NEWS: flood-zones / new estate / rail-path news / fines for dog-mess

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late-April 2021
In this post we have news of…: Draycott flood zones / old railway path plans / £100 fines for dog-mess / Totmonslow homes nearly sold out.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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High water Draycott

It has come as quite a shock to learn that two road locations in the middle of Draycott have recently become classed – officially – as flood zones.
The government map (see below) now lists the spots (in dark blue): one on Uttoxeter Road off Fords Field and one outside The Old Rectory in Cheadle Road.
People have been jokingly talking about the Uttoxeter Road flooding issue as ‘Draycott Lake’ for some time now, but we all thought it was temporary or freak stuff. Well, it appears not.

In a talk to our village council last month, Paula Lees, Staffordshire’s Community Highways Engagement Officer, said that Highways are even considering putting up flood warning signs in these areas.

Apparently, these flooding incidents are not simply down to the fact that gullies are not being cleared properly. While that has contributed to the problems (and it’s possible that there may also be blockages stuck in the system, causing damming effects in heavy rain), Ms Lees said that some of the problems are man-made – and the community has to sort those out for itself.

So, it’s fairly clear (to us) what must happen: Draycott Council must form a steering group, with both councillors and expertise from the community on it, and sort the issues out.

Draycott Council has a truly dismal record of achievement over the last twelve months (see our article – Draycott Council’s 2020 – Councillors Should Resign), so maybe this is a chance for the councillors to get their collective finger out and actually do something significant.

Flash flooding Cheadle Road draycott
Flooding in Cheadle Road Draycott in 2019

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Activity plan for (some of) the railway path

It is interesting to see that Staffordshire Moorlands Council have included our old-railway path in their new Green Infrastructure Plan. (The old railway line ran from Cresswell to Totmonslow to Cheadle but finally closed in the 1970s, and is now a ‘greenway’ path.)

The old-railway path follows the middle bottom black line

As you can see from the map (above), the council is drawing up plans to develop bridleways, walking and even play areas along the northern part of the old line. But… this implies it only appears to have definite plans for the Cheadle to Huntley/Draycott-Cross stretch, and nothing for the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch.

However, it is fair to say that the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch does have outstanding issues, including problems over access.
As the Friends Of The Cresswell-Cheadle Rail Path have been finding out, the long-term future of the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch of the path is, sadly, in doubt.

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New fines for careless dog owners

One of the most impressive changes in local public behaviour over the last ten years is the way that so many people now collect up their dogs’ mess on public pavements. Many local dog-owners now take out plastic bags with them routinely.

Many of us will remember the stencillings (see pic below) that local children painted on our pavements a decade ago – maybe it was these images that changed local people’s attitudes. It would be good to think so!

However, according to posts on the Draycott Facebook page, there are still some dog-owners who don’t clear up after their pets. (Dog faeces is not only unsightly and can be accidentally carried into the home on shoes, but can affect children if they touch traces of it and later rub their eyes).

Apparently, this is why Staffordshire Moorlands Council recently introduced a ‘Public Space Protection Order’ across the region – which could mean a £100 fixed-penalty for offenders who get caught. Even children in charge of a dog can be fined, though, legally, the debt would become the responsibility of the parent/carer.

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Sold out bungalows

Finally, if you were hoping to buy a house locally after lockdown, the bad news is that the five homes being built on the ‘Valley View’ plot at Totmonslow are virtually sold out – without a brick even being laid!

The site should be an interesting one when it is eventually finished. The homes are being constructed by Future Homes Developments, who describe themselves as “eco developers”, using new types of concrete.
We looked on their website for news of when the development should be finished, but unfortunately the website is badly out of date, so there was no information.

***
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Time for councillors to resign

As we approach the annual general meeting of Draycott Council next month, it’s time once again to assess the councillors’ performance in these last twelve months.
And, looking at their record, all one can say is that it is so hopelessly dismal, that they should all resign forthwith.

The easiest way to point out our council’s embarrassing lack of achievement is to compare it against the work done by the three surrounding village councils – Forsbrook/Blythe Bridge, Fulford and Checkley/Tean. And that’s what this article is about.

By the end of this article, you might well agree that it would be a better thing for Draycott’s electors (in Draycott, Totmonslow, Cresswell, Newton etc) if the current crop of councillors simply stood down and let more energetic people take over.

Let’s look at the facts.

Covid response
In this country’s worst peacetime year for a century, nearby councils charged ahead, organising help-groups and getting grants. Fulford Council especially set a great example, putting out a special Covid newsletter, getting grants and setting up a specific action group; they even won an award for their efforts. Checkley Council recently created a small Covid memorial plantation.

But what have Draycott Council done to help? …nothing.
Local relief here was actually carried out by a small village community group and by volunteers at Blythe Bridge library.
Very poor.

No progress
Earlier this year, a resident asked at a meeting what hopes & strategy the council had for 2021. The answer was almost predictable… : ‘nothing particularly different to before’.
The resident went away, dissatisfied, to go on to become one of the founders of DCAT, the new Draycott Community Group.

A good example of how hopeless this council is is shown by its efforts to set up a Neighbourhood Plan. Over the years, three times they have started the process, including last year – only to see it collapse each time, meaning thousands of pounds has to be returned. The simple fact is these councillors lack the energy & belief to make it happen, and certainly have failed to inspire the local public.
Compare that with Checkley Council – where their five-year NPlan process is now very far advanced!
The energy in neighbouring councils is evident: Checkley and Forsbrook have even been out buying land for community projects in the last year.
And, after the NALC (National Association of Local Councils) declared a climate-action emergency more than a year ago, other local village councils have been busy setting up green policies – including Forsbrook, which has created space for a colony of bees.

By contrast, Draycott councillors have just been sitting on their hands.

Residents have been waiting & waiting: for the promised brass plaque to remember our local war dead (although the national WW1 Project started back in 2014!); for any sign of the so-called ‘Gateway’ signs for the village; for any sign of the renovation of the Draycott kiosk; for any sign of a solid local policy for the environment.
What we got instead in 2020 was … a new bin!
(It’s true that the VAS speed-signs went up last year, but that project was launched in 2018, and most of the work was done on it in 2019).

As you’d expect from all that lack of action, Draycott Council is now sitting on a fat financial reserve. Despite that, the council is still asking for the same level of council tax this year as before…
(In terms of population and responsibilities, Draycott-in-the-Moors is comparable to Caverswall, which asks for 20% less council tax).

Duties
Draycott Council has virtually no responsibilities. Unlike other surrounding councils, it manages no playground or cemetery or allotments. Because of this, it really only has two statutory duties: to comment on planning applications and to monitor the local footpath network. But the record on these is not good either.
Probably the most important planning application it was asked to look over last year was the one about the giant Blythe Fields housing estate. It completely failed to put in a comment. Which is pretty bad.
Despite promising a local-footpaths report in 2019, none has materialised. The promise was repeated in council early this year, but still nothing has appeared.

Communication
Draycott councillors admitted a few years ago that their lines of communication with local electors needed massive improvement – what was urgently need was more newsletters, development of a user-friendly website, better use of social media, engagement with local newspapers, more involvement with the local community. In other words, they needed to catch up with surrounding councils like Fulford (which produces its own monthly news updates) and Checkley, whose councillors formally liaise with their local organisations.
But in this past 12 months… you guessed it… no progress. In fact things have gone backward.

A promise to mail out two newsletters a year fizzled out (though the council did piggy-back a newsletter made by the DSGroup).
Councillors stopped engaging formally on the village Facebook page.
The website has seen no improvements.
Nowadays, no councillor represents the council on any local community organisation – the last one being on the Church Lane Renovation Group, but he resigned from that fifteen months ago.

Only in one area does Draycott Council escape criticism: it has started to get ‘the basics’ right. Agendas and minutes appear on time, supporting documents are listed properly and the finances are transparent. However, that has little to do with the councillors; the responsibility for the ‘basics’ falls to the paid staff, not to the councillors.

All in all, it’s a very, very poor record.
… and we are only comparing Draycott Council to three other councils. Suppose we’d compared it with more…

Resignations, please

Judging by this dismal record, Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council has simply turned into an expensive monthly talking-shop, where almost nothing is achieved. Compared to the energy and creativity of surrounding councils, Draycott councillors look tired-out and stuck in their ways.
Even the newer councillors seem unable to shake things up. In fact, during 2020, one councillor only attended four of the council’s ten meetings (even though most were on Zoom)!
Councillors have to do more than just turn up. As well as demonstrating a commitment to the betterment of an area, they have to show leadership and energy.

There is no doubt of course that most of the seven Draycott councillors are nice people – but their record simply shows the job is beyond them. It is time they did the honourable thing, and moved out of the way. They should resign now. The people of this village should not have to wait until the next elections (in 2023) to see improvements in the area.

And… we all know that there are some really energetic people in the village – who would (we think) happily step in to act as co-opted councillors until 2023. If councillors were to resign, it would give these new people the chance to show what they could do, as well as providing a much-needed injection of energy into the area.

***
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NEWS: Covid news / H Hartley RIP / no July fayre / Blythe Colours history

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late-March 2021
In this post we have news of…: Covid good news / Harold Hartley – rags to riches / fayre postponement / new history of Blythe Colours.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Light appears at the end of the Covid tunnel

Could this week have marked the end of the Covid pandemic – at least, so far as Draycott is concerned?
The latest figures from the government reveal that – for the first time – there were fewer than three new cases in one week in our district. This means that, in official language, Covid has finally been ‘suppressed’ in our locality.

Official government map for March 28th. The Draycott-Caverswall-Forsbrook district is marked in white, meaning Covid is ‘suppressed’ here

This is amazingly good news and cause for a bit of celebration (if it were allowed!).
Of course, everyone knows that Covid is not going to go away quietly, and that new ‘variant’ strains are coming along, which current vaccines may not be able to handle. So, yes, we have to be watchful for some time to come.
But – it’s still good news!

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From rags to riches

The recent death of Harold Hartley (see pic right), who lived in and around Draycott nearly all his adult life, reminds us again of that generation of working-class entrepreneurs who hauled themselves up from poverty to success.

Born in 1933, Harold remembered picking coal as a child in Stoke. After leaving school he started up scrapping vehicles (on the side of the road!), which eventually turned into a small-time business when he took a yard at Boundary (which is just beyond Draycott Cross). In those days, he and his young family didn’t even have a water supply.
As we all know, he then went on to build a large scrap and skip business in premises at New Haden (also just beyond Draycott Cross).

But surely one of his proudest days must have been when he moved into The Old Rectory, the large house down the green lane from St Margaret’s Church.

Draycott’s Old Rectory sometime between the wars

This eighteenth-century listed building (which has the remains of an ancient moat) had been home to the church’s vicars until the 1960s, when the church could no longer afford to keep it up. What a day that must have been for him – him, a working class lad, moving into the village’s ‘manor-house’!

Especially in later years, Harold did not take much of a role in the life of the village, but everyone knew his name; and his funeral at St Margaret’s on March 26th was, though it was a private family affair, very well attended indeed.
For more about Harold’s story, click here.
To leave your condolences, click here.

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September fayre?

Despite the good news about Covid in this district, no one is taking anything for granted, and the organisers of the annual Draycott Summer Fayre have decided there is no safe prospect of holding the event on its usual date in mid-July.
However, the main organiser, John Clarke, said: “We are hoping that it will be possible to organise an event in lieu of the summer fayre in the autumn -provisionally the weekend of 18th/19th September.”
Here’s hoping.

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The history of Blythe Colours, told in five minutes

Another event that has had to be cancelled is the Blythe Colour Works 100th Anniversary Celebration. This decision was massively disappointing for the organisers.

Blythe Colours Exhibition poster

However, they were determined not to let the historical research go to waste; and a little video has been put together telling the the story of the famous Cresswell factory. The video is a five-minute talk by one of the experts on all aspects of the colour works, Ivan Wozniak, and is punctuated by some fascinating old photographs. It’s definitely worth five minutes of your time!
To see the video, click on this link

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NEWS: milestone / DCAT / houses for sale / outdoor spinning

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-March 2021
In this post we have news of…: listed milestone repaired / new local action group / outdoor gym! / speciality houses for sale.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Heritage monument repair

It’s not always realised, but a lot of those old cast-iron mileposts you see around the Moorlands are actually ‘listed’ monuments. The parish of Draycott-in-the-Moors has a dozen certified heritage structures, and the milepost opposite the entry to Breach Lane in Totomonslow is one of them.
Which is why it was a matter of concern to see it falling to one side.

Totmonslow milestone in 2020

This particular milepost has been in place for 200 years, so maybe it was not surprising that it was starting to totter. It is on the side of a bank too, so it’s possible the heavy rains of this last winter were making the ground under it very soft.

Totmonslow milepost 2021

A conscientious resident reported the issue to the clerk of the village council, who passed the matter on to the heritage department of the county council. You might not believe this – but the repairs were completed less than a month later! Now all is well again. So, for once, the system worked, and it worked very well.

(Just a little footnote: the parish has three milestones altogether, the others being on Cresswell Lane and on the Hilderstone road. Strangely, only the Totmonslow one is deemed to be of heritage importance. No one is sure why).

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New action group

Things have been very tough over the last twelve months, as we all know, but at least the year 2021 is a chance for new beginnings. Cross fingers.

Here in Draycott, spring has brought not just daffodils but the new DCAT (Draycott, Cresswell And Totmonslow) Community Action Group. A trio of active local people (who already manage the village Facebook group) – Lee Warburton, Louise Parks & Bev Reardon – have started the ball rolling.
The idea is to make a concentrated effort to gather the views & ideas of residents, and drive those ideas forward. The next step is formalise how this DCAT group will work. Watch this space!

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Get spinning

As we all know, the first step back to normality (we hope) comes soon, on March 29th, when some Covid rules will be relaxed (though only a few, admittedly).
One organisation that has thought this through is the Draycott Sports & Fitness Centre, where some activities are set to return.

One activity that they have announced is one that has never been tried before – outdoor spinning! Yes, the static bikes used for spinning will be hauled outside, and participants will do what they do out in the fresh air. That makes the whole thing Covid-permissible.
So, if all those hundreds of Peloton adverts on the TV have inspired you, but you don’t have a bike of your own, then here’s your chance to have a go!

First session is on 31st March – but do book early. Bikes are limited. /

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Got half-a-million to spare?

A couple of houses have come up for sale in the district, and both offer quite a lot of privacy (if you like that sort of thing).
The Old Cart Shed, as it’s called (see pic below), is one of the results of the renovations at old Totmonslow Farm, where the old barns were marked for demolition a couple of years ago. And (you guessed it), this new house is on the site of the old structures.
It’s a classy new-build with field-views, definitely not your standard red-brick. Trouble is: your pockets will need to be deep, as it is on the market for over £500,000.

At the other end of the district, at Blythe Vale, hidden away up Woodlands Lane, you’ll find a bungalow for £300,000. (For an extra £50,000, they’ll throw in a plot of empty land too). It’s next to one of the service entries to the new Blythe Fields Estate, so you could probably use the facilities on the estate (playgrounds etc) if you wanted to.


***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to near the bottom of this page.
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Whose Community-Fund is it?

In the last few weeks, there has been a flurry of applications to the Draycott Community ‘Solar’ Fund. There have been some very interesting ideas, from a range of groups and individuals from our district – DCAT asked for money for upkeep of the village planters, another group asked for money for flower bulbs for a community display etc -, each project asking for a couple of hundred pounds or so.
Then suddenly it was realised that, over the last year, just one organisation alone has been getting thousands of pounds from the fund… in fact, much more than all the rest combined…

Checking over the paperwork, it turns out, over the last few months, that Draycott Council, which has the responsibility of administering the fund in trust for the use of the community, has itself in fact been dipping into it – and has awarded itself over £4000, which amounts to two years worth of the annual income of the fund! This struck some of us as fairly egregious…

Solar Array Fund

The Draycott Community Solar Fund was set up in 2016 by the ‘Lower Newton Farm Solar Array’ firm as a charitable gesture to the surrounding district. Through the fund, the business was passing on some of its profits to the community – as a kind of thank-you to the local people. The idea behind the fund was to specifically help local projects (ones that would ‘benefit the community’).

Lower Newton solar panels
Lower Newton solar farm, seen from Cresswell

Instead of administering it itself though, the firm arranged for around £2000 a year to be transferred to Draycott Council – and it asked Draycott Council to take the responsibility, in trust, for handing out this cash.
Over the years, the annual Community Fund papers reveal that the fund has helped the Church Hall Committee, the Cresswell Community Group, the Draycott Planters Project, the Children’s Ju-Jitsu Centre in Cresswell, the ‘Gaming Potion’ children’s play sessions, the St Margaret’s Bell-Ringers, the local First Responders, and more. The largest amount given out to any one group was £500 and no group has ever had more than one award.

Draycott Church hall interior
Draycott Church Hall’s new curtains were paid for by the Community Fund

The process was straightforward – filling in a simple application form, going through a basic interview with councillors (discussing the merits and potential difficulties of the project, and the possibilities of raising other, matching funding) and later submitting a short report on how it went. Then, last year, things seemed to change.

Late in 2019, the village council found it had under-estimated the cost of installing the speed-signs for its traffic management project.
So, one councillor said, why not take the outstanding amount out of the Community Fund? The idea was nodded through; no councillor opposed the idea. We’ve seen no formal application form, and observed no full discussion on the merits of the application in the records. The fund’s current balance sheet shows that this amount came to around £3000.
(In the end, none of the council’s own money was spent on this speed-signs project).

Since then, the council has used the Community Fund more than once to defray some of its costs – it has earmarked money from the fund for printing its own newsletter (!) and for the cost of a new council noticeboard, the total of which will amount to over £1000.
Application forms should have been submitted, and proper discussions held for these applications – so we have asked for more information to see if these happened, but got no info yet.

Whose money is it anyway?

The councillors are not doing anything ‘wrong’, as such. The wording of the original gift from the Solar Array business is simply that the community must benefit from it, and that the councillors must dispense the money according to their own policies.

When challenged, one councillor said, “our projects DO benefit the community”. (We found that a slightly feeble justification as everything the council does should ‘benefit the community’, even down to stuff like purchases of printer-ink, though we hope they don’t want to take the fund’s cash for that too…).
Another justification that a councillor put forward is that ‘no-one is using the fund’. It is true that, after some busy years, there was a quiet period for the fund in 2020 – but that seems slim justification.
Is the council desperately poor? No. It is funded by the council tax to the tune of £9000 a year, of which £5000 a year is income which it can freely dispose of. In fact the councillors are currently sitting on a very healthy bank balance of almost £20,000.

Draycott VAS speed sign
Draycott speed sign – paid for using Solar Fund money

So, surely, isn’t what the councillors are doing flying in the face of the spirit of a Community-Fund?
The accounts of the fund show that, down the years, the council has awarded local community-based groups around £2500, but has awarded itself the lion’s share of the fund, some £4000.

What to do?

Well, what can one do? One would hope the councillors would be embarrassed, but – unless residents email the council to express their dissatisfaction – the councillors will probably just carry on dipping into the fund for the council’s own projects.
Our big hope is that the council will simply realise that the fund is best spent by community groups, not by itself.

We would hope too that the council now gives the Solar Fund a proper, pro-active publicity campaign (through the local newspapers, and direct publicity mail to local grass-roots organisations) so that more local people realise just what monies are available to them, and then use it.
Also, for the sake of transparency, we would hope that, in future, we could see on the council’s website: the full criteria for awards; and each application form as soon as it is submitted.

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

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

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

NEWS: drilling ops / monument repairs / WW2 book

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-February 2021
In this post we have news of…: a new borehole for Cresswell / old tomb restored / book about ww2 locally / Covid diminishing (?) / website stats….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Drilling in Cresswell

Cresswell is not Texas and the substance underground is not the same, but nevertheless, drilling operations will commence here in the summer. This time however, the engineers are drilling for water, not oil.
Already there is some coming and going at the Cresswell Waterworks station (opposite the Izaak Walton) as ‘enabling activities’ get under way. The idea is to sink a new borehole to try and find another source to supply Stoke-on-Trent with clean water.

The old Cresswell Pumping Station (courtesy Chris Allen, licensed for CC reuse)

Older residents will remember the first pumping station on the site, which was opened in 1932, the original pump steam engines being wonderful to see, with beautiful fly wheels and brass fittings. It was said that, if they stopped pumping, the water surged up to the top of the borehole – because the water level is so high in Cresswell!
The old building was largely demolished in the 1970s, and the site mothballed – but then modernised again by the Severn Trent Water & Sewage Company.

Dates for the drilling are not finalised, but we’ll bring them to you when we know them.

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Covid, one year on

After our health district (‘Blythe Bridge, Caverswall & Draycott’) was found to be a hotspot as little as three months ago, the good news is that testing centres in our district have discovered almost no new cases in the last week.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t any, just that few were found.

Unfortunately, that does not mean we can relax.
The stats reveal that over the past year, some twelve million in England have contracted Covid – but it’s reckoned that an amazing one in three people who get the virus (especially the young) don’t even realise it. The problem is: even if you have no symptoms, you can still infect others when you breathe out.
So… local health experts believe that mask-wearing for all is likely to remain compulsory in public buildings round here for a long time.

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New book about WW2

Some of us will know Annette Jinks well – she studies the local history of our area and writes fascinating books about it. Her latest book (co-authored with Noel Green) is called War Comes To Tean and is an account of how the village fared in the Second World War, with not just biographies of the young men & women who went away to fight, but accounts of activities on the home-front too.

As Tean and Draycott-in-the-Moors lie right next to each other, there are lots of references in the book to Draycott; in fact the Home Guard used fields in Newton (near Cresswell) to practice throwing hand grenades!
One sad event was the death of a young American pilot whose plane crashed into (thankfully empty) cottages in Riverside Road in Tean – worshippers from Draycott Church, including Sara & Jeffrey Gibson, were involved in the project to build a memorial to the incident. (Click on this link for more detail about that incident)

There are lots of amazing stories in the book, and great old photographs (including some of Camp Bolero, the wartime base in Cresswell for an American company of soldiers) – so this book is well worth the cover price!
The book sells out with each printing, so you’ll need to email Annette to find out when the book is next available.

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Listed monument repair

Talking of history, it’s good to see that repairs on the Anna Hyatt Tomb, which is in St Margaret’s churchyard (see pic below), have now been completed. The ‘chest-tomb’ as this type of memorial is called, was crumbling a bit, and affected by ivy, so the repairs were timely.

Hyatt Memorial Tomb with ivy
Hyatt Memorial – before the ivy was removed

The tomb, dated 1827, is one of more than a dozen ‘structures of great national heritage’ named in our district, and is one of the most important, being listed as ‘grade two’.
The money for the work was donated jointly by the Moorlands Partnership Board and The Staffordshire Historic Churches Trust.

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Website stats

Finally, the annual statistics for websites like this one you’re reading right now have been released now.
What they show is that, in 2020, this website (https://draycottinmoors.wordpress.com/) attracted 10,846 visitors (including 2000 American visitors!) and 22,282 page-views. This is despite the facts that (due to illness and loss of writers) we only managed to put up 27 posts across the year (compared to 76 back in 2015).
The news pages were the most popular, but pages on local history and on local footpaths also did very well.
Not bad for a website whose target audience is just 1000 people (i.e. the population of Draycott-in-the-Moors)…!

***
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Council’s new (old) arms logo

Our Draycott village council recently decided it needed a logo for its official letterheads – so it chose to have the ancient arms of the Draycott Family.
But did they get the arms’ details right?

Call to arms
The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that, as of last year, the village council has started using a version of the old arms on its official documents. This design now appears on the council’s official minutes.

Why exactly the councillors felt they needed a logo after one hundred years of existence isn’t recorded, nor do the minutes record why they went for the ancient Draycott Family arms as its logo instead of designing a more modern image.
(The Draycott Family were the ‘lords of the manor’ here for more than 600 years, from Norman times until dying out in 1698.)

Nevertheless, the council did it, and, last autumn, even went one step further.
The council had decided to buy and install a new public waste-bin (for £250) outside the churchyard – and decided (for a little extra cash), to have their ‘new’ logo permanently etched on to it (see pic below) … A little more historical research was done, and finally all the councillors were sure that the logo was designed to their satisfaction.

Bin outside churchyard

But are the arms strictly accurate?

Confusion
It’s very easy to get confused in heraldry matters. Everything in it is defined down to the very tiniest twist of a tail. As we wrote about in a previous article, even the sign on the Draycott Arms pub is wrong in a tiny one of its details.
The council learnt from the pub’s mistake; the colours are now all correct. The shape of the cross has also been slightly changed from the council’s earlier version – in the summer 2020 version, it was a more of a ‘cross urdee’ (in heraldic terms), which is not the Draycott Family arms’ type of cross.

Patonce
But is the cross on the new logo right, even after this correction?
According to heraldry, the Draycotts’ cross is a ‘cross patonce’, in which the ends of the cross splay out in three extended prongs (looking somewhat ‘like an animal’s paw’). But the current council version has more ‘nippled’ or ‘budded’ ends, which you might find on a ‘cross bottonnée’.
If you’re interested, the Heralds Net website has a guide to all the many different types of cross.

The best place to look for evidence of what the cross really looks like is probably St Margaret’s Church, of which the Draycotts were patrons for 500 years. You’ll see patonces all over it, from the patonce cross over the porch to the patonces on gravestones (see photos below). The patonce is even more popular in Cresswell at St Mary’s churchyard, where many of the older gravestones show it.

  • Patonce cross surmounting St Mary Church
  • Patonce cross on gravestone at St Mary's

But the most authentic Draycott patonces are to be found on the tombs of the medieval Draycotts, in a side-chapel at St Margaret’s, the so-called ‘Draycott Chapel’. After all, here the history of the Draycott Family is preciously guarded; generations of Draycotts are buried here, from the 1200s right up to the late 1600s.
In fact though, the medieval sculptors could be a bit sloppy, so the shapes of the crosses can vary a little – but the fact is that, generally, the Draycott tombs favour the fully splayed ends of the cross.


So – what’s the verdict? Well, in the long run, the verdict is that the council has deviated, but only slightly, from what we might call the ‘true’ patonce cross: the arms of the council’s cross are fatter than those on the tombs, and the council has also underplayed the splayed effect at the ends.
(Curiously enough, the Draycott Arms Pub sign is more accurate in this particular regard).

Does it matter?
The truth is though – even after all this deep investigation – that it doesn’t really matter (except to a few nerds like us…) what the logo looks like.
The basic fact is that the council, just like the pub, can have any version it likes, with any colours and shapes it likes. Until the council actually needs to ‘adopt arms’ formally, an exact version is not a statutory or legal matter.
In our opinion, the logo is nice & bright, fairly recognisable to most local people, and has a deep connection with the village… and is accurate to the Draycott Family arms to, er, 99%!

So … what does everyone think of the new logo?
Do they like it?
Or would they have preferred a more modern or original design to represent the council?

***
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NEWS: Covid stats / happy Sir Bill / Facebook’s worth / open library

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-January 2021
In this post we have news of…: our MP is a happy man / local Covid statistics / respect to library volunteers / our Facebook handles a crisis….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

_ _ _
Covid statistics

There’s no doubt what subject dominates the local, national and international news – it’s Covid. Despite the lockdown in November, Tier 4 in December, and lockdown 3 this month, the disease just seems to get more and more of a hold – even in our tiny corner of the world.

Everybody wears a mask these days… (pic Pexels.com)

The stats make for tough reading, but here they are.
Since the starts of the pandemic, our region (the Staffordshire Moorlands) has had over 4,000 cases identified – meaning that at least five per cent of us have been infected. The figure is probably much higher though, as many people either had milder symptoms or showed no symptoms at all, and so do not show up as ‘identified’ cases.

The good news however is that the ‘rolling rate’ of infection (the amount of people testing positive in the last seven days) in the Moorlands is now less than in the rest of Staffordshire. It is, at the time of writing, around 260 cases per 100,000 people (Staffordshire county as a whole is over 500).
As for the stats for Draycott, you can drill down to as far as the district of ‘Blythe & Caverswall’ (the official district that Draycott falls into). Just click on this link, and enter your postcode in the box to get the figures.
If you remember, our little district was a ‘hotspot’ problem area in November – but, as you can see, that is not the situation any more, thank goodness.

However, as everyone knows, the scenario is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Our regional ambulance service had its busiest day in its whole history on January 4th and no one thinks it’s going to get easier for the health services for some weeks.

_ _ _
Community Facebook proves its worth

Community pages on Facebook get a lot of criticism – critics say they are full of tittle-tattle, spite and rumour-mongering. However, the Draycott one is pretty good (in our opinion) – probably because it is well managed by the volunteer locals who administer it.

The Draycott one especially proved its worth last month when a water-main burst on the junction by the Draycott Arms. For three days & more, the road was under water and closed to traffic.

Burst water main Draycott

However, it wasn’t more than a matter of minutes into the incident before the facebook group was in action, warning other residents of the issue, and keeping the community at large across the whole situation with running updates up until the road reopened.
Congratulations to the group.

Incidentally, there is now a second Draycott Community Facebook group. It’s not clear why a second group was felt to be necessary, but it’s there anyway. It’s private, unlike the main Facebook group (which is public to view), so, if you want to see the posts on it, you must formally join it.
_ _ _
Open library

Hats off to the volunteers who run our local library at Blythe Bridge (see pic below). At the start of this current lockdown, ‘community-managed library branches’ (i.e. those run by volunteers, not paid staff) were given the choice to stay open or not. Of course, they did have to show that their buildings could be Covid-secure, but after that, it was the volunteers’ choice.

Blythe Bridge Library

Many county library branches said, no, they would shut. In fact, in neighbouring Shropshire, all libraries shut! This is why we say hats off to the volunteers at Blythe Library (who include in their numbers people from Draycott). They believe, as the government does, that “Libraries are an Essential Service” – and so they are keeping Blythe open (under conditions) two days a week, as they have done since September.
Much respect to them.

_ _ _
Sir Bill has a smile

In amidst the gloom, one man can permit himself a smile at least.

Sir Bill Cash

Sir Bill Cash, our MP, has campaigned all the forty years of his parliamentary life to get Britain to leave the European Union. He has a long history as a ‘rebel’ within the Conservative party when it came to Europe.
Well – whether you agree with his stance on Europe or not – his dream came true on January 1st, when Britain formally exited the EU. In fact he is so against the idea of any sniff of union with the EU that it wasn’t clear he would support Boris Johnson in the final vote on December 30th – but in the end only two Tory MPS refused to support Mr Johnson and he wasn’t one of them.

So – what now for Sir Bill? He’s over eighty, and his biggest dream has been achieved. Will he choose to retire at the next election? It’s a possibility, and then we’d have a new MP..

***
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Speed signs in place

One success in what was otherwise a distinctly under-achieving year for Draycott’s village council has been the installation by it in the district of two SIDs/Speed Indication Devices, (also known as VAS / Vehicle Activation Signs), i.e. speed signs.
The first sign can be found at the west end of the village where cars come off the dual carriageway on to Draycott Level; and the second is between the Draycott Arms and the churchyard.

SID at west end of Draycott, with solar panel

As anyone who has driven past them will know, they flash up the speed your car is going at: 35mph-40mph flashes green, anything over that flashes red. The speed limit through Draycott and through Cresswell is 40mph.

Any use?
It has been difficult to prove just how useful SIDs actually are.

Cameras – best deterrent

In some areas, the data reveals that motorists do drop their excessive speeds – which is good -, but continue to break the actual speed limit anyway – which is bad. And, human nature being what it is, regular motorists just start to ignore them over time.
So, the SIDs are no substitute for local authority or police speed cameras.

However, speeding is one of the issues that bothers Draycott’s residents the most, according to council correspondence, so at least something is being done by the village council to address electors’ concerns.

Hard work
This whole project has been ongoing for two, very difficult years. Indeed, you have to feel sorry for the council’s administrator (the main paid member of the village council’s staff) who has had to sort the whole business out.
It’s been difficult because: you can’t just put the poles where you’d like best; you can’t dig the holes for them without filling in proper permission forms; you have to get land-owner permissions; you can’t load them on other structures; you have to consult with nearby householders; you have to deal with the different demands set by the councillors; you have to get approval from Highways… etc etc. No one envied her the job of sorting this one out – and congratulations to her for persevering!
One less headache though is the fact that no electricity supply is needed; they are powered by the solar-panel attached to the pole.

Cost?
The SIDs (made by Unipart Dorman) have cost the council nothing.
Although the total price – all in – came to some £8,000 for the two, most of it (£5000) came from The Staffordshire County Road Safety Grant, the rest from the Draycott District Community Fund (the ‘SA Fund’).
In fact, Draycott’s SIDs are the basic unit, cheaper than those in other villages because they do not have any ‘extras’ (such as a flashing ‘SLOW DOWN’ message).

The councillors are pleased by the project, so they are now considering installing two other SIDs, one possibly on Cheadle Road.

Worth the trouble?
The jury is out on whether the signs actually change motorist behaviour much.
So, to properly find that out we’d need to get and analyse data collected by the SIDs. That data would help with getting a picture of local speeding patterns and would tell us whether local speeding really is a problem, or just an impression.
(The way it works is pretty straightforward: the SIDs contain an internal recording unit, which stores all the speeds it registers, and the SID’s owner can then download the data in order to get a picture of local speeding patterns. In case you were wondering, there is no camera inside the SID, so no number-plates can be recorded).
But…. – quite surprisingly – the councillors did not choose to request data-collection. It’s not clear why not.

Another factor is that a large roundabout on Draycott Level is due to be built on the crossroads at Church Lane-Uttoxeter Road-Cresswell Lane. Traffic approaching that will have to slow down obviously anyway (and be subject to a new 30mph limit for 200 yards anyway) so the SID near the churchyard will be virtually redundant when that’s built. (Though, admittedly, it could then just be moved).

But there’s no doubt that the SID at the west end of the village is a bonus. Traffic coming off the A50 and on to the dual carriageway into Draycott has been hitting high speeds!
Admittedly, the speed limit on the dual carriageway stretch has recently been reduced from 60mph to 40mph, but many motorists were taking little notice. The SID may just (one hopes) remind them to slow down.
But… only time will tell.

Speed-kings
By the way, you may have wondered why the SIDs do not flash when a car is doing over 60mph – instead, it just goes blank. This is not a fault; it’s deliberate.
Psychologists have worked out that some boy-racers enjoy the ‘thrill’ of seeing themselves clocked at high speeds – so the SIDs cut out, rather than encourage them. People (especially boy-racers) are strange, huh?

***
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News: Xmas / Covid update / burglaries / new dojo space

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-December 2020
In this post we have news of…: yes, we will have Christmas / local Covid cases rise again / burglaries in Stuart Avenue / reporting Covid breaches….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here
_ _ _
Christmas spirit

draycott-christmas-tree-pallet-2020

Thank goodness, despite everything, we have Christmas to look forward to. Already decorations are up in the village.

This year, one nice project to inspire us all has been the pallet-trees idea – i.e. Christmas trees for local house-fronts, made out of old pallets painted green. Lee proposed the idea on the village Facebook page; the willing Mr Wall made a fair few of them; and then residents made a charitable donation to get one (see right). It worked well!

For those who want the full traditional Christmas as well, in-person church services will happen after all – despite Tier 3 restrictions. Both St Margaret’s and St Mary’s, our two churches, will have Xmas Day services – and St Mary’s even has a Christmas Eve vigil as well. For details, see our What’s On page.

_ _ _
CV update

But Covid still dominates our lives.
As you’ll know from our last posting, our small neighbourhood (we come under ‘Caverswall & Blythe Bridge District’) was the worst hotspot for Covid during November for the whole of the West Midlands.
Thankfully, cases went gone down thanks to November’s lockdown… but the bad news is that, even in the current Tier 3 (Tier 3 is the toughest of all), our rate has gone up yet again. Figures released for the week ending 13th December showed an overall rise in the Staffordshire Moorlands (of which we are a part) of 14% against the previous week; and we are still a hotspot, considerably above the national average.

The really bad news is for our over-60s, whose death rate is spiking. No one is sure why, but older people’s ability to fight viruses does diminish in the cold weather, so that might be it.

Information from BBC Coronavirus Facts Project

Yes, the effect of the November-Lockdown is definitely receding…
So, the official advice is … please be careful out there, and do get a test (all Draycott / Cresswell / Totmonslow people are eligible for one).

A little bit of good news though is that the award-winning ju-jitsu club in Cresswell, the Breathe Academy, is pressing ahead no matter what. They are going to open a new facility on the site in January – and the even better news is that it will be ‘Covid-secure’.
The club, led by Tara Bundred, is always ambitious, which is to their credit. If you have children wishing to learn self defence through martial arts at the new facility, bookings are already underway.

_ _ _
Locks can be your friend

Police are advising householders to keep properties locked when they go out (including rear doors).
The advice follows two burglaries in Stuart Avenue (at the west end of Draycott), when some jewellery and clothes were taken in the afternoon of December 2nd. The four burglaries (there were two similar a few miles away at the same time), frankly, look amateurish & opportunist, but that doesn’t mean the effect of them on a householder isn’t very distressing.
We understand arrests have been made, but any more information would be useful – contact the local police on 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you’re not sure of the best way to protect your property, give our local community support officer, PCSO Jonathan Staples, a call.
_ _ _
To report, or not…

In a small area like ours where neighbours depend on each other, we are always encouraged to report ‘suspicious’ activity to the police.
However, a poll on the Draycott Facebook page revealed that local people are oddly ambivalent about reporting Covid breaches. The poll asked if you would report a group of a dozen young men gathering together for more than fifteen minutes (a clear breach of the Covid rules). Though nearly half said yes, over half said that it would be none of their business…
Yet, on the same page, a large majority agreed they would report a sighting of two young men sitting in a parked car in a residential area for fifteen minutes.

It’s not clear why the difference. We are told by the medical experts that the Covid rules are there to help fight a highly infectious disease which can kill and which already has hurt families deeply – but do some people not believe that?
Anyway, the police continue to issue warnings and sometimes even fines for breaches, and would certainly like it if you’d help out by being eyes & ears – see details on how to by clicking here

***
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