling station in Church Lane. (Or… you might prefer to arrange a proxy vote – see below).
However, there is a deadline if wish to apply for a postal vote – you must submit a form by 5pm on Tuesday 21 April. It’s quite straightforward – click here for the details:  Voting-by-post
The authority will then send you your own ballot paper, on which you mark your votes; and then you MUST post it back to arrive by 10pm on May 7th.

Proxy

You can also arrange for your voting to be undertaken for you at the polling station – ‘proxy voting’ – when someone you trust goes up to the polling station and fills in the ballot paper on your behalf. This is useful if you know you are going to be abroad or far away from Draycott, or in hospital, or you suffer from unexpected bouts of illness etc

If you want to arrange a proxy-vote for May 7th, you must submit an application by 5pm on Tuesday 28 April. Click here for details:  Voting-by-proxy

Emergency?

Well, people do sometimes have completely unexpected events happen in the days just before the elections.

If, after May 1st, you have a medical emergency, or your workplace suddenly changes your situation so that it’s impossible for you to get to the polling station on the day, you can still make sure your vote is recorded.
But you do need first to find someone trustworthy who is willing to go to the polling station for you, and also you must fill in a form (as you would guess!) – ensuring it is in the hands of the election officers at Leek by 5pm on polling day May 7th.   Click here for details and a form:  Emergency voting
This is the most complicated of the options of course…

However, by far the most straightforward way is to get to the church hall (near St Margaret’s Church) and cast your vote in the traditional way. The Church Hall will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday May 7th.

Whatever you choose, good luck, and don’t forget the deadlines!

Summary 

Most of the points outlined on this page are summarised on the district council’s Elections Web-Page. You may want to just check through it if you are still unsure.