NEWS: car fireball / Blythe Vale go-ahead / footpaths concern / baby ballet!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid- November 2017
In this post we have news of…: car in explosion at Draycott Cross / approval for 118 new homes / footpaths consultation / ballet for babies…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including Remembrance Sunday events. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Car in fireball

Details are slowly emerging of the weekend’s horrific car-crash at Draycott Cross.
On Friday evening, two cars collided near to Field’s Farm on Cheadle Road (half a mile up from the Draycott Arms) and, minutes later, one of them started into flames.
Fortunately some other, very courageous motorists at the scene managed to drag the young woman who was driving the car out of the vehicle … but only moments before a sudden fireball explosion.
The young woman, who has not been named yet, has severe injuries to her legs and is being treated in hospital.

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A local well-known couple, Karen & Tony Buckle, were in the other car – luckily, the pair were not injured.  In fact, Tony was one of the brave rescuers who – probably – saved the young women’s life.
A full account of the incident is on the front page of The Stunner newspaper, including a dramatic photograph of the blazing car.

What’s not clear is how the accident occurred.  Although the incident took place not far from a bend, in the darkness of night-time, yet it is a clear stretch of road just there.  Modern cars rarely burst into flame, so the police are also looking into why that happened.

– – –
Disappointment – with result, with council

Many local residents are expressing their disappointment at the result of last week’s SMDC Planning Committee decision over the Blythe Vale housing estate application.  The developers, St Modwen, got the go-ahead they were looking for (with just one vote against), so we can expect work on building the 100+ homes (behind the Chandni Cottage restaurant) to start sometime next year.
It was always going to be a tough proposal to fight, as it had the full recommendation of local planners and is part of a national scheme – both of which facts mean that it would have taken a strong team-effort to have seen it overturned.

However, there is also great disappointment about the role of Draycott parish councillors – who did almost nothing to oppose the application, even though they claimed to be fully supporting the local residents who feared it.
Not only did our own council not even put in a formal comment on the planning-application website (even though distant Checkley Council did!), none of them even turned up to speak against the application at the decision meeting  … A spokesperson later claimed that all seven councillors had busy lives, implying that this made it too hard for even one of them to get there.

The residents of this district have a right to wonder if these people should even be on the council, if their ‘busy lives’ make it too difficult for them to make some effort over what is the biggest thing to happen to Draycott for the past 25 years.  We shall see: elections are due in 2019.

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Footpath maintenance under threat

Draycott & Cresswell are fortunate in having an extensive network of miles of public footpaths.
If one uses local footpaths regularly, the science says you’ll be healthier, happier and more at peace with yourself – great for thinking-time!
However, budget cuts mean that maintenance of our paths network is declining.Footpath fingerpost at CresswellUndergrowth is nearly choking this stile at Cresswell

Staffs County Council, which is responsible for local footpath maintenance, recognises that this problem has now turned into a major issue, and has started a public consultation to see what we all think about the current state of our footpaths & bridleways – and their future. However the county’s proposals are already causing concern; the Staffordshire Area Ramblers has filed comments already, not all favourable.
If you want to take part in the consultation yourself, click here  – you have until December 25th to put in your thoughts.
We wrote up a recent article on our local footpaths – it might give you a few ideas to go on with.

The local Draycott parish council has a special responsibility for monitoring foortpaths in our district; let’s see what response they make.

– – –
Babies get balletic

Finally, this is a sentence we never thought we’d write: “baby ballet is coming to Draycott”…     But, no, not a performance by a troupe of six-month old prima ballerinas, but … some lessons for them!

We are not exactly sure what ‘b-b’ is but babies apparently get quite a kick (or a pirouette?) out of the classes.  Children up to six years can take part.
The classes get under way in January at Draycott Sports Centre.
So, we look forward to a fully staged performance by the pupils in twenty years time!

***
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St Margaret’s Church – full of facts!

Next year, our parish church, St Margaret’s, celebrates its 750th anniversary, and no doubt there will be a few events to mark this great landmark in time.
St Margaret’s is full of history and there are lots of things about the place that you might not know. So we thought we’d list a few of them now, as a sort of run-up to next year.

First – can we be sure that 1268 was when the church was built? Well, no…
Historians argue a bit about this, and some are sure that a wooden church must have been on the site before the current stone one. Whoever made the church sign (see picture below) certainly believed there was something before!
However, the first actual documented record is the one saying that a rector (priest) took office here in 1268, so, until some other papers are found, 1268 has to be the founding date.
(Incidentally, back then it was called St Peter’s, only changing name to St Margaret’s some 300/400 years later).

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The oldest living creatures in Draycott are to be found in the churchyard. The yew trees there are around a thousand years old! (see article)

The church also holds the oldest manmade object found in the village. The strange ‘Draycott sink’ which is stored there is around two and half thousand years old, ie way back in the Early Iron Age.
It’s called strange because even archaeologists are not sure what was used for. Best guess is that it was used for grinding corn or barley or some like.
However, even the old ladder (still used today) which is kept in the tower is thought to be 500 years old….

Up in the top of the tower, in the belfry, you will find some ancient, and very heavy, bells. One of them, created in the seventeenth century, weighs nearly half a ton; and interestingly has an inscription on its rim. The inscription reads: “I, sweetly tolling, men do call / to taste on meats that feed the sole (soul)”.

The most famous historical pieces in the church are the medieval Draycott Family tombs, the earliest of which is almost as old as the church itself; generations of the family rest here.
It’s fun to observe that, on the effigies of two ladies – who lived years apart -, you can see the same piece of jewellery carved – a rose ornament on a chain hanging from a belt. So, it must have been a family heirloom, and also a symbol that whoever wore it was the chief lady of the house.

Talking of women, the Draycott war memorial is one of the few in the country to feature a woman’s name – Joyce Atkins. But who was Joyce exactly? And what was her role in the war and how did she die? None of that is recorded anywhere.

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There are over a dozen ‘listed’ structures in the district – but not all of them are buildings. In fact, two of the large tombs in the churchyard are listed; for example, Jane Hancock’s memorial is grade-2.

And finally, staying in the graveyard, and only steps from the Hancock monument, lies Hannah Barnes in her grave. Although the words carved on her stone are worn away and impossible to read today, we know something about her from records. Everyone thinks that people died young 300 years ago, but it’s not quite true – Hannah lived to be 100!

Birthday

Of course, there are many more strange-but-true and significant facts about St Margaret’s – these are just a very few of them.
And many more will come to light, we are sure, as the 750th birthday celebrations get under way…

NEWS: speedwatch group / money available / fun nights ahead / history book

In this post we have news of…: Speedwatch group for Draycott level / community fund deadline / a rockin’ time for all coming up! / local history book is back … …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Remembrance Poppy Ball. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Draycott speed watch

Good news! Enough people have now volunteered in order to make the formation of a Draycott Speedwatch group possible. Although Cresswell has had a Speedwatch group for over five years, so far it’s been hard to raise the necessary enthusiasm for a sister one in Draycott.
This good news because if there’s one thing that residents report a lot it’s the excessive speeds of some motorists roaring along Draycott Level.

Speedwatch groups work with the local police, and are issued with official jackets and radar guns. This gives them the right to stand on the roadside and monitor the speeds of local passing motorists. They report the worst offenders.

You may have seen the thoughtful comment by Zara Hutson, the owner of The Draycott Arms. She says: “We are the only village in the area that doesn’t have some form of speed-reducing features – along the straightest and fastest stretch around! Everywhere else has humps, bumps, islands and lights, but Draycott doesn’t even have a mid-point (traffic island) for crossing halfway at a time.
“The speed some people abuse this at is terrifying.
“For me the new housing development itself are good things – a slightly bigger population will hopefully kick start a community that has stagnated. However, the access for the development at that (eastern) end of Draycott needs reviewing first, along with traffic calming measures throughout.”

If you think you can spare an hour every fortnight and join the Speedwatch group, contact Kate Bradshaw. Kate, who lives on Draycott Level herself, has very strong views about speed, and also thinks extra houses at Blythe Vale will cause an issue. The development, she says: “…would cause carnage … it is totally in the wrong place because of its proximity to traffic coming off the roundabout.”

– – –
History book re-issued

As we reported before, all the books about the history of this district (a History Of The Parish of Draycott-en-le-Moors by Matthew Pointon) recently sold out.

Cover of Draycott history bookHowever, Mathew tells us he is still getting requests for copies, so he is now doing his best to satisfy the late-comers. He’s arranged an account on Lulu.Com (the self-publishing website) – which means the book is newly available!
Fortunately for us, Matthew is disregarding inflation rises since the first publication and is keeping the cover price at £10 – though VAT and p&p will push the cost up slightly. To order a copy, just click on here and follow the prompts.

Those of you who would prefer an e-book/Kindle version may want to wait a couple of weeks though. Matthew is in the process of figuring how that might work!

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Lots of local events to go to

As is usual at this time of year, suddenly there are loads of events being announced. As most of them are in walking distance (almost), you don’t even need a car to get to them!

Half-term is always good for kids round here of course with kids’ sports camp days in Cresswell, and soccer sessions in Blythe Bridge. (This latter venture is being funded by Forsbrook parish council – nice to see a parish council being so pro-active).
However, it’s not just about kids: for the adults, there are quizzes, dances, rock concerts, talks and more, all within a three-mile radius. Don’t forget the fireworks display at Forsbrook too.swinging sixties band with dr shevlin

And if you want a night for memories: howazbout a Swinging Sixties gig? If anybody remembers Doctor Shevlin, who worked at both Tean and Blythe Bridge surgeries, it’s good to report that retirement has not slowed him down – he is the guitarist with the ‘Swinging Sixties’ band (see pic above)…!

To check all the details of all the local events over the next couple of months, just click here.

– – –
Apply now to community fund

It has been a long time in coming, but finally money from the local Solar Farm Community Fund is going to be handed out.
This is the money donated every year by the owners of the solar farm in Newton (Cresswell), to be used to underwrite community ventures across the Draycott civil-parish area (which includes Totmonslow, Cresswell, Draycott Cross etc).
Our local area-council has the task of sorting through the applications and choosing the best initiatives.

So far, only one set of applicants has managed to meet all the criteria: the committee of the Draycott Community Hall (aka the old Church Hall) in Church Lane has asked for £500 to help them install some insulating & flame-proof curtains. Anyone who knows the church hall will know how huge those windows are, and £500 won’t even pay half the cost of curtains for them, though it will help of course.

Draycott Church Hall windows

One of the Draycott Church Hall windows

If you thinking that you have an idea to improve the local community, the deadline to apply for the current round of grants is November 10th. Check out how to apply by clicking here.

***
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: repairs / illegal planter / lots of industry / river trouble

In this post we have news of…: volunteers do self-help repairs / illegal planter / industrial hubs dumped in Draycott / River Blithe in trouble …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a harvest supper. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Doing it for themselves

Well done to those folk who have recently decided not to wait for whatever authorities to act, but to get out and fix some local street items themselves. According to a correspondent on the local Facebook page, it was all done by “community-minded” residents.

So… one of the parish council notice boards – the one on Draycott Level which was kicked over some time at the beginning of last month – now stands again! Its legs are a little shorter now, but as they are buried up to their top in soil, no one notices.
The torn felting on top of the Cresswell bus-shelter roof has been waiting a little longer for repairs, some six months or more, but it too has had a repair in the past week and now has a lovely new covering tacked on to it.

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The government is very much saying that local people must now volunteer to get out there and fix things in their communities themselves if they want them done – and it looks like someone is taking that advice to heart.

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Illegal weeds

One little job that, sadly, hasn’t been done by the authorities is the removal of the old planter (on our main junction, of Uttoxeter Rd and Cresswell Lane). A year ago, Draycott Parish Council promised to remove this eyesore, which has broken legs and is full of weeds, but so far they seem unable to locate a man & van to do it.Planter Draycott Junction

It further turns out, as the council’s clerk revealed at the last meeting, that it is probably illegally sited. It seems that you can’t just plonk a planter down in a public space – you need permission, and a licence to say you have permission. (Who knew?)

Maybe the news that it is an illegal will hurry along said removal.

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Pity the poor Blithe

We had an interesting email from Nigel Peake the other week. There are probably very few people who know this village as well as Nigel, and he says that in all his days he has never been so concerned about the river.
He wrote:  “Sit on the bridge and watch the river go by??! A joke!!!! The river is virtually weed bound, hardly any river to see. I’ve mentioned this to a Parish councillor in the past, and as usual, naff all done. I was born and bred in Cresswell, and I’ve honestly NEVER seen the river in such poor condition.”

The River Blithe runs into Draycott from Blythe Bridge, before going on to Tittesworth reservoir and eventually meeting the Trent at King’s Bromley near Rugeley. It’s quite a significant river, and is the real reason that Blythe Colours settled here over a hundred years ago.

Nigel is right of course. It’s partly the invasion of Himalayan balsam – the weed that spreads like wildfire – which is choking the river, and partly the constant need to keep de-silting the water-course, which isn’t happening.

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Even the tributary into it, which runs from The Hunter pub through Paynsley fields and meets the main Blithe at the Blythe Business Base, is virtually invisible right now.
Further up, near to Wastegate Farm/The Hunter, the landowner is even now putting in extra drainage pipes, presumably to help it along.

Anyone got any ideas on how to save the Blithe?

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Bringing industry to Draycott

The chance to comment on the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s ‘Local Plan – Preferred Options 2017’ has now passed. The results of the feedback should be known in the New Year, but we already know that many of the comments were deeply unfavourable.

Residents in both Draycott and Cresswell felt a bit frustrated that any comment by them objecting to the Blythe Park expansion, or to the Blythe Vale development, would be ignored – as the approval for both has already been passed, and the Local Plan only looks at future scenarios.

But, surprisingly, there was a mention of the developments in the council’s documents. They figure in the section on the council’s industrial strategy policy: –

•   8.26          Note that: no rural employment allocations are proposed … given that in May 2016 the Council granted outline approval for a major residential and industrial scheme in the countryside at Cresswell (Blythe Park expansion) covering approx 8.58ha of employment land.  This satisfies the District’s residual employment land requirement for 2016-2031.
And –

Note that: the 48.5ha allocation of land at Blythe Vale (Policy DSR1) for mixed uses responds to a special regional requirement for high quality, employment development independent of the general employment land requirements for the District set out in Policy E2.

In other words, ALL the region’s industrial development, for rural areas, for the next 15 years is allocated to … Cresswell & Draycott !

So, expect the fields along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road to be changing over the next few years – from quiet arable land to widespread warehousing and more.
And none of our political representatives, from local level to Parliament, seem that bothered.

***
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

Draycott and dragons

It’s a curious fact that the animal most associated with Draycott-in-the-Moors is… a dragon.

English: Picture of St. Margaret of Antioch co...

St. Margaret and the dragon. (Photo: Wikipedia)

According to legend, the last-ever dragon was slain here; the word Draycott has often been deliberately punned in the past with the Latin word for dragon, ‘draco’; and the symbol of our church’s patron saint (St Margaret) is … a dragon.
It’s all very intriguing!

Horse?

But, the animal that really should be most identified with Draycott is the horse. Not only is it believed that the Romans had stabling facilities here (near where The Draycott Arms is now) 2000 years ago, but Draycott was once famous for its horse-races.

And the origin of the word Draycott in fact suggests a dray-horse. The most usual explanation of the name is that it comes from Old English ‘draeg’ (meaning to ‘drag close by’) and ‘cott’ – a dwelling place. In other words, a place where you (or your horse) had to drag heavier items up and over a stream or hill…. (probably right outside The Draycott Arms where the stream goes under the road and where the big hill starts).

But it’s dragons that appear most in our history.

In fact (maybe!) there is an alternative old spoken-language connection, this time between Draycott and dragons.
Some historians of old name-places have speculated that the word ‘Draycott’ could have come from the language of the old Britons – and dragon in old Welsh is draen, Old Irish draigen, old Breton drean. The suggestion is that these could have ‘evolved’ into Draycott.
The trouble with that suggestion is the name-place ‘Draycott’ does not appear until the twelfth century.

Legends

It’s hard to pinpoint the legend which says that Draycott is the place where the last dragon in England was slain, but the reference to it does come in a very scholarly journal – the Transactions of The North Staffordshire Field Club (1908).
The Reverend Thomas Barns wrote a piece for the journal back then describing the Anglo-Saxon myths surrounding this area, and, in that article, says that the legend was still current among older folk at the time. Unfortunately, the Reverend Barns says no more on the subject than just that!
So, where the myth comes from will need a lot more research.

However, the fact that the dragon is the symbol of St Margaret Of Antioch (the patron saint of the parish church) is easier to verify. The main legend around this 4th Century saint is that she was swallowed alive by the Devil (who had taken on the appearance of a dragon) – but she escaped through his mouth when the Devil coughed up the crucifix she was carrying…!
In St Margaret’s Church you can see evidence of this legend. The carving of her on the outside of the church shows her emerging from the dragon’s mouth.

Draycotts and the Dragon

The family that lorded it over the village for more than 500 years (having arrived with the Normans) was French in origin.  But when the branch of the family that took over the local estates in the 12th Century decided they needed an English name reference, they chose the place where they were based, i.e. Draycott.

However, it was not until centuries later that the dragon symbol came into play for the family – when Anthony Draycott became its head, in the sixteenth century.
Anthony was quite the intellectual, and seemed to like the way that Draycott sounded like ‘draco’, the Latin for dragon, and he adopted the symbol.

Anthony was rector of both Checkley and Draycott Church, and he did a lot of renovation works in Checkley Church. You can still evidence of the works – including the bench-ends there carved into his symbol, a dragon’s head..

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Strangely enough, these things persist and persist as part of tradition – even through to today.

The church at Draycott remained in the ‘patronage’ of the Draycott family for many years, and the small enclosed chapel at the church is still known as The Draycott Family Chapel – even though the main Draycott branch died out centuries ago.
But the dragon symbol itself carries on into the present day: at St Margaret’s Church you will still see some strange tall poles at the end of some of the pews. These are traditional ‘churchwardens staves’, carried by the wardens as an ancient sign of their authority. At the top of the staves are medallions of enamelled metal. And what is depicted on the medallions?
You guessed it: a dragon.

***
Thanks to Sarah Beardmore for all the research for this article.
If you too want to write an article for this blog, just email us.

We’d appreciate any more information too. 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: grand opening / assault / Local Plan / fest success

In this post we have news of…: new community facility opened / man attacked / Local Plan emergency meeting / Cloggerfest success …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a meeting to discuss a Speed-Watch project for Draycott Level. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Assault

The Saturday night at the beginning of this month (2nd Sept) was not a good night to be out late on Draycott Level. A very loud group of lads were singing their way along Uttoxeter Road at 1.30 in the morning, a man was robbed and assaulted, and it was probably this night that a notice-board was kicked over and broken.

The worst incident, of a young man being assaulted, took place on the pavement almost opposite Stuart Avenue. The man was kicked and robbed of his wallet and jacket by a small group of youths who had jumped out of a car that was following.

Broken notice-board Sept 2017

The parish notice-board on Draycott Level – kicked over

An ambulance was called – but fortunately the injuries were not serious; and a friend, who had been walking with the victim, though he was chased, did manage to get away unscathed.
Curiously, the car had returned by this point – and the jacket and wallet thrown back (though some money was apparently missing).
Naturally, the police are looking for as much information as they can get. The car involved was a silver-coloured hatchback with one front light missing. If you know anything, they’d like you to call 101 and mention the reference number, which is 59 (Sept 3rd).

– – –
Local Plan discussion

Draycott Parish Council called an emergency meeting this week to discuss the new proposed Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan – the strategy which will decide how infrastructure issues such as housing will be allocated in the region for the next fifteen years.

About twenty members of the public attended and the general mood was not favourable. Many residents said how disillusioned they were with Staffs Moorlands Council and how they didn’t believe in the fairness of the planning process much anymore.
Mark Deaville, our councillor on SMDC, attended (though our other two SMDC councillors did not). He said that, yes, growth (especially in new homes) was needed if Draycott/Cresswell was to get funding for better infrastructure projects such as traffic-crossing refuges, but also said: “Confidence in the Moorlands planning department is at an all time low”.

Some people also said that confidence in the actual councillors who sit on the council’s planning committee was also very low.
They pointed out that the latest proposals could see three roundabouts along Draycott Level (plus a new one coming in Cresswell) in just a one-mile stretch!
There was also general unhappiness that virtually the total quota for new industrial development for the whole Moorlands is being allocated to Draycott/Cresswell…

It would have been good to hear from all our parish councillors about what they thought of the proposals, but only Mark and Roger Holdcroft (the chairman of the parish council) actually spoke up with considered responses.

What happens next is that the clerk of the council will collate the public’s responses, and then incorporate those into the council’s own comments. She is hoping to publish these comments on the council’s website by this Saturday (16th).
Comments on the proposals must be put forward by Sept 22nd. Every adult in the district is allowed to make comments on the Plan – and Roger Holdcroft is urging people to do just that.
If you do nothing else, check out paragraph 8.26 in the Plan, and comment on that – that’s the most significant paragraph as far as Draycott is concentred.

– – –
Grand opening

Much much better news is that the ‘Colin Dawson Community Hub’ on the local cricket club’s ground in Cresswell is at last open for business. Paid for by Lottery money, with generous donations from supporters also underwriting it, it is a magnificent building which will be warm and cosy all year round.
It has a large function room, a well-stocked bar, and a couple of smaller meeting rooms.
It really is a great achievement.
In the photo below, you can see : Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (NSSCL cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club’s Lottery Bid) and Simon Owen (club chairman).

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)

All smiles in front of the new community hub

Opened formally this last weekend – Draycott’s oldest and most well-known resident, Betty Hammond, cut the ribbon – surrounding householders were also invited to come along and look round (and eat the free food!). The ones we spoke to had nothing but praise.

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The next step is to invite local groups and events-organisers to use the centre; and a list of charges will be published soon.
We were told that a small part-time post is being created – to employ someone to go out into the community and publicise just what a great resource is on our doorstep.
In the meantime, Alison Grimley, who has been overseeing the project on behalf of Blythe Cricket Club, says just to email her if you are eager to start using the centre in the near future.

– – –
Cloggerfest success

A ‘new’ Cloggerfest was initiated this year.
Cresswell’s own two-day rock & nu-folk music festival is an annual event designed to appeal to the whole family. However, after a spot of bother happened last year, this year security was tightened, and the festival changed from a free event to a ticketed one.

Ange Heathcote, who organises the set-up, told us that all passed peacefully this year, partly thanks to some friendly police officers who were helping out the security effort! In fact some people without tickets were turned away on the advice of the security team.

Ange reported too that the admission fee did not deter people – some £2000 was taken on the gate and camping facilities were fully booked up weeks before…
The organisers on the music side told us also that the music fans themselves were well-happy with the line-up of bands and the quality of the sound; while the charity-events organisers (the local Rotary Club is big into this festival) said the kids enjoyed themselves too.

So… roll on Cloggerfest 2018!

***
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: big planning / community-hub opens / dangerous rail area / Totmonslow self-build?

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: how Draycott is part of a national strategy / unfenced railway line / chance to build your own home / new community-hub opens on cricket ground /…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Cresswell Cloggerfest Music-Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Draycott on the national planning agenda

The application to build over 100 homes at the east end of Draycott (by the A50 roundabout) seems to have caught everyone by surprise.
(It’s always a clever move by a developer to make a controversial application during the summer months as everyone’s attention is elsewhere – usually on a beach!)
Certainly our local newspapers and our local politicians seem to have made virtually no comment at all, which is both a shock and a shame, as this is a very big deal indeed.

What few of us realised is that this site, the huge so-called ‘Northern Gateway’ or ‘Blythe Vale’ site in the centre of Draycott is actually not just a local venture, but is part of a regional & national planning framework, linking major industrial centres like Stoke and Derby to the major networks.
The local community action group VVSM have been doing the research and came across a really interesting document proving this.

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It means that – once the economy picks up – this district is in line for a lot more industry and a lot more housing, and, as it’s part of a national strategy, we may not be able to do a lot about it. You have been warned…!

Anyway, at the moment, only the application for the 100+ homes is on the table. If you feel strongly about this development, you only have until 27th September to comment on the proposals. See the Blythe Vale Homes planning application by clicking here.

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Pavilion success

Happier news comes out of our local cricket club. The new pavilion/community-hub, on the Cresswell ground, is finished at last, and looks really splendid. The old pavilion had its charm, yes, but this smart new structure is the bee’s knees!
It cost over £250,000 (with help from the Lottery Fund) but it looks like it is well worth it.

An open invitation is now going out to everyone connected with the parish to come and take a look at it on Sunday 10 September (between 11am and 4pm). If you fancy going, please email the club, by this Friday, to say you’d like to be there, as it’s a matter of trying to judge numbers.

The pavilion/community-hub could turn into a major asset for the district as, apart from being a base for the cricket club, it is open for hire to local organisations – already a weekly yoga class has started up there. So, if you too run a class or such, you might want to check it out too.

If you can’t make it on the 10th, why not stroll along to see the first team’s last game of the season, on the 9th. With a bit of luck (and sunshine), the day will – hopefully – see the team crowned champions of League One… what a party that will be!!

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Open railway

For some time now, some of us have been wondering what Network Rail is up to by the Cresswell rail-crossing. A hundred yards along the main-line (in the Uttoxeter direction), the fencing that should be alongside the tracks, to stop both trespass and thoughtless kids from wandering onto the line, is simply… not there. It is completely wide-open.

An unmade road, which leads to a small group of six terraced homes (‘Railway Cottages’ by name) passes right by the unprotected area. The owners there form a small community (they get together to look after the unmade road and repair it, for instance) and have applied to Network Rail to fulfil its responsibilities, but, so far, no joy.

tidying the road to Railway Cottages

Repairing the road to Railway Cottages

If you also find this worrying, why not add your voice to the community’s, and write to Network Rail?
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Build your own home

It’s not often a chance comes up to build your own home, especially in beautiful open countryside… but this is what is on the cards right here in our parish – in Totmonslow.

Totmonslow Farm, which is no longer a full working concern, is the site of two potential conversions. A little way over from the historic old farmhouse itself, you’ll see some former farm buildings, which have not been in use for some years … though they do have charm of their own.
They are now up for sale, with planning permission: going to public auction on the 20th September.

Both sets of buildings also give a deal of space – click to see the details of The Barns, and of The Old Cart Shed.
It could be a dream come true for somebody…

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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

Local Plan proposals – some thoughts

Had a chance to look at the Moorlands Local Plan (Preferred Options) document yet? If you have, good for you – at nearly 300 pages long, it can make your head spin after a while! Moorlands Local Plan symbol

Once it is set in stone, the Local Plan will earmark areas across the region for employment parks, housing estates, open-space, travellers’ sites etc. It will be valid until 2031.
What this is here now is a consultative document, so you can make comments on it (and hopefully, get listened to) – but you have only until Sept 22nd to do so.

And if you’re wondering why you might have a feeling of déjà-vu, well that is because this document was first issued last year – but then scrapped – and is now a revised version…
So, if you did make comments back then on the 2016 version, hard luck, because all those comments have been scrapped too – and everyone has to do any feedback all over again.

Overall

So – how is this draft different to the previous versions?
Well, the headline is that council planners have now decided that ‘smaller villages’ and ‘rural areas’ should hardly take any housing developments after all. Virtually all big new housing allocations in our region will be confined to the ‘towns’ such as Cheadle and ‘larger villages’ such as Blythe Bridge and Upper Tean.
That’s just the main headline of course; there is a lot more for us in Draycott to think about than just that.
But one has to really delve into all the details across the 300 pages to find it! It’s hard work, but already the local Draycott & Cresswell community action group, VVSM, is on the case, and is examining the document with a fine tooth-comb; and it says it will publish their comments shortly.

One thing is for sure: according to this draft, Draycott will probably have to accept a small estate of around half a dozen homes being built in its centre sometime in the next decade.
However, there is no longer a mention of the possibility of a travellers-site coming to Cresswell or Blythe Bridge.

Blythe Vale and more

Draycott is classed as a ‘smaller village’ – so how come a planning application for a housing estate of 118 homes at its eastern end, which has just been submitted, is acceptable?
Well, for one thing, strange as it may seem, it’s actually inside the Blythe Bridge boundary – thus making it officially a ‘larger village’ allocation.
Secondly, we on this website have been warning for some time that the proposed giant Northern Gateway site (which covers virtually all the fields south of Uttoxeter Road between the main Blythe Bridge roundabout and Cresswell) was a planning problem looming on the horizon.
In fact the ‘Northern Gateway’ has had outline permission for some years now, even though nothing was actually happening.
Until now.
The new preferred option from the planners (see pg 155 of the Local Plan document) is that this giant Northern Gateway site be reclassified from B1 (business & industry) to ‘mixed-use’. So, the proposed Blythe Vale housing estate site – a small part of this Northern Gateway site towards its northern end – is now seen as ripe for development for … houses. So, there you go.

Draycott site allocations employment

The dark green blob (on both sides of the A50 road), is the Northern Gateway site formerly earmarked for industry employment (and now for mixed-use). The Blythe Vale housing will take up the northern quarter between the blue line (the A50) and the orange line (the Dracott dual carriageway).  The light green space is Draycott Moor College

The weirder thing is, at the other end of Draycott, the new Blythe Park housing-estate development at Cresswell.
If this draft Local Plan were already in place, Cresswell would be left free of development as it is classified as ‘other rural area’. However, permission for the Blythe Park development was squeezed through when Cresswell was vulnerable, i.e. before this Local Plan could ever be enacted. (It was still a surprise decision though, as SMDC, by giving permission for it, went against their own Core Strategy!)
In other words, Draycott and Cresswell have few friends at the moment at SMDC Council…

Our prediction? With fifteen years, development will stretch from Cresswell through Draycott to Blythe Bridge, all in one long ribbon.

Confused?

Like we’ve said, VVSM will soon publish their very detailed views, so that might help us more to be less confused.
It’s not clear yet what responses local parish councils are collating.

If you do want direct answers to questions (good luck!) you can also quiz officers and councillors at the various Local Plan drop-in sessions. The nearest to us is at Blythe Bridge Village Hall on Wednesday 30 August, 5-8pm.

Finally, don’t be backward in coming forward if you spot anything interesting in this Local Plan document – let us all know! Just use the comments box  further down this page, or send us an email.

Resident Roger Holdcroft, who is also chair of the Draycott Council, did just that; and he says when we are looking through the document, the following pages will be of interest to local people:
Page 46 – Smaller villages: “Development on a large scale would be unsustainable, as it will generate a disproportionate number of additional journeys, undermining the spatial strategy”
Page 51 – Net Housing 2017-2031 – includes upcoming Blythe Park development at Cresswell
Page 54 – Neighbourhood Plan Areas. Draycott housing allocation
Page 67-68 – Draycott is a ‘smaller village’, Cresswell not mentioned.
Page 67-70 – Smaller villages area strategy Policy SS9
Page 78 – Greenbelt in Draycott
Page 209 – Blythe Vale development
Page 229 – Draycott Map
Page 249 – Blythe Business park development Map
Page 155-157 – Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway

That should make some good bedtime reading!

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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: top cricket / MORE houses? / open nurseries / council tax concern

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: Blythe CC go top of division / 100+ more homes for Draycott? / plant nursery re-opens / council tax worry…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Draycott Sausage and Cider Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Blythe go top!!

It may not have been the best of summers – but our local cricket team has certainly given us a lot to cheer about!
The first eleven at the Cresswell-based Blythe Cricket Club have been among the top teams in the NSSCL First Division pretty much all season, but they went even better than that this last Saturday by beating the leaders (away).
Their victory – by the narrowest squeak, but a proud triumph anyway – takes them straight to the top of the league.

This win now virtually assures them of an historic promotion to the NSSCL’s top tier – the Premier Division – though, yes, the final games must still be treated very seriously.

Musharraf Hussain victory signCaptain Peter Finch, who himself has played incredibly well all season, told the sports newspapers in an interview that a lot of the team’s success is down to this year’s professional, the Bangladeshi all-rounder Musharraf Hussain (see pic right).
Musharraf has settled into Staffordshire much better than many of his compatriots and produced consistent high-level performances.
Everyone has also been excited to see a fresh lease of life for the county over-50s bowler, Mark Stanyer – in one game, Mark produced figures of five wickets for no runs….

Why not get along to the Cresswell ground and check out the team’s run-in? See dates for Blythe’s remaining home games on our Events page.

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More planning than we thought

It’s been a big few days for anyone who cares about the future of Draycott.

The very latest proposals designed for The Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan (the strategy by which house building, open spaces and employment sites will be carried out in this region over the next fourteen years) are now published, and available for view either online or at your local library.
It is literally hundreds of pages long, so the local community-action group VVSM is still sifting through it trying to see what the main implications are for us locally. They should put out their views soon (we’ll let you know their conclusions as soon as we have them).

However, suddenly, yesterday, everything shifted under our feet…

We all knew that the fields on the ridge behind the houses on Uttoxeter Road up to the A50 highway have long had permission to be used as an employment site (the so-called ‘Northern Gateway’), but the poor state of the economy has meant there has been no takers … until now.
So, the owners, the St Modwen Group, have now started an interesting campaign to try to persuade the Moorlands District Council that at least part of that planning permission should be switched to house-building instead. They want to build 118 new homes on the triangular parcel of land almost next to and behind the Chandi Cottage Restaurant, then right along to the roundabout and around.
See map below.St Modwen Vale plan leaflet
This comes completely out of the blue to us, but in fact St Modwen say they have already had preliminary discussions with the council. All they need now is the planning permission, and they could start building in 2018.
After what happened in Cresswell, where a similar application for 170 homes was passed through – despite all the recommendations against it -, you have to wonder if St Modwen might well get their plans through.

Already a protest group of residents is being formed.
The protesters do have one advantage. Due to a strange quirk of boundary-creation, the St Modwen land sits just inside Forsbrook Parish Council’s responsibilities, not Draycott Parish Council’s. Remembering how Draycott PC was almost completely useless when it came to doing anything about the Cresswell application, it’s probably better for the protesters that they will be working with Forsbrook PC, which is a much more energetic council.

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Shrubs and more

Despite the sluggish economy, people are still – thank goodness – trying to make a go of business.
So, it’s nice to see that Draycott Plant Nurseries have new owners.
Neil & Carolyn left earlier this year, after putting a lot of hard work into the place. Many of us had started to rely on them for plants, so, when even they felt they could not make it work, many of us feared the place would fall derelict.

However, new management is now in place. Draycott plant nurseriesBasically the stock at the moment is large shrubs, meant for designers creating ‘ready-made’ gardens, so the market is really trade customers – but anyone is welcome to go along and have a look. The nursery is open five and a half days a week.

We were told that, once everything is settled, the range will be extended, and we should see bedding plants on sale there by next year.

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Deeper pockets needed by local council-tax payers

Just as we hear inflation is about to hit 3%, you can (probably) add yet another expense to your bills.

At its last meeting, Draycott Parish council had a debate about a large sum of money that it needs to pay out. Should it pay it in instalments, or instead pay the lot at once?
Experienced councillors pointed out that paying a large amount in one lump sum might leave the council’s financial reserves under-strength, meaning an increase in council tax would be required in the Spring to bolster them.

However, the remaining councillors decide to ignore that advice and plumped to pay in one lump sum. It’s unclear why they decided to do that.
It rather reflects the fact that Draycott Council already has an unenviable  record as one of the top twenty per cent of councils in the whole country that likes to put council tax up the most

As usual, the local tax-payers may well have to dig into their pockets to pay for this council’s strange decisions.

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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)

The worsening state of our public footpaths

It is now almost two years since we last had a piece on this website about the state of our district’s public footpaths (see Save Our Footpaths).
There are around twenty miles of field-paths and other rights of way in the Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow area; and sad to say, things have hardly got better for them since that last article, and are in fact are now much worse.

It’s bad all over

Since our last article, the Ramblers Association has published the first ever national survey of the state of footpaths (November 2016). They reported thousands of signs missing and not replaced, and it looks like our region (West Midlands) is one of the worst for this.
Across England & Wales, a third of all paths need improvement, and one-tenth of paths are blocked altogether!

Sadly, that story is replicated in Draycott, where even some stiles are impassable, simply being drowned in vegetation or missing. There are even local paths which appear to have been deliberately blocked.
The biggest problem of all (say The Ramblers Association) is that county councils, which are primarily responsible for clearing and maintaining paths, simply aren’t coping. Councils, hits by cuts, say they just don’t have the resources.
And so… the footpath network declines, fewer people use it, and the vicious cycle goes on.

Local walkers have let us have photos of local problems (see the gallery below) – but, even so, not all the local issues have yet been photographed. (If you too have local photos, please email them to us).
Thanks to everyone who has already sent in photos and thoughts about our local footpaths.

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Incidentally, many of these photos were taken before the recent rains, so don’t go thinking that all that vegetation growth is simply because of the wet weather. These photos reflect what is a normal state of affairs.

The most shocking thing is the blocked path up near NewHouse, south-west of Painsley (the path known as Checkley 63). It passes through a copse, and someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it impassable.
But mostly, the problems are lack of maintenance and sheer vandalism.

Good signs

It’s all not bad news.
The county-council did restore a number of fingerposts a few months ago and repair some gates.
It seems some money may be made available for repairs in Draycott, with Brookside earmarked to receive the cash.
And the Cheadle-to-Cresswell Railway-path group has big plans to clear the old rail-track and make it passable for horses as well as walkers.
It’s not much though, compared to the overall decline.

Stopping the rot

How do we stop the rot?
Draycott Area-Parish Council must do more. One of the few direct responsibilities that such area-councils have is to monitor their local footpaths-network… and many small councils do do their bit – but there is little evidence that here in Draycott councillors are doing more than grumble. Action would be nice.
In fact, we were promised a footpath report from them two years ago. But nothing has ever appeared. Let’s see one!
The council’s basic responsibility is to defend our interests in a coherent way, so a little leadership would also help. How about the council creating a sub-group (with volunteer residents) to cope with the issue?

Second: it’s up to us, as individuals. It is quite legal to carry a pair of secateurs with you and snip away at vegetation overhanging paths or stiles. (Only snipping, mind! More than that will require permission).
There is, unfortunately, no local Ramblers branch (the nearest are ones at Stone and Leek), but, if you are keen on saving paths in general, you could join The Ramblers.

Thirdly: we can all report issues. The Ramblers Association is urging us to report path problems through their ‘Pathwatch’ scheme (they will then alert the local authority for you). They’ve even created a mobile-phone app that allows you to report features on the go – straight from your pocket.
And, if you want to keep Draycott Council on their toes, you can also report problems to them.

Landowners have a responsibility too. Farmers who receive Common Agricultural Policy payments should keep to cross-compliance rules, which say that visible public rights of way “must be kept open and accessible”.

But first… let’s have that report from our parish council. It’s well overdue. Then we can really get started on looking after our local footpaths network – a valuable (and free and healthy) public amenity.

See also:  Recommended Walks on Draycott’s footpaths

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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)