Category Archives: local government

NEWS of: new Tory leader / village gathering / Hunter back! / railings destroyed

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early May 2022
In this post we have news of…: annual village meeting this month / our new leader / Hunter pub re-opens / roadside railings knocked over – again…

There are also lots of events in our area this next few weeks! For news of a fund-raising event in Cresswell and some Queen’s Jubilee dances and many more, please go to our What’s On page

To get an email alert each time a post on this site goes live – go to the button marked ‘Follow This Site via Email‘ (see button, right) 

_ _
Getting your voice heard

One of the real bugbears in any council meeting is that the public has to stay silent, and do nothing but listen to the councillors talking. However, the opposite will be true at the Draycott-in-the-Moors Annual Village Assembly, which this year takes place on Monday May 23rd at 7.30, at the Church Hall. This is the chance for the people of Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow to do the talking for a change.

The procedure is pretty straightforward. A chairperson is appointed (to keep things fair, and make it all official), and then there are usually a couple of very short talks. But then it’s straight into the subjects for discussion (these have been suggested for the agenda by members of the public).
Each discussion takes around ten minutes, a resolution is made, and then it’s on to the next subject. Anyone can have a say; and the whole village is welcome to attend and speak.

All across the country, annual village meetings are being held at this time of year

We understand that some villagers have already put forward subjects for debate, including a motion to create a heritage committee for the village, and better speeding signage, among other matters.

But what’s the point? Good question! Well, the resolutions are registered, and then passed on to our political representatives, who are legally bound to debate them and consider acting on them. (See: What’s An Annual Assembly?)

So… now it’s time to get your suggestions in. What matter would you like discussed? Try to be specific: better than saying “a tidier village”, you might be best saying “a tidier village, with permanent signage up to ask people to take litter home” etc.
You need to email your suggestions to Denise Wheat, the clerk and minutes-taker, and she will add them to the official agenda. Try to get suggestions in by May 16th.

_ _
New Tory leader (no… not that one…!)

You may not have realised it but we have a ‘Leader’ in this Staffordshire Moorlands area of ours. The majority political group on our Moorlands Council, which has been the Tories for many years, choose the Leader; so, for fifteen years, their choice, Cllr Sybil Ralphs, has been our Leader.

mark deaville
Will he be deputy leader?

Well, now the Conservative group has rebelled, and chucked her out. Instead they’ve elected Paul Roberts, who serves as a councillor in Caverswall, to be our new Leader.
The big question (for us) is: will our local lad, Totmonslow man Councillor Mark Deaville (see pic right), be chosen by Mr Roberts to be Deputy Leader of the Staffordshire Moorlands?
Interesting times…

_ _
The Hunter returns

Welcome back to the Hunter Pub! This Cresswell local closed down last autumn and we thought it had gone forever, like so many country pubs – but it re-opened a few weeks ago.

Sunset at the Hunter pub, Cresswell
A spectacular sunset behind the Hunter pub

Many of us will know Daz, who has worked in many pubs, including The Greyhound at Saverley Green (which shut earlier this year sadly) – he’s the guy behind its revival. He’s promising the pub will be open every day (from 4pm on weekdays, from noon on weekends).
Daz also has ambitions for the pub: there will be a real commitment to guest beers (the one on when we went in was Admiral Gardner First Lord by the Uttoxeter Brewing Company) and he says he’s building a proper beer garden at the back. Keep checking the pub’s twitter account for which guest beers are on tap.
In an era of pub closures, it’s great to see an unashamedly old-fashioned local like The Hunter open again.
_ _
Railings… derailed

One feature of a recent village council meeting was to see the look of complete disbelief on Councillor Roger Holdcroft’s face when he reported that the railings opposite the Draycott Arms on Cheadle Road had been bashed in… again!
For five years, Roger has been repeatedly asking for the railings to be repaired after they’d been previously knocked down (by an unknown vehicle). Finally, at last, they were repaired, but – within weeks! – banged into again, and knocked over, by an unknown vehicle.

This matters, because the railings guard the only pavement on that stretch, as well as (supposedly) stopping vehicles accidentally tipping into the ditch on the other side of it.

But then, Cheadle Road itself is a problem anyway. It’s really a rural back-road nowadays (though often used as a rat-run), and it is no fun to negotiate, with a couple of really narrow, winding stretches and blind turns. Crazy motorists like to make up time by speeding along the open stretches.
However, since sat-navs started to direct heavy goods vehicles up there, it’s gotten even more problematic… and that’s why railings get knocked down.

***
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)

News: Covid (again) / N Plan abandoned / Xmas projects / Cash criticised

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early December 2021
In this post we have news of…: Covid concerns (again) / Neighbourhood Plan abandoned / village group’s projects / MP Sir Bill criticised

For news of Christmas carol events, Xmas dances and other happenings in our area, please go to our What’s On page

_ _
Covid issues

Covid just simply go away. A new variant (the ‘Omicron’) is now out there and we in north Staffordshire has to face it. It could be that the unvaccinated (still a fifth of the population) are spreading it, so the drive to enable all these people to get jabbed is intense, and our local GPs have been diverted from their normal duties to help out. Whatever, the figures are not great: Staffordshire has seen around 100,000 cases during the pandemic and the numbers in the English Midlands are not falling, so masks are now compulsory again in shops and on public transport. Sigh.
That said, case figures in the Staffs Moorlands (which is us) are dropping – deaths are zero this week in this part of the world (though hundreds of people are still sick). But what will be the Omicron effect?

Local organisations are trying to respond appropriately.
The Draycott Sports Centre has cancelled its kids’ Xmas party, which is perhaps understandable, but Tean cancelled its Lights Switch-On, even though it’s held outdoors. This month’s Draycott Council meeting has been cancelled. There’s even a thought that the award-winning Draycott Covid Support Group, which had stood down, should be revived.
However, for all that, most events are going ahead as normal. Most of us are trying to be careful, and the general feeling seems to be “don’t panic: carry on!”. See our What’s On page.

_ _
Cheers

Some definite Christmas cheer has already come to those who subscribed to the Draycott Xmas Calendar project. Over 150 of us signed up to get a 2022 calendar, which includes twelve pictures of the district for the twelve months of the year; and they arrived last week. Special seasonal cards were also available.
Congrats to Bev Reardon and her team for a heart-warming initiative.

Christmas cards designed and sold by the Draycott community group are already arriving!

By the way Bev & company are not stopping there, but will be planting thousands of daffodil bulbs over the next few days. The aim is to have a lovely display (on Church Bank mostly) this Spring.

_ _
Plan collapse

Draycott village council has had a dismal year, with resignations and all sorts, and it’s all rather summed up by the council’s decision now to abandon any hope of putting together a neighbourhood-plan. Three of their attempts have already ended in failure, so it was not surprising.

This is not a good thing. It is, admittedly, a deal of work to get an official Neighbourhood Plan agreed, but, as soon as it’s done, the district can then attract a lot of money in grants, and also have influence over the way the district is developed. Other village councils have managed it successfully – so why can’t Draycott Council?

By the way, you may also have noticed that an odd Twitter feed for the council (see pic right) popped up earlier some months ago, yet doesn’t seem to be doing anything…
When a resident enquired why the Twitter account had been set up without a formal vote in a meeting, councillors then claimed not to be aware of it (even though one councillor had put a post on it under his own name!!). All very odd.

_ _
MP criticised

The sleaze allegations, which hit MPs in Parliament last month after the ‘Owen Paterson Affair’, have reminded people that concerns about the way MPs manage their jobs have been going on for some time.
(Our local MP, Sir Bill Cash, got hit with a £15,000 penalty some years ago over ethical standards).

Irritation with the way MPs often employ their own family members – at taxpayers’ expense – got to a point in 2017 when rules were passed to prevent it – but older MPs were exempted and allowed to carry on doing it. The hope was that these older MPs (including Sir Bill) would eventually stop it. But, no, not Sir Bill – he still employs his wife in his parliamentary office, and criticism has been fired at him again for this.

Sir Bill Cash
Sir Bill

By the way, has anyone seen Sir Bill?
Other MPs have returned to doing surgeries, commenting on local matters, and appearing at local events. However, Sir Bill has been noticeably absent from this area (though we are told he did make an appearance at the Cheadle Remembrance Day service). His local webpage is almost blank of news of him.
Why doesn’t Bill like to come here much?

***
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)

News of: new councillors / cricket escape / first responders’ need / Covid’s return / residents’ win

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early October 2021
In this post we have news of…: new councillors for village / cricket team avoids drop / St Modwen listens to residents / bad Covid news locally / donate to our first-responders

For news of a ‘memories session’ and other events in our area, please go to our What’s On page

_ _
New councillors

Congratulations to the three new local councillors who have just come on board following some resignations earlier in the year. The four current councillors on Draycott village council had to sift through a number of applications before deciding to appoint Glyn Johnson (former Rotary president, from Cresswell), George Plant (stonemason, from Draycott) and Sabrina Hollingum (office professional, from Tean) to join them. We are now back to the full membership of seven councillors.
There is a slight bit of controversy over George, as he is also the council’s lengthsman (aka handyman). The rules do say that an employee of a council cannot be one of its councillors – because it is a conflict of interest. So, that’s being looked into.

What’s good is that both George and Sabrina have young families – so, presumably, they will especially want to ensure there is a bright future for this community.

_ _
No comment

We had hoped that this fresh injection of energy would mean that the council would finally act on the giant Blythe Vale (Phase 2) planning application, which is proposed for the edge of the village. Consultees to the plans (of which our council is one) had even been given a time-extension, for them to compose their reply.
Depressingly, our council couldn’t be bothered to put in comments. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Draycott Council has a terrible track record in these matters, hardly ever showing up when the community needs leadership these days.

Blythe Fields homes construction
Homes under construction in Draycott

Even though their council didn’t care, some residents did make the effort to put in comments – credit to them – you can see their responses for yourself by checking out the statutory planning page.

_ _
It’s back

Things have taken a gloomier air with the resurgence of Covid over the last weeks. Staffordshire is particularly badly hit at the moment: Stafford Borough has the third highest coronavirus infection rate in England, with more cases in one week than it has ever seen before. The Moorlands is not much better off: on September 20th it recorded its highest number of infections in one day ever.

Back to masks? (pic: Pexels.com)

The only good news is that the death-rate is much lower these days – but we can’t be complacent, as deaths are still occurring, even in the young.
The recommendations are: get the jabs; wash your hands; and, if you have symptoms, book a test, through your doctor. More advice on the Staffordshire Coronavirus webpage.

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this pandemic is the strong response of local voluntary groups. One such is our local First Responders group (‘first responders’ are medical professionals who volunteer to be on call in their neighbourhoods in emergencies, as they can often be there much quicker than ambulances).
But even a much-needed group like this one has to raise its own funds. So, now our local FRs have put up an online donation page on their website. If you have £5, they would welcome your contribution.

_ _
Cricketers pull it out of the bag!

At the beginning of September, our local cricket team looked in real trouble. The Blythe team, based in Cresswell, was in the relegation zone of their Division.
But – credit to the players – they put in an amazing last week to the season, winning their last two games by large margins, thus avoiding any drop.

Watching the game at Blythe Cricket Club
A rough year for at Blythe Cricket Club First XI

Yes, the team had a very rough ride this season, even though they eventually finished ninth in the NSSCL Division One table. Let’s hope for better things next year.

_ _
A win for residents

But we finish off with good news (at last!).
At a fractious public meeting in August, representatives from St Modwen Developers faced questions from a group of residents about the new estates which are going up at the east end of the village.
One issue was the lorries and construction plant travelling up Woodlands Lane to the site. (Woodlands Lane is no more than a track, even though there are houses on it). The vehicles were “big, noisy & dangerous” said one resident – why couldn’t the vehicles use the main road through the estate instead? Passions ran high, as one lady said she worried for her children.

To be fair to St Modwen, they did listen, and have now reversed their decision, and will halt large-vehicle traffic up Woodlands Lane. So well-done to them, but also well-done to the residents who put up a strong case!

Hopefully, our village council will take notice of this result. We say to them: see councillors?, everyone can make a difference – but it requires an effort

***
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

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

_ _ _
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.

_ _ _
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.

_ _ _
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.

***
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

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…

***
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.

***
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!

_ _
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…
_ _
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.
_ _
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….
_ _
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!

***
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.

++
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.

++
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’!

++
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

_ _ _
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.

_ _ _
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…

_ _ _
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?

_ _ _
Odd – and then odder

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

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

cresswell old road sign

The wrong name…

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

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

'Caverswall old lane' new sign

Caverswall??? Should be Cresswell !

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

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

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

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

NEWS: 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

_ _ _
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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)