NEWS: roadworks / hustings / chimes / knitted angels

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late November 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks delays / election hustings for us / knit angels for Xmas / the chimes at the church (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Cresswell party night …  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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Roadworks dates

The incessant rains have not only caused flash flooding in the village but have also delayed the roadworks up by the A521-A50 roundabout.

So we contacted Colin Redmond, the Project Manager, for an update, and he told us that a revised schedule was now in place, meaning that…
~Eastbound incoming lanes will now remain closed until Monday 16 December.
~Then the Christmas break comes into force, i.e. there will be a lane open both ways – until Thursday 9 Jan.
~On Thursday 9 Jan, the big reversal takes place – with westbound, outgoing lanes closed altogether, but with an eastbound, incoming lane now open – until February 14th.
~After February 14th, things get a bit more messy as all the loose ends are tidied up, so the arrangements for these weeks following might be in more flux.
In theory, it should all be over by mid March.

So far, the roadworks have caused few problems for us, but the second phase (i.e. the one starting in January) was always the one that was going to be the most difficult. In this second phase, we will see a heavier concentration of traffic through Blythe Bridge and so, possible delays.
Patience will be needed…

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Seen a candidate?

It always annoys us when people argue against proportional representation for Parliament by saying that “at least we will get a representative who is truly local and whom we can talk to”.
The true fact is that, in most constituencies, one rarely sees one’s MP!

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.comFor example, we were really hoping for a local village-hall hustings this election time. (Hustings are when the candidates come together on a panel to appear before a local audience). In fact, in Stoke, hustings are already set to take place.
But, here in our constituency (the constituency of Stone), only one full one has been arranged so far – and that will be online only!

Still, anyway, well done to the local online news-website A Little Bit of Stone for organising it. If you click on to their Facebook site on the evening of Wed December 3rd (between 7pm and 9pm), you will observe the candidates ‘debating’ live as they make their pitches in writing to the Facebook page.

The only local other hustings we know of is in Eccleshall (one of the main towns in our constituency along with Stone, Cheadle, Blythe Bridge and Madeley) but it is tonight (Thursday 28th). However, it is not a full hustings because the Conservative candidate has declined to appear; all the other candidates will be there though (click here for candidates list).
It’s at the Royal Oak pub in Eccleshall from 7.30pm; it’s been organised by the Eccleshall Today website.

Incidentally, if you want to submit questions for the candidates to answer in this ‘hustings’ event on Dec 3rd, click here to see the question form.

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Christmas is coming

Nice to see that the local churches are already publishing their Christmas schedules. Here in Draycott, our community carols will take place on Sunday Dec 22nd.
For details of this and more Christmas events, see our What’s On page.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you’re something of a knitter, you could also take part in our local Knitted Angels project.
Chrissi Thompson, who used to run the Draycott Youth Club, is asking us to make little knitted figures which will then be situated in public sight around the district… to make us all feel a bit more Christmassy. It’s a great idea.

For more details and for patterns, contact Chrissi.

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“Christmas bells, Christmas bells…”

Finally, we smiled on reading a post on the village Facebook page where there was a discussion about St Margaret’s bells ringing on the hour. Was the church’s bell-ringing team really traipsing up to the church to ring the bells every sixty minutes?

Well, it would be nice to think they were but, no, they aren’t! The chimes ringing from the church are on a timer.

If you’re thinking that you can’t remember hearing them, it’s not just because they are relatively quiet. The fact is that the chiming mechanism had not been working for a long time; and it took major efforts by Draycott’s Mr-Fixit, John Clarke, to get it all working again, and they’ve only been in action a while.
Well done to him!  They have a magical, traditional sound.

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As for the St Margaret’s Church bell-ringing team, yes, they are still going strong, and it will be great to hear them pull a full peal of bells on Christmas Day…
(If you fancy joining the bell-ringing team – and it’s a great way to keep fit! – contact David Meller.)

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General election 2019

Yet another election is upon us – o joy…!
Seriously though (!), this one is even more important than most, so we’re giving you a whole page here about the technicalities and the personnel.

Scroll down for info on: how to vote; the constituency we are in; the candidates; and the candidates’ statements.

Voting

Most likely if you’ve not moved house or you’re not a young adult, you’re probably on the electoral register, but if not (or you’re not sure), Tuesday 26th November the deadline to get it sorted.
The process is relatively simple, especially if you do it online.

If you’re going to be away on election day (Thursday December 12th) or you’re too disabled to get to the polling point, then click here for your options.
The deadlines for the various voting options (including voting by post) are all listed here.

For the rest of us, we should go to cast our vote at Draycott Church Hall, which will be open to voters between 7am and 10pm on the day. Parking is available (but watch out for those potholes in the lane!!)

Constituency

We (Draycott, Cresswell, Totmonslow) are all in Stone Constituency, which is one of the biggest and most weirdly shaped in England.  It looks a bit like a hump-backed camel!  It stretches from the other side of Newcastle to Stone and to Cheadle, and to us of course. In fact, Draycott is at the north-eastern tip of the constituency. It’s a semi-rural constituency.

stone constituency - draycott parish area

Draycott is in the north-eastern tip of Stone constituency

A few links for you:
The BBC has kindly set up a page for us which will update on us on any significant news about the Stone constituency. As you can see from this BBC page, national politics doesn’t much impinge on our constituency (!), but the page is worth keeping an eye on.
The independent ‘hyper-local’ news website for our region ‘A Little Bit Of Stone’ has also set up a Stone Election updates page.
If you want to know the exact boundaries of the constituency, the Ordnance Survey Electoral Map is pretty good…

Candidates

The nominations deadline was last week, so we know now that the constituency will be contested by: the Conservatives, the Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.  No Brexit Party though, even though UKIP stood last time around.
You’ll find the candidates’ full names, their seconders and their addresses on the official government page.

One immediately interesting fact about the candidates is that only two of the four (the Green and the Lib Dem) actually live in the constituency. The Conservative lives in Shropshire and the Labour in Stoke.

Candidates’ stances

We had hoped by now to find an election statement from our candidates on their parties’ websites, but, at the time of writing (Nov 27th), only the Lib Dem had put up a full statement.
Anyway, here are their pages (keep checking them if you want to see a statement, eventually):
Conservatives for Stone (candidate Bill Cash)
Greens for Stone (candidate Tom Adamson)
Labour for Stone (candidate Mike Stubbs)
Lib Dems for Stone (candidate Alec Sandiford)

So we must rely on the local press for interviews and for setting up ‘hustings’. Thank goodness for the press!

The local online news-website A Little Bit of Stone has an online-only hustings event on their Facebook site on the evening of Wed December 3rd (between 7pm and 9pm).
The Eccleshall Today website has an in-person hustings at the Royal Oak pub in Eccleshall on Thursday 28th Dec – though the Conservative candidate declined to appear.

The local online news-website A Little Bit of Stone has done interviews with all four candidates:  Conservative candidate Bill Cash ; Green candidate Tom Adamson ; Labour candidate Mike Stubbs ; and Lib Dem candidate Alec Sandiford.
And the Leek Post & Times Weekly is interviewing the candidates, one each week. They started with the Lib Dem candidate Alec Sandiford on Nov 20th, so it’s worth going along to your library to see the back-copies if you haven’t read them already.

https://alittlebitofstone.com/2019/11/26/mike-stubbs-labour-party-candidate-ge2019/ 45 local Councillor in Newcastle under Lyme
born 1940 – 79 years old
https://alittlebitofstone.com/2019/11/21/tom-adamson-green-party-candidate-ge2019/ As a 41-year-old man, Stone local town councillor

Alec Sandiford – Liberal Democrat Candidate – GE2019


I live happily in Blythe Bridge, with my wife and three young children, where we work and our children are educated. I sit on Fulford Parish Council
Leek Post & Times – Nov 20th the Lib dem from the library

Updates

Look out for the next post on this website, which we will publish next week (Nov 28th), when we should have more about what each candidate is promising.

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Please email us if you have suggestions about how best Draycott people can keep up with the election

NEWS: floods / houses for sale / voting / poppies

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early November 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including two fireworks displays …  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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Fancy a garnet?

As we reported before, sales are already underway for the houses on the coming St Modwen housing estate, which is being built at the west end of Draycott.
The sales brochure too is now published with a street-map of how the estate is to be arranged and where each type of house is going. The cheapest housing will be sited alongside on the estate’s border with the A50 highway, with the more expensive on the Draycott Level side.

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The brochure also lists (nearly) all the types of houses that will be available on ‘Blythe Fields’. A ‘Garnet’ style house is the most expensive at £360,000.
Curiously, the only kind of housing that is not advertised for sale in the brochure is the low-income housing; nor does the brochure tell you how to apply for that housing.
Curious… Hmm.

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Torrents lead to floods

The torrential and unceasing rain a few days ago led, as you’d expect, to flash floods pretty much everywhere, including here. Zara Hutson, who co-runs the Draycott Arms, captured this amazing shot (below) when the flooding was at its height on Cheadle Road just outside her doors. Flash flooding Cheadle Road draycott
Most of it was, fortunately, just flash flooding, and receded quickly once the rain ceased, but we still have well-known problem areas which have more long-lasting flooding.
The drains on certain stretches of Uttoxeter Road, right through Draycott to Tean, are simply no longer coping well, and water lies in dangerous pools on these busy roads after heavy rain.

It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you are on (– is the Staffs County Highways Department incompetent? …or… is the government starving local authorities of money, which is why repairs are so slow? -), the fact is we’ve been waiting years now for some of the drainage systems to be sorted.
Sadly, no one should hold their breath that it will all be fixed soon.

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Happy days … another election!

… yes, we are being sarcastic of course.
However, this one really is a biggie, there’s no doubt about that, and will (if we get a definite result) change this country for the next five years.
We are in the constituency of Stone.

So… if you are not registered to vote, get yourself sorted now. Already, across the country, thousands of people (mostly younger people) have been doing just that – and you still have time. The cut-off date to register (to vote in the election in December) is November 26th.
Click here to find out the process. It’s pretty simple.

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Poppies for remembrance

Some people on the village Facebook page were puzzled – but pleased – to see a lot of poppies attached to lampposts in the village, and wondered who had put them there.
It’s actually pretty straightforward – they were put up by order of the Draycott village council, and congratulations should go to the council’s clerk, Denise Wheat, for organising the distribution.
Cresswell Poppy display 2019The poppies are to mark Armistice Day of course, which falls on November 11th (Monday) – though the main ceremonies will be carried out on Remembrance Sunday (which is on Nov 10th this year) – see our events page for details of what’s happening.

Last year many village councils adopted this neighbourhood poppy display as a one-off initiative to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, but our council has decided to do it again this year.

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DIY for £300,000

Ever fancied buying a charming old property and completing doing it up? Now’s your chance if you have £300,000 or so.
That’s the asking price for Totmonslow Farm Cottage (see pic below), which is on the market at the moment and being sold by Kevin Ford Estate AgentsTotmonslow Farm Cottage
It’s smaller than it looks (2 bedrooms) and needs some renovation – but the Totmonslow rural area is still a great place to live.
We’re off to buy a lottery ticket…!

***
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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

NEWS: traffic flow / tea club? / ‘new’ graves / saintly connection

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid October 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a fireworks display …  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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Settling down (?)

Well, ten days into the St Modwen Roadworks project, things are settling down, and, if they continue like this, matters may work out better for everyone than we had hoped for.
Only the one lane through the works is to be available at any one time, but, with patience, it might work.

What we’ve seen is that, as the ‘outgoing lane’ (i.e. the one on the way to the roundabout) is the open one at the moment, traffic is moving relatively smoothly.

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(It might not be so good though when Phase Two arrives in mid-December – which is when the open lane will be the eastbound one, ie for incoming traffic, not outgoing).

It seems like all the publicity that we as a community have generated (the local newspaper has had the roadworks as its lead story three weeks in a row!) has made a huge difference. Motorists are clearly avoiding Draycott Level, and so the general flow of traffic is lighter at the moment, which is a big help.
People we know are also getting up earlier to go to work, and using diversions, which is all sensible.

However, St Modwen/Staffordshire Highways say the open lane could be “closed at any time” if circumstances require it.  It is a bit of a shame that they can’t promise to give full notice about which lane (incoming or outgoing) is going to be free at any one time – and we would urge them to think how they can do that better.

In general though, if everyone crosses fingers for the next four months, we might be okay.
Might...

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Tearoom group

The new HideOut Tearooms in Forsbrook, which are attached to the Roebuck pub, are now up and running, and the owners have come up with a really nice opening offer: if there is a community group that wants to put on tea&sandwiches sessions for elderly residents, the tearooms will supply the food gratis.

There are already ‘friendship groups’ in Blythe, organised through HomeLink or at the village hall, but this would be the first in Forsbrook (we believe) if it comes off.

No such venture exists in Draycott/Cresswell – even though we have some suitable venues, including the church hall and the new refurbished snug at the Arms, and even the under-used ‘community hub’ at the Cresswell cricket ground.

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Churchyard revelations

Some cutting-back has recently taken place in the ‘old churchyard’ at St Margaret’s – and graves that have not been seen for years have been revealed.

Whoever did it (probably pruning experts from the diocesan authorities, but no one seems sure) has cut a man-sized hole through the foliage of the giant yew-tree in the churchyard’s south-west corner. (The yew is reputed to be around one thousand years old!).
This hole enables a person to get right inside the branches & foliage towards the main trunk; and see the graves there that had been grown over.

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Almost nineteen old graves have been newly revealed.
Inevitably, there is a Bagnall there, as Bagnall has been such a common name down the years in this district, but there is also a Weston. Family historians will be pleased to see them.
They have been covered over so long that it’s not clear if they are on the official graves-list, which was drawn up in the 1980s.
It all adds to the account of Draycott’s history, and it’s good to be able to see these stones again.

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Cresswell and Saint Henry Newman

Talking of local churches, not many people will know that Cresswell St Mary’s has a slight relevance to the news that Britain has a new saint.
Last Sunday, the Pope said that, after a deal of research, it was now believed that the nineteenth century English cardinal, Henry Newman, was holy enough during his life to now be declared a saint.

Dominic BarberiIt’s interesting though that the priest who converted Newman to Catholicism was a Father Dominic Barberi (pic right), who lived in Cresswell for a while during 1844.
The former priest at Cresswell, David Hartley (who has since moved on) wrote an account of Barberi’s achievements for this village website. If you want to know more of that story, click here.

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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

Roadworks decision

Finally common sense has prevailed on the current Draycott A521 Roadworks Project being conducted by St Modwen Homes.

At the very last minute, St Modwen has “found a way” to compromise, and we now have a partial solution to the roadworks issue. It will not totally satisfy all, but it is a halfway-house.

There won’t be a contraflow, which the community would have liked best, but the time-frame (nineteen weeks) also means that St Modwen can still just-about open its housing estate there on time.

Intervention

On the original plan, there was to be no way to the A50 roundabout in or out of Draycott.
It took a last-minute intervention by Philip Atkins, the leader of Staffordshire County Council, to make the difference. It looks like he banged a few heads together, and we now have the compromise.

So… at “most times” there will be one lane open through the roadworks, either going out of Draycott, or coming in. But no contraflow.
Instead of ten weeks for the project time-frame, as St Modwen hoped for, it will be extended by a further two months, so – in theory – it should be all done and dusted by the end of February.

A dedicated webpage has been created to keep us immediately up to date (in theory) with any changes on the works site, and alerting us as to which direction the ‘free’ lane will be using in each week.

Yes, this compromise will not suit everyone, and we too think that there were more intelligent solutions, but… at least we got some result.

People power

For once, we can see that social media has been a power for good.
Although the roadworks plan was announced in late July, our respective village councils were slow to react, and even sat on their hands.

So it was left to the people. It took a strong popular response, especially from village websites like this one and from the two community Facebook groups (Draycott and Blythe Bridge), to get the debate up and running.
This strong response forced Staffordshire Highways/St Modwen to back off, and they postponed the original start-date (which had been Sept 7th). As we know, it was then postponed a few more times, until this final start-date of October 8th.

However, we also have to thank the two county councillors – Mark Deaville (for the Draycott end) and Keith Flunder (for the Blythe Bridge end) who, alerted to the strength of local concerns, now both waded in to the conflict.
We suspect it was pressure from these two that brought Philip Atkins into the issue – and he had the power to force a re-think from St Modwen…

(St Modwen’s engineers had said it was impossible to keep a lane free because the included drainage works under the road would mean the whole width of the road would be being used all the time.
Now they have come up with a solution.
Curious, that…).

Let’s hope that, even though it’s a compromise, it all works out…

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NEWS: buses / roads-meeting / planters! / cricket drop

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early October 2019
In this post we have news of…: buses – but not for us / roadworks press on regardless / one man’s flower campaign / cricket gloom
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Draycott Neighbourhood Plan workshop …  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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St Mods press on

The ‘information-day’ that St Modwen Homes and Staffs County Highways put together yesterday to explain the forthcoming roadworks was fairly unsatisfactory all round.
Instead of using the big room at Blythe Village Hall, the organisers funnelled people in and out of the back-room (where basically you can’t hold more than a dozen people comfortably) so it was very crowded at times; it was a poor effort frankly, and most reaction was, unsurprisingly, negative.
It was pretty difficult to get close to one of the officers, let alone hear what they were saying, but the gist of it was that the roadworks would go ahead come what may.
When it came to how Blythe Bridge & Draycott would cope with the potential gridlock, it seemed few of the questions we posed had ready answers.

A521 closure plans (2) Sept 2019

No way through to the A50 – for ten weeks

So … all we can hope is that the huge publicity that we as residents have generated (well done to us!) will have alerted a lot of motorists to the problem; and so those motorists will already be looking for alternative routes. Let’s hope so.
Good luck to everyone – the roadworks start on Monday (Oct 7th)!

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Bright array

If a motorist does get stuck in the roadworks jam, at least they will have a bright sight to look at.
New roadside planters, put up by local volunteer Lee Warburton, have been a real success.
The colourful flower arrangements in the containers have been dazzling on sunny days (…Draycott Plant Nurseries provided the displays).

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The whole project has been put together by Lee, who decided that Draycott Level, from the A50 to the Arms, just needed a little love (!).
He himself constructed the planters (more than half-a-dozen so far along the stretch), using a grant from the local ‘Draycott Community Solar Array Fund’ to pay for materials; got approval from the village council; and then got the official permissions from Highways to site them.The project is far from over – more planters are to come -, but with autumn setting in, we won’t see the best of of the scheme for another six months.
But then we expect Draycott Level to be bursting with colour again…!

It just shows what one volunteer can do with a little bit of good-will and determination. We owe Lee some thanks…

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No buses … and new buses

If a Draycott Council plan had come off, a bus service would have been running through Draycott-Cresswell by now.
Sadly, the plan has fallen apart, mostly because of legal issues.
However, it was a brave attempt and the council should be congratulated for having a go at least.

But … if you can get yourself to Tean or Cheadle or Blythe, there are some new services to try out.
Stantons have just started a twice-daily (Mon-Fri) ‘INR’ Cheadle-Hanley route which goes via Blythe.
D&G Buses have also just started a 32 service which goes Tean-Hanley via Cheadle.
Confusingly, First Potteries Buses also ran a 32 service, so that is now being renamed the ‘Kingfisher’ (!) service ; it runs Hanley-Uttoxeter via Tean and Blythe.
Meanwhile the long-established First Potteries 6A, which plies the Blythe-Hanley route, continues but some early-morning trips are now cancelled.
… the actual nearest working bus-stop to us is at Blythe Village Hall – and that serves the First Potteries 6A.
But, despite all that – still no buses through Draycott!

So, our recommendation is: if you are having difficulties, use the Moorlands Voluntary Transport scheme. Their local volunteer, Brian Blackwood, will pick you up and take you where you want to go, even as far as Stoke Hospital – and for around half what a normal taxi would cost you. You have to register, but, if you have no transport, it’s a real boon.

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Cricketing gloom

It was a sad day at Blythe CC’s ground in Cresswell two weeks ago when the First XI played their last match of the season. Having had two successful seasons in the NSCCL Premier Division, this third season’s results had been grim, dooming them to relegation.
Such is the spirit of deflation at the club, even their Facebook page has fallen silent.

But the gloom will not last long we are pretty sure. Already a professional has been signed for next season, and there is a lot else to be proud of at the club, including the junior teams.

In front of the new hub: Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club's Lottery Bid), Simon Owen (club chairman)

Blythe Cricket Club’s ‘Community Hub’ (aka the pavilion)

Personally, we’d also like to see more publicity about the ground’s ‘Community Hub’ (which you barely hear much of these days), as more use of it would keep Cresswell buzzing in the winter months.

***
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)

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

Roadworks meeting – questions need asking

At last Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen Homes have realised how arrogant they have been over their treatment of residents concerning the proposed roadworks on the A521 (at the west end of Draycott Level – see pic below).
Now, a public meeting about the issue has been arranged, for next Wednesday (October 2nd), when St Modwen planners have agreed to meet residents.A521 road closure plan (St Modwen)As we’ve been saying in our reporting, the proposed roadworks, which are to build an access to the forthcoming Blythe Fields estate & a pedestrian crossing & traffic lights, will completely close the stretch of dual carriageway (all four lanes) – thus blocking off Draycott from the A50 roundabout.
Diverted traffic will have to go through Blythe Bridge in both directions – a possible nightmare scenario of congestion, as we all know.

The works have now been postponed four times – from Sept 2nd to Sept 16th to Sept 30th, and now to October 7th.

The work is being carried out by St Modwen, but has been authorised and ‘passed’ by Staffordshire Highways Dept.
The work is a necessary pre-condition for the building of the new Blythe Fields housing estate.

Confusion

The two authorities have handled this situation incredibly badly.
The first notices were issued at the beginning of August, but councillors did not seem to realise the implications.
Only after a series of (unanswered) letters to Highways from this website did the fine details of the works even start to trickle out; and St Modwen did not even directly contact residents until September 9th (a week after the first date to start the roadworks!); while the official ‘alert’ on roadworks.org has been downright confusing and contradictory for months, right up to today.

In mid-September our local county councillors finally took the issue on and met with the two authorities to express residents’ concerns – but it is only in the last two days that the St Modwen have finally made an announcement of this public meeting – and the Highways Dept at last issued a public letter and put an information page about the roadworks on their website.

In their official literature, both Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen pride themselves on their ‘communication’ – a claim which has been seen to be hollow.

Meeting

Seven questions at least will need to be answered at the meeting on Wednesday.
1 – Why no contraflow?
2 – Do they seriously not expect the already congested road into Blythe Bridge to become gridlocked?  What provisions have they made for emergency vehicle flow if jams do occur along this strtech of Uttoxeter Road?
3 – What does ’24-hour working’ actually mean? How will it affect the residents near it?
4 – If the ‘alternative parking’ is to be provided for residents on Uttoxeter Road, how far along are they in discussions with the car-park owners?
5 – How far back from the works will motorists be advised that it might be a good idea to turn away and avoid the works?
6 – Why was the communication on this, and the postponments, handled so badly?
7 – When will Highways demand that Roadworks.org sorts out its act?

Contraflow
Many residents have been wondering why a contraflow system could not be put in place – this would mean at least two, or even one, of the lanes of our dual carriageway could stay open, easing the congestion.
But, in an interview with the Times & Echo newspaper, St Modwen have said no – saying that such a move would lead to the roadworks lasting not the planned three months, but twelve months, and that this was unacceptable to local communities.
To be fair, their engineers also claim that deep excavation needs doing (for drainage passages) – which means maximum width work is required.

Of course, cynics might say that St Modwen are desperate to see the roadworks finished as soon as possible, and never mind the congestion. Why?
Because homes are already sold on Blythe Fields, and moving-in dates are promised for the Spring…

Blythe Fields homes construction

Blythe Fields homes are already under construction

24-hour working
To hurry the works along even quicker, St Modwen have gained permission for 24-hour working. The main heavy working will take place between 7.30am and 8pm, leaving light working for through the night. But what exactly is ‘light-working’?

Blythe Bridge congestion
The official diversion is the turn-off opposite Chandni Cottage into Blythe Bridge – past the doctor’s surgery, the Black Cock and the Co-op etc. We all know how difficult this road is for motorists because you have to zig-zag in and out of parked cars. It gets worse when buses need to get through, and even emergency ambulances struggle.
So, to our admittedly untrained eye, it looks only like a recipe for gridlock.

St Modwen are vaguely saying the answer might be to provide some off-road parking for the householders along that stretch, and then encourage them to use it.
They need to be pinned down on this proposal.

Meeting

Not to be too cynical again, but this meeting looks like just a rubber stamp situation. If the authorities were genuinely looking to consult or explain, they’d have had this meeting three months ago.
However, you never know… and we are always hopeful!

The public meeting takes place at Blythe Bridge Village Hall (next to the doctor’s surgery) on Wednesday October 2nd from 2pm to 7pm, and all are welcome.

***
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NEWS: funeral / MP’s absence / cricket blues / sausages!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early September 2019
In this post we have news of…: Bessie Hammond’s funeral date / Blythe Cricket team need you! / sausage festival success / where is our MP?
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including Draycott’s Macmillan Coffee Morning …  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

_ _
Betty’s farewell

One of this village’s biggest community gatherings for years takes place tomorrow (Thurs 12 Sept) when the funeral service for the legendary Bessie (Betty) Hammond takes place. The little church of St Margaret’s will be packed to the gills, not just with friends and relatives, but also those who respected her for her work as a village councillor and unofficial ‘aunt’ to the locality.
There may even be in the church some of those she helped bring into the world; in the days when the health services are not what they are now, she acted as an unofficial midwife, ready to help young neighbours giving birth at home.

Many people, especially those who have moved away, may not be able to get to the service, so the family have set up a tribute page on the internet. If you want to express your feelings, simply click on Keates Notices and leave your message as many already have done.
If you prefer the old-fashioned way, i.e. by post, address your cards to 10 Rookery Crescent Cresswell.

Talking of legends who have now left us, we also have the sad news that Graham Yates recently passed away. Graham ran the Izaak Walton Inn  in Cresswell for over a decade during the 1980s & 1990s, and you might well say that this was a high point for the pub.
Graham would no doubt have been distressed at the pub’s present moribund state and uncertain future.

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Brexit blues

We all admit that the Brexit is the most pressing matter for our country at the moment, but … it does mean that some MPs are working on little else, and so are spending little time on constituency work, let alone other important matters like climate change.

Sir Bill CashIf you follow the activities of our local MP Sir Bill Cash (pic right) through sites like They Work For You, you’ll see that a massive proportion of his speeches are about Brexit, with a few about HS2. And in fact, the number of visits he has made to this constituency for his MP surgeries has fallen to a new low – just five for the year so far… We have not seen him in Draycott itself since 2014.

Sir Bill has even suspended his www.billcashmp.co.uk website (despite it still being advertised on his Parliament page) which was supposed to reflect local issues.
However, Bill is going hammer & tongs on his Twitter account – about virtually nothing but Brexit though.

Compare this failing to the impressive local campaigns web effort made by Jack Brereton MP in next-door Meir.  Compare it too to the tireless local work from the Leek MP Karen Bradley ( whose recent speeches in Parliament have been about Leek Hospital).
Both Karen and Jack are, like Bill, Conservatives.

Draycott & Blythe Bridge (Sir Bill’s constituency covers both) have been facing huge challenges in the last few years and – we would say – it’s time for Sir Bill to get a bit more local. Other MPs (like Karen & Jack) have tried better to balance their issues workload between local and national affairs, even at this crucial time, and maybe Sir Bill needs to do the same.
For example, he would be very welcome at the Checkley-Draycott-Forsbrook Master Plan Forum later this month!

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Despair – joy – despair again

As we reported last month, Blythe Cricket Club’s season took a sudden turn for the worse in July when the First XI crashed to bottom place in the NSSCL Premier Division. All looked over for the Cresswell-based team.

Blythe Cricket Club ground

The Blythe CC ground has spectacular views

However, miracles do happen. Just two weeks ago, Blythe amazingly beat high-flying Meakins, and followed that up by also thumping Whitmore. It looked like the impressive Khan ‘twins’ had regained their form and Alex Heslop was hitting the runs again.
… only to slump again with a resounding defeat to derby-rivals Checkley.

With only two matches to go, it looks like the last game of the season, on Sat September 21st, at the club’s Cresswell ground, could be do-or-die. If you can turn out to cheer the team on, then, you never know, the club may just be able to avoid the drop and stay in the Premier League another season.
See you at the pavilion!

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So scrumptious, that…

Finally, we like this photograph, which was sent in by one of our readers. It shows (part of) the ‘Seven-Incher’ speciality-dish served up at the Draycott Arms Sausage Festival last month.Draycott Arms Sausage Festival 2019The Seven-Incher is a taster dish, providing an example of each of the seven exclusive sausages made especially for the festival.
So why are there only three examples in this photograph? “Sorry” says our correspondent, “but I couldn’t wait: it all looked too delicious! By the time my companion had got the camera out, I’ll admit I’d just had to get started… which is why only three are left!

Music at Draycott Arms Sausage & Cider Festival 2019

As well as sausages, there was music. Spot the two ladies joining in the fun – by ‘playing’ toy guitars!

And no wonder the sausages are so delicious. Zara, the chef, takes freshly-killed meat, and makes her own exclusive concoctions for the festival, which, this year, included an astonishingly good version of the South African ‘Boerewors’ (one for Brayn, no doubt!).
The Arms really is becoming the leading gastro-pub for miles around. We suggest you eat there now – before it becomes impossible to get a table…

***
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Road closure cock-up

Well, what a cock-up it has been!

Even up to the last week of August, we were all led to believe that the westbound (A521) route out of Draycott to the A50 & Stoke was going to be closed from next week for two and a half months.
However, at least, according to the official roadworks map, the eastbound side, coming into Draycott, would remain open… so it was believed.

But…. the signs indicating this closure were quite vague, and no one was quite sure what the details were.  Plus – no one on the Highways Department ‘hotline’ seemed to know the details either.
So… which lanes were actually closing? No one quite knew.

So we feared the worst – quite rightly as it turns out.

Contradiction

Some of us also noticed that the official order, issued by Staffs Highways, contradicted the official map.  The official order was, confusingly, saying something different to the map.

So, on behalf of the residents, we wrote to Highways, pointed out the contradictions, and asked for an explanation.

We still have not had a reply (no shock there!) – but… guess what? … the closure signs on the road there have immediately disappeared.
And today (late August), the official Draycott roadworks-alert map was suddenly – without warning – simply changed!

 

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The new information now is that, it seems, BOTH the eastbound and westbound routes between Draycott and the A50 will be closed for eleven weeks from September 16th not September 2nd (with just a couple of days in between, when the eastbound will be open).
No apology or explanation for the former misleading information either.

Gridlock fears

In other words, for nearly three months, there will be no way out and no way in at the roundabout from or into Draycott; motorists will be forced to navigate through the crowded and narrow streets of Blythe Bridge instead to get in and out. What a nightmare. We predict this extra load will cause gridlock…
(By the way, as of the time of writing this, the official Highways order has not yet been altered – it still has the old wording – so someone in the department is still clearly not getting the message).

What we ourselves intend to do is pre-empt the whole problem by cutting up Cheadle Road (by the Draycott Arms) instead, and go all that way round to go west.  But…  Cheadle Road itself is just a rat-run country lane, and very narrow and difficult in parts… so who knows what hold-ups that could bring.
This is not a good situation to be in for motorists.  There has already been a lot of discussion on the village Facebook page about this – and no one is happy…

Arrogance

It doesn’t help that Staffs Highways have arrogantly placed these traffic orders without even discussing the issues with our local councillors – or since apologising to confused members of the public for their mixed messages.

Road closure sign 2nd Sept

The original sign of road closure was for September 2nd – which turned out to be completely wrong.

What is more than annoying about this move is that it seems to have been just sprung on us. Although the original notice was issued at the beginning of this month, little publicity was done to tell residents about it – even the local newspaper hasn’t done a report on it! So most of us have been largely unaware of it until very recently.

It is a sad situation too when a large housing developer such as St Modwen Homes (on whose behalf all these works are being done) also doesn’t keep our local representatives & residents properly up to date.
You’d think that they would want to keep good relations with local people, but their ham-fisted way of going about this is not a good sign.
This affair really doesn’t give residents confidence for how St Modwen will carry out the rest of their huge development in our village, and, indeed, carry out their other proposals for the village that are already in the pipeline for the future.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.
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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

NEWS: RIP Bessie / listed building clean-up / Blythe Park latest

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late August 2019
In this post we have news of…: Bessie Hammond dies at 106 / Blythe Park latest / listed building gets facelift… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including the Annual Flower, Veg & Home-Produce Show…  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

_ _ _
End of an era

The news of Bessie (Betty) Hammond’s death is truly saddening.
She was not only instrumental in making this village (Draycott & Cresswell) what it is (see Betty’s Life-Story), but she was a genuinely good person, and both as cheerful and as energetic as possibele.

Bessie HammondThere have already been a lot of condolences expressed on the village Facebook page; and we have no doubt that her funeral will be attended by many many people.
Her last days were spent in the comfort of the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

Bessie was also Staffordshire’s oldest living person, having celebrated her 106th birthday only a few months ago. Even on that day, despite knowing she had cancer, she made the effort to get out to a family celebration.
Its astonishing to think that when Bessie was born, in 1913, motor cars had only just started appearing on our roads and Queen Victoria had only died a decade before.

She will be missed.

_ _ _
Blythe Park latest

Well done to Draycott Council for holding an emergency meeting last week to discuss the latest notice about the Blythe Park development in Cresswell.

In fact, as it turned out, the latest move doesn’t add up to anything much, being just a repetition/summary of an application made back in January: the developers, Scentarea, want permission to hold off for a while from doing the road-infrastructure changes they had promised originally.
Back at the beginning of the year, Draycott Council put in a strong objection to this idea, and on the website of the local action group VVSM, there was a strong piece explaining their opposition too.

But, if you too have comments to make on what the developers are up to, you still can – you have until September 6th – click here.
Draycott Council are also looking for anybody with strong opinions on the matter to speak at the Planning Committee meeting, on September 19th in Leek. If you’re interested, contact the council clerk.

_ _ _
Listed ‘building’ clean-up

It’s not well known but Draycott-in-the-Moors has a few listed buildings – and two of them are tombs!
Caring for such heritage objects is of course a tricky job, so it’s no surprise that even the task of removing ivy from one of them has to go through a whole process of permissions.

Anyway, it seems like the Hyatt Memorial Tomb (Grade 2 listed) in St Margaret’s Church graveyard (see pic below) is about to get such permission; and then the ivy will be cut away and the worst of the crumbling mortar will be re-pointed.Hyatt Memorial Tomb with ivyThe Hyatts were a well known local family in the early nineteenth century and farmed at High Fields (up on the road to Cheadle). This was their family tomb and five family members are buried there.

After this work, the Hyatts inside the tomb should be safe for a few years to come.

***
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)

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