Category Archives: planning

NEWS of: helicopters deadline / restaurant finals / Cresswell quiz / St M’s heritage day

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late July 2022.
In this post we have news of…: do you want the proposed helicopter factory? Gandhi Restaurant in line for award / combined walk & quiz for Cresswell / Draycott church goes national…
There are also loads of events in & around our district this next few weeks! Sports camps for kids in Draycott is just one of the highlights: please go to our What’s On page

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Helicopters … wanted? needed?

As we reported in our last post, suddenly a lot of big planning issues are hitting Cresswell.
However, the most urgent one is the question of the proposed helicopter factory (see our last post for the details).
Is it needed? Is it wanted? Those are the questions we are being asked to respond to by the local planners… and the deadline to make any comments is now upon us.

The residents’ group, the BPDWG, is certainly worried, so they have been busy delivering leaflets about the issue (see above) to all local households – which makes that the second set of leaflets they’ve delivered in a month (the first leaflet was about the proposed junction in the middle of Cresswell).

There are so many odd questions about this development: –
# Why is the decision being rushed through? Why is the decision being left to planning officials rather than put before the full planning committee?
(Could it possibly be because the company’s order book is already full to 2025, so somewhere to actually build the aircraft is now urgent?)
# Why has the company, Hill Helicopters, chosen this site in particular?
# Will the 200-approx employees be trained here, or have to be brought in?
# If the factory starts production in a year’s time (as Hill hopes) how soon will they be turning out the 1000 aircraft a year that they are aiming for? (Incidentally, the BPDWG estimates that this rate of production means around sixty test and delivery flights each working day in our skies.)

Artist’s impression of how the Hill Helicopters factory at Cresswell will look

If you want the full set of details, it’s worth checking out the case review-document produced by the residents’ group.

Whatever, time is of the essence. As we said, it’s all being rushed through, so if you want your comments to be registered, you need to put them in very soon. Go to the SMDC Planning Page 0275, find the button which says ‘Comment On This Application’, click on it, and jot down your views. 

A walking quiz

As it’s summertime, we’ve updated the Cresswell Trail – a two mile walk around the hamlet. It combines the walk with a quiz about local matters – the questions are suitable for children and adults. There are around fifty questions, so plenty to get stuck into!

In the Cresswell Trail-Quiz, there is a question about the decades-old graffiti on the hamlet’s ancient bridge

To find it, just check out our Local Walks Page, where you’ll find details it and of even more walks around Draycott. 

It’s back

Slowly but almost inevitably, it’s been creeping back into our lives. Yes, Covid infections are up again, back to late-2021 levels in fact. Even the President of the United States is one of the new victims.
Thanks to the vaccinations programmes (with more to come in the autumn), it’s not the horrific disease it once was for most of us, and most of the folk we know who’ve got it recently have come down with a very nasty but fortunately not terminal attack (though, sadly, yes, there are still fatal cases).
Still, the message is obvious. Especially around the vulnerable, we need to be careful… again… 

Curry wonders!!

Great news is that the Indian restaurant in Cresswell, the Gandhi, has just been nominated as one of the finalists in this year’s English Curry Awards (West Mids section).
As you can imagine, this is a very tough competition, with the best of the nation’s curry-houses all vying to be recognised.

The Gandhi’s achievement is even more special when you think it is one of the very few countryside eateries to be selected for the finals: it’s up against some top-notch city restaurants from Birmingham and the Black Country. The black-tie awards ceremony will take place on 22nd August at The Holiday Inn in Birmingham.
We wish them the best of luck! 

St Margaret’s diary date

One event that should go into your diary now is the Heritage Day at Draycott Saint Margaret’s Church on Sat Sept 17th.
St Margaret’s is one of the very few Staffordshire churches to be selected to be featured in the National Heritage Open Days events.
On the day, there will be guided tours of the church, fun-quiz sheets, and stewards available to answer questions.

Just one of the dragons to be found in Draycott Church

It’s expected that visitors will be coming from all over the region, especially to see the 600 year old tomb-statues inside the Lady Chapel and the dragons (yes, dragons!).
However, local residents are especially welcome – so do please put the date in your diary, and then do come along and look round this fascinating & ancient church of ours.

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: people power! / walks, talks / Dougie Mac funding

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early April 2022
In this post we have news of…: people power
wins / Draycott walk / Zulu Wars talk / funds for Dougie Mac…
There are also lots of events in our area this next few weeks! For news of a Paloma Faith tribute act, the first match of the cricket season, Queen’s Jubilee dances and many more happenings in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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People power

What happened last Thursday, at the Staffs Moorlands Planning Committee, was truly amazing, and definitely a red-letter day.
Against all the betting, the residents of Cresswell & middle Draycott persuaded the councillors of the committee to listen to common sense – and got a unanimous decision of support from them!

This is all to do with local proposed road changes, in which Scentarea (the local developers) wanted to scrap the roundabouts they’d been required to put in at two sites, one in Cresswell and one on Draycott-level, and replace them with cheaper, less safe alternatives (see full story).
Of course, residents were very angry about the developers’ cheek, but it seemed that the developers had seen a loophole in the planning regulations, and nothing could be done about it – unless the committee’s councillors could be persuaded otherwise.

The developers’ new suggestion for Cresswell: a ‘ghost’ right-turn priority junction into Blythe Park, instead of a roundabout

So, our congratulations must go out to the three main speakers on the day, all Cresswellians. Led by a really cogent, clear and sensible speech by Glyn Johnson (who is also on the village council) and backed up with really impressive addresses too by Luke Emery and Brent Horleston, the stage was set to overturn the developers’ strategy. Also speaking were our three district-ward councillors, Alan Hulme, Mark Deaville and Peter Wilkinson, who were completely behind the residents.
(If you want to watch the video of the proceedings including the short speeches, it’s online now: just click on Planning 7/4/2022 Blythe Park Variation Video)

And the committee was won over by them! Against the official advice, the committee voted unanimously to support the residents… a very rare victory for people power…

This doesn’t mean it’s actually all over, sadly: the developers do have grounds for appeal. However, if the developers really mean what they said in the original application (that – “they will listen to residents”), then perhaps, maybe, the matter is settled.

Whether you agree with them or not, the residents’ group (largely inspired by Louie Horleston, so well done to him too) and their supporters pulled off a stunning victory. People power indeed.
Some news in brief —

Ian speaks
Nice to see that the local history group, the Blythe Bridge & Environs History Society, is back for its 2022 season of talks.
One event you mustn’t miss is local lad Ian Barlow doing his fascinating (and exciting) profile of the Zulu Wars, on May 3rd. In his talk he outlines the battles and strategies of the both the British troops and the native armies in South Africa during 1879.

Ian barlow and van
Ian Barlow’s day job is as a self-employed caterer

All the details of the society’s talks are listed on our What’s On page – guests are welcome.

Walking from the Arms
The Staffs Moorlands Walking Festival Weekend gets under-way on April 22nd, and one of the first walks starts at the Draycott Arms. (Anyone who wants to see the site of the local medieval moats should go on this one). The walk is led by Draycott resident, Austin Knott, who knows the paths and by-ways of this district very well indeed. Recommended!
Details on our What’s On page

A grand for Dougie Mac
Congratulations to the local firm of Hartley Skip Hire whose March Charity Drive raised over £1,000 for the local Douglas Macmillan Hospice and other good causes. People were encouraged to put scrap-metal into the charity skip at their premises in Draycott Cross during the month of March, and it was a very successful project.

Although the firm was deeply shaken by the death of its founder Harold Hartley last year, it is clearly still going strong.

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: illegal waste dump / objections mount to road plans / Jubilee idea

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late March 2022
In this post we have news of…: illegal dump of waste / objections to road changes / Jubilee thoughts…

There lots of events in our area this next few weeks! For news of a daffodil ball, an exhibition about Blythe Colour Works, and other happenings in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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Waste mysteries

By now most readers will know of the incident that saw a six-foot-high pile of rotting waste illegally dumped on a Cresswell back-lane this month.
Sometime in the early hours of March 6th, the load was deposited a few yards up the farm-track, which is behind Rookery Crescent. (This half-mile long track leads to Painsley Farm, but there are also four other properties along there and a stables). The load then seems to have been pushed up a few yards, thus clearing the lane for cars, to the point where the track meets Sandon Road.
The whole matter is extremely mysterious. Who dumped it there? Why? Why did it take two weeks for the authorities to clear it? Was it a hazard to health?

The dumping was first spotted just before dawn (pic from Facebook)

First speculation was that it was a rogue contractor. Some criminal gangs will take money to clear waste, only then to dump it in the countryside where they don’t have to pay landfill fees. However, this action seems too obvious. Criminals usually dump such waste as far from view as possible.
So…. was it then a deliberate, not random act? The police are investigating.

The second puzzle is why it took so long to get it cleared. Parts of the pile were taken away in dribs & drabs, but it was the 18th March – twelve days later! – before the final section was collected. The pile was clearly rotting household waste; anyone who has been to a Third-World country knows that strange fishy smell that comes off long-standing local tips.
There do seem to have been negotiations between the county council and district council about who was to do what, and who was to pay for removal (because it was just off the highway, so not a direct responsibility). There was even a thought that, as it was on half on the verge (i.e. private land), it was also the land-owner’s responsibility (sounds daft, but that’s the law).
That said, this track is also a public footpath, and no-one in Cresswell was comfortable seeing a pile of decaying matter just standing there for so long.

The rubbish was pushed up against the end of the track, where it meets Sandon Road

Finally, well done to those residents who used the village Facebook page to keep the village informed on what was going on. As one contributor rightly said, communication from the authorities themselves (i.e. the county, district and parish councils) to nearby householders was non-existent.

What we’d like to see now is an honest report from our local parish council into the affair, especially the lengthy delay – which also comes up with some recommendations for future situations.
Dumping is rife, and getting worse. If you know anything of this incident, or others, please contact Crimestoppers, the first place to report hazardous dumping.

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Objections mount to road scheme

Anyone reading recent posts on this website will know that the big planning issue of the last weeks is the one concerning the changes to the road infrastructure in the village. Local developers are seeking permission to scrap planned roundabout schemes for Draycott level and for Cresswell and to replace them with less costly alternatives. (See full story).

For lots of reasons, there has been a big residents’ backlash to the suggestion. Some forty objections – a huge number, comparatively – have been lodged on the official planning page, and anyone who went to the public meeting earlier this year will have noticed the anger in the air.
For once though we must congratulate the parish council (which is usually worse than useless in planning matters!) for the letter of objection it has put in. Written by the clerk of the council, Denise Wheat, it is firm, comprehensive and covers all the problems. Worth reading.

The crunch point comes when the Staffs Moorlands Planning Committee meets on 7th April to discuss the issue. Already, three speakers (the maximum allowed) have been lined up to address the committee on the day.

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Let’s get together

Although the rest of the country appears to be frantically arranging all sorts of events for the Queen’s jubilee in two months’ time, Draycott is strangely quiet. (The village council’s sole idea is a vanity-project – to put up a flagpole in the village centre, even though there has been little call for it and it will cost hundreds of pounds. Sigh).

So, it’s good to see Sarah Plant trying to get something going. Sarah, who runs the DrayTots parents & toddlers group in the village, is proposing a community get-together, based around sales of teas & cakes with stalls as well – something small and nice and local, to suit everyone.
Yes, it’s a great idea! Please contact Sarah about this idea if you think you can help or support her initiative.

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: planning protests / solar farms / Colour Works pic / help for Ukraine

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early March 2022
In this post we have news of…: help for Ukraine / protests at road changes / solar farms to come? / Colour Works exhibition…

For news of a barn dance and other happenings in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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First, we just have to mention the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For anybody who believes in democracy and justice, it’s a horrific act.
But, already people in our part of the world are responding – with charity drives, donations of goods, and plain old-fashioned money.

The ‘Little DrayTots Baby and Toddler Group’, which meets at Draycott Church Hall, is a contact point for goods collections for Ukraine, while the actual local drop-off point for the local Help Ukraine project is the Country Interiors shop on High Street in Cheadle.
At Hilderstone, the next village south of Cresswell, they are having a one-day Donate for Ukraine event on Thurs March 10 from 10am-7pm.  Items required are: medical supplies, bandages, basic paracetamol etc., plasters, batteries, nappies, sanitary protection, toiletries.
You may feel that you just want to give money; and the safest and most efficient way to do that is through the UK’s International Disasters Emergency Fund.
Let’s hope to God that this all can be solved quickly and peacefully, and that Putin is forced never to do this again.

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Those road structure proposals

As was reported a month ago, the developers of Cresswell’s Blythe Business Park – who want to put in a large industrial estate and a large housing estate there – are also responsible for building road-junction measures (on Draycott level and in central Cresswell) to control all the new traffic that will arise.
The developers were originally committed to ‘de-luxe’ improvements, but have now said they only want to put in cheaper ones. (See full details).

New road system (and housing estate) to come for Cresswell?

There was a passionate open meeting last week, under the auspices of Draycott Council, with some twenty residents in attendance, and much opposition to the new plans.
As a result, around thirty letters of protest from local residents (which is a very large number for these sorts of matters) have now been formally registered on the portal of this planning application. One of those letters was recently re-published on the Cresswell website (click here to see it).

If you too want your voice heard, you only have till Monday 7th March, which is when the consultation closes. To see other comments, simply go to the application webpage. To register your own comment, just hit the ‘Comment’ button on that page, and write in your thoughts.

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Solar energy

Talking of consultations, two other ones, both for proposed solar-energy projects, are currently under way for this district. Solar ‘farms’, as they are known, are of course a way of producing electricity without using fossil fuels, so they are crucial in this age of climate change.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)
Photo of a typical solar energy farm

You may remember that, back in 2015, our first solar farm was constructed at Lower Newton (between Cresswell and Totmonslow). Well now the owners of that want to expand their site into an adjacent, new set-up – to be called Blythe House Solar Farm, (aka Blythe Solar Farm) – while a quite different firm have plans for another site, to be called Totmonslow Solar Farm.

This district is apparently a good place for these projects because it has rolling hills (i.e. no obtrusive sight-lines) and because there is a lot of under-used land. The farmers whose land is rented for these projects are also very happy!

The Draycott environmental group is, as you’d guess, very in favour of these projects being passed.
One of their members also reminded us that these firms will also make hefty annual contributions to worthwhile projects in Draycott & area, if and when they get their plans accepted. As the sites could remain viable for 40 years, that’s a lot of money going into local good causes!
(In fact, grant-money from the first solar project is already available to the community – if you have a good idea for a neighbourhood project, please take a look and maybe apply for a grant).

Totmonslow Solar Farm logo

To see more details on the Totmonslow Solar Farm proposal, please click here.
To comment on the Totmonslow Solar Farm proposal, please click here. This consultation is open for comments until the 13th March.
To see more details on the Blythe House Solar Farm proposal, please click here. To comment on the Blythe House Solar Farm proposal, please click here.

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Blast from the Works past

Finally, it was good to see a post from Ben Knight on the Blythe Colours Memories facebook page. Ben is the great-great-grandson of Blythe Colour Works founder, Frederick Wildblood, and tells us that he recently inherited some items relating to the old Colour Works in Cresswell (which was a huge employer locally, and was in operation here for well over seventy years).

Among his heirlooms, he discovered this 1937 sketch (above) for the Proposed Offices for the factory – and you can still see this building on the business park today. A lovely reminder of days gone by.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in the history of the Colour Works, there is to be an exhibition soon of photos and documents relating to the works at Blythe Bridge Library. It will take place all across April. Remember to put that on your calendars!

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: Xmas festival / traffic revision / third solar farm? / rats

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early November 2021
In this post we have news of…: Xmas Tree Festival is back / another solar farm for us? / construction traffic on estate / rats & climate change

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

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Get your trees decorated!

Starting with the good news: after you-know-what, the Draycott Christmas Trees Festival is back!
This is the event when each and every local individual or family or organisation can decorate a small Christmas tree, and have it displayed in St Margaret’s Church. On the weekend of the 11th/12th December, the brightly-lit church will be open to visitors to come in and peruse the creations.

Draycott Xmas Tree Festival 2016 - fairy
A previous Xmas Tree Festival at the church

The whole thing is the brainchild of John Clarke, so (again!) many thanks to him for a really good community pull-together event. Contact John to say you wish to take part, and he’ll make a space for your tree (to be delivered to the church, please, on Dec 10th). More details on our What’s On page.

Incidentally, John’s wife Pauline, who was able to re-start the Draycott Craft Club last month, has organised a special bauble-making session, to complement the tree festival, on Nov 11th at the church hall. Anyone is welcome to the session, and you will be able to take your baubles home with you. (See our What’s On Page for details).

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Third solar farm??

What is it about our district? Back in 2015, a solar farm was constructed at Lower Newton (between Cresswell and Totmonslow) and now there could be two more on the cards. We are certainly popular!
Solar farms are of course a way of producing electricity without using fossil fuels, so they are crucial in this age of climate change.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)
A typical solar farm

We have already reported on last month’s plan to build a solar array at Totmonslow (see that report), but now there are proposals to build a third one, near Blythe House (nearer to Tean). Both sites are within the Draycott Council area. A consultation session will be held later this month about the Blythe House proposal (see What’s On page for details).

Strangely enough, there is also another (fourth!) one which also could be built – the Tean-Leys proposal, close by in Lower Tean.
The common thread is that all proposed sites are by the route of the A50, and the land presumably would not be great for houses. (Perhaps…?)
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Rats like it warm

Talking of climate change, even here in Britain it is already causing issues. We know about the freak weather conditions it can create, which can lead to such havoc – but sometimes we forget about the rats.

The fact is that rats love the milder winters; and even here in Draycott district, pest-control has lately been busy. The trouble is that winters are no longer freezing enough to kill off enough rats, so plenty of them are still around, foraging, even in these ‘colder months’.
Unlike mice, rats don’t like being around humans, but they will come into gardens, and houses, if they need food.

Dead rat found in Cresswell this year. You can see how big it is – the width of the spade’s blade

If you do see an increase in rat activity on your property, please contact the village council. They can’t do anything about the issue directly, but they have a responsibility to monitor local problems.
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Construction traffic re-routed

As we reported previously, residents recently got a significant result in getting the developers on the large Blythe Fields Estate (at the western end of Draycott) to agree to stop using Woodland Lane as a route for their lorries. Residents claimed the use of such a narrow track was dangerous. (See full story)

To their credit, the developers, St Modwen, have been relatively quick to respond. So they are now asking for their planning permissions to be changed – to allow the construction traffic to go along the main avenue through the estate instead. (See new application).
The one downside of this is that the new application is asking for a full five-year period of permission, meaning there will probably be construction traffic on Uttoxeter Road for years to come…

Excerpt from St Modwen’s revised Blythe Fields haul-road application

One aspect of the new application is that you’ll notice that our village council, which is supposed to look after our interests, didn’t put in a formal response – even though it is a statutory consultee. Even the writers of the report seem surprised by that (see pic above).
However, it doesn’t surprise us. Draycott Council has a long and sorry record of not bothering to represent us in planning matters. Sigh.

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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.

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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.

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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.
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NEWS: co-option to come / tidy churchyard / 2nd solar farm / fun summer / local history ‘lab’

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid July 2021
In this post we have news of…: nominate a new councillor / Cresswell’s tidy graveyard / second solar farm coming / history initiative / a great summer for the kids!

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

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Nominate yourself to be a councillor

As you will know, three councillors resigned off the Draycott village council last month, so it was possible an election would be called.
The council itself posted an odd piece of advice on its website, which said: “…. an election does not need to be called… this will … incur costs to the public via the precept (ie council tax). An election will cost the parish council.” While it’s true that all elections have a cash cost, councils are not supposed to be stepping in to make a case against holding elections! (At the very least, they should be putting in the positive reasons for elections, as well). The words have since been deleted.

So, no election has been called. But… how to replace the missing councillors?
Basically, the way it works is that local people should now simply put themselves forward (don’t be shy now!) for the vacancies. A brief letter to the clerk of the council asking for information will start the ball rolling.

Nearly all electors in Draycott, Cresswell, Totmonslow, Newton, Huntley, Draycott Cross, Bromley Wood are eligible. Residents of Blythe Bridge, Tean, Fulford, Hilderstone, Cheadle, Forsbrook, and Saverley Green are also eligible (under the three-mile rule).
So … write that letter!

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Summer of fun

You can tell that we’ve reached Freedom Day, simply by the huge number of local summer events – especially for children – that have been announced in the last weeks.
There are plenty of kids’ workshops; and it’s wonderful to see that the annual Draycott St Margaret’s Fayre is returning after its year away.

Check out all the events by having a look at our What’s On page.
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Local History gets a boost

Anyone interested in the history of this area will be excited to see the creation of a dedicated local ‘History Lab’. This has been formed in order to start researching the history of a block of seven parishes in the Eastern (Uttoxeter) part of Staffordshire: Draycott-in-the-Moors, plus Checkley, Gratwich, Kingstone, Uttoxeter, Bramshall, and Leigh..

Old map of the East Staffs parishes, showing turnpike roads, old rail lines

It’s run by volunteers, who report their researches into the professional historians at the VCH (Victoria County History) organisation. The group has already been publishing some of its findings in a blog, though none have been directly about Draycott as yet.
If you fancy helping out, simply write to them via their ‘Contact’ page.
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Second ‘solar’ farm

The process toward setting up a second solar farm in our district is now underway. Basically, the company behind it, called Third Revolution, want to take a few fields in Totmonslow in which to set up an array of hundreds of so-called ‘fins’, which absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)
Photo of fins on a typical solar farm

The new set-up, if it comes off, will be just yards away from the one we have already in Lower Newton, which has been running successfully for ten years.

Site of proposed new Totmonslow solar farm, in red. The current solar farm is in light green, just the other side of the A50

The application in process at the moment is a preliminary one, not the main thing – but already there are a couple of worries, mostly about whether footpaths will have to be diverted.

Our own Draycott Council was asked by the local authorities to add their comments on the matter, but… guess what? The council had no thoughts whatsoever… as so often… Sigh.
(We do need new councillors…!)

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Tidy churchyard

Cresswellians will have noticed that, since the winter, the historic churchyard at St Mary’s Catholic Church has been looking very tidy and spruce. The man behind the transformation is local man James Heath.

Although St Margaret’s churchyard is cared for by Staffs Moorlands Council workers – because it is the main parish church -, other denominations, such as St Mary’s, must look after their grounds themselves. So James, helped by his dad, has stepped up to do the work, and six months of labour has really seen a change for the better.

Cresswell churchyard – looking spruce

Local historians are especially pleased, because James has cleared back a lot of the vegetation that was hiding the inscriptions on some gravestones, and which had virtually hidden some graves altogether!

If you do pass by, it’s worth dropping in to have a look.
While you’re there, check out the graveyard cross: this is a listed monument, designed by the famous nineteenth-century architect Augustus Pugin.

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NEWS: Covid hotspot / green belt puzzle / Rev writes book / odd wreaths

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-November 2020
In this post we have news of…: Draycott’s Covid problems / Rev Whittaker new book / wreaths on junction? / planning in green belt….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here
_ _ _
In a Covid hotspot

As we all should know, this month our neighbourhood suddenly found itself to be a Covid hotspot. Blythe Bridge And District – which includes us in Draycott – hit the news as being the worst-hit area in all North Staffordshire, with infection rates double the national average. How this little district managed to become such a Covid problem is unclear.

Of course, like all statistics, these figures are actually a little misleading, because they represent only a snapshot of a moment in time, and current deaths are not as high as in May, so we shouldn’t panic: and, what’s more, this week, thanks to lockdown, the figures are dropping.
But — it’s a definite warning to us. We surely need to stick to the guidelines as best as we can to try to force the figures down or we could be a hotspot for a long time.
(For the big picture, see BBC News Covid Figures Updates).

At the same time, there is one big moral problem in front of us: should we report neighbours who break the rules?
Many people believe we should, and Moorlands Police alone are currently receiving around 400 calls a week from dutiful citizens reporting breaches.
But for others, it feels very uncomfortable to be reporting on neighbours.
What do you think? Use our comments box at the bottom of this page if you have thoughts.

Meanwhile, if you observe a breach and you feel you need to report it, the police ask you not to call 101, but use their online Covid Rules-Breaking reporting form.
_ _ _
Wreaths in odd places

We’ve had a couple of emails asking us about what is going on with the Remembrance wreaths on Draycott crossroads. Wreaths from Staffs County and Draycott Council have been tied to the bench there. It does seem almost disrespectful just to leave them on a road junction.

The question then is: why haven’t the wreaths been laid at St Margaret’s Church, where the village war memorial is, or by the war graves in Cresswell churchyard?

The answer is, apparently, that the rather lonely small tree at that spot is Draycott Council’s effort at a memorial to those lost in the Great War. The tree was the village council’s contribution to a national project back in 2014 to remember the war’s 100th anniversary. (Some of us thought that, as part of a national project, this tree was, er, a bit underwhelming… but there you go).
In fact, the village council has only half-completed the project; six years later, the plaque that was supposed to explain the tree’s presence has still not been commissioned, which seems very slack.

Be that as it may, our personal feeling is that wreathes should be laid at a ‘sacred space’, not at a road junction. What was the British Legion’s view, we wonder?
_ _ _
Brian’s book

Many of us will remember the Reverend Brian Whittaker (see pic right) with affection. He was rector at St Margaret’s for fifteen years up to 2005, and also a councillor for this area. In fact he still performs occasional duties at the church even though he is now retired.

He has now become a published author with a book called ‘Jesus and The Gentiles’, in which Brian wants to refute the idea that Jesus was aiming his preaching primarily to Jews, and only secondly to Gentiles (Gentiles are anyone who is not Jewish). Such a description makes it sound a little heavy on theology, but we’re told that it is in fact very readable.
At just £1, it might make a nice Xmas stocking-filler for a Christian friend…
_ _ _
Green belt paradox

There is more green belt in Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow than people think – and it was a green belt issue in Totmonslow that caused a planning puzzle earlier this month.

At a property there, the owner (who is the local councillor, Mark Deaville) put in an application for a kitchen extension. As ‘NPPF Green Belt’ rules apply to this part of Totmonslow, it probably wouldn’t have been passed – but as the applicant pointed out, if he built a much larger extension, that that would be allowed (under ‘General Permitted Development Order’ rules)…! Very paradoxical.
So, the planning committee at Staffs Moorlands decided to let Mr Deaville have the smaller extension, even though it was ‘against the NPPF rules’, as that would be less intrusive than any potential large extension.
Strange but true!

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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: Covid rises / Remembrance Day / pumpkin fest / MP’s silence

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late October 2020
In this post we have news of…: bad local figures for Covid / Remembrance will happen / pumpkins across Draycott / silence from MP over planning….

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

Covid latest

As we all know, the pandemic has taken a sudden turn for the worse, and unfortunately our area (Staffordshire Moorlands) is one of those with a fast-rising rate of cases – see graph below. (For the big picture, see BBC News Covid Figures Updates).

Last week, the Moorlands figure was 209 cases per week per 100,000 people – which compares badly with a national figure of just 123. (Stoke-on-Trent was 234, and Manchester 470). Yes, we are in the orange blob next to Stoke on the map below.
Even though Stoke is not that far ahead of us, the city has just been put into Level High (Tier 2).

Moorlands map Covid mid October 2020

It’s really not clear why we are entering a red zone; around us, neighbouring regions – Derbyshire, Stafford, Uttoxeter etc – are doing much better. Of course, we won’t know the reality of the situation for another fortnight, which is when infections may (or may not) turn into crippling illness.

The point is: Draycott may feel like a sleepy outpost sometimes, but – without panicking – we now need to be extra careful.
_ _ _
Remembrance goes ahead

Poppies may be on sale already, but there had been Covid-related fears that the main Remembrance Sunday event in our area would have to be cancelled.
Thankfully, it will go ahead after all – but … with no parade.

In most years, the British Legion branch takes part in a parade through Blythe Bridge to the war memorial by St Peter’s Church. That’s not happening this year.
However, those who wish to can lay a commemorative wreath at 11am on the day, Sunday 8th November, although the council would prefer the occasion to be supervised – if you want to lay a wreath, please email Forsbrook Viilage Council for advice. As it’s outside, observers can attend, but in well-distanced groups (of no more than six apiece).
STOP PRESS (AS OF 31/10/2020 – Because of the lockdown starting midnight on Wednesday 4th Nov, not only is our local Remembrance Parade (due Nov 8th) cancelled, but now so too is the wreath-laying at the war memorial in Forsbrook

At St Margaret’s in Draycott, a separate service will start at 10.30am (led by Rev Sam Crossley and lay-preacher Cllr Kate Bradshaw) and there will be a two-minutes silence at 11am. The leading bellringer at St M’s, John Clarke, will sound the bells either side of the silence.
But… to be present in the church for this, you MUST prebook your space, via Anyone can be present outside the church, of course.

On the day, there has usually also been a Blessing Of the War Graves at St Mary’s Cresswell. However, at the time of writing, it’s not clear if this will go ahead.
_ _ _
Speak up Bill!

There are now only a few days left before end of the public consultation process concerning the Conservative government’s drive to change the planning laws. Depending on your point of view, the government’s ideas are virtually a free-pass for developers or a way of speeding up an inefficient system.

What’s for sure is that many of the government’s own supporters, including Tory councillors in our own area, are deeply unhappy. Even Tory MPs have been speaking out and campaigning against the new proposals.
Except…it seems… Sir Bill Cash, our local (Conservative) MP.

Less than ten years ago, Bill wrote a famous article in which he asked: why are MPs silent over planning?

Bill Cash planning article, 2011

He lambasted his fellow MPs for not speaking out as housing developments were being laid out across large swathes of greenfield land.
So you’d think that Bill would have quite a lot to say now, because both Draycott (which faces around 500 new homes in the next ten years) and Cheadle (which he also represents) contemplate massive increases in development.
But… we’ve heard nothing. Many of us would welcome his views, so c’mon Bill – say something!

If you do want to take part in the public consultation on the government’s white paper ‘Planning For The Future’ you have until October 29th; click here to see the details.

_ _ _
Life goes on

To end on a happy note… Walking round Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow you may notice many pumpkins on display on people’s fronts. What you are seeing is the Draycott Pumpkin Fest, which runs until Nov 2nd.It’s all the brainchild of local resident Lee Warburton (who also put together the village planters project) and he’s been using the village facebook page to explain the idea. But, in essence, it’s simple enough – decorate a pumpkin (real or artificial, doesn’t matter) at your home, and then put it on show for the delight of those walking by.

Pumpkin Fest beauties in Cresswell Old Lane – thanks to Dave Cole

In these times, it’s great to have someone who can bring a little cheer, so … Happy Halloween, all…!

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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NEWS: new speed limits / Silver / scary leaflet / sport debut / cricket

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late July 2020
In this post we have news of…: new speed limits / missing Silver / a scare-mongering leaflet / Jordan’s league debut / cricket is back…

_ _
New speed limits

It looks likely that new speed limits will soon be brought in for the centre of the village. The new limits will apply in central Draycott, in anticipation of a proposed new roundabout there.

Proposed roundabout diagram

Proposed roundabout diagram (detail)

The limit will be reduced from 40mph to 30mph along two stretches: from (roughly) Ford’s (Fayre) Field to Manor Farm; and along Cresswell Lane, from the Draycott junction to (roughly) the Sports Centre.

Annoyingly, at first Highways left residents hardly any time for a public consultation period, so they were forced to extend it by three weeks (from late June to July 14th).
However, very oddly – despite being given this extension and all the public interest -, when our village council met on July 13th, it still did not come up with a formal response to the plans. It’s not clear why not.
(It’s not the first time the village council have failed to put in responses to infrastructure consultations – and you do have to wonder at that kind of record…)

It also seems a bit strange that the Highways Department wants to do this now, because there are still no definite dates for the construction of this particular roundabout – the very reason for the new speed limits!
But anyway, for many residents, sick of the speeding along Uttoxeter Road, it will be good news that there will likely now be new limits.

The changes, when they come in, will follow another speed-limit change in the village – at the west end, where the dual carriageway is now a 40mph zone after having been a 60mph zone up until the New Year. (It was changed to accommodate the new Blythe Fields housing estate there).

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Jordan gets his boots on

The local paper, the Cheadle&Tean Times, has been following the career of Jordan Brown, the Cresswell lad who is steadily going up the professional football ladder. After going through the Stoke City Academy, getting taken on at Derby County, playing in their reserves and in European tournaments, the latest good news that the paper reports is that Jordan has now made his debut in Derby’s first side, in a full Football League match. He came on as a substitute in Derby’s encounter at West Brom earlier this month.
Well done Jordan…

It’s interesting to think that Jordan was taken on at Derby when Frank Lampard was manager there – because if there is one good opinion worth having in football, it’s Frank’s!

_ _
Cricket is back

More sport – we have the return of cricket to the Creswell ground of Blythe CC. (The coronavirus crisis meant that the start of the season, which was due in mid-April, had to be suspended.)

Blythe Cricket Club ground

The Blythe CC ground has spectacular views

This will be a strange season, as all sorts of social distancing rules will apply (except for wicket-keepers and slips); there will be no promotion or relegation; and overseas players, who bring so much excitement to the games, are not permitted.
The good thing is that spectators are allowed at the Cresswell ground for the matches, so long as they spread out. Even the bar is open, even if you can’t hang about inside it.

The first home game for the First XI, at the Cresswell ground, is on Saturday July 25th. See our What’s On page for other fixtures.

_ _
Scary …

Many of us have received a strange leaflet, called CV19 Facts Not Fear, through our letterboxes. It’s printed by an anonymous local supporter of Vigiliae, which is a small conspiracy-theory group associated with David Icke. (Mr Icke was recently banned from Facebook for publishing “health misinformation that could cause physical harm”, and he also believes that reptilian beings have invaded the earth).
Mostly Vigiliae has been pushing the wild idea that mobile phone masts give you cancer, but now it has the pandemic in its sights. Vigiliae's Covid 19 leafletThis leaflet outlines ten reasons why we should disbelieve the government and health authorities over Covid, and it encourages us to defy the coronavirus guidelines and rules. It even suggests that any vaccine developed in the next few months is likely to cause cancers…

Now, as any reader of this website will know, we do believe in healthy questioning of the authorities, but this is extreme and dangerous stuff.
We suggest that the best thing the person who delivered it should do is ask to speak at the next village council meeting and put across their views in open debate. The village council has been putting out community health messages over this year, so it is a good forum for such a debate.
And, if they want to debate, we are ready for them!

_ _
Looking for Silver

Finally, we don’t usually do lost & found, because the village Facebook page does it better, but there is one case that is worrying.
Silver the cat
Silver, a grey-haired one-eyed housecat, was apparently taken from her home and then dumped somewhere in Draycott. This was at the beginning of July.
Usually cats are sighted eventually – but not this time.
Do you have any news? Owner Tim would like to know – on 07505 041712.

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)