Tag Archives: A521

NEWS: turning worries / badger cull / housing plans / RIP Carole & Mary

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early July 2020
In this post we have news of…: concerns about the Blythe road turning / end to cull / more housing on the horizon / St Mary’s loss

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Junction issue

Now that traffic flow is picking up again with the easing of coronavirus lockdown, we return to the issue of the new road-layout on the turning into Blythe Bridge. Already there have been collisions there, and one councillor has expressed serious concerns.

Road map: A521 turning

Road map shows the sharp hairpin bend turning

For traffic coming into Draycott from the A50 roundabout, the turning into Blythe Bridge is quite a nasty left-hand hairpin bend – so, up until the end of last year, there used to be a slip road, to make the turning easier.
But the slip-road has now gone; a new pavement has been built on top of it. (This new pavement connects the new Blythe Fields estate to the junction).

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But, the new arrangement causes two problems.
First, large wagons have to move into the dual carriageway’s outside (right-hand) lane, then slow down considerably, and then take a large turning circle across the inside lane just to get into the turning.
Secondly, because the turning is so badly signposted on the dual carriageway, motorists unused to the area see the turning late, and have brake a lot as they approach the turning, just to make this sharp manoeuvre.

Councillor Barry Yates, of next-door Forsbrook Council, is so concerned about this that he’s asked for a formal site visit & report from the local county councillor.
We’ll keep you posted.

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Recovery means … more homes

Many of us will have heard in the news that one of the ways that the government wants to solve the homes crisis and also to get the economy on track is to spend ‘billions’ on enabling construction projects.
That sounds great at first, but Draycott people may want to just think a second about the implications.

(The government has also promised the “most radical reforms of the planning system for 60 years”. We all know what that means – huge developers will get even more of their own way – for example, SMDCouncil has been humiliated more than once already over the Blythe Fields development).

The implication of the announcement is that St Modwen Ltd will be able now to more easily hurry through the next phase of its development in Draycott, building even more homes along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road. As the planning officer said at the time: “Having built the access road (to build the first part of the site), it’s now much easier to work on building the second part.”

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites – Draycott on left

There is outline permission for building all along the ridge, on both sides of the A50, as far as Cresswell (see yellow zone in pic above). Watch this space.

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Badgers update

What with the coronavirus crisis, other news has got lost a bit.
One item was that the national badger cull has now been called off.  The experiment, of trapping and killing badgers (humanely) inside special zones, was to try to see how much badgers spread tuberculosis to cattle. Farmers were largely for it; animal conservationists against it.Badger (pic from Wikipedia)
The reason it matters to Draycott is that, although the details of the ‘killing zones’ were secret, some locations were leaked – and we know that one such zone was not far from here.

The project was called off just as female badgers were producing litters – which will please the conservationists, but not the farmers…

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May they rest in peace

Finally, we have lost two long-standing members of our community.
Mary Crowther, who was 97, and Carole Toft, 80, both died last month. Both worshipped at the small Catholic church of St Mary’s in Cresswell, where they will certainly be missed by the remaining congregation.
RIP.

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NEWS of: broadband / roadworks / festive lights

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early January 2020
In this post we have news of…: ‘superfast’ broadband for Draycott (a bit) / roadworks puzzles / festive lights on homes … (NB – for what’s on, check out the Events page).
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Roadworks information – very puzzling

The last bulletin from the Staffs Highways Department about the A521 roadworks at the end of Draycott was as near to official gobbledegook as you could get. Did anyone really understand it?
On the village Facebook page, the discussion about it showed we were all baffled by the complicated language of it. Which way in was it to be? Were we supposed to skip from one lane to another? Etc etc.
We contacted the department for clarification, but (of course, you’d guess it) the department has now completely discontinued its telephone helpline, so that idea was no use, while the actual A521 email helpline was closed for the holidays until early January. Sigh…
As for the official roadworks.org map, it had no specific details at all and even now claims that roadworks will go on till April 30th (which was new to us!).  We do hope someone somewhere will really make a point about how bad the information service (not to mention the signage) has been on this whole matter.

This is our best interpretation of the gobbledegook:
From Monday 6th: eastbound traffic still can get into Draycott directly from the A50, albeit a little snakily. Buses also will still get through. Lights will operate. HGVs cannot go this way and will have to make their own arrangements. Meanwhile, westbound traffic can still get directly out of Draycott from the A50, albeit using only one lane.
From Wednesday 22nd: (THIS IS A REVISED DATE; THE ORIGINAL DATE WAS JAN 27th) eastbound traffic still can get directly into Draycott from the A50 – but westbound traffic will be unable to get out of Draycottt straight on to the A50, because all westbound lanes are closed.
From 13th March: some normality returns (we hope)

… though, as the bulletin ‘helpfully’ says, St Modwen’s road engineers can simply close the access points at any time if they feel they need to. Sigh again…

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Lighting up time

The Christmas cheer was a little less in 2019, if you assess cheer by the amount of homes lit up in the village. There were definitely fewer.
Maybe we are all gloomy after a long year of politics, and more politics…? Could be.
But well done to those who made the effort.

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The lights gave the rest of us something to smile about – for a moment at least.

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Spread the broadband spread

Staffs County Council’s ‘Superfast Staffordshire’ project has just issued a self-congratulatory press release saying that the county now has an extra 80,000 rural households receiving full-fibre broadband thanks to them…. “including Draycott-in-the-Moors”.
Some people in the village will be surprised that Draycott is in the statement.

Yes, it’s true that folks in central Cresswell have been getting superfast for some months now, and certain parts of Draycott have it too… but certainly not all of Draycott in the Moors. According to the latest broadband spread map (dated autumn 2019), the western end of the village is still waiting, while southern Cresswell-to-Hilderstone section as well as poor Totmonslow have more or less been abandoned.
(One would love for the village council to make more of a fuss with the authorities about poor old Totmonslow, but they haven’t discussed local broadband provision at a council meeting for years now.)

If you do want to check your own broadband speeds, we recommend the Ofcom checker.

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NEWS: roadworks / hustings / chimes / knitted angels

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

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Roadworks dates

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

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

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

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Seen a candidate?

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

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

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

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

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

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Christmas is coming

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

For more details and for patterns, contact Chrissi.

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“Christmas bells, Christmas bells…”

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

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

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

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

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Roadworks meeting – questions need asking

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

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

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

Confusion

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

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

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

Meeting

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

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

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

Blythe Fields homes construction

Blythe Fields homes are already under construction

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

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

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

Meeting

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

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

***
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Road closure cock-up

Well, what a cock-up it has been!

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

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

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

Contradiction

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

So, as the village council were doign nothing, we wrote to Highways on behalf of the residents, pointed out the contradictions, and asked for an explanation.

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

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

Gridlock fears

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

This is not a good situation to be in for motorists.  There has already been a lot of discussion on the village Facebook page about this – and no one is happy…

Arrogance

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

Road closure sign 2nd Sept

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

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

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

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

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

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