Leese House Farm – a mini history

Last year sometime, we had an enquiry about one of Cresswell’s most famous farm-houses which said:   “Has anyone got any information on Leeshouses? My ancestors, the Warrilows, lived there certainly from the 1700s to about 1871 before the family moved to Eccleshall.   From – Nari Fairbanks (Australia)”

Leese Houses (now called Leese House Farm) is one of the famous four ancient farm-sites that lie along the old track that runs south for a mile or so from Rookery Crescent down to Painsley, the other three being Rookery Farm (now largely demolished), Wastegate Farm and Painsley Hall Farm.
It is now fully restored; and a lovely property.

Facebook

Well, none of us is a land historian, so we put the query out to the village Facebook page. This query caused a discussion that raised a hundred comments (!); and we thought we shouldn’t just let all that knowledge be lost, so we gathered the bits here together for this article.
The three main contributors to the discussion were Nigel Peake, who has lived in and around Cresswell all his life, Lev Wood, who is secretary of the local history society, and Nari Fairbanks herself – but there were any others.
These are the essential comments, all collated…

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The three main contributors to the discussion were Nigel Peake, who has lived in and around Cresswell all his life, Lev Wood, who is secretary of the local history society, and Nari Fairbanks herself – but there were any others.
These are the essential comments, all collated…

==
Lev Wood Snr commented:     “…’Leese’ House must refer to the Lee Family.  The history of the Lees in the Draycott/Fulford area can be traced back to the 13th Century. (Kirby’s Inquest of 1285 marks Richard de Lee as ‘lord’).  They were certainly considered as the second family locally after the Draycotts during the High Middle Ages, and at one time were referred to by the title ‘Lord’, although this probably was self-assumed. They did however sit on numerous village courts.
It is logical to assume that “Lees” as it was referred to on early maps and later “Lees Houses” were the way to denote ownership of that land and came down through the centuries retaining that name.”
So Leese House just means ‘house of the Lee family’.

Lev Wood Snr comments    “Finally discovered Emanuel Bowen‘s map of Staffordshire c1755 showing Draycott and ‘Lees’.”

Eman Bowen map of Staffordshire

Eman Bowen map of Staffordshire, 1755

Nari Fairbanks comments  “…My Fairbanks ancestors were from Sharpley Heath (on the road to Hilderstone) going back to the 1700’s. My GGG Grandfather Robert Fairbanks was married to Mary Warrilow. The Warrilow family of Draycott can be dated back to the 1600’s with mention of a John Warrilow dated 1607…”

Lev Wood Snr comments   “Just discovered that an Adam Warrilow was living in the vicinity of Draycott in 1327 and paid 2 shillings in tax for the “Scottish War Levy”…
“For anyone trying to trace early Draycottonians there is the 1327 listing…only men sadly, but I do have mention of some prominent women living in the area at the time.  Adam W is still there in 1332 paying the same in the Subsidy Roll.”   (See these rolls at the bottom of this page)

Nari Fairbanks commented:   “… My GGG Grandmother, Mary Warrilow, daughter to John and Ann, was born in Draycott around 1822.  Lees House is recorded as a place of residence on Census Records and Births/Deaths/Marriages records for several family members, mainly around the 1820’s.
There is also reference to the house in the booklet called “A Short History of Cresswell’s Roman Catholic Community” by Father Phillip Bailey (1971).   I’m now thinking that Lees House included a selection of cottages built on the farm land to accommodate Roman Catholic priests in the late eighteenth century & early nineteenth century – when Catholics were permitted to worship again after years of suppression in England.”
One of the first post-1800 RC churches to be built in this part of the world was St Mary’s in Cresswell.

Nari Fairbanks comments   “Have just located an 1891 census record for a George Warrilow living at Leese Houses on Heranwood St in Draycott.  I have to say I did get a little bit excited 🙂   On the transcript, the house name is given as Leese Houses (though have seen this spelt several different ways)”

==

And, at that point, the discussion came to a halt.

So, it seems that the site (if not the actual house) may be as much as 800 years old, with the actual main structure dating back possibly four hundred years.  The cottages on the site later became merged into one house.
Among the puzzles, we can ask: why did the Warrilows leave this long-inhabited home of theirs in the late nineteenth century?  And also – no histories or maps record it, but could Heranwood Street be an old name for the farm track from Cresswell to Painsley?

Clearly, there is a lot more to be found out and maybe someone is already sitting on some significant extra information.  If more comes along, we’ll let you know!

==
Resources

If you want to research the history of your own house, Staffs County History Archives have produced some packs on how to do it – see House History Publications
See also:  Staffordshire Map 1888

Fourteenth Century taxation rolls –  thanks to Lev Wood.  (Adam Warrilow is listed here, but hs name is spelt Warylowe) Draycott roll 1327

NEWS: AGM…not / Joe’s heritage / artwork / cricket on the up

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-May 2017
In this post we have news of…:  When is an AGM not an AGM? / Blythe CC on a roll / Joe Thorley’s heritage / artwork at The Arms …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Grand Prix Dance Festival. Check out the Events page)

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

– – –
You couldn’t make it up

An ‘annual general meeting’ is the high spot of an organisation’s year – with summaries of achievements, and a chance to review the past year and the annual accounts, and more.
So, the AGM of Draycott Parish Council is a big deal – after all, this council spends nearly £10,000 every year of local residents’ money, which they take from us in tax.
This year’s AGM took place on Monday.

Guess what?
There was no Chairman’s Report (the usual look-back at the council’s activities over the last twelve months); the annual accounts hadn’t been audited in time so we didn’t see them; and the reports from our SMDC district councillors didn’t happen either, because, er, they didn’t turn up. So … that is hardly what we call an AGM….!
How can we the public put sensible questions at an AGM if no reports and figures are forthcoming?

It is also the time of year when our local councillors need to be sure that their ‘declarations of interest’ (i.e. the things they do that might affect their role as councillors) are up to date.  So, as you do, we checked each one of them.  You can see them all for yourself, by clicking here.
Well, it turns out that not one of the current councillors (i.e. excluding Pat) has actually filled in the form correctly; and there was no form at all for one councillor – despite the fact that he has been on the council for over ten years!
Even worse was the revelation that hardly any councillor was able to think of anything when asked on the form for their “leading roles in community organisations”.

Some people think that this website is overly critical of the Draycott Council, but, honestly, this is simple stuff.  If, as a councillor, you take on the responsibility of spending ten grand of our money every year, surely you can start with getting the basics right…

– – –
Smashing Blythe!

Blythe Cricket Club First XI has, we are happy to say, got off to a cracking start to their season.  They were unbeaten until last weekend (when they succumbed to an unexpected reverse at Wood Lane).  Their home games, at their Cresswell ground, have been a joy to watch.
And all this without their professional, the Bangladesh international Mosharraf Hossain.  Mosharaf has been unable to take up his place because of the surprising recent success of his Bangladesh side, which has been progressing through international tournaments with ease!  One hopes he will be here soon though.

Meanwhile, work on the new £500,000 pavilion & centre goes on. It’s hoped that everything will be completed on time – i.e. in mid-July.  What a party that will be when it throws its doors open!

PS – don’t let the ongoing work at the ground put you off attending as a spectator.  The bar is (temporarily) in the annexe… and the beer tastes just as good.

– – –
Culture & beer

Sometimes when you want a quiet pint on your own, you might take a newspaper with you.  But what happens if you forget your paper?

Draycott Arms artwork
Well, at The Draycott Arms, they’ve solved that problem.  All you have to do is check out the art on the walls (see pic).  There are a number of interesting paintings on the walls, most of which have been submitted by local artists.  You’ll recognise the names of Jackie Knott and Alan Savage, just for two.  An absorbing 20 minutes can be spent doing it.

The art changes regularly, and much of it is for sale, so, if you are a culture-vulture, you know what to do…

– – –
Joe’s heritage

One of the great characters of this district was Joe Thorley.  Between the 1920s and 1950s, he was often to be seen out with his photography equipment – and his photos are well worth checking out if you ever get the chance.  He also collected paintings of local scenes, and thank goodness he did, or they might have been lost forever.

The View of Tean High Street taken from the Old Roebuck Inn by John Gosling 1832
The ‘View of Tean High Street taken from the Old Roebuck Inn’ – see pic, above – (painted by John Gosling in 1832) was formerly owned by Joe.  Joe, who was a local farmer – at Totmonslow Farm – left it in his will to his sister Pat (Whitfield), who then herself donated to GreatWood Community Hall in Tean, where it can be seen to this day.

The future of Totmonslow Farm – the imposing building on the right as you go past the Totmonslow sign on the way to Tean – was in doubt for a while after Pat died.  However, the good news is that there are plans to adapt the buildings into flats.  It’ll be nice to see the farm ‘alive’ again.

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

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

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

– – –
Pavement loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– – –
Police take action in Draycott

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

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

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

– – –
Parking problems … over

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

– – –
An election before The Election

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

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

Voting day is this Thursday (May 4th).

***
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: classic car / Rectory Lane / a military hero / “un-singing” / congrats to Bessie

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid April 2017
In this post we have news of…:  the classic car that belonged to a Wildblood / cleaning up Rectory Lane / a session for those that can’t sing / congrats to our oldest & grandest lady / our World War One hero…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a St. George’s Day Ball – c
heck out the Events page).
For daily updates about life in our district, check the village Facebook page.
To receive an email each time there is a new post on this site, click the
Follow button (see right)

– – –
A Jaguar on Cresswell’s roads

Lots of us would love to own a classic car, especially a Jaguar, though our chances of that are pretty slim! However, the dream has come true for Douglas Taylor, who wrote to us to say he has just acquired a Jaguar XK 140 FHC (see photos, below).

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However, the main reason it is of interest to us here in Draycott-in-the-Moors is that the car was once owned by Frederick William Rhead Wildblood (who is recorded as having bought the car, new, in 1957, from Byatts of Fenton).
The Wildbloods are famous as the family who owned the Blythe Colour Works in Cresswell right up until 1963 (when they sold it to Johnson-Matthey); and they also owned Draycott Lodge, the big house in Cresswell Lane.

Mr Taylor is a real enthusiast & collector of classic cars, which means that he doesn’t just want to own such motors, he wants to find out their history.  As he told us, “… it brings them to life, so to speak”.
So, he’s asking – does anyone know anything else about the car?  Where did Frederick live in the late 50s?  What was Frederick’s position within the company? What happened to the car later? Mr Taylor would also love to see any old photographs of the car if any are around.

So… over to you.  If you have any information please email us, and we’ll pass it on to Mr Taylor.

– – –
A military hero from Draycott

Sticking for the moment with history (and appeals for photographs), it’s really fascinating to hear that the Blythe Bridge & Surrounding Districts History Society (which also covers Draycott) has turned up a mention of a Draycott man who was also a Great War military hero.

Lev Wood, the society’s secretary, did the research; and he came across a reference, in the Evening Sentinel of 1918, regarding a Major Bernard Joseph Moore of the Grange in Draycott, a soldier who it says was awarded the Military Medal.  (The Grange is in Cheadle Road, just a few yards up from the Draycott Arms).
Though Major Moore survived the war, he suffered from having been badly gassed.

Our major was born in 1889 to Bernard Moore and Mary Frances Dawes, and, following the war, in 1920, he married Helen Clive. He died in 1963, then living at New Inn Lane in Trentham.

Over to you again: Lev wonders if anyone knows any more about him, and might even have a picture of him.  If you have any information please email us

– – –
Can’t sing?  Will sing!

If you ever pass the Church Hall, just up from St Margaret’s Church on Wednesdays, you may have heard an odd sound coming from within.  It’s the sound of singers who can’t sing.

Draycott in the Moors Church Hall

Draycott Church Hall – open for use by the community…

Yes, Steven Booth, a member of the Cheadle U3A, leads a group which meets then at the Church Hall, and he calls his session ‘Singing For The Untuned’!
Steven says: “We have fun, a laugh and tea & biscuits.  People who come along can mime or can just let it all out; there is no expectation.  We sing to printed lyrics – using background music and words.  However… no actual reading of music is allowed, nor is any singing in tune: hence the name!”
Steven is not crazy though; he just believes that using your voice – even if it sounds to others like you are just making a noise – is very therapeutic … and fun.  And no one is allowed to be embarrassed, which is even better.

If you fancy going along to have a look and a try, you will be very welcome.  The first session you attend is free (any questions, just ring 01782 392972).
The next dates are 26th April, 10th and 24th May, and the sessions run from 10am to 11.30ish.
It sounds quite a laugh!

– – –
Rust on the remove

Earlier this month we reported on the fact that Church Lane, the main track up to St Margaret’s Church, was just a mess of potholes and axle-bending bumps. The local Draycott area Council looked into solving the problem but had to basically admit it was too big an issue for them to handle.

Well, now our same local council has been tasked with solving issues on the other approach to the church also.
The footpath/track up to the church from its eastern side is known as Rectory Lane (it leads down to Cheadle Rd), and apparently there have been complaints about some old and rusting vehicles that have been left standing in the lane.

Rectory Lane, Draycott
The council has taken up the issue – and is asking the owner of the vehicles to remove them.  Let’s see if anything happens…

– – –
Congratulations Bessie!

And finally, last but never least, a belated happy birthday to the parish’s oldest resident, the grandest of grand old ladies, Bessie Hammond, who turned 104 last month.  It’s amazing to think that she was born before the First World War even started.

Bessie HammondHer daughter Susan told us that Bessie (pic, right) did give friends and family a bit of a fright on Christmas Day when she had to go into hospital, but she then came back safely to St Margaret’s Court where she lives, so all’s well that ends well.

If you don’t know of Bessie’s long and amazing story, click here for a bit of an insight.

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

NEWS: new cllr / Church Lane end? / traffic lights / new shop?

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early April 2017
In this post we have news of…:  new councillor for Draycott / Church Lane project stumped / disappearing traffic lights  / a shop for Draycott?…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a cabaret evening of ballroom-dancing – c
heck out the Events page).
For daily updates about life in our district, check the village Facebook page.
To receive an email each time there is a new post on this site, click the
Follow button (see right)

– – –
Welcome councillor

Pat McLaughlinCongratulations to the newest member of Draycott Council.
Patricia McLaughlin (see photo, right), a chartered surveyor who lives at the Blythe end of Draycott Level, was voted in by a landslide on Thursday (6th) evening in the local council by-election.  She was voted in with 98 votes, compared to her opponent’s 52 votes. She becomes one of Draycott Council’s seven members.
Our commiserations to the gallant loser, Roger Leach.

Pat said in her manifesto that she will aim to unite the different parts of the district, which, as she observes, have become “disjointed”. We wish her the best of luck.

– – –
Shopping to return to Draycott?

English: Draycott-in-the-Moors Post Office. (n...There hasn’t been a shop in Draycott for many years now: though there are still fond memories of Evelyn Robinson and how she ran the old post office (see picture, right – it was adjacent the Draycott Arms), not to mention the general shop at the Blythe Bridge end of Uttoxeter Road  (near what is now The Golden Keg Restaurant & Pub).

However, Zara & Brayn at the Draycott Arms pub are nothing if not enterprising, and they want to establish a shop-area in what used to be the public-bar room at the pub. The room is under reconstruction at the moment, but it should be all done and dusted sometime in the summer.
Zara is now looking round for a second-hand refrigerated unit to hold the perishable goods (if you know of one, she’ll be happy to hear from you).

In the meantime, a questionnaire has gone out to most local households asking residents what they think of the idea.  If you haven’t had one, or just lost yours, just click here to see the form, print it out, fill it in… then just take it round to the pub…

– – –
Cul-de-sac for Church Lane project?

Over the past three months there has been a deal of discussion (see more…) about what to do about the awful condition of the road surface on Church Lane.  The lane is really more of a track than a road and is full of nasty potholes.
However, it’s an important thoroughfare, as it leads up to St Margaret’s Church & graveyard and to the community hall too.

At the last Draycott Council meeting however, our local councillors admitted defeat.  The project is too expensive and too-consuming for them to get involved with, it seems, and the local county-councillor, Mark Deaville, is taking on the issue instead. Mark is applying to Staffordshire County Highways to have the lane ‘adopted’.  However, he admits it’s a pretty long shot.

So what do the church authorities and the dozen-or-so residents of the lane do next?  We met one resident, Mark, who was doing a manful job patching up the potholes this week. His patches are just exactly that though, and he admits his work may not last for very long.

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It’s a difficult issue.  We suggest the wardens at St Margaret’s start a crowd-funding page to try to raise the cash for proper repairs.
Well…   Anybody got a better idea?

– – –
The case of the disappearing lights

Talking of works not getting done, does anyone know what the sudden appearance and then disappearance of some temporary traffic lights at the Uttoxeter Road-Cresswell Lane junction was all about?Traffic lightsWe were told it was going to be some preliminary work on the giant new roundabout which is going to be built there as a part of the re-development of Cresswell (see: the Roundabout Design diagram).

Maybe the developers changed their minds…?  Hmm.  Unlikely…

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
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Draycott By-Election 2017 – the candidates

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

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

Candidate answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council shenanigans – again

If you are as tired of the shenanigans of Draycott Council as some people are, you’d best skip this particular post. It will only get you depressed.
It’s an update on some of the odd things the council is doing.

The meeting of the council on Monday (20th March) was remarkable: the clerk was so upset by an allegation from a councillor that she had to leave the room; one councillor narrowly escaped censure from his colleagues for his unexplained insinuations against them on social media; one councillor called another’s views “trashy”; and two councillors did not even seem to know sometimes what was actually going on!

Remarkable is one description of the meeting; bizarre is another.

Attack attack

One major issue was the allegations against the Chairman and the Clerk (a clerk is the person who acts as an independent secretary to the council).  One councillor weighed in immediately the meeting started, saying that some sort of plagiarism (which is plain illegal actually) appeared to be in the clerk’s records of the previous meeting.  This so upset the clerk, she had to leave the room to recover.

The next question, of why one councillor had decided to put insinuations against the clerk and the chairman (which they both found offensive) on Facebook, came up. This councillor – even though he was sitting in the room – did not respond, or try to explain the comments, but another councillor was in no doubt about them, and said such views were just “trashy, trashy”.
One poor councillor, who perhaps hadn’t read his agenda documents, said he didn’t at all know what the whole matter was about!
Meanwhile, the watching public were just … dumbstruck.

The Clerk, who was understandably knocked back by all this, has now decided as a result to do no work over & above her four paid hours per week.

Draycott in the Moors Church Hall

Draycott Council meets every month at the local Church Hall – meetings are open to the public

In the past couple of months, the dislike some councillors have for each other has really surfaced – even leading to a formal allegation to the authorities that one councillor had seriously broken the councillors’ Code Of Conduct (though the allegation has since been rejected).
It is very hard to know what is going on; and why this war of words has broken out.  It is certainly unbecoming, that’s for sure.

It might also explain why some electors preferred to chose a full election process (after a vacancy arose in January) rather than let this group choose a new councillor themselves.

Secret meeting

You may remember that, in January, an extra, ‘closed’ meeting was held by the councillors – who did not publish to everyone what they were doing, as they should have done.
Well, we have applied to see the minutes of that meeting (at least, the bits we are not allowed to see) – but… no result so far.

Councillor resignation

Back in January, a councillor suddenly resigned from Draycott Council.  The public still does not know why. Neither the councillor nor the council has explained. It may even be a personal matter, which is fine, but we still should know (surely?) what the general issue was.
We have asked the council to publish the resignation letter – but… no result so far.

Council tax

You may wish to look away at this point.
If you have received your council tax demand in the last week, you’ll notice that the ‘precept’ from Draycott Parish Council has increased by 3.3%, double the rate of inflation at the time the council agreed it.  (And that was before it was even known that there would be an election…).
In contrast, nearby Caverswall Council cut their council tax by 3%.

By law, larger authorities (such as SMDC for example) are obliged to hold a referendum for any increases above 2% – but parish councils, like Draycott, do not.
Usually with a large increase a council will come out to its electorate and explain why the increase is so large (they might have responsibilities for instance), but we have not had that from this council.

In general, Draycott PC has a poor record on council tax increases – in one year recently, it increased the tax by a whopping 25%.
In fact, in a survey conducted by BBC News Research last month, Draycott was in the top 16% (across the whole country!) for councils with the highest council-tax increases over the last three years.

Transparency

One success for the residents is that, following a request from an elector at this last meeting, the council will, from now on, advertise the jobs that it wants done. Seems a small thing to ask – and lots of other parish councils already do it – but the promise has been a long time coming!

The council commissions a number of jobs around the parish and spends hundreds of pounds a year on them. However, rarely have they advertised these jobs, and often they don’t even get three quotes for a job.

The government got so fed up with small councils acting in this way without regard to how carefully public money should be spent that it introduced a ‘Transparency Code’ for small councils in 2015.  Under this code, all councils should publish full details of any item of expenditure over £100.  Let’s hope this happens in future.

New councillor

One feels sorry for the current chairman of the council, who seems to be doing his best to act as a firm-but-fair peace-maker; and one feels even more for the clerk, as the strange allegations against her by her colleagues have still had no evidence put up to justify them.

However, we the public have a big opportunity to ask questions of councillors: when the Council has its Annual General Meeting, which is when it has to present all its reports for the year and its list of objectives for the coming year.  It also has to take questions from its electorate about its conduct, its achievements (or lack of) and its financial affairs.  The AGM is on Monday 8 May.

We wonder what Pat McLaughlin and Roger Leach, who are both standing in the Draycott Council by-election on April 6th, are thinking of it all…  the one who is elected will have a big job on their hands.

In the meantime, the councillors are really not getting on with what they are supposed to do – making improvements for their district.

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

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

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Get on housing list

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

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

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Let’s eat pies

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

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

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Coppafeel cops cash

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

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Election hot air

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

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

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

– – –
Kids project needs dosh

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

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

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

Nominations week in by-election

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

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

Standing for election in this parish area

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

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

No experience needed…

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

To stand or not to stand

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

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

Co-option

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

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

NEWS: lane meeting / pottery waste / new PCSO / bad February

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late February 2017
In this post we have news of…:  public meeting about Church Lane / pottery waste for Cresswell / goodbye Adam, welcome new PCSO / a rotten February…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Arts & Crafts Spring Fair. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates & news about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Church Lane meeting

It’s not often our area council calls a public meeting on one particular subject, but that is what happened a couple of weeks ago, when there was a village debate on the future of Church Lane (the unmade road that leads up to St Margaret’s Church).
A good half-dozen of the householders from the lane were there as well as representatives from the church and the church hall and other members of the public – though, unfortunately, the farmer whose vehicles use the lane was not there.

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

There is no doubt that the track is a mess, with large potholes and ruts, and, as it meets the main road, it is even slightly collapsed. However, as it is an ‘unadopted’ road, the Highways Department will not carry out any repairs to it.

The debate centred on two things: is the track somehow a community responsibility, and so therefore should the council (as well as the residents there) contribute to any repairs?; and secondly, what level of repair (and costs) would be reasonable?
As you can imagine, these are not easy questions to answer.

Church-goers argued that the lane up to an ancient church and its community hall was a wider responsibility than just for the properties there, and so it was a legitimate case for use of some local council tax money.
But what percentage should each property, user and council pay? There was much discussion about that too.

Councillor Winfield also provided some quotes for a range of repairs… but there was also debate about that.  At the top end, it was estimated that the cost could run to £17,000. The church representatives pointed out that that was an almost impossible sum to raise, and asked for just urgent repairs – which could come to as little as £4000 – as at least that was achievable.

In the end, the meeting broke up with a decision to approach each of the concerned parties and try to see what compromise can be reached.
Finding a solution to please everyone looks like it could be a long and arduous task. (A full report will appear on Draycott parish council’s website in the next weeks).

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Saggars in Cresswell

Thanks to all those who have told us about the dozens of lorry-loads carrying pottery waste that have been seen on the unmade lane behind Rookery Crescent in Cresswell.

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It would seem that broken pottery moulds, including saggars, are being shipped there for burial in land-waste tips on some of the farms along there (see pics).  As far as is understood, this is perfectly legitimate – but some residents are investigating if any rules have to be adhered to.We’ll let you know what transpires.

– – –
Police vacancy

PC Adam CharlesworthWe have been fortunate here in our district to have had a most approachable and likeable PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) in Adam Charlesworth (see pic right). Adam has run some very relaxed public drop-in sessions and also made sure to be present at a number of our community’s events.

However, Adam has taken his leave of us. He always told us that his dream was to be a full police officer (PCSOs are not) and so when he applied for and got a full post, he seized it… and good luck to him.  He deserves it.

For the moment, Jon Staples, the other area PCSO, will take on Adam’s role too, but shortly PCSO Dan Nettleton will be stepping into Adam’s big shoes. If you want to welcome Dan, he can be contacted via email: daniel.nettleton@staffordshire.pnn.police.uk

– – –
Good riddance February

One month we will never want back is February 2017.
Storm Doris came ripping through with 70mph winds, and one than one local garden fence is now in a recycling skip…  the rain that came with (and also followed) it caused flooding on some of our outlying roads … and there was even a flurry of snow!
There was an assault on a woman dog-walker in woodland in Draycott Cross – the culprits have not been discovered yet.
A tree collapsed and fell on Cheadle Road just a few yards from Brookside – fortunately no car was passing at the time.
Graham Walker, a local farmer, woke up facing a £6000 bill after criminals dumped loads of illegal waste on his land in the middle of the night.  The culprits also dumped waste on the water-company site up at Draycott Cross.
And a Draycott woman was arrested on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred (see Sentinel story).
Yes, good riddance to February 2017!

***
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)