Rail-path group back to action

Things have been a bit quiet for the Friends of The Cheadle-Cresswell Railway Path  over the last six months.
The group formed in July last year, and had a good summer, with the volunteers raising funds, clearing some of the undergrowth from the path and doing some path-laying. However there has been no meeting since November.

But, the group’s secretary Oliver Griffiths, says the return of the good weather will see the resurgence of the group. All, says Oliver, that he is waiting for is some permissions from the leaseholder of the path and from some adjacent landowners.
And then meetings will re-start. All are welcome; just keep an eye on the group’s Facebook page for more info.

For those that have forgotten this story, our old branch rail-line, which went from the centre of Cresswell, via Totmonslow, right up to Cheadle, is now mostly a ‘permissive’ public-path/greenway, available to walkers and horse-riders. The path was nominated as such in 2012 – see our archive report.
Nine-tenths of it is open to the public (see article on the other tenth).

Busy route

This line was once a very busy route.

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A local industrial company headed up by a man called Robert Plant was the first to get the project properly underway in the 1880s – in those days, most railways were built by entrepreneur businesses, not by the government.
The idea was to construct a track which would leave the main Uttoxter-Stoke line at Cresswell, swerve north-eastward to Totmonslow where there was a small station, and then go north to Cheadle. It would carry not just passengers, who could then reach Stoke (or Derby) via Cresswell, but also transport freight – coal from the Draycott Cross pits.

Building started in 1888, when the first sod was cut in the April of that year by Edward Plant, Robert’s son. Within just a month a quarter of a mile had been laid, but, with subscriptions coming in slowly, work kept stopping. It wasn’t until four years later that the first section, from Cresswell to Totmonslow, was completed!
Finally, thirteen years after the commencement, the full line to Cheadle was completed.
Less than seventy years later, in 1963, the line closed to passenger traffic, though it did keep open for freight for a while.
The full story of the railway can be read in the Cheadle Branch Line Wikipedia entry.

Railway to greenway

Very few signs that the line once existed are still there. The rail-tracks themselves were lifted five years ago, making the way easier to use for walkers.

However, the old Totmonslow station building remains in the form of a cottage ‘The Ranch’. You can also still see the ruined station platforms at both Cresswell and Totmonslow.
Cresswell Station House was pulled down around the early sixties, but for a while before that, had been rented out as a home.

The local historian for Tean, Ivy Willetts-Brunt, remembers that, in the 1930s, her cousin Jack used to go daily to collect cold fish delivered to Totmonslow Station (by then also known as Tean Station). It was needed for the Tean Fish & Chip Shop!

Thanks to all those who have sent us photos of the old railway line before the tracks were pulled up. But can anyone help us with more information? Rough dates for the photos we have shown would be a start…
Also, some more anecdotes and stories about the use of the line would be good. For example, we were once told that the station house at Cresswell was once rented out to the well-known sixties pop-group The Marauders. Is that really true?
Please use the comments box below….

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NEWS: Council resignation / N Plan pops up / Songs Of Praise / community police / council indifference

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late March 2018
In this post we have news of…: resignation of council chairman, neighbourhood plan sessions, council indifference to Cresswell, police surgeries, church sing-along …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a family tennis tournament…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Council resignation

Just one month after the Draycott Council’s clerk resigned, so does the council’s chairman.
Roger Holdcroft, who is highly respected, and who has hardly put a foot wrong in his time on the council over the last three years, felt he could no longer carry on in the chairman position.
So, a fortnight ago, he issued a resignation letter – which you can read by clicking here.
It all follows months of unheard-of scenes.

Roger HoldcroftAs you can read in his letter, Roger (pic, right) felt that he was being undermined by some of his fellow councillors, and even worse, was being unfairly slandered and ‘trolled’ by them or their supporters.
With that kind of atmosphere, it is clear he felt there was just too much disrespect, and that it was too unpleasant, as chairman, to be in the middle of it.
It is fair to say that some of the shenanigans that this council gets up to didn’t meet with his full approval either.
Mr Holdcroft remains an ordinary councillor though.

Oddly enough, this is the third resignation in eighteen months. In Jan 2017, another Draycott councillor resigned her seat altogether, after saying she had experienced “harassment” at the hands of other councillors.

Amazingly, there has been little or no reaction from any other councillor to the resignation, who all remained stony-faced as the letter was read out at the latest meeting of the council.

(NB — the chairman of a parish council is not its ‘leader’ or spokesperson – this is a misconception. The chairman’s role is little more than managing the council’s meetings, but is nevertheless a responsible position).

– – –
Time for a sing-song

Is the popular BBC programme ‘Songs Of Praise’ really coming to our district?
Well, no, not really – despite the posters you will see around the place…

The fact is that one of the members of the Draycott St Margaret’s Church congregation thought it would be a lot of fun to have a localised Songs Of Praise, as a chance for the community to come together for a sing-along of favourite hymns and tunes.
We don’t get the chance these days for a good sing-song, do we?, so this should be a happy event.

You too can also get extra-involved by suggesting a favourite hymn to be sung on the day. Contact Kate on 07715 284580 if you have ideas about one.

The event takes place on Sunday 29 April at 6pm at St Peter’s in Blythe Bridge (the sister church of St Margaret’s) – and all are welcome.
But… no, the BBC won’t be there!

– – –
Planning neighbourliness

Another call for community involvement is seen in the growing desire to put a local ‘neighbourhood plan’ into place.
After a failed attempt here in Draycott two years ago, it looks like this time the idea has a bit more steam to it: the volunteers of the working-group behind it have been given grant-money and are a bit more confident of success this time around.

(A few semi-rural areas like ours already have neighbourhood plans either established or almost established.
Nearby, both Checkley (see pic below) and Forsbrook real are well on the way to getting their plans ratified).checkley neighbourhood plan poster

Our own plan is still at the baby stage, so nothing has yet been decided – which means you still have the chance to influence it. Over the next fortnight, there will be three ‘pop-up’ open sessions, where you can go along and have a chat, and say your piece.
It’s worth putting in your penny-worth, if you are interested in the future of our district, as, once a plan is set up, local authorities and developers must (yes, must) take notice of it.
Check our What’s On page to see dates and times of these sessions.

If you really can’t make the sessions, at least fill in the form – it’s only half-a-dozen questions long – and get it back to the working-group.
Click here to see (and print off) the form.

– – –
Getting down with the police

A few years ago, there were regular crime & order ‘community surgeries’, which our local PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) put on for us every month. It was a chance to talk about issues from dog-mess in public places (illegally left) to more serious problems such as drugs and more.
Sadly, they were discontinued when there were changes in the personnel of our local police.

However, along has come a new PCSO, Daniel Nettleton, and he has restored the sessions. Every month now, you can meet up with PCSO Nettleton at Blythe Bridge Library and chat about matters. If it’s very serious, there is even a closed room at the library for confidential chats.

Daniel is very keen to see folks, so make a note of the dates he is going to be there (though you can phone him at any time too, of course).
He’s at the library 10am-noon on 14th April, 12th May, 9th June, 14th July – and so on.
He’s a nice fellow too, and may even make you a cup of coffee!

– – –
Council Shenanigans

(Our local Draycott Council gets up to so many odd tricks that we simply haven’t been able to keep up, so we have given the council its own little section -‘ Council Shenanigans’. If you are fed up with our council, you might want to look away, as this section will just make you feel worse…)

What’s the biggest infrastructure project prospect for our district at the moment? Yes, it’s the Cresswell Blythe-Park roundabout (which is planned to be just 100 yards from the railway crossing). It will bring significant disruption to the residents of Cresswell.

Blythe Park Roundabout Development pic 2017

This artist’s impression shows the roundabout and planned houses in bright colours; and the existing buildings in lavender shades (pic: SMDC Planning website)

In fact, it has been deemed such a major set of works that the planners at Staffs Moorland Council decided they couldn’t pass it without the approval of the Planning Committee.
Then, the planning committee in turn deemed it so important that they have asked for more time to determine it, and now it won’t be discussed until May. The local MP, Bill Cash, has got involved too.
It’s a big one!
On the consultation web-page, nearly two-dozen residents (and Bill Cash) have put in their formal comments expressing their concerns.

And what has our Draycott Council done?
Erm.
Nothing.

Despite being on the list of official consultees, the council has made… no response on the consultation web-page,
When the matter was put before the councillors at their meeting in February, they made … er… no comments.

No wonder some residents of Cresswell feel this council is not taking any notice of them and is just indifferent to their problems.

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

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

NEWS: Council payments / a 105th / W West van / kids’ sports

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid March 2018
In this post we have news of…: Betty’s 105th party / the Wild West van  from Cresswell / overpayment by councillors? / new sports sessions for kids …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Easter Ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Happy Long Life

One birthday party we have all been looking forward to is that of the district’s oldest resident, Betty (Bessie) Hammond.
Betty is a legend in so many ways, and she celebrates her 105th (!!) birthday later this month. She was born before the First World War even got started…

Betty Hamond & card

The 100th Birthday party – only five years ago…

She does admit that she gets more tired more quickly these days, but even so, she still accepts offers to “do her bit”. She was the official guest of honour last summer when the new £500,000 community pavilion was opened at the local cricket club. She cut the ribbon to open it.

To mark this amazing birthday milestone, an ‘open’ party for all friends, neighbours and colleagues is being held at Draycott Sports Centre on Saturday 24 March, 2pm onwards.
However, over such a long life, Betty has made so many friends that it would be impossible to send out invitations to all. So, as Susan Hulme, Betty’s daughter, is telling everyone: “…don’t wait for an invitation, just come along and say hello… If you know Betty – consider yourself invited!”

– – –
On the road again

With the winter behind us and the warm weather coming up, one local man is gearing up for the festival season.
Ian Barlow, who runs the Little House catering-van, can be found every weekday morning by the bowling green on Blythe Business Park. His fry-ups are the best of British, and all (not just those working on the park) are welcome to visit, take a seat, and enjoy a breakfast.
His range has now extended, and extra, more exotic dishes are also on offer, including some spicy Tex-Mex chilli etc.

However, in the summer months Ian also travels out on weekends – to look after hungry festival-goers.
So… he decided a new look was needed, and he experimented last summer with a Wild West design on his van (to go with the chilli range!), which was made up to look like a log-cabin. It was so successful, he’s keeping the look. Ian will also sport a ten-gallon hat when he feels like it, just to complete the appearance! Ian barlow and van

Check him out at local festivals (including CloggerFest) and say hello.
John Wayne would be proud….

– – –
Get the kids moving

If Spring is here, then it’s time to get the kids running about again – and our local sports clubs are doing just that.

Next weekend (Sunday 18 March), Draycott Sports Centre is hosting a so-called ‘Quorn Cup’ – which brings together one adult and one child from a family, to play as a pair in a tennis tournament. A soft ‘red’ ball is used to make it fairer.
But, more than that, the centre is re-starting its Mini-Tennis sessions. Kids from as young as three (up to ten years) can apply for the lessons, which take place on the indoor courts with qualified coaches. You can book online for the lessons – click here.

Blythe All Stars posterMeanwhile at our local cricket club, a new initiative this season is the involvement with the ECB’s ‘All Stars Cricket’ project for kids. These sessions will be between 5pm-6pm on Fridays. If you know anyone under the age of 7,  Blythe CC’s All Stars Cricket could be for them…

Well done to our sports clubs for continuing to be so family-friendly.

– – –
Thousands of pounds…

Last month Draycott Council’s Clerk, Kate Bradshaw, aftre nearly four years in post, resigned.
(Because the records of the relevant meetings have been kept secret, we don’t know what has been going on to cause this).

Anyway, the post is now vacant. Applications are welcomed – closing date April 9th. A Clerk is the main employee of a local, parish council, and is paid to manage its affairs.

The salary for the post was going to be listed at around £210 to £250 per month – but, that rate now seems to be under question…  as a member of the public, Mr Warburton, raised an interesting point at the last council meeting: is the current salary correct?

Mr Warburton’s research indicated to him that the current hourly rate of £12.50 for the Clerk seemed high; and he said that, in his opinion, councillors, by applying an inappropriate rate, may have over-spent taxpayers’ money by some £3000.

Mr Warburton may well have a good point. The hourly rate has been around £12 for the last few years, back to the time of the previous clerk in fact, and councillors may not have been as diligent as they should have been over the past decade or so in reviewing the rate each year. Did they give it proper annual examination?
In law, local/parish councils can pay whatever they like (some councils just barely pay the minimum wage to their clerks, while others do pay the top rate). So, the councillors are within their rights to pay what they like…

If this sort of thing interests you, Mr Warburton’s points should now be on the agenda for the council’s next meeting – which takes place on Monday 26 March (not on the usual third Monday) at 7.30pm.

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

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

NEWS: Local Plan / Armistice events / potholes!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2018
In this post we have news of…: Moorlands Local Plan / Armistice Day events / pothole misery …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a pop-jazz band evening…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Plan coming to conclusion

The latest draft of the Staffordshire Moorlands ‘Local Plan’ is now published,  and copies can be seen in libraries and on-line. This is the fifth draft, and, in effect, this is the last, as no more changes are likely outside of a massive surprise.

It only reveals what we already knew: that Draycott, in effect, will soon become an urban village, as part of a ribbon development with Blythe Bridge. Blythe Bridge’s village-boundary is even to be extended this way.
Previous protesting comments from local residents did not shake the planners’ resolve.

So… Draycott will see two new housing estates in the next couple of years. Two already have permission to go ahead – one of 168 homes at Cresswell, plus one of 118 homes bordering the A50 on a site behind Chandni Cottage (which will soon grow, to become 300 homes). Overall, 1500 homes are set to be built in the Blythe Bridge/Draycott/Caverswall ‘ribbon’ area over the next 15 years.
Plus… the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road already has outline permission for further housing & employment ‘opportunities’ in the near future.

As for employment sites, Blythe Park in Cresswell is set to be one of the biggest developments across the region. Our local community-action group VVSM are on record as saying that “… what this means is that ALL of Staffordshire Moorlands’ quota for required rural allocation of employment-sites is now to be found in … Cresswell ! What’s more, the expected Blythe Vale allocation, which will stretch from Blythe Bridge to Cresswell, could mean dozens of workshops and small factories being built on the land there on top of the ridge over the next twenty years. All this will change the face of this village.”
Residents in Cheadle Road will also note that a new employment park is also earmarked in the Plan, on a site off New Haden Road (just down from Draycott Cross).Moorlands Local Plan symbol
(What’s a little mysterious is that sections on traveller-site allocation haves been left out. Previous drafts had sites in Draycott and Cresswell strongly tipped, but this current draft is silent on the matter. Watch this space, as they say.)

This final draft is now open to consultation, but only for legal points – one can no longer challenge the locations or numbers of homes & employment sites.

So… what’s next? Staffordshire Moorlands Council will submit this Plan for approval to a government inquiry in the autumn.
And there you have the only real reason to comment on the current Plan – because anyone who does make a comment will also be offered the chance to put their case before the government inspector in the autumn – in fact this is the only way you can ‘qualify’ to take part in the inquiry. It seems a daft way to do it, but there it is.
So, yes, fireworks could start again in the autumn – but don’t count on it.

SEE: Staffs Moorlands Local Plan Spring 2018 Revision

– – –
Pothole misery

Once upon a time, a pothole in the roads was an unusual sight. Not any more.
In the 200 yards along Cresswell Lane, between the A50 flyover and Blythe Business Park, motorists now have at least five chances to crack their axles. Pothole in Cresswell Lane
This length of road is in such a poor state that, as soon as a pothole is repaired, it breaks up again.
Motorists who know this stretch play a dangerous game, of swerving round them.

The plague of local potholes came to a head during the recent snowfalls: if you can’t see a pothole, you can’t avoid it. One poor driver smacked into the huge, snow-covered pothole outside Grange Farm (on Cheadle Road) – and told us all that his van had to be off the road for over a week for repairs.
Residents attending a recent council meeting also complained of the pothole that has suddenly appeared outside Hilltop Farm on the road between the Draycott Arms and Totmonslow; cars swerving round that particular pothole (in a stretch where fast-moving traffic is prevalent), have already caused some real near-misses.

Responsibility for repairs falls to Staffordshire County’s Highways Department who are promising £5million to sort the issue, as of April. The county even has a dedicated Potholes Update webpage!
But, as far as we are thinking, the answer to it all is drive more slowly… the potholes are probably here to stay.

– – –
Armistice commemorations

It may seem a long way off, but in November the country will be remembering 100 years since the end of the First World War. A series of commemoration events across November 11th will look back at the day the nation emerged from all that misery.

Draycott is being invited to take part, as are all other parishes across the UK, by ringing its church bells in a ‘joyful peal’ in the evening on the day.
And the St Margaret’s Bell-Ringing group would welcome any new-comers who feel they could contribute. Recently the group has struggled a bit to find enough members, so volunteering to help them could be your way to take part in the Great-War Armistice Event Day.St Margaret's church in snow

Ring a bell at St Margaret’s!

Anyone can ring a church bell – but you do need some practice, so expressing your willingness is best done now or as soon as possible. Your man to contact is John Clarke, and he will tell you what’s what.

If you are interested more widely in how Staffordshire will remember Armistice Day, there is a free event taking place next Sunday (10th March) in Stafford – the Staffordshire Great-War Commemoration Conference – and all are welcome. If you have an idea, or just want to join in, this could be a meeting worth attending.

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

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

NEWS: burglary / help for poor / pollution report … and more

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-February 2018
In this post we have news of…: restaurant burglary / local firm helps poorest / pollution report / summer fayre progress / un-open Forsbrook…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a pop-jazz band evening…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Chandni burglary

There have still been no arrests (at the time of writing) concerning the Chandni Cottage Restaurant burglary which took place two weeks ago (Feb 5th). A well-organised group of thieves broke into the restaurant, at the eastern end of Draycott, in the dead of night.
They smashed in a window at the back; and stole equipment, goods and some cash – causing around £10,000 worth of losses. They even took the charity tin.Chandni Cottage

The thieves managed to get away with some hefty pieces of kitchenware, which makes police think that they must have had a van, and been properly prepared, being as it was such a difficult operation.
The same gang may have even been behind some similar incidents across the area.

The thieves were pretty brazen, but let’s hope they made some mistake which will lead eventually to arrests. If you think you may know anything, there is a confidential police hotline – call 101 and mention “incident number 587”.
It’s been really distressing for the owner, Yasmeen Yacqub, but we are happy to say that she has since said she won’t be cowed, and will carry on whatever!

– – –
New Haden generosity

If the reports from the Cheadle Food Bank are anything to go by, the situation for the poorest in our community is getting worse and worse. Requests to them for emergency supplies have risen 30% on the same time last year.
The food bank hands out tinned and non-perishable goods to those who turn up to its drop-in sessions. The Cheadle group serves not just people from the town but the surrounding villages, such as Draycott.

However, the food bank organisers rely on people like us to keep a supply of goods going, so, because of the rise in need, they have launched an extra appeal for funds, this time specifically aimed at businesses.
We are pleased to say that the first firm to respond positively is one from our small district – New Haden Pumps in Draycott Cross Road, which has stepped in to donate £150. Well done to them.

– – –
The fun of the fayre

It’s already that time of year again, and the Draycott Fayre organisers have already started booking acts for the event, which returns in July.

Draycott Fayre 2016 - 25 years banner

Parish councillor Pauline Clarke shows the 25 Years of Draycott Fayre banner last year

But now comes the nitty-gritty bit – who is doing what? …from hawking round posters to taking money on the gate.
The first meeting to discuss such matters takes place on March 2nd. Can you get along, and offer your services or thoughts?
Everyone who works putting the day together is a volunteer, from top to bottom – so, no matter how small, your contribution will be valuable. All are welcome at the meeting.
For details, click here

– – –
‘Missing’ notification

You might think our own local council here in Draycott is pretty bad when it comes to sharing information with its taxpayers (and it is) but the next-door council in Forsbrook takes the prize this month.
As must happen after the death of a councillor, which happened at the beginning of this year, a vacancy must be announced so that members of the public can put themselves forward for the post.
(In fact, some people in Draycott would have been eligible, as the locality rule means that residents for a few miles round are also able to stand).

So we watched the Forsbrook Council’s website, and we watched the council’s Facebook page. And we waited and waited. Nothing.
However, it then turned out that there was a notice after all – a piece of paper pinned to the council notice boards… but by then it was too late for us.

Forsbrook broke no rules in doing this, but, judging by this, they aren’t great fans of openness in local government, apparently preferring to keep such information under the radar, instead of trying to get the information out far and wide to as many people as possible.
So… who now gets to decide who will be the new, incoming councillor? Well…the councillors, of course!   They will now look for someone they themselves approve of, and ‘co-opt’ them.

– – –
Pollution report

As required by law, the developers who are soon to be building a housing estate and factories in Cresswell had to commission a report examining the state of the land on which they are about to build.
(The report, which must be carried out by a reputable land-analysis firm, looks for contaminants, floods risk etc.)
Well, the report has just been published. It is very lengthy and you probably need a degree to understand it fully, but it is important.

The local community-action group, VVSM, have been through the report and done their own review, breaking it down into simpler language. The review (click here to check it out), which also has links to the details of the report, is worth five minutes of any local resident’s reading time.

The biggest result is that the report’s authors admit finding contaminants in the soil, though they personally do not think there is enough there to halt the building. What they do recommend however is that a thick layer of fresh top-soil should be placed on the fields to act as a ‘buffer’ between the incoming residents and any nasty stuff down below.
The report’s authors admit too that there are simply locations across the site where they don’t know what will be found – until the digging starts. In fact, they recommend that construction workers, who will be moving in soon, wear protective clothing.

It’s all a bit worrying. The VVSM folk point out that, when cadmium in the earth is disturbed, it often just floats into the air; and, yes, cadmium is believed to be buried there somewhere.
In the end, the people of Cresswell (and the incoming residents of the planned estates) must rely on two things – the honesty of the construction firm which is honour-bound to report any unexpected finds, and the diligence of the local authority’s environment officers, who are supposed to monitor the excavations.  Erm, fingers crossed, eh?

***
This post has been edited since being originally published.

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

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

NEWS: roundabout details / Izaak price cut / new space for hire / rail petition

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: details of new Cresswell roundabout / Blythe CC hub price-list / petition to improve rail line / discount in Izaak pub cost ……
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Valentines Ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
‘Cresswell Circle’

Detailed plans are now in for the large new roundabout which is to be built in the middle of Cresswell. The roundabout will service the new housing estate & expansion of the adjacent industrial site.

All the measurements are listed on the plans, and it looks like the roundabout will be some 25m across – about half the width of a football pitch – with a grass mound in the middle. Basically it will be built on the field behind the present lay-by; and the current length of Sandon Road opposite the lay-by will be re-worked, as a residents’-only access frontage.

Cresswell Roundabout details

All of us have just over a month left to look over the plans and to comment on them. Click here to get a better close-up of the plans, and click here to make your comments (by March 7th).
If the plans get the full go-ahead (which is very probable), we should see the work starting around Easter-time – so start to expect traffic delays about then…

Blythe Park Roundabout Development pic 2017

This artist’s impression shows the roundabout and planned houses in bright colours; and the existing buildings in dark shades (pic: SMDC Planning website)

What’s interesting is that the construction-works this year will also include the new central roadway through the whole Blythe Park development – at the far end of which (on a virgin plot beyond the current industrial park) will also be being built a large new factory-warehouse for a garden-furniture company.

– – –
Community hub open for business

Better late than never, the price list for the hire of the new pavilion at Blythe Cricket Club (in Cresswell) is finally with us – and the prices aren’t bad at all.

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

If you remember, the brand-new facilities at the club opened at the end of last summer to great fanfare – in large measure, thanks to a huge £500,000 grant from  the Big Lottery Fund. Part of the club’s deal with the Lottery was that the ‘hub’, as it’s known, must be open for use by the surrounding community too.
The new-build includes new changing-rooms, updated toilets and baby-changing facilities – but, most importantly, as far as local residents are concerned, there is a shiny new large space (and bar) which is available for hire to the public.
And the prices are OK (well, we think so) – £50 for a half-day (not including bar & bartender). Check them out for yourself – see the official Blythe Community Hub – price list.

It’s an irony of the way that things go in the modern world that we have now have four community spaces for hire in our district (the village hall, the Cresswell dojo, the sports centre and now the cricket club), as well as – sometime in the next few years -, another one which will come as part of the forthcoming Blythe Park Housing Estate.
So, we have a plethora of ‘community hubs’ – but not even a little local shop!!   Oh well.

– – –
Railway petition

Once all the new building developments are completed over the next five years, Draycott-Cresswell is going to start snarling up with lots more traffic – the amount of cars owned by Cresswell households alone is set to double.

It’d be nice to think then that the railway service into Stoke or Derby (from the rail station at Blythe Bridge) is an option for more comfortable travel. But, as anyone who travels the line at peak time will know, the carriage/s (yes, often there is just one coach!) is absolutely jam-packed. Not pleasant.

So the MP for Stoke South, Jack Brereton, initiated an online petition in early December, in which he called on the government’s railways minister to force the local operating company to renew the rolling stock and improve the service.

Trouble is that poor old Jack has only got 45 supporters so far. Oh well.

– – –
Izaak reduced

By the way, still no word on what is likely to happen to the Izaak Walton Pub in Cresswell. When it closed in last year there were quickly rumours that a small resto-pub chain was interested, and there were high hopes that the old place would open again soon.

Izaak walton Inn new sign

Seems like those hopes were dashed, and the caretakers have had to stay on ever since – though the asking price has been reduced, down to £325,000.
The whole pub-hospitality business is a very difficult one at the moment, but it certainly would be good to see some sort of future for a place that is so iconic of the whole village.

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

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

– – –
Church’s birthday re-fit

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

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

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

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

– – –
Got a plan for our neighbourhood?

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

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

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

– – –
Goodbye to Sir Bill?

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

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

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

– – –
Chandni celebrates

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

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

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

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

NEWS: no more buses / new use for barn / local budget talks / sports sponsor

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: Draycott to lose its last bus / 19th century barn to be home / council discusses budget / sports centre gets new sponsor / footpaths survey…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a winter ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Bye bye buses

Plans have already been approved to remove the last bus service from Draycott.
Sadly, cuts to bus-subsidies by the county council mean that the No 12 route (run by D&G Bus, from Stone through Cresswell and Draycott along to Longton), is for the chop, as, without subsidies, it would be no longer viable to run.

Cresswell bus-shelter

Cresswell bus-shelter – soon to be redundant

In a statement to us, D&G confirmed the bad news, saying, “Due to the low numbers of passengers that service 12 carries, it is highly likely that the service will be withdrawn entirely once the funding is taken away on April 1st 2018.”

It’s a sad decline for the district.  Only a few years ago, the Hanley–Uttoxeter Express ran through the village! And now we will be reduced to nothing.

There is still an outside chance something can be worked out before April, and we will be looking to our community leaders on Draycott Council for some ideas. However, the authorities at Stafford would want some really strong or innovative suggestions from our councillors to make them alter their course. Based on recent experience of our councillors, one can’t see that happening…

– – –
Budgeting issues

Draycott councillors also have another big issue on their minds, which should make their next meeting (on January 15th) a tense one.

For years now, the council has been underpaying its clerk (a council clerk is a sort of executive, non-elected administrator to a council). It turns out that the clerk – according to the guidelines laid down – should have been paid for nearly a quarter more hours than she is currently getting.
As you can imagine, this increase in her wages will cause a large hike in the council’s expenditure – and, as the council is funded by us, the taxpayers of Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow, it could mean in turn a large percentage hike in our ‘parish’ council tax.
Alternatively, the councillors could raid the emergency reserves to make up the deficit, or cut some of Draycott’s already thin services…

What will they do?
Decision-time for them is Monday 15th.

– – –
Nineteenth century barn gets new life

At last, planning officers at SMDC have given a decision on the future of the old barn (see pic below) that stands just opposite the Draycott Arms.
A local farmer, George Plant, had put in an application to turn the building (which is pretty run-down now, and was used for hay-storage in the past) into a smart new home.
Well, George has his wish, and has been told he can now go ahead.
Rocks BarnHowever, those in that part of the village who were worried about a ‘loss of character’ may be pleased to learn that the present structure, which goes back to the 1880s, will not be demolished. Part of the planning permission is that builders must retain the walls and the ‘look’ of the old barn.
It will live on…!

– – –
New support for sports centre

Yes, we are going through bad times at the moment in this part of the world: inflation is creeping up, there is a stagnant housing market, and there isn’t much left over at the end of the week to play with.

This is why the recent news that Draycott Sports Centre has attracted a new sponsor is definitely a positive story. In just the last few months the centre has worked out a deal with A-Star Tutoring, a company that provides private teaching to kids of all ages.

The company, which is based in Newcastle under Lyme, believes that sporting ambition is a good match to education prowess. We were told by them: “As educators, we strongly believe that sporting activities have a direct effect on the ways in which individuals perform in the classroom… Students with sporting backgrounds tend to extend their sense of competition within the context of academic subject areas, which encourages them to set high targets for themselves.”

In the near future at Draycott Centre expect to see the likes of tennis tournaments etc bearing the name & logo of A-Star Tutoring.

– – –
Improve our footpaths

Even though we have miles and miles of footpaths in our small district, we have no regular maintenance of them by a recognised volunteer group. So, apart from the little bit that individuals do to care for stiles & destroyed signs and to report blockages, we have to rely on county council ‘rangers’. And the fact is that the environment department has taken a hammering in terms of cuts, so the rangers are doing less and less.

Oak Hill, Totmonslow stile

Near Oak Hill. Some landowners do make an effort to maintain stiles… nice one!

So, our nearest campaigning group, the Leek Ramblers, is urging everyone who loves walking in the countryside to complete the survey currently on offer from the county council – the Staffs Rights Of Way Consultation.
The Ramblers are warning that paths may close unless our voices are heard, so, if, like them, you want to keep the local countryside fully open, you need to complete it.

This consultation was due to have been halted by now but, under pressure, the county has extended the deadline to January 15th.

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

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

Happy angelic Christmas

It’s that time of year again! May we wish all our readers …
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS
(and A HAPPY NEW YEAR) !!

Our photo here is of a 600 year-old Christmas Angel – whose home is in Cresswell.

Cresswell orphrey (angel)

The angel forms part of some fourteenth century embroidery (called an ‘orphrey’).   This embroidery was sewn onto priests’ vestments, which have been used over the centuries in church services at St Mary’s in Cresswell as well as at St Margaret’s in Draycott.
Beautiful, isn’t it? And we hope your Christmas angels are just as lovely…!

To find out more about this local historic artefact and its companion pieces, click here

NEWS: VVSM end / Anthony exhibits / best to Dave / trees success

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-December 2017
In this post we have news of…: VVSM action group disbands / Anthony Hammond exhibition / Dave Trigger’s operation / Xmas Tree fest goes well…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including loads of carol-singing get-togethers!!..  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
VVSM no more

One bit of news that residents may not welcome, but will certainly be welcomed by all the developers who want a bit of Draycott, is that the local community-action group VVSM has decided to disband (see their announcement).
It seems like not enough people were coming forward to help keep the group running, and the weight of work was just too much for the few people left.

It’s a great shame, as VVSM can rightly claim much of the credit for the fact that, back in 2009, the developers who wanted to build a gas power station in Cresswell eventually withdraw their application.
The group went on to hire legal teams to fight the next big problem, the Blythe Park housing estate application, and managed to expose an awful lot of facts that had been kept hidden and even misreported, thus slowing down the progress of those plans.
They also contributed to the general life of the community, installing a defibrillator in Cresswell among other achievements.

However, as VVSM say in their latest post, it does seem as though everyone in the district, from householders to politicians, now just think that there is very little that can be done about development issues… and have given up. This may explain why no new members have come forward.

It may be something we regret though. The housing-estate at Blythe Vale has now been approved as well the one at Blythe Park, so the developers will now next be looking hungrily at Cresswell ridge (on the skyline above Uttoxeter Road) where outline planning permission for further development is already approved.
Without VVSM in place, those developers will certainly have a much easier ride.

– – –
Fun with trees

Congratulations to Pauline & John Clarke, the organisers of the Draycott Christmas Tree Festival. Once again, they created an event that really did try to pull the local community together – and there really aren’t enough of such events in Draycott.

Among the groups that decorated, themed, and submitted trees were the Draycott Women’s Institute, the local cricket club, the bellringers group, Forsbrook School, the Draycott Brownies and more. Draycott Manor School did the event a compliment by putting in four trees!
The most thoughtful tree (we think) was the one from Forsbrook Primary, which was a Poet-Tree (geddit?) with poems written by the children hanging from the branches.

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However, as usual, it’s a shame that more groups, families and businesses did not take part.
Community spirit does seem to be declining in Draycott, especially compared to all the wonderful things happening in the villages surrounding us. What can be done to improve it?

– – –
Anthony gets exhibited

It’ll soon be the kids’ holidays, so if you’re looking for a quick trip out, why not try Newcastle-under-Lyme Museum? There is lots of stuff for kids there.
But the reason we mention the museum particularly is because local man, Anthony Hammond, has an exhibition on there at the moment; it runs until January 8th.

Anthony Hammond soldier sculptureAnthony specialises in carving sculptures out of tree-trunks, which he does with a specially adapted electric saw. Many of us will have seen him doing his stuff at the Draycott Summer Fayre.
He was recently in the papers for a fantastic carving of a World War One soldier (see right), which you can also see at Newcastle.
Well worth a visit.

Incidentally lots of you ask after his grandmother, local-legend Betty Hammond. Apparently, she is doing well at the moment, even if she is less mobile than she was. This Christmas will be her 104th!

– – –
Best wishes

One person who has been sadly absent from village activity for quite a while is Dave Trigger, one of the three councillors who represent this district on Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

Dave has a wealth of knowledge about local government and about engineering (his specialist subject) and he often brings a lot of common sense to the table whenever he has got along to a Draycott Council meeting in the past.

He has faced a major operation, which – everyone hopes – will go some way to getting him back on his feet.
If you still haven’t completed your Xmas card mail-out, you could add him to it…

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

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