Category Archives: local government

NEWS: volunteer awards / new MP…? / Facebook changes

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early July 2021
In this post we have news of…: success at volunteer awards / new parliamentary constituency for us / changes to village facebook page.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Take a bow!

The recent Staffordshire Moorlands Star Volunteering Awards ceremony saw a bunch of honours for residents of this locality. In fact, if there had been an award for the village to get the most mentions, Draycott would have had it!

Top recognition should go to the Draycott Covid Support Group, which picked up the award for the New Volunteer-Group of The Year. Led by Kathleen Ferneyhough and her trusty aide Denise Wheat, the group has been a beacon of light in the last twelve months. The group’s members (about forty in all) helped out their neighbours by running errands, walking dogs, giving emotional support and more. What was also very impressive was the way that they also built a system to preserve privacy for all. Extremely well deserved.

Draycott knight

It was also very good indeed to see that John Clarke, the go-to man in Draycott for many years, got a commendation in the Lifetime Achievement section. You can see his story by clicking here. It seems odd to have given John a ‘lifetime’ award as he is not old by any means (!), and continues on strongly. Right now he’s enmeshed in organising the Draycott Summer Fayre (booked for late August) – so if you can help, please contact him.

Last but never least, there was a commendation in the Young Volunteer of The Year category for young Leo Myatt, the ‘knight of Draycott’ (see pic right). Most of us have seen him on his frequent strolls around the village in his helmet & tunic; and he even got a touch of fame when he even had his story covered in The Sun newspaper. As the nomination said, the reason for his inclusion was not so much his achievements as his ability to constantly be bringing a smile to the community in gloomy times.
Nice to see too that our local library, at Blythe Bridge, was also in the awards – see the details of that by clicking here.

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Getting friendly – with Barlaston, Trentham and Meir

The government is on a drive to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies, which means many constituencies will be getting a new shape. It has just published its recommendations for these new shapes.
Although everyone thought we’d be moved into the Staffs Moorlands constituency to be with Cheadle and Leek, what the Boundary Commission would actually like to see is that when (if?) Draycott moves out of the Stone constituency, it goes into what is virtually a new one, where the village will be joined up with Barlaston, Trentham, Blythe Bridge, Fulford, Meir and bits of south Longton.
(At district council level though, we would still stay under Staffordshire Moorlands).

The shape of the potential new constituency

The new constituency (see map) is being called ‘Stoke South’ which is a bit odd, as most of it is rural and in Stafford Borough, with the only Stoke bits being in the bump at the top of it. (see map).
On paper, the seat would be a Conservative hold, though in some years veering toward marginal.

We quite like the idea. It’s always fun to be in a seat that is slightly marginal, because the MP has to work hard for you (unlike the current one!) in order to get your vote, and so your vote really does matter.

However, not everyone will be happy with the recommendation, so the Boundary Commission is inviting you to comment – click here for how to do that. The consultation ends on August 2nd.

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Facebook’s shenanigan

You may have noticed that the village Facebook page has recently changed its status to ‘private’. Thus means that, unless you are signed up to the page, you can’t see its discussions.
Some ex-Draycottians living abroad aren’t happy with that. As one told us, they liked being able to drop in on the page occasionally to see the gossip. (The reason they give for not actually signing up to the page is that you have to be registered with Facebook first, and there are too many worries for them about the way that Facebook treats privacy concerns, especially abroad.)

However, we’re told that the change to private was slightly forced on the page’s administrators.
In a recent, universal change, Facebook altered the rules on group-pages such as Draycott’s so that even non-members can post. Well, our administrators felt that was unfair, and so that left them with only the one alternative – to go private.
From now on, if you do want to join in the group, first you must have registered with Facebook, and then you must click the Join button on the group-page itself.

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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.
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Choosing new councillors

The surprise news that three councillors have suddenly resigned from Draycott Council means that a procedure to fill the empty seats must now be put in train. The council has already issued the ‘vacancies notice’.

What happens now? Well, the official line is: “If someone would like to see an election take place for the vacant posts, they must send a letter to that effect, under-signed by ten local electors, to the official Returning Officer (at Leek) by midnight on the 28th June.  If no election is requested, the councillors themselves will decide who should fill the posts.”

Democracy & elections

On the face of it, a by-election is a good thing.  Democracy thrives on electors having a voice in who they want to represent them. Leaving the choice to councillors is a poor second-best.
Also, Draycott Council, like all councils, sets aside a financial reserve, ready each year, so that it has all the cash it needs to pay for an election. (Village councils cannot carry out their own elections, but must pay a recognised authority to do it for them).
In the last twenty years, Draycott has only had two bye-elections, so the election reserve is pretty big!

The main stumbling block is that a by-election will cost around £3,500 – a third of the council’s yearly income.  Elections are a good thing in principle, but some in the village argue that this is too much to spend, and would prefer no election to happen.
Elections have become more expensive since 2014 when Moorlands councils have had to pay the whole cost of them. The greater use of postal votes has also sent the costs of an election up.
Nevertheless, we should not be put off elections simply because they are not free. It’s an obvious thing to say but – Democracy is not free.

Process?

An election will occur if ten Draycott electors sign a letter saying they would like one to happen (and the letter is delivered on time!).   They can do this even if they don’t know if anyone is going to stand.
Most people who live in Draycott, Cresswell, Totmonslow, Draycott Cross, Bromley Wood, Painsley and Newton will be ‘electors’.

Co-option

If no election is called, ‘co-option’ occurs – the process whereby the four remaining Draycott councillors choose who should fill the empty seats.
Many democrats dislike co-option, which is too often a secret process whereby sitting councillors simply ask their friends to come and join them – also known as ‘cronyism’. Campaigners have been saying for a long time that village councils must have a protocol in place for co-option, one that is transparent and fair. But Draycott Council does not have one, so the four sitting councillors can – more or less – just do what they like, in theory.
(A local resident did draw up a co-option protocol intended for discussion at the council’s last meeting – but the council refused to give the document a slot on the agenda.)

One solution

There is one compromise to the issue of democracy vs cost – but it requires the community to trust itself…

And this is it: … when/if the election is called, and, as soon as it’s called, those who intend to stand should announce themselves publicly (maybe on the village Facebook page, and/or via a poster in, say, the bus-shelter at Draycott junction).  The reason for this is that, in this instance, if more than three candidates come forward, they can then discuss among themselves which ones might volunteer to drop out, meaning an election-day would be unnecessary… and thus meaning no cost!
(If fewer than four candidates are on the ballot, no actual election is required, because the candidates are automatically selected for the three vacant places.)
It should be noted that, after a certain point (usually 18 days before the election date), candidates are not permitted to withdraw, so the discussions need to be quickly achieved.

However, such a compromise plan does rely on potential candidates being open with the community…

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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

Time for councillors to resign

As we approach the annual general meeting of Draycott Council next month, it’s time once again to assess the councillors’ performance in these last twelve months.
And, looking at their record, all one can say is that it is so hopelessly dismal, that they should all resign forthwith.

The easiest way to point out our council’s embarrassing lack of achievement is to compare it against the work done by the three surrounding village councils – Forsbrook/Blythe Bridge, Fulford and Checkley/Tean. And that’s what this article is about.

By the end of this article, you might well agree that it would be a better thing for Draycott’s electors (in Draycott, Totmonslow, Cresswell, Newton etc) if the current crop of councillors simply stood down and let more energetic people take over.

Let’s look at the facts.

Covid response
In this country’s worst peacetime year for a century, nearby councils charged ahead, organising help-groups and getting grants. Fulford Council especially set a great example, putting out a special Covid newsletter, getting grants and setting up a specific action group; they even won an award for their efforts. Checkley Council recently created a small Covid memorial plantation.

But what have Draycott Council done to help? …nothing.
Local relief here was actually carried out by a small village community group and by volunteers at Blythe Bridge library.
Very poor.

No progress
Earlier this year, a resident asked at a meeting what hopes & strategy the council had for 2021. The answer was almost predictable… : ‘nothing particularly different to before’.
The resident went away, dissatisfied, to go on to become one of the founders of DCAT, the new Draycott Community Group.

A good example of how hopeless this council is is shown by its efforts to set up a Neighbourhood Plan. Over the years, three times they have started the process, including last year – only to see it collapse each time, meaning thousands of pounds has to be returned. The simple fact is these councillors lack the energy & belief to make it happen, and certainly have failed to inspire the local public.
Compare that with Checkley Council – where their five-year NPlan process is now very far advanced!
The energy in neighbouring councils is evident: Checkley and Forsbrook have even been out buying land for community projects in the last year.
And, after the NALC (National Association of Local Councils) declared a climate-action emergency more than a year ago, other local village councils have been busy setting up green policies – including Forsbrook, which has created space for a colony of bees.

By contrast, Draycott councillors have just been sitting on their hands.

Residents have been waiting & waiting: for the promised brass plaque to remember our local war dead (although the national WW1 Project started back in 2014!); for any sign of the so-called ‘Gateway’ signs for the village; for any sign of the renovation of the Draycott kiosk; for any sign of a solid local policy for the environment.
What we got instead in 2020 was … a new bin!
(It’s true that the VAS speed-signs went up last year, but that project was launched in 2018, and most of the work was done on it in 2019).

As you’d expect from all that lack of action, Draycott Council is now sitting on a fat financial reserve. Despite that, the council is still asking for the same level of council tax this year as before…
(In terms of population and responsibilities, Draycott-in-the-Moors is comparable to Caverswall, which asks for 20% less council tax).

Duties
Draycott Council has virtually no responsibilities. Unlike other surrounding councils, it manages no playground or cemetery or allotments. Because of this, it really only has two statutory duties: to comment on planning applications and to monitor the local footpath network. But the record on these is not good either.
Probably the most important planning application it was asked to look over last year was the one about the giant Blythe Fields housing estate. It completely failed to put in a comment. Which is pretty bad.
Despite promising a local-footpaths report in 2019, none has materialised. The promise was repeated in council early this year, but still nothing has appeared.

Communication
Draycott councillors admitted a few years ago that their lines of communication with local electors needed massive improvement – what was urgently need was more newsletters, development of a user-friendly website, better use of social media, engagement with local newspapers, more involvement with the local community. In other words, they needed to catch up with surrounding councils like Fulford (which produces its own monthly news updates) and Checkley, whose councillors formally liaise with their local organisations.
But in this past 12 months… you guessed it… no progress. In fact things have gone backward.

A promise to mail out two newsletters a year fizzled out (though the council did piggy-back a newsletter made by the DSGroup).
Councillors stopped engaging formally on the village Facebook page.
The website has seen no improvements.
Nowadays, no councillor represents the council on any local community organisation – the last one being on the Church Lane Renovation Group, but he resigned from that fifteen months ago.

Only in one area does Draycott Council escape criticism: it has started to get ‘the basics’ right. Agendas and minutes appear on time, supporting documents are listed properly and the finances are transparent. However, that has little to do with the councillors; the responsibility for the ‘basics’ falls to the paid staff, not to the councillors.

All in all, it’s a very, very poor record.
… and we are only comparing Draycott Council to three other councils. Suppose we’d compared it with more…

Resignations, please

Judging by this dismal record, Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council has simply turned into an expensive monthly talking-shop, where almost nothing is achieved. Compared to the energy and creativity of surrounding councils, Draycott councillors look tired-out and stuck in their ways.
Even the newer councillors seem unable to shake things up. In fact, during 2020, one councillor only attended four of the council’s ten meetings (even though most were on Zoom)!
Councillors have to do more than just turn up. As well as demonstrating a commitment to the betterment of an area, they have to show leadership and energy.

There is no doubt of course that most of the seven Draycott councillors are nice people – but their record simply shows the job is beyond them. It is time they did the honourable thing, and moved out of the way. They should resign now. The people of this village should not have to wait until the next elections (in 2023) to see improvements in the area.

And… we all know that there are some really energetic people in the village – who would (we think) happily step in to act as co-opted councillors until 2023. If councillors were to resign, it would give these new people the chance to show what they could do, as well as providing a much-needed injection of energy into the area.

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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

NEWS: online council / stay at home events / knight errant

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late April 2020
In this post we have news of…: Village council goes to video / virtual coffee-morning / VE Day is ‘virtual’; scarecrows go ahead / Draycott knight errant!

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Council works remotely

The present crisis means that any kind of gatherings are a problem – but life must go on. In terms of councils, the government advice is that they must take up video-conferencing.

A household-unit takes part in a video conference

So, for its meeting on Monday May 11th, Draycott village councillors will all meet online, on ‘Zoom’. As the law demands that the public must be able to observe such proceedings, residents can also ask to be included in the invitees.
Anyone who has used Zoom knows what happens: we sit in front of our computer screens in our kitchens, and we will see the faces of all the others who are in on the conference-call and also hear them. (If you are shy, and don’t want to be seen, you can just switch off the camera on your own computer).

To apply to be part of the council’s Skype meeting, please contact the Draycott Council clerk;  for those who need it, Denise has done a great how-to guide, which she will then send you. But… you must apply by May 8th.

Yes, it’s not the best way to do such meetings, but we do hope that Draycott council takes a lead from this work; and puts all meetings online in the future; so many other councils do it, and it’s a great aid to local democracy.
Welcome to the 21st century…
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A virtual cup of coffee

This lockdown is not one we wanted, and life is going to get a lot worse for some, but there are some good people really trying their best to make life as bearable as it can be for us all in this district.

Lee Warburton and Kate Bradshaw are particularly to be congratulated for keeping the village Facebook page and the Draycott Coronavirus Community-Support going – both are invaluable lifelines.
Also, the QQS Dance Studio, based in Cresswell, has a weekly podcast of cheerful tunes, which is great, and our local library maintains a local community phone-line – and we even know of a certain lady who baked cakes for everyone in her street (well done Bev!).

But congratulations too to Sam Crossley, the new curate at St Margaret’s Church. He’s come up with a few ideas, including an online weekly church newsletter and a weekly ‘virtual’ coffee-morning!
The coffee-morning works a bit like the council’s video-meeting; and it’s open to all local residents. The best bit about it is that if you really don’t know how to set it up, Sam has promised to personally guide you and your computer through the process.  Click here for details.
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Celebrations postponed … and initiated

Well, it was inevitable, even if sad, that the Draycott 75th Anniversary Celebrations for Victory In Europe (VE) Day would have to be cancelled. On May 8th, the due date, most of us will still be in lockdown.

It’s sad because St Margaret’s Church had organised a tea-party, a pealing of the bells, and even a lone piper, to have made it a day to remember.
One of the organisers, John Clarke, is hoping however that some degree of normality might have returned by August, leaving the way open for some sort of celebration of the anniversary of the actual end of World War Two, i.e. Victory In Japan (VJ) Day, on the weekend of 15th/16th August. We shall see.

Fayre vehicle rally 2019

Hundreds of vehicles and engines usually come to Draycott for the fayre

John is also sure concerned that the annual Draycott Fayre, which usually takes place in mid-July, might have to be cancelled. The fayre is the highlight of the year in Draycott, so that really is a shame.

In contrast… well done to Kate Bradshaw (again) who is behind the forthcoming Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow Scarecrow Festival.  In these stay-at-home times, the premise is pretty straightforward: stick a scarecrow in front of your house, or in your front garden, for the three days Friday 8th to Sunday 10th May. If you want to add a ‘theme’ to your scarecrow, that’s ok too (people or memories or WW2 books are the suggestions).
PS – they don’t have to be made of straw – any material will do….
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Draycott knightKnight to the rescue!

Finally, if the latest stats are to be believed, a form of lockdown will have to go on for some time, especially for older people. This is not great news, so a bit of cheerful eccentricity is always welcome to keep us going.

And… to the rescue, to bring some cheer, we have the mysterious Knight of Draycott.

He (we think it’s a he!) can be seen occasionally striding the lanes of Draycott (he seems to have lost his white horse), waving to householders confined to their homes.

Draycott knight & squire

Draycott knight & squire. Thanks to Emma Myatt for the pics

Carry on with your quest to bring smiles to Draycott, sir Knight!

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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)

New councillors in 2019 election results

So now we know who our local political representatives are to be for the next four years.
Last Thursday we had both the Draycott village-council elections and the elections for the members who will now represent us on the Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

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Draycott-in-the-Moors council

Officially known as the ‘parish council’ but, to save confusion, often called the village or ‘community’ council, this is the council that looks after the grassroots interests of the area of Draycott, Cresswell, Totmonslow, Draycott Cross, Newton and Bromley Wood.

This time round, we welcome three new faces on to the seven-strong council – Kate Bradshaw, Emma Myatt and Sean McLaughlin (though Sean has already done six months as a temporary member).
Cllr Kate BradshawKate (see pic right) is well known as a strong character who also is a lay-preacher at St Margaret’s Church; Sean has worked abroad, though he has re-settled his business back in Draycott; and Emma is the ‘youngster’ of the council, with growing children and a track record of interest in the community.

Coming back for a further term are Roger Holdcroft (a teacher), Ms Pat McLaughlin (an accountant), Mark Deaville (who runs the Anchor Pub and is the only party-affiliated member, labelling himself a Conservative) and the life-long Draycottian, veteran Gordon Winfield.

Cllr Gordon WinfieldGordon (see pic, right) topped the poll with 169 votes, though it was very close with only thirty votes separating the top six.  Emma, who despite being very new to many of us, still polled a very creditable 118 votes.
Click here for details of voting.

It looks a good strong team at this point, and we should have some good debates, as the balance on the council is much more even now: it is about half-and-half in terms of ‘progressives’ and ‘conservatives’.

The last two Draycott Councils (the 2011 and 2015 intakes) have been worse than useless; let’s hope this new version can change that and make a real difference.

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Staffs Moorlands Council – Checkley Ward

The residents of Draycott have had little to thank the Conservative-majority on Staffs Moorlands Council for over the last four years. During that time, proposals for two huge housing estates in our small district have been eased through (with the proviso of more to come) with virtually no regard for the views of local people.
The Local Plan process undertaken by the council majority was also fairly embarrassing, not to mention accusations of corruption.
So, it’s not surprising that, after the elections, Staffs Moorlands is now a ‘hung council’, with Conservatives losing out badly, and with Independents and Labour picking up a deal of seats.

As for us here, we come under the Checkley Ward of SMDC.
Over the last decades this has been a ‘shoo-in’ for the Tories, but there was a surprise result. Instead of it being the usual clean sweep of three Tories in Checkley, it was two Tories and one Independent.

Cllr Alan HulmeThe two Conservative councillors now representing us on the SMDC Council will be: Alan Hulme (see pic, right), a farmer by trade, and Mark Deaville.  Mark is born-and-bred, and lives in Totmonslow (and is also one of our parish councillors as well, of course) so he has a special interest in Draycott.
The former UKIP man Pete Wilkinson is the independent; and he was the only one who was up-front enough to talk about planning issues in his election flyers. Maybe that was one of the reasons why he got in… (?)
Click here for the details of the voting.

Cllr Pete WilkinsonCuriously, both Mark and Pete (see pic, right) are pub landlords (The Anchor and the Raddle Inn respectively).
So we look forward to their ‘councillor consultations’!

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Finally, we just want to say that these local elections in our small district were carried out with a deal of dignity and fairness, by all candidates, and that is such a relief these days.
Most candidates also put out election flyers too, so we could see what they were promising.
And now we will hold them to their promises!!

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!!!!

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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: vacancy deadline / council tax mess / banner of history / Local Plan debates

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late October 2018
In this post we have news of…: the council needs you! / council tax mess-up / Draycott’s history banner / debates at Local Plan inquiry …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a talk about World War One…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Be a councillor… for six months…

Following the death of its vice-chairman, Draycott in the Moors Parish Council has announced that any resident who feels themselves suitable to fill the post should come forward and apply for a place on the council.
There won’t be an election; instead, any resident should just drop a line to the clerk explaining why they think they could be good in the role.

There are a few stipulations: you must live or work locally, be an elector etc (see councillor stipulations), but it’s all fairly straightforward.
Your note to the clerk should give a brief description of yourself and what your connection with the Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow area is and a line about why you want to be a councillor. If you are selected to the short list, you’ll be expected to make a short presentation about yourself to the councillors too. The councillors will then make a choice.

This is a great opportunity for someone who just wants to see up-close how local government works at the village level. So…. why not give it a go??
As there will be full elections next May, this post is only for six months (though the candidate can seek re-election then if they want, of course).
You have until November 9th to email the clerk (draycottparishcouncil@aol.co.uk); and you should be available on the evening of November 12th to see the councillors.

_ _ _
Banner of history

The History Weekend at St Margaret’s Church was a great success, with dozens of people coming from far and wide to check out the ancient building and also to join in the celebrations for its 750th anniversary.
There were some really interesting discussions too on the extremely unpredictable future of the St M’s: what really is going to happen to it over the next twenty years…and what can be done about it?

But the highlight of the weekend was the unveiling on the Sunday (Oct 21st) of a specially-made banner.

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The Draycott Craft Club – especially its leading lights, Jackie Knott, Pauline Clarke and Pam Hibell – had created it as a tribute, and it was unveiled by the bishop, who had arrived for the day.  It really is a simply terrific piece of work, outlining the history of the village over the last millennium, and has been beautifully made.  A credit to the makers, it now has pride of place in the church.

Unfortunately the church is kept locked most of the week, although the church is open for services on Sundays, so it can be seen at those times.
For more pictures of the history weekend, click here.

_ _ _
VVSM gets a hearing

Well done to Jacquie Leach (a VVSM supporter), who made sure that the controversial issues regarding Draycott & Cresswell did not just get swept under the carpet at the recent Moorlands Local Plan inquiry. The inquiry, based in Leek and headed up by a government-appointed inspector, took place over seven days at the beginning of this month.

Jacquie LeachOn the day appointed for discussion about Draycott district, Jacquie (pic, right) was there to speak up and debate the issues with the inspector. Jacquie told us that she felt compelled to give it one last shot.

She stood up and told the inquiry that that our district was in danger of being swamped – with 500 new houses in the pipeline and a large expansion of industry on the way, all of which would lead to a near-doubling of the population (and traffic) over the next ten years. She pointed out that much of the development was contrary to the regional Core Strategy guidelines. For more of how the day went, click here.

Let’s hope the government inspector listened, and gave her arguments full consideration.

_ _ _
Council tax mess up

We know now how much the new clerk at Draycott village council is to be paid. This was kept under wraps at first (why, who knows?) but it was bound to come out eventually because it has to be mentioned in the monthly accounts, and so it has.
(A council clerk is basically the ‘manager’ of the council’s business and, amongst everything else, also has to deal with all the new government legislation that keeps coming in).
Denise, who was appointed in May and will be part-time (4.5 hours a week), is to be paid £10 an hour, i.e. £200 a month.

Last year there was much discussion at village meetings over the rate of pay & hours for the clerk, (which has not gone up in many years). It’s a responsible, legally-fraught position, but while some felt that a clerk was not worth much more than the national living wage, others felt that the job had become much more demanding and therefore wages should be more in line with what other parish councils do (who pay up to £12 an hour).

person holding black pen wrting 'TAX'

Which leads us to … the council tax mess-up.

At the January meeting of the council, it was decided to go for a very large increase in the parish council’s demand for council tax – a jump of almost 12%… (!!) to cover an increase in pay & hours for the clerk. (It was pointed out at the time that it wasn’t strictly necessary, as there was enough money in the reserves to cover it, but the councillors went ahead anyway).
All over the rest of the country, austerity was still in place and other councils were deliberately trying to keep their council tax down – but Draycott Council went ahead anyway with this massive increase.

And then… the councillors changed their minds about the clerk’s pay-rate.

Again, we’ll never know exactly what happened – because the councillors’ discussion was in secret (why… who knows?) – but a few weeks later, the councillors reverted to offering £10 an hour. The then-clerk Kate Bradshaw resigned in disgust (not just about pay, but a number of matters); so a vacancy had to be announced – but a number of new suitable new candidates walked away when they learned the rate on offer.
Fortunately, eventually, Denise, a very able candidate, came along, and she accepted the rate of pay.

So… why exactly did we have to have the increase in tax foisted upon us???
In the end, the residents of Draycott parish were forced to pay considerably extra in their council tax for something that never happened.

It’s not even the first time that Draycott councillors have put large increases in council tax on us.  Over the last ten years, there have been inflation-busting demands for increases of 9.9% (2007), 11% (2009), 4% (2011), 14% (2012), a staggering 24% (!!) in 2014; 6% (2015); and this year (2018) 11.8%.
Don’t forget that, over this period, inflation was running only at rates between zero to 2.5%…

Roll on the elections next May!  We need new, common-sense, thoughtful representatives to come forward, stand for election and shake Draycott Council up; we really do.

***
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: sporting success / Local Plan inquiry / councillor vacancy / History Day

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-Sept 2018
In this post we have news of…: successful summer of sport / vacancy on Draycott Council / Local Plan inquiry to start / Church history day / A50 closed for weekend   …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including  a WW1 Evening…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

_ _ _
Sporting summer

By any standards it has been a good summer of sport in Draycott&Cresswell. The cricket club led the way, but there was good news all round for our sportsmen and women.

Blythe Cricket Club’s First XI (based in Cresswell) surprised all the pundits with a hugely impressive first season in the NSCCL top division.
Despite being newly promoted, they ran neck and neck with the leaders right up until the last month, putting up some stunning performances. Even the last day of the season was a nail-biter – being an away match at local rivals Checkley for the honour of securing third place in the league… but captain Peter Finch and his boys overcame that hurdle, to cap a great run.
Well done to them – and there is a bonus, in the fact that the greatly experienced overseas player in the team, Jalat Khan, has settled in so well this season that he’s agreed to rejoin Blythe next year too.

At the Draycott Sports Centre, the men’s tennis side had an average season by their standards, but the actual sports centre itself has gone from strength to strength with the recent opening of a completely refurbished new gym (see pic below).
There are lots of offers on at the moment, so remember – you can now stay fit in comfort even when the weather turns lousy!

Fitness Club spinning bikes

The green-bowls side based in Cresswell (Checkley A), like Blythe CC, finished high up their division, ending the season as runners-up. After an indifferent first half of the summer, they raced through the second half with an amazing six wins from seven… !

Well done to all…

_ _ _
Councillor needed

Even though Councillor Steve Jones only died last month, process grinds on; and already Draycott Council is advertising the vacancy. Seems hard to be so quick at it, but it’s a legal requirement.

However, it’s not so simple as just holding an election.
For community councils like Draycott, an election has ‘to be called’ first, which means that ten people (who must all be on the local electoral register) must sign a document to say that they want an election.

The alternative is that the existing councillors will simply decide among themselves who should fill the spot (this is called ‘co-option’).
Usually ten electors would ‘call’ an election because they don’t trust their current councillors to make an intelligent or an unbiased co-option.

The notice-of-vacancy has now been published (see Draycott PC Website), and the deadline for an election to be ‘called’ is October 1st.

If you’re wondering what the requirements to be a village councillor are, and what the tasks entail, click here

_ _ _
Local Plan

It has now been announced that the formal inquiry into the ‘final’ version of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan will get underway in the first week of October.
[The ‘Local Plan’ is the framework for what will happen, planning-wise, in this Moorlands region over the next decade and more.]

Members of the Draycott community action-group, VVSM, have applied to address the inquiry, but it all depends on whether they get an invite – and that is in the lap of the gods. (See the article: VVSM hopes…)
They want to protest at the fact that 300 homes are to be built over the next five years in this small area, not to mention that there will be a large escalation of industrial factories. The Local Plan also sets out space for even further development in Draycott!

Our own local Draycott Council did not actually make a response to the final draft of the Local Plan (no one seems to know why!), so there is no chance of a representative from them being invited to speak, despite the massive issues facing our village.
One of the issues that should have been addressed by our council is the odd way that the planners are trying to change the ‘settlement boundaries’ around us. It looks like part of what was within the Draycott Settlement-Area appears to be being shifted into the new Blythe Bridge settlement area. Now, why is that happening?

_ _ _
750 counting down

The celebrations for the 750th anniversary of St Margaret’s Church are hotting up: with the announcement that there is to be a History Day, during which the ways the church has been central to how this village’s growth since the thirteenth century will be outlined.
The event takes place on October 20th.

Draycott tomb ornament

This rose ornament seen here on an ancient tomb in the church was an heirloom worn by the women of the Draycott family down the years

Signed up to lead the day will be our two most prominent local historians – Matthew Pointon (who wrote the definitive book of the history of this area) and Lev Wood, the ‘face’ of the local history society.
We’ll bring you the details as they transpire.

Lev also has hit the limelight in a second way. Everyone who attended the Draycott Fayre this year will have seen his amazing World War One re-enactment complete with trench dug-out.
Well, Lev is also the man who has been credited with re-discovering an amazing, huge canvas on which is painted lots of scenes of battles from the Great War. It was painted by soldiers of the North Staffordshire Regiment, many of whom were recuperating from wounds themselves. It has a sad thrust though – along its base are listed over 900 names of the men’s comrades who had died in the conflict.
Click here for all the details.

This banner was stored away from sight for decades just decaying, but is now somewhat restored, and part of it can be seen in the special WW1 exhibition currently on at the Potteries Museum.
The exhibition is on there until November 11th, and includes other artefacts too, and it really is worth getting along as soon as you can.

_ _ _
Finally … (but not totally finally…)

Don’t forget… the A50 is completely closed – in both directions – from Blythe Bridge roundabout to Uttoxeter from 8pm on Friday 28 September through until 5.30am on Monday 1st October.

A50 stretch

The bridge that stands there at the moment (by the JCB factory) should be fully demolished by the end of the weekend; and the adjacent new bridge finally up and working fully – so you’d think that that would finally be an end of the ‘A50-Growth-Corridor’ roadworks, wouldn’t you?
But, we’re told it won’t be. We can expect more disruption on the Uttoxeter end of the A522 until the end of the year.

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

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

NEWS: Vol of The Year/ new homes/ farm sold/ giant pothole/ village assembly (not)

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late May 2018
In this post we have news of…: your votes needed for Volunteer Of Year, 100-plus houses on the way, Draycott Cross’s huge pothole, ancient farm-site sold, village-assembly shambles …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a cricket tournament on BH Monday…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Voting time

…no, don’t worry, it’s not our council election time (that’s next year), BUT your votes are requested please.

Nearly everybody will know John Clarke (see pic right). In the last few years he has been the go-to man for so much that happens in our village.
John ClarkeHe is best-known for the being the Chief Organiser of the Draycott Summer Fayre, which is now so successful that being organiser is almost a year-round job.
But John also does the little things too – he repairs our bus-shelters and notice-boards, delivers community newsletters, helped set up the churchyard lighting, and the like. He was the courageous fellow who climbed up into the church belfry for six months, working to restore the church’s 500-year old bells!
And he does it all for nothing.

In recognition of his work, this year John has been selected as one of the finalists in the Staffs Moorlands Volunteer Of The Year Award. However, the winner is decided by public vote – so, please take the thirty seconds to vote for him.
To vote: just click on this link  (and then click the button by John’s name at the bottom of that page).
You can also vote by phone: just call 01538 381356, and leave your name and say you are voting for John Clarke (outside office hours, you’ll be diverted to Carol’s answer phone, and you can just leave your name and nominate John on that).
Anyone is allowed to vote.

Please vote – and please encourage friends, family, neighbours to vote (deadline is in just a few days – on May 31st).
The other finalists are from the Moorlands’ big towns; so for a lad from a small village like ours to win, he will need all the votes possible…

– – –
King of potholes

The county council used to have an excuse for the plethora of potholes. They said most of them were caused by unstable tarmac contracting in freezing winter conditions. Well, in a very hot Spring, that excuse looks less believable.
A really nasty pothole has appeared on Cresswell Lane leading up to the cricket club. Because of the incline, it’s hard to see it until the last minute, and we’ve seen cars swerving very late to avoid it. But this manoeuvre is crazy because you’re approaching the blind brow of a hill there…Pothole D Cross 2018
However, the king of potholes, well over six inches deep, is at Draycott Cross on the road leading up to Boundary (see pic above). It’s a nightmare because it’s on a very narrow bend; you can feel your axle crunching as you go into it. Motorists, beware.
To report a pothole, click here.

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“New village” for Draycott

As we predicted some months ago, a planning application for a local estate of over 100 homes has been given the final green light by Staffs Moorlands Council.

The developers, St Modwen, have had dibs on the land all along the ridge overlooking Draycott Level for some time; and when they decided they wanted to build houses at one end of it, it would have been a hard fight to stop them.
The new estate, which will sit in the pocket of land which has the A50 on one side and the Blythe Bridge roundabout on the other, will also have a new access road – which will come out by the Chandni Cottage restaurant.

Predictably, our Draycott Council had almost nothing to say about this,  (despite the new estate being on the parish border), but the Stunner newspaper reported  great disappointment from local residents Lee Warburton and Paul Dyke.
Paul said: “How on earth can an access road across an extremely busy carriageway, no more than a stone’s thrown from one of the city’s most dangerous accident black-spot roundabouts make any sense? Adding in the extra cars from 118 houses will only make things worse.”
Another resident, Brian Sammons said that the site was so isolated up on the ridge that it amounted to a “new village”.

St Modwen has yet to announce what building plans they have for the rest of the ridge stretching along to Cresswell. Watch this space.

– – –
Historic site sold

One of Draycott’s most interesting properties looks like it has finally been sold. High Coneygreave Farm, up on Draycott Cross near Huntley Wood, is ‘under offer’ for around £400,000. High Coneygreave FarmThe farm-site is very old, though the farmhouse itself is probably only 19th century (does any local historian know the answer?) and is in a lovely spot, with views all around. The only thing that seems to have put buyers off is all the work needed on the house.

Incidentally, the farm is on the access road to Huntley Wood Recreation Park, a private facility which is mostly used these days by ‘game-playing’ or ‘role-playing’ societies. The members of these societies use the Wood’s open spaces to enact live scenarios similar to Dungeons & Dragons etc.
So the new owners of High Coneygreave will have to get used to wizards and wonder-women passing their door!

++++++++++++++++++
What’s up at Draycott Council?

(Our local Draycott Council gets up to so many odd things that we almost can’t keep up, so we have given the council its own little section)

It might be best to try and forget the last council meeting.
The council was supposed to have organised a village-assembly (when the whole village comes together, to look back on the last year and plan for the next).
Well, it was a shambles. It was so badly organised and badly advertised that only one village organisation turned up specially (John Clarke, thank goodness, gave a report on the forthcoming village Summer Fayre) and less than ten people attended.

What’s more, the acting council clerk said she wasn’t attending, and no-one had thought to go and collect the paperwork off her for the meeting, so it was all a bit confused. Sigh.

Let’s hope the councillors get their act together in time for the Council’s Annual Meeting next month, when they have to report on the council’s achievements over the last year. Hmm…

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

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

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

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

– – –
Village get-together

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

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

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

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

– – –
Questions about crime

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

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

– – –
Blythe Colours archive on the move

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

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

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

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

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

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Council Shenanigans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– – –
RIP Jean

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

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

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