Category Archives: politics

Draycott Council – a five-year review

Earlier this month, we saw the 2019 Annual Meeting of Draycott-in-the-Moors Council.  (The council oversees not just Draycott, but Cresswell, Totmonslow, Draycott Cross and Draycott Waste).
During such an annual meeting a council will often look back over its last few years, especially the last twelve months, to see what has been achieved…. if anything. In an election year (as this one is), it will also look back at the achievements of the outgoing council … if there were any.

This year, the summary of such achievements was presented by the Draycott Council chairperson, Pat McLaughlin.
Naturally, this summary (being presented by a politician as it is…), will often mention the good stuff, and often ‘forget’ the disappointing stuff – so it is left up to us, the residents, to remember the other side of the coin, and make sure it is not forgotten.

Having said that, we do now have a ‘new’ council – nearly half the members are only recently elected,since the election only three weeks ago -, so it is a bit unfair to load on it too many of the failings of the past – but, for the sake of the record, and in the hope that the new members will avoid the mistakes of the old members, here goes…

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Summary – Draycott Council 2014-2019

What we have thought is to do is to look back over the last few years, i.e. over the time of the outgoing council, and check out the different categories in which village councils have duties, and to see how Draycott Council scores…. and then mark each aspect out of five * (stars).
This scoring is subjective and ours alone – other residents may have other views.

*Control of finances – 2*
~   Over the last six years, Draycott has demanded huge tax increases; in one year (2014) it even demanded a 24% council-tax rise for itself!  In fact the council’s average annual tax-rise demand in this period has been 8% … at a time when inflation in the country as a whole was floating around 2%…!
In contrast, other comparable councils, such as nearby Dilhorne, have stayed under the inflation rate.
However, the extra money has not been used for unexpected or ambitious projects.  The only significant project has been in maintenance, with the repair of the roofs of two bus shelters.
The council is now sitting on a large reserve.

Communication with residents – 1*
One of the most frequent promises made by politicians is that they wish to reach out to their public and ‘communicate’.   It’s also one of the promises that is hardly ever kept … especially in Draycott.
~   Despite repeated promises (the last one being by the chairperson in 2017), Draycott Council has not issued any newsletters to the community for six years.
~   The council’s website is just a ‘bare minimum’ affair; it is barely up to what it is required to do by statute. In 2018, it only published one post. The council simply don’t take it seriously.
It just looks very untidy too – compare it to websites of other nearby councils which have much more informative and tidy websites (see Milwich Council’s website or Fulford Council’s website , or  indeed websites of all our surrounding parish councils).
~   It is within the council’s remit to set up working-groups, in which local residents and councillors work together to solve particular problems. Draycott Council only has two such groups – up to last month, both had not even met.
~   The councillors refuse to publish their email addresses either on Draycott Council’s own webpages or the official Local Government webpages. Compare that to the openness of neighbouring Milwich councillors’ approach or Checkley councillors, who all reveal their email addresses. As for those registers of interests – some councillors didn’t even list the address of the house they live in.

It is worth noting that the national body for parish councils, the NALC is so worried about the lack of community engagement seen in semi-rural councils like Draycott that they have set up a working party to urge local councils to develop this side of their work.

Leadership –  2*
Draycott village council has very few direct responsibilities; its main two are to consider planning applications and to monitor the local footpath network.  It has an incredibly poor record on both.
~ Draycott Council has put in a response to only one major planning application over the last five years.  It made no official response to:  the Cresswell Housing Estate proposal (for 168 homes); the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan 2018-2031 Final Version; the Cresswell Roundabout proposal; and the Blythe Vale Housing Estate proposal (for 118 homes).
This February (in election year…!) , it finally did make an official response to an important proposal – to the second Blythe Vale Housing Estate proposal (for 146 homes).
Over those same years, only one time has a Draycott councillor gone to Leek to voice the residents’ case at a planning meeting.
In contrast, one can name numerous other Moorlands parish councils who have risen to the challenge of large planning matters – Bagnall village council even commissioned reports, while others have led demonstrations.
~  There have been no published parish-footpaths surveys and/or annual reports, despite promises, in the last five years.
~  While other Moorlands villages press on gradually with their ‘neighbourhood plans’ processes, we have got nowhere here; in fact, here in Draycott, the process has collapsed three times over the last few years. At the last attempt, £2000 was spent on consultants before that attempt was wound up.  The current, fourth attempt looks doomed to go the same way.
~   A drive by the council to recruit residents for a speedwatch scheme also failed.

Transparency –  2*
Since 2015, when the government had to force secretive councils such as Draycott to openly publish the records of their meetings, ‘transparency’ has been a key word in how councils should behave.
However, the NALC is very worried that transparency is simply not being taken seriously.
Again, we would urge Draycott Council to start to be transparent.

~   On four occasions over the last five years, the council has decided to go into private session (when the public has to leave the hall). On all but one of those occasions, it was later proved they had no right to do so.
~  Publication of relevant documents. The council is required by statute to publish, by strict deadlines, a select list of documents on its website.  For example, it must “publish the finalised (or draft) minutes from all formal meetings not later than one month after the meeting has taken place”. Over 2015-19, Draycott failed to do this on twelve occasions; residents continually had to complain about the issue.
The council is also supposed to publish ‘supporting documents’ on the website. It almost never does.  In fact, the records of one of its sub-committees, the Personnel Sub-Committee, have never been published.
In contrast, nearby Milwich Council has made it crystal clear that they know their responsibilities and will stick to them, by publishing s stand-alone Transparency responsibilities webpage on its website.
~   In 2018, the councillors refused to reveal what public groups, other than the council, they are personally associated with. The council has also refused to reveal which members have (or have not) undertaken councillor training sessions. By contrast, Checkley parish councillors are completely open.
~   But, to be fair, some reforms were introduced in 2017, mostly at the insigation of the then clerk. It became easier for members of the public to get soemthing placed on a council agenda.

Conduct – 3*
~  The last couple of years have been pretty bad for Draycott Council’s reputation. Some unpleasant behaviour within the council was even exposed in the local papers (the clerk at the time even resigned in disgust). Separately, a councillor resigned in 2016, partly because of the treatment she said she’d suffered.
You’d have expected the council to launch an investigation into what exactly was happening and what was at the root of it.  They didn’t.
~   But, to be fair, most recent council meetings have been conducted without acrimony. At least recent meetings are (on the surface anyway!) polite.

However, the NALC is so concerned about the behaviour of councils generally that it now wants a compulsory Code Of Conduct for councillors – to get them to behave with due respect for the proper ways.

Major Achievements –  1*
Here in Draycott-in-the-Moors, the council collects almost £10,000 a year in council tax from residents. So, has the council any major achievements to show for that over the last few years?
~ Earlier this year, the council applied for funding for a speed-sign, and has been successful; it is to be hoped that a sign will be installed later this year.
~ The council’s Great War Commemoration effort was underwhelming.
~ Maintenance jobs in the district have been neglected over the last five years, because the council took that long to appoint a ‘lengthsman’ (aka odd jobs person).  The role has now been filled – so let’s hope things start to look better.
~  The council do though employ a litter-picker, whose job is to keep the village tidy, and Mr Price has been continuously in post for quite a few years.

(However, in the same period, a local community group established an information centre, installed a defibrillator, organised tidy-up days, built an information board, and commissioned reports to challenge unwanted housing development.  Quite a contrast!).

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Looking to the future

We hope we’ve been fair on this page in our review of the council’s record.  The trouble is, it’s not a very good record.

However, perhaps it is up to all of us to draw a line in the sand and put the past behind us and let the new councillors do their best.
We wish the ‘new’ council good luck.

Have the new Draycott councillors the energy, the vision and the drive to start to make significant things happen?
We would urge the newer councillors to try to inject some energy into the system… and perhaps, one day, someone will profile Draycott as a model council. Wouldn’t that be good?

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Want to comment 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)

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

New councillors in 2019 election results

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

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Draycott-in-the-Moors council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Staffs Moorlands Council – Checkley Ward

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

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

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

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

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

News: local elections / new candidates / community’s kiosk / memorial move

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid April 2019
In this post we have news of…:  a farewell to some councillors / new faces among the election candidates / well done to Cresswell kiosk group / new site for memorial tree … 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including sports camps in Cresswell…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Farewell

Believe it or not, we have great respect for people who step up for their community to become councillors. Yes, there are some bad apples, there are too many incompetents, and quite a few who are too self-important, but most are just ordinary honest folk with a sense of civic duty.
So, when they step down after years of ‘doing their bit’, it is fair to thank them.

Two familiar local faces whose names will not be on the ballot at the forthcoming Moorlands Council elections (in May) are Colin Pearce and David Trigger. Colin has a thoughtful and courteous manner about him, but he has been virtually the only one of our local politicians brave enough to stand up loudly to development hereabouts – he will be missed. And Dave Trigger, who has been so ill recently, was someone who could always be relied upon to be very intelligent & honest – rare qualities indeed. They were good councillors, both.

Draycott Fayre 2016 - 25 years banner

Here, Pauline Clarke displays the ’25 Years of the Draycott Fayre’ banner

There are changes too at Draycott Parish council.
Pauline Clarke is stepping down after many years; she is a good example of the sort of villager who keeps a community going – her work with the summer fayre, the church refurbishment, the craft club and so on is testament to that.
Sadly, we seem to have fewer and fewer residents like her: ones who are prepared to support a range of activities in the village. We need more…

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Fresh faces at the polls

And now, on to what’s happening next.  As you know, the month of May will see village-council as well as district-council elections.

But, it has been depressing to note that, all around the Moorlands, very few people want to step up and stand for election to their parish-village councils. In fact, in nearly all other Moorlands villages, there won’t be elections at all – because, simply, they won’t have enough candidates.
In next-door Blythe Bridge for example, despite its ongoing problems of vandalism, interest is so low in their council that only six candidates have come forward to fill thirteen seats. That’s very disheartening.

So… congratulations are in order for us, the people of Draycott-in-the-Moors! This will be one of very, very few areas in the Moorlands where a parish council election will take place, as there are more than enough candidates here. When that happens, it usually shows a healthy interest in democracy among the residents.

And it’s nice to see some welcome faces among the first-time candidates here.
Kate Bradshaw is well-known for her work with the church and for her deep understanding of how parish councils function; she is also a ‘moderator’ on our village Facebook group. The Myatts of Stuart Avenue are also well-known and are that supportive of the council that two family members are standing! It’s good to see too that Sean McLaughlin, who ‘filled in’ when Steve Jones died a year ago, has decided that he will now put himself forward for a proper go. See the full list of candidates by clicking here.

These fresh faces deserve some consideration – please use your vote on May 2nd!
(There’s only one issue – surprisingly, nobody from Cresswell is standing, so if you live in Cresswell, you might want to press the candidates to ask them what they will do for Cresswell).

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Moorlands Council elections

Meanwhile, there are also the Moorlands District Council elections. At the moment, the Conservatives are the majority party on the Moorlands Council.
We are in the Checkley ward (Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow are all in Checkley ward) which is usually safe for the Tories.
However, the rapid rate of housing development in this region and concerns about the new Local Plan pushed through by the current councillors, might make voters think again.

Here in Checkley ward, there are seven candidates vying for three seats. As well as the usual Tory and Labour candidates, this time round there will also be a Green Party candidate (no Lib Dem though). Plus them, are two independents – Peter Wilkinson, who was formerly UKIP, and the former head-teacher Sandra Peck.
See the full list f candidates by clicking here.

Expect to get loads of leaflets through your letterboxes soon!

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Kiosk – good as new!

The lifeblood of the village is its voluntary groups – from the Women’s Institute to the local tennis teams (see our Links Page for a full list of local groups) – and one of them is making a real effort in Cresswell.

The Cresswell Community Group has taken on responsibility for the old telephone box there. This kiosk is now used as an information point, but also, more importantly, it houses the village defibrillator, which is for use when somebody goes into cardiac arrest.

So, when the bottom panel of the kisk’s door became so rotten that the door no longer closed properly, the group set to to finding funds to fix it and to find a competent joiner to carry out the work.

… all now nicely repared…

And, they stayed local – getting the money from the Draycott-in-the-Moors Solar Array Community Fund and hiring a tradesman who lived only 200 yards from the kiosk!
(To read the whole story, click here).
We’re happy to say: it now looks as good as new!

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New spot for memorial tree

The saga of Draycott Council’s WW1 Anniversary project continues, but it is not getting a lot better.

As we reported in our last post on the subject, the Council had had a memorial plant donated – which was then vandalised.
However, the plant has also now been refused permission to be in St Margaret’s churchyard… and instead has been placed in a rather odd spot, on some spare ground at the bottom of Church Lane.
Even though it is now some nine months since the WW1 commemorations were completed in the rest of the country, Draycott’s plant still has no memorial plaque.

 

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Compared to the efforts of all the nearby parish councils, and those across the rest of the country, Draycott’s contribution looks a bit sorry.

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

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

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

NEWS: Vale?…Fields / Candidates needed / Road sign confusions / Betty is 106!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late March 2019
In this post we have news of…:  Blythe Vale changes its name / just days left for village nominations / street names craziness! / Bessie reaches a grand old age… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a family tennis tournament…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Vale … to Fields

St Modwen Developers are wasting no time in getting on with the building of the new housing estate on Draycott Level (on the ridge behind Chandni Cottage restaurant).
The signs are already up; the ‘site access road’ is in action; and even the advertisements for the properties are already online.   (One odd thing: their website gives a list of the nearby schools which are among the ‘benefits’ of living here, BUT William Amory Primary has been excluded from the list, which is a bit of a surprise…)
The previous name we knew it under, ‘Blythe Vale’, has been changed to Blythe Fields.

Blythe Fields board

Flying the flag for ‘Blythe Fields’ in Draycott

So, from all that, one can guess that St Modwen clearly have no fears that the latest (revised) expansion plans they have submitted for the estate (which mean the latest version of the estate will grow to be almost the size of the one coming to Cresswell) will get the necessary planning permission… !
The proposals go before the Planning Committee at Leek next month.

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Your Village Needs You

It’s to be hoped that we get more energetic local councillors soon – ones that are capable of dealing with these big issues in a way that our current representatives seem unable to.
And, if things go right, we may indeed get some as soon as in a few weeks, because the latest round of council elections is almost upon us.

Election promotion posterBut, for a democracy to work, ‘good & true’ people need to come forward and stand as candidates; and there are only a very few days left for people who wish to stand for election to Draycott Council to put in their nomination papers.
(Draycott Council covers Draycott, Cresswell, Draycott Cross & Totmonslow).
The Staffordshire SPCA is urging village councils to run campaigns to get candidates to come forward, and some have; already other nearby councils are energetically running such promotions, calling on their residents to come forward to stand as village councillors – next-door Checkley Council is even running a promotional video.
Sadly, even though we are so close to the deadline, Draycott Council has not yet chosen to run such a campaign. One can only wonder why.

Seven candidates are needed to stand for Draycott Village-Parish Council alone – that’s how many seats there are on the council.

So. Do you think YOU could make a difference?
If you do, print out the official documents and fill them in.
If you are not sure, read our Guide to Becoming a Draycott & Totmonslow & Cresswell councillor.
But remember – the nomination papers must be delivered (by hand) to Leek by 4pm on April 3rd… which is not long away…

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Bessie rocks on

One person who is well-remembered for a being a great Draycott village councillor is the redoubtable Betty (aka Bessie) Hammond who served for thirty years. She has retired from the role now – which is not surprising, as she turned 106 last week!

Bessie at 106

Enjoying the birthday tributes!

Unlike her 100th Birthday party, last week’s party was a smaller affair, as Betty gets a little tireder these days than she used to, but a pub room still had to be arranged to cope with all the guests!

It’s amazing to think that, when Betty was born, in 1913, the First World War had not even started and horse transport still ruled the road…   It’s even more amazing to think of all the babies that have come into the world in her hands: she spent many years as a sort of unofficial midwife to the working people of Draycott & Cresswell.  In fact, she was tireless in her public service. Read our article – Betty Hammond’s Life-Story.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were more people like Betty?

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Odd – and then odder

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

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

cresswell old road sign

The wrong name…

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

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

'Caverswall old lane' new sign

Caverswall??? Should be Cresswell !

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

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

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

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

NEWS: Potholes / rail history / fayre plea / elections soon

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in Early Feb 2019
In this post we have news of…:  potholes reappear / uncovering history / help the Fayre! / stand for election … 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Hand-Bell Ringers concert…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Return of the Potholes

Well, it hasn’t been that bad of a winter, but, even so, potholes are back.

Cresswell is really badly affected.
The most vicious pothole is at the collapsed drain-cover on the southbound bank, up to the cricket club. As it’s on a slope it’s hard to see it, until you hit it – often with a nasty crack.

Pothole near the cricket ground in Cresswell.

Pothole near the cricket ground in Cresswell. On a slope, it can be hard to spot

Meanwhile on Sandon Road, at the point where traffic enters & exits off the business park, numerous little potholes have appeared, making the road all pitted. It’s the effect of all the HGVs coming and going off the park, of course.

Blythe Business Park potholes

Potholes on road outside Blythe Business Park in Cresswell – looks like the surface of the moon!

And it will only get worse if the developers/owners of the park get their way and planning permissions are altered to allow them to use this entry for construction wagons too. (A decision on that is expected in April).

So… drive carefully!

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Please help the Fayre

For over twenty-five years, Draycott has held a successful summer fayre.
All the work that goes into it is by local volunteers, and all the profits (which average around £5000) are ploughed back into maintaining the crumbling fabric of our ancient church of St Margaret’s.
Because we have lost our school, our shops, even our football club, there are very few occasions now when the village comes together to celebrate together – this event is virtually the last.

So – it wouldn’t be a good thing if the fayre did not happen.
But that is what is possible.

Because… a lot of the people who put in the effort year after year say they are getting on – and they now want to hand over to new blood so they can just take a rest!
One can sympathise.
Fortunately for us, John Clarke has agreed to stay on as Coordinator, so at least there is still a steady hand at the helm.

Dancers Draycott Fair 2009

The Zazu dancers, who appeared at the fayre in 2009…

Can YOU help? From just looking after the car-park on the day, to selling raffle-tickets, to making phone-calls – there are a range of tasks from the small to the significant.

This Wednesday (13th Feb), there is a meeting at the church at 7.30. Why not go along, see if you like what you see, and if you do, ask what you can do…

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Rail history coming to light

Railway Cottages Lane in Cresswell is a bit off the beaten track, but a few people have been down that way recently – partly to check out Number Four (which is currently for sale) and partly to look into a planning application site there (the plans have since been turned down).
Part of that planning pre-process was the creation of a new track on the site, which, by chance, has uncovered a lovely industrial structure, part of Cresswell’s history: a rail platform for goods loading.Cresswell platform1Cresswell Railway Station, which was over 100 years old when it finally closed, was at the junction of the Stoke-Derby line and the Cheadle Branch line. It closed to passenger traffic in 1966, but stayed open for industrial traffic (carrying mainly sand from Cheadle) for another twenty years.
The uncovered structure is part of a small goods yard handling such freight.

Matthew Pointon, the historian of Draycott, thinks that he remembers that the platform was actually inside a large goods shed, which was demolished in the 80s or 90s.
The new track is private property, but you can see the platform easily because the new track is right next to the lane. Nice, isn’t it?

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Candidates required

The elections for Draycott-in-the-Moors Council are just around the corner – May in fact.
But first we need at least seven candidates to stand for election; signed nominations must be in by the beginning of April.

This year, more than one councillor on Draycott Council has spoken of standing down and not seeking re-election. Though it’s not a particularly tough role, or even requiring much to do, still, it’s a responsibility – and some of the current members have been doing it for many years, so they think it’s time to hand the baton on.

So… are YOU interested? There’s a quick run-down on whether and if you’d be eligible by clicking here. As you will see, you don’t even have to live in Draycott / Cresswell / Totmonslow to be eligible…!

The first thing to do though, if you are interested, is to make sure you are on the Electoral Register (though it doesn’t matter which county you are registered in, so long as it’s somewhere in the UK). That’s essential.
If you’re interested in the tiny ins & outs, you could attend the special meetings in Leek on Wednesday 6th March and on Tuesday 12th March, but it’s really not essential.
If you think you’d like to give it a go, contact the Draycott Council Clerk who will be able to give helpful advice.

And the best of British luck!!

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

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

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
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NEWS: sad Brexiteer / useless police? / draughty shelters / give to the homeless

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid Dec 2018
In this post we have news of…: Sir Bill Cash’s set-back / useless police, say councillors / windows removed from bus shelters / how to donate locally to the homeless …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including carol concerts…  Check out the Events page)
If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

_ _ _
Bill’s disappointment

Sir Bill CashOne of the most disappointed men in Britain this week must be our very own MP, the Conservative Sir Bill Cash. (Sir Bill’s constituency covers the whole of Draycott and district).
Sir Bill (see pic right) is a ‘hard Brexiteer’, and was one of the first MPs to put his name down calling for a vote of no-confidence in Theresa May, the leader of his own party. However, as you probably know, although the vote was indeed eventually called, his side was easily defeated – and Theresa May continues as Conservative leader (and prime minister).

For 78 year-old Sir Bill, the current Brexit situation is a bitter one. He has spent the thirty-plus years of his parliamentary life opposing Britain’s presence in the European Union; and he detests the idea of even the ‘soft Brexit’ which now seems to be on the cards (maybe!).
He has literally filed thousands of questions in Parliament on the subject of Europe, and recently he has concentrated on it so much, he seems to be almost ignoring all other issues.

By the way, if you would like to speak in person to Bill, he is holding a surgery locally this Saturday (15th) -see our Local Events page for details.

_ _ _
Not so much of a shelter now

It’s a case of now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t.
What has happened to the perspex windows in the bus shelters at the western end of Draycott Level?
The windows in the shelters at Stuart Avenue and outside The Golden Keg seem to have just … disappeared.

 

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Although there is currently no public bus service through Draycott (though there are hopes to being one back), the shelters are still used by children waiting for their school bus. The windows are a protection against wind, rain and snow.

So who authorised their removal? This was the question put by a member of the public at the last meeting of Draycott Council (because the council owns the two shelters).
The question also followed formal complaints to the council from residents not happy about the windows’ removal.

After a lot of fuzzy responses, the actual answer to the question finally arrived: one councillor, who had been asked to tidy up the shelters, took it upon himself to make the decision to take the windows out – without referring the matter back to the full council. He thought the windows were detrimental.
You’d think that that off-the-cuff act would slightly bother the rest of the councillors, wouldn’t you? But they were simply indifferent.
As for the complaints from the public about the matter, they were dismissed out of hand as spurious.

This is yet another case of Draycott councillors simply thinking that the public don’t need to be consulted. Because, in fact, there was indeed a useful debate to be had about whether the windows in the bus shelters should be removed – for instance, the perspex had got discoloured & ugly versus the fact that they do provide protection for the kids – and it would also be nice to even have such a debate!
So why wasn’t the matter put on the agenda of a public meeting in a proper fashion?

This simply illustrates that we do need new councillors – ones that will try to find out the public’s views on things, and communicate with electors on public issues, before they act.
There will be elections to Draycott Council in five months time – will YOU step forward and stand, and bring a fresh approach?

_ _ _
Thoughts on local policing

At their last meeting, a few Draycott councillors said they had witnessed themselves drug-dealing taking place on Draycott Level. It was very clear to them what was going on.
But they also admitted that they had not informed the local police, or reported descriptions of the miscreants to Crimestoppers. The reason, they said, was that it wasn’t worth it – and no other councillor disagreed.

This is a sad reflection on the state of things today. When our leading citizens, as in this case, no longer trust the police to act on information about criminal behaviour, it’s a sorry lookout.
So… what do YOU think: are the local police really so useless?

We’ve put a poll on this page for you to give your opinion.
If you saw drug-dealing taking place locally, would you report it (even anonymously), or, like our councillors, think it just not worth it? What would you do?

In the meantime, we understand there were thefts from vans last week (the night of the 3rd & 4th Dec) in Stuart Ave, at the western end of Draycott. If you saw anything, you can call 101 to speak to the police or email our local PCSO james.naylor@staffordshire.pnn.police.uk.

_ _ _
Help the homeless

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Homeless at Xmas

With all this political stuff going on, it’s almost hard to remember that this is the Christmas season. However, if you take a look at our What’s On pages, you’ll see lots of carol concerts within a three-mile radius, and even a pantomime!

St Mary’s Church in Cresswell thinks that it’s a time also to remember the needy. After their carol service on Sunday (16th Dec at 3pm) they’ll be accepting donations for the homeless.

Donations should be specific: what is needed are quilts, men’s socks & underwear (new), gloves, hats, scarves, basic toiletries, shower gel, deodorant etc.
Donations should be packaged in a sturdy bag, or cardboard boxes.
You are asked to give what you can.

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

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

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

NEWS: fayre surprises / new lighting / priest goodbye / Sir Bill

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-August 2018
In this post we have news of…: Draycott Fayre summary / new Church lighting / farewell to Catholic priest / is Sir Bill distracted?  …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including  a bank holiday food festival…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Fayre surprise

The organisers of the Draycott Summer Fayre have learnt to expect the unexpected (remember the year the field was sodden with torrential rain?) but even they were taken by surprise this year.

It was a boiling hot day, the list of events was as long as your arm… all was set fair.
Then the cancellations started coming in: the funfair, the quad bikes, the ferrets-show, the bouncy-castle, the fire engine, some of the stall-holders. These last-minute cancellations knocked out a lot of kids’ fun stuff.
Plus… one of the chief organisers fell suddenly seriously ill on the day, causing real concern.

But, basically – and it’s not often you say this about a British summer day! – it was simply too hot. Numbers at the gate were down, and a lot of parents took their kids home early to avoid sunburn. (This was a double-shame because very few were there for the highlight of the day, the medieval knights’ battle).

However, for those who braved the sun, it really was a relaxing day… picnics for all!
The Punch & Judy went down a storm; the Fayre bar did a good trade (of course!); and the Reptile stand was a huge attraction. You can see photos of the day by clicking here, and here, with a few others below.

 

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One stand must get special mention: the World War One dug-out re-construction.
Local historian Levison Wood was dressed up as an infantry captain of the time, and was over-heating in his heavy uniform as he gave his talks – but he never took off anything, not even the jacket, “out of respect” he said. You have to give him lots of credit for that.

In the end, £3000 was raised. Not nearly as much as in recent years, but still a valuable contribution to the upkeep of St Margaret’s, our village’s medieval church.
Congratulations must go to John Clarke and his team. When you think that the fayre, as big an event as it is, is put together by volunteers only, it’s quite a feat.

– – –
Church improvements

John Clarke, as we have just said, is a man who likes to keep busy, and he often has more than one project on at any one time.

For over two years now he and Bill Ward have been working on a scheme to install lighting on the paths around St Margaret’s Church. These are just dirt paths, so are a bit of a hazard, especially on dark winter days. It’s reported that, one year, someone actually fell into a grave when they couldn’t see where they were going… St Margaret's Church lighting posts lighting south side
They look pretty good (see above) but the scheme has proved incredibly expensive, nearly £10,000. If you intend any work in the vicinity of a Grade 2* listed building, it doesn’t come cheap – even getting the necessary permissions was a long, drawn-out process.
Thank goodness for local people’s goodwill: the funds were eventually raised through a combination of donations, fund-raising and grants, as well as work done by those who gave their labour & skills for free.
And, it’s now (mostly) done. To save energy, the lights are programmed to go on and off at set times depending on the time of year.

You can take a virtual walk along the paths and see the posts in more detail with this video.

– – –
Farewell Pawel

Talking of churches, a number of residents took their chance at the Cresswell St Mary’s hog-roast last week to say their goodbyes to Father Pawel Przybyszewski (on right in pic below), one of the priests who looks after the combined parish.
He hasn’t been with us long, but he’s already heading back to his native Poland.
If you missed the hog-roast, there’s another opportunity to say your farewells at a special barbeque next week.
Fathers Kaz and Pawel
The other priest of the parish, Father Kazimierz Stefek (Kaz to his friends!) is staying on however.
Father Kaz is leading a refurbishment of St Mary’s, with a complete re-painting of the interior and repairs to the decoration.
He’s also fascinated by the church’s history, as you’ll see if you visit: hanging on the walls now are lots of tributes to the history of the last 500 years of Catholicism in Cresswell.

– – –
Brexit bother

We try not to mention Brexit on this website (!), but we saw an article in the papers recently about how a few MPs – those on the extremes of the debate -, are spending so much time on the issue, they are just not able to give as much time to their constituencies.
Can this explain why we see so little of our own MP Bill Cash?

Sir Bill CashSir Bill (pic right) has been a fierce opponent of EU membership since forever and was deeply involved with the Leave campaign. He says: “Brexit is ultimately about our democracy, our sovereignty and our self-government. All the other issues, including our right to free trade with the rest of the world, are subsidiary.”

However, is his time-consuming involvement with Brexit leading him to have to do less work in this constituency? Unlike his fellow Conservative, Karen Bradley in next door Leek (and Karen is a minister too, don’t forget), we rarely see him at public events in this area or even doing local surgeries. He has only been up here for surgeries four times in all this year.
(To be fair to Sir Bill, he has spoken in Parliament about one big local issue this year, the HS2 route).

So… what do you think? Is Brexit so important that Sir Bill would be right to put so much of his energies into it … or does he need to take back some of that time to spend on pressing constituency matters?
It would be interesting to hear what you think. Use the comments box below.

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

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

NEWS: neighbourhood plan / church re-fit / bye to Bill? / Chandni 5*

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: repairs programme for St Margaret’s / Draycott to change MPs? / will YOU be part of plan process? / Chandni Cottage Restaurant report…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Valentines Ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Church’s birthday re-fit

You may have noticed that our parish church of St Margaret’s is currently covered in scaffolding. It turns out that this is all due to some necessary repairs ordered by the Church Of England authorities – and will cost a stinging £40,000…

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The 13th century church developed a leak in the roof a while back, which was fixed eventually by the church’s own volunteer project manager, John Clarke.  John is well-known for his unstinting efforts to keep the ancient church viable. (See the Saving The Bells story).

However, then along came the compulsory Church Of England ‘Quinquennial’ five-year review – and that report has demanded the repair of virtually the whole main roof. The trusted restoration experts, Midlands Conservation, are undertaking the work because of the great historical value of the building.
Fortunately, the church wardens at the church have been putting money by, so this won’t bust the bank, but it does mean fund-raising efforts (such as the Draycott Summer fayre) will have to be intensified.

Curiously, the refit comes just as the church is about to celebrate its 750th anniversary – which makes it a sort of birthday present!

– – –
Got a plan for our neighbourhood?

People in Draycott district have been kicking around the idea of developing a ‘neighbourhood plan’ for some years now.
Well, slowly, slowly, the Draycott Council has been progressing the idea. In fact, it now has formal approval for the project, and has been given a grant of £5000 to make it happen.

A ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ outlines what a local community wants to see for itself in the future – especially as regards large planning developments (for and against). The government supports the idea of NPs and gave them official backing in its Localism Act in 2011.
The most important thing about Neighbourhood Plans is that they give formal protection to what a district wants for itself – for the ways it views its green spaces and how new building projects should ‘fit in’ etc.

Next stage of the process here in Draycott is where YOU come in.
An open forum has been called for Fri 26 Jan (see details), and everyone in the district (including Cresswell, Totmonslow and Draycott Cross) is invited to come along to express views.
An expert will be on hand to explain more, and to outline how you can take part even more than just saying your piece, even how you can get to sit on the district committee if you want.checkley neighbourhood plan posterA number of other districts have already pushed ahead with neighbourhood plans and they say they do energise the community. Checkley & Tean have been particularly energetic (see pic above) – have a look at their website’s N Plan pages to find out more.

– – –
Goodbye to Sir Bill?

There now seems to be backing for a proposal to move Draycott district out of the Stone parliamentary constituency and into the Staffs Moorlands parliamentary constituency.
The government’s Boundary Commission has been taking public comments on the proposals and Staffs Moorlands councillors are the latest to come out in favour of the idea.

Sir Bill CashIf it goes through it would mean a change of MP for us, as we would move out of the remit of Sir Bill Cash (see pic right), and would find ourselves being represented instead by another Conservative MP, Karen Bradley, who currently holds the Staffs Moorlands constituency.

However – a lot of political commentators say the proposals have no chance of being accepted.
(So…bit of a waste of time really…!)

– – –
Chandni celebrates

Nice to see that Chandni Cottage, the Indian restaurant at the Blythe end of Draycott, has got a five-out-of-five rating for its food hygiene standards, following a visit from environment inspectors. It had a less than excellent rating the previous time inspectors visited, so they’ve done a fair job to turn it around.

Chandni CottageIt’s well deserved. Yasmeen Yacqub and her team have been in place ever since the restaurant opened in 1996, so they know the business well, and they know their customers well.
It was from listening to customer demand that they developed fat-free versions of most of their dishes, put together the recent refurbishment, and even organised a ‘diners club’ which enables members to taste cuisine from around the world.
Actually, the customers play a full part in the Chandni’s outlook – exemplified by one group of regulars, headed up by Andy Bird, who even go out on country walks to raise money for charity.
That would build your appetite up…!

***
Do you have news you’d like to see written up on this website? If so – email us

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