Tag Archives: Covid-19

NEWS: dojo restart / covid rise / Arms changes? / 2021 stats

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid January 2022
In this post we have news of…: changes at The Draycott Arms? / Covid cases shoot up / local pub closes / martial arts club makes a fresh start / good year for this website

For news of a Valentines’ dance and a pig race (!) and other happenings in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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Here to stay?

The announcement that Draycott Council was cancelling its monthly meeting for the second time in a row because of Covid concerns, really reinforces the fact that the disease is continuing with its sudden, surprising return.
Britain has the unwelcome record of having had more Covid deaths than any other European nation.

Case rates in the Staffs Moorlands last week (courtesy of BBC News)

Even round here, which had been one of the least affected areas in England, cases are now 600% greater than they were a year ago (see table right), and are now higher than the national average. Last week alone there were also three Covid deaths in the Staffs Moorlands area – which may not sound much, but compare that to the whole summer, when there were none…

Could it be down to issues with the vaccination roll-out? Astonishingly, nearly one third of the adult population in this area have still not yet had their third (‘booster’) jab. And now it turns out that some of us are catching it more than once!
But, on the other hand, the government now seems to want us to “live with Covid” and treat it like we would bad flu.
Hmm.
It is quite confusing at times.

One casualty of the epidemic is the Red Lion pub at Boundary, just along from Draycott Cross. After fifteen years, Matt & Vicky are calling it a day; and Covid – which caused closures and dropping numbers of customers – is the root of it. It’s a real shame – their beer garden on a summer’s day was very very special, as were the conker tournaments!

Red Lion beer garden – great view over the valley to Cheadle

One bit of good news is that their cooking remains – in the shape of a takeaway service.

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Changes at the Arms?

One big New Year resolution very few of us expected to hear was that Zara & Brayn at the Draycott Arms have decided that a restful break for themselves is in order. If they can find someone else to run the pub for them, the pair want to take a time-out for the foreseeable future.

Draycott Arms - Brayn and Zara
Brayn & Zara

We wish them luck. They really have made the Arms a welcoming, quality pub, both for locals seeking a quiet drink and for diners who just want beautifully-created dishes – but we all know that, to do that, one has had to put in incredibly long, hard hours – and you can’t do that forever….

So… what’s needed now by them is someone who’s prepared to take on the kitchen, bar and restaurant, and see the Arms through into its next phase.
It’s a rental opportunity – if you know someone who’d be interested you’ll find all the details if you click here, or drop in to the Arms and ask. The pub reopens on Jan 18th after its seasonal break.

But – thank goodness – Zara & Brayn are not going anywhere, and will continue to live ‘above the shop’, no matter who takes over the pub. They will also still be managing the upstairs holiday-let (which is now on Air BnB, if you’re interested).
It’s good to think we will still see Zara out walking Indeea, and Brayn buzzing round the lanes on his bike!

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Dojo keeps strong

The Covid business has not been good for some sports activities, especially ones for kids, and Cresswell’s own award-winning martial arts club, Tatsu Dojo, was badly affected by the restrictions for a while.
However, it is coming back strong. Just before Christmas, Tara Burndred and her colleagues made sure the world were aware of their renewed ambitions with a big splash in the local paper.

Dojo’s half-page feature in the Cheadle & Tean Times newspaper

The club really does do a lot for local kids, and their sessions are meant as much as confidence-builders as anything else. They also do special women’s street-safety sessions, so look out for those – or contact the club directly to find out what’s what. Sessions are held at the Draycott Sports Centre.

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How was 2021 … for us?

Finally, to reflect on our year here on this website.
It’s strange to think that it is eight years since we started – time flies! Back then, we could create eight posts a month, but now we don’t have as many contributors, so we only do two posts a month now.
Strangely, despite fewer posts, numbers of views are almost as high. Google-Stats tell us we had 21,000 views on this website in 2021!
The most visited page this year was the one on which we reported that this district was likely to get yet another housing estate.

The high number of views could be because this website is getting better and better known, and more people are subscribing (we now have 300 such regular ‘followers’). Subscribers are those people who request an automatic email alert whenever a post is published on this website. If you too want to subscribe, just click the Follow button in the top right-hand corner of this page and then enter your email address.

One such subscriber is David Bond – who recently sent us this kind letter:
“… Just a couple of lines to tell you that I love to read your Draycott News updates from afar. I have lived up in Lancashire for the last 40 years, but it’s great to hear about what’s going on back “home”. My younger brother Derek also reads the news, way down in Dorset. (I was amazed to read that Mrs Hammond, who I remember very well, had reached the grand old age of 106 before she died!!)
“My Mum and Dad, and other close family members, are buried in St Margaret’s churchyard. We call in there whenever we can but, thanks to Covid, have been unable to do so since Christmas 2019.
“Keep up the good work, which I am sure is greatly appreciated by many other former residents, both near and far.
Kindest Regards, David Bond (ex. 169 Uttoxeter Road)
…”

Cheers David – a happy new year to you, and all our readers!

***
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News: Covid (again) / N Plan abandoned / Xmas projects / Cash criticised

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early December 2021
In this post we have news of…: Covid concerns (again) / Neighbourhood Plan abandoned / village group’s projects / MP Sir Bill criticised

For news of Christmas carol events, Xmas dances and other happenings in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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Covid issues

Covid just simply go away. A new variant (the ‘Omicron’) is now out there and we in north Staffordshire has to face it. It could be that the unvaccinated (still a fifth of the population) are spreading it, so the drive to enable all these people to get jabbed is intense, and our local GPs have been diverted from their normal duties to help out. Whatever, the figures are not great: Staffordshire has seen around 100,000 cases during the pandemic and the numbers in the English Midlands are not falling, so masks are now compulsory again in shops and on public transport. Sigh.
That said, case figures in the Staffs Moorlands (which is us) are dropping – deaths are zero this week in this part of the world (though hundreds of people are still sick). But what will be the Omicron effect?

Local organisations are trying to respond appropriately.
The Draycott Sports Centre has cancelled its kids’ Xmas party, which is perhaps understandable, but Tean cancelled its Lights Switch-On, even though it’s held outdoors. This month’s Draycott Council meeting has been cancelled. There’s even a thought that the award-winning Draycott Covid Support Group, which had stood down, should be revived.
However, for all that, most events are going ahead as normal. Most of us are trying to be careful, and the general feeling seems to be “don’t panic: carry on!”. See our What’s On page.

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Cheers

Some definite Christmas cheer has already come to those who subscribed to the Draycott Xmas Calendar project. Over 150 of us signed up to get a 2022 calendar, which includes twelve pictures of the district for the twelve months of the year; and they arrived last week. Special seasonal cards were also available.
Congrats to Bev Reardon and her team for a heart-warming initiative.

Christmas cards designed and sold by the Draycott community group are already arriving!

By the way Bev & company are not stopping there, but will be planting thousands of daffodil bulbs over the next few days. The aim is to have a lovely display (on Church Bank mostly) this Spring.

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Plan collapse

Draycott village council has had a dismal year, with resignations and all sorts, and it’s all rather summed up by the council’s decision now to abandon any hope of putting together a neighbourhood-plan. Three of their attempts have already ended in failure, so it was not surprising.

This is not a good thing. It is, admittedly, a deal of work to get an official Neighbourhood Plan agreed, but, as soon as it’s done, the district can then attract a lot of money in grants, and also have influence over the way the district is developed. Other village councils have managed it successfully – so why can’t Draycott Council?

By the way, you may also have noticed that an odd Twitter feed for the council (see pic right) popped up earlier some months ago, yet doesn’t seem to be doing anything…
When a resident enquired why the Twitter account had been set up without a formal vote in a meeting, councillors then claimed not to be aware of it (even though one councillor had put a post on it under his own name!!). All very odd.

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MP criticised

The sleaze allegations, which hit MPs in Parliament last month after the ‘Owen Paterson Affair’, have reminded people that concerns about the way MPs manage their jobs have been going on for some time.
(Our local MP, Sir Bill Cash, got hit with a £15,000 penalty some years ago over ethical standards).

Irritation with the way MPs often employ their own family members – at taxpayers’ expense – got to a point in 2017 when rules were passed to prevent it – but older MPs were exempted and allowed to carry on doing it. The hope was that these older MPs (including Sir Bill) would eventually stop it. But, no, not Sir Bill – he still employs his wife in his parliamentary office, and criticism has been fired at him again for this.

Sir Bill Cash
Sir Bill

By the way, has anyone seen Sir Bill?
Other MPs have returned to doing surgeries, commenting on local matters, and appearing at local events. However, Sir Bill has been noticeably absent from this area (though we are told he did make an appearance at the Cheadle Remembrance Day service). His local webpage is almost blank of news of him.
Why doesn’t Bill like to come here much?

***
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News of: new councillors / cricket escape / first responders’ need / Covid’s return / residents’ win

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in early October 2021
In this post we have news of…: new councillors for village / cricket team avoids drop / St Modwen listens to residents / bad Covid news locally / donate to our first-responders

For news of a ‘memories session’ and other events in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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New councillors

Congratulations to the three new local councillors who have just come on board following some resignations earlier in the year. The four current councillors on Draycott village council had to sift through a number of applications before deciding to appoint Glyn Johnson (former Rotary president, from Cresswell), George Plant (stonemason, from Draycott) and Sabrina Hollingum (office professional, from Tean) to join them. We are now back to the full membership of seven councillors.
There is a slight bit of controversy over George, as he is also the council’s lengthsman (aka handyman). The rules do say that an employee of a council cannot be one of its councillors – because it is a conflict of interest. So, that’s being looked into.

What’s good is that both George and Sabrina have young families – so, presumably, they will especially want to ensure there is a bright future for this community.

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No comment

We had hoped that this fresh injection of energy would mean that the council would finally act on the giant Blythe Vale (Phase 2) planning application, which is proposed for the edge of the village. Consultees to the plans (of which our council is one) had even been given a time-extension, for them to compose their reply.
Depressingly, our council couldn’t be bothered to put in comments. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Draycott Council has a terrible track record in these matters, hardly ever showing up when the community needs leadership these days.

Blythe Fields homes construction
Homes under construction in Draycott

Even though their council didn’t care, some residents did make the effort to put in comments – credit to them – you can see their responses for yourself by checking out the statutory planning page.

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It’s back

Things have taken a gloomier air with the resurgence of Covid over the last weeks. Staffordshire is particularly badly hit at the moment: Stafford Borough has the third highest coronavirus infection rate in England, with more cases in one week than it has ever seen before. The Moorlands is not much better off: on September 20th it recorded its highest number of infections in one day ever.

Back to masks? (pic: Pexels.com)

The only good news is that the death-rate is much lower these days – but we can’t be complacent, as deaths are still occurring, even in the young.
The recommendations are: get the jabs; wash your hands; and, if you have symptoms, book a test, through your doctor. More advice on the Staffordshire Coronavirus webpage.

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this pandemic is the strong response of local voluntary groups. One such is our local First Responders group (‘first responders’ are medical professionals who volunteer to be on call in their neighbourhoods in emergencies, as they can often be there much quicker than ambulances).
But even a much-needed group like this one has to raise its own funds. So, now our local FRs have put up an online donation page on their website. If you have £5, they would welcome your contribution.

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Cricketers pull it out of the bag!

At the beginning of September, our local cricket team looked in real trouble. The Blythe team, based in Cresswell, was in the relegation zone of their Division.
But – credit to the players – they put in an amazing last week to the season, winning their last two games by large margins, thus avoiding any drop.

Watching the game at Blythe Cricket Club
A rough year for at Blythe Cricket Club First XI

Yes, the team had a very rough ride this season, even though they eventually finished ninth in the NSSCL Division One table. Let’s hope for better things next year.

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A win for residents

But we finish off with good news (at last!).
At a fractious public meeting in August, representatives from St Modwen Developers faced questions from a group of residents about the new estates which are going up at the east end of the village.
One issue was the lorries and construction plant travelling up Woodlands Lane to the site. (Woodlands Lane is no more than a track, even though there are houses on it). The vehicles were “big, noisy & dangerous” said one resident – why couldn’t the vehicles use the main road through the estate instead? Passions ran high, as one lady said she worried for her children.

To be fair to St Modwen, they did listen, and have now reversed their decision, and will halt large-vehicle traffic up Woodlands Lane. So well-done to them, but also well-done to the residents who put up a strong case!

Hopefully, our village council will take notice of this result. We say to them: see councillors?, everyone can make a difference – but it requires an effort

***
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NEWS: TV barn / flagpole? / dance in Draycott / Covid recedes

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid August 2021
In this post we have news of…: Cow barn on TV / flags for village centre? / welcome to new dance-school / the effect of Covid.

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

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Before, a barn; Now, a home

It’s a good bet that many people in Draycott watched the ‘Great British Home Restoration’ TV programme on More4 on Sunday night. It featured the Barn-On-The-Rocks house (opposite the Draycott Arms), which has been lovingly transformed over the last few years from an old cow barn into a family home.

Charlie Luxton, presenter, with Sarah & George Plant, and Bonnie (Pic: Channel 4)

Goodness though: what a lot of toil and trouble that Sarah & George Plant (and Bonnie the baby) went to, to get it done! At one point, as they dug down, they hit sheer rock before they expected to – that was a tough moment… All in all, a really interesting programme.

Barn On The Rocks
The barn, as it was originally

One important aspect, as far as the village as a whole is concerned, is that the 200 year-old barn still retains its character from the outside. The exterior conversion has been faithful to the spirit of the past, and that (for us, anyway) is quite important – thanks for that to the Plants.
For more reaction, check out the village Facebook page.
You can still see the programme (on Channel More4 catch-up); or do have a look at the photos, on the Plants’ Instagram account @thebarnconversion; or read the report in the Sentinel.
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To flag, or not to flag

Draycott Council seems unsure what to do with the ‘Village Centrepoint’ (the patch of ground surrounded by posts on the central junction). Though residents have come up with more than a few ideas, the project seems to lack a co-ordinated approach.
The latest suggestion from the council is to place an eight-metre high flagpole on it. The idea has been costed and will come to around £600.

Flagpole at Draycott Church

We’re not sure about this.
There is already a flagpole one hundred yards away, at the church (see pic above), so why another put up another, very expensive, one so close?
Public flag placements are very symbolic, and are subject to a number of strict procedures – so is there an individual to be found who can do the raising, lowering and changing of the flags in the necessary frequent, proper and respectful ways?
The centrepoint has already been subject to vandalism (when some of the posts were broken, two months ago) – so how will the flagpole be protected?
And finally, does the village want a flagpole there at all? The councillors have done no consultation on the matter at all, and we feel they should.

Incidentally, don’t forget that Draycott Council is currently looking for volunteers to come forward to sit on the council. You have until September 6th to put in a letter saying you’re prepared to serve.
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Welcome to the dance

Yes, welcome to the Garland & Pearce School of Dance & Performing Arts, which has now decided to take up residence at the Draycott Sports Centre after being based in Uttoxeter for some time. So, it sounds like we have our very own ‘Fame’ school!
Following their re-location in June, they are now underway with their classes, including a summer school (see our What’s On page for details).
Well done too to the Draycott Sports Centre, which is proving a very inclusive organisation, and is to be congratulated.

(By contrast to the sports centre, the so-called ‘communuity hub pavilion’ at the cricket club in Cresswell has barely made an impression on the life of the village. Surely the club needs to start fulfilling its promises…?)
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Covid – receding?

Without wishing to tempt fate – who knows what is still to happen? – it looks like we are over the worst of Covid. But all of us will know someone who caught it, and suffered. Some of us will even know friends who died.

Across the UK, the stats show that more than 130,000 people have died of the disease during the pandemic so far.
Now, local stats have also been collated, and the figures for North Staffordshire show that, during the two worst periods, there were 25% more ‘excess deaths’ in the population in our region. This means that, for every 40 deaths, eight of them were ‘excess’ to the normal pattern, and nearly all of these were of Covid-infected people.
It’s a very sad statistic – and North Staffs was not even the worst-hit…

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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: 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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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
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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

***
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: Covid hotspot / green belt puzzle / Rev writes book / odd wreaths

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-November 2020
In this post we have news of…: Draycott’s Covid problems / Rev Whittaker new book / wreaths on junction? / planning in green belt….

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here
_ _ _
In a Covid hotspot

As we all should know, this month our neighbourhood suddenly found itself to be a Covid hotspot. Blythe Bridge And District – which includes us in Draycott – hit the news as being the worst-hit area in all North Staffordshire, with infection rates double the national average. How this little district managed to become such a Covid problem is unclear.

Of course, like all statistics, these figures are actually a little misleading, because they represent only a snapshot of a moment in time, and current deaths are not as high as in May, so we shouldn’t panic: and, what’s more, this week, thanks to lockdown, the figures are dropping.
But — it’s a definite warning to us. We surely need to stick to the guidelines as best as we can to try to force the figures down or we could be a hotspot for a long time.
(For the big picture, see BBC News Covid Figures Updates).

At the same time, there is one big moral problem in front of us: should we report neighbours who break the rules?
Many people believe we should, and Moorlands Police alone are currently receiving around 400 calls a week from dutiful citizens reporting breaches.
But for others, it feels very uncomfortable to be reporting on neighbours.
What do you think? Use our comments box at the bottom of this page if you have thoughts.

Meanwhile, if you observe a breach and you feel you need to report it, the police ask you not to call 101, but use their online Covid Rules-Breaking reporting form.
_ _ _
Wreaths in odd places

We’ve had a couple of emails asking us about what is going on with the Remembrance wreaths on Draycott crossroads. Wreaths from Staffs County and Draycott Council have been tied to the bench there. It does seem almost disrespectful just to leave them on a road junction.

The question then is: why haven’t the wreaths been laid at St Margaret’s Church, where the village war memorial is, or by the war graves in Cresswell churchyard?

The answer is, apparently, that the rather lonely small tree at that spot is Draycott Council’s effort at a memorial to those lost in the Great War. The tree was the village council’s contribution to a national project back in 2014 to remember the war’s 100th anniversary. (Some of us thought that, as part of a national project, this tree was, er, a bit underwhelming… but there you go).
In fact, the village council has only half-completed the project; six years later, the plaque that was supposed to explain the tree’s presence has still not been commissioned, which seems very slack.

Be that as it may, our personal feeling is that wreathes should be laid at a ‘sacred space’, not at a road junction. What was the British Legion’s view, we wonder?
_ _ _
Brian’s book

Many of us will remember the Reverend Brian Whittaker (see pic right) with affection. He was rector at St Margaret’s for fifteen years up to 2005, and also a councillor for this area. In fact he still performs occasional duties at the church even though he is now retired.

He has now become a published author with a book called ‘Jesus and The Gentiles’, in which Brian wants to refute the idea that Jesus was aiming his preaching primarily to Jews, and only secondly to Gentiles (Gentiles are anyone who is not Jewish). Such a description makes it sound a little heavy on theology, but we’re told that it is in fact very readable.
At just £1, it might make a nice Xmas stocking-filler for a Christian friend…
_ _ _
Green belt paradox

There is more green belt in Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow than people think – and it was a green belt issue in Totmonslow that caused a planning puzzle earlier this month.

At a property there, the owner (who is the local councillor, Mark Deaville) put in an application for a kitchen extension. As ‘NPPF Green Belt’ rules apply to this part of Totmonslow, it probably wouldn’t have been passed – but as the applicant pointed out, if he built a much larger extension, that that would be allowed (under ‘General Permitted Development Order’ rules)…! Very paradoxical.
So, the planning committee at Staffs Moorlands decided to let Mr Deaville have the smaller extension, even though it was ‘against the NPPF rules’, as that would be less intrusive than any potential large extension.
Strange but true!

***
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: Covid rises / Remembrance Day / pumpkin fest / MP’s silence

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late October 2020
In this post we have news of…: bad local figures for Covid / Remembrance will happen / pumpkins across Draycott / silence from MP over planning….

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


Covid latest

As we all know, the pandemic has taken a sudden turn for the worse, and unfortunately our area (Staffordshire Moorlands) is one of those with a fast-rising rate of cases – see graph below. (For the big picture, see BBC News Covid Figures Updates).

Last week, the Moorlands figure was 209 cases per week per 100,000 people – which compares badly with a national figure of just 123. (Stoke-on-Trent was 234, and Manchester 470). Yes, we are in the orange blob next to Stoke on the map below.
Even though Stoke is not that far ahead of us, the city has just been put into Level High (Tier 2).

Moorlands map Covid mid October 2020

It’s really not clear why we are entering a red zone; around us, neighbouring regions – Derbyshire, Stafford, Uttoxeter etc – are doing much better. Of course, we won’t know the reality of the situation for another fortnight, which is when infections may (or may not) turn into crippling illness.

The point is: Draycott may feel like a sleepy outpost sometimes, but – without panicking – we now need to be extra careful.
_ _ _
Remembrance goes ahead

Poppies may be on sale already, but there had been Covid-related fears that the main Remembrance Sunday event in our area would have to be cancelled.
Thankfully, it will go ahead after all – but … with no parade.

In most years, the British Legion branch takes part in a parade through Blythe Bridge to the war memorial by St Peter’s Church. That’s not happening this year.
However, those who wish to can lay a commemorative wreath at 11am on the day, Sunday 8th November, although the council would prefer the occasion to be supervised – if you want to lay a wreath, please email Forsbrook Viilage Council for advice. As it’s outside, observers can attend, but in well-distanced groups (of no more than six apiece).
STOP PRESS (AS OF 31/10/2020 – Because of the lockdown starting midnight on Wednesday 4th Nov, not only is our local Remembrance Parade (due Nov 8th) cancelled, but now so too is the wreath-laying at the war memorial in Forsbrook

At St Margaret’s in Draycott, a separate service will start at 10.30am (led by Rev Sam Crossley and lay-preacher Cllr Kate Bradshaw) and there will be a two-minutes silence at 11am. The leading bellringer at St M’s, John Clarke, will sound the bells either side of the silence.
But… to be present in the church for this, you MUST prebook your space, via admin@stmargarets.org.uk. Anyone can be present outside the church, of course.

On the day, there has usually also been a Blessing Of the War Graves at St Mary’s Cresswell. However, at the time of writing, it’s not clear if this will go ahead.
_ _ _
Speak up Bill!

There are now only a few days left before end of the public consultation process concerning the Conservative government’s drive to change the planning laws. Depending on your point of view, the government’s ideas are virtually a free-pass for developers or a way of speeding up an inefficient system.

What’s for sure is that many of the government’s own supporters, including Tory councillors in our own area, are deeply unhappy. Even Tory MPs have been speaking out and campaigning against the new proposals.
Except…it seems… Sir Bill Cash, our local (Conservative) MP.

Less than ten years ago, Bill wrote a famous article in which he asked: why are MPs silent over planning?

Bill Cash planning article, 2011

He lambasted his fellow MPs for not speaking out as housing developments were being laid out across large swathes of greenfield land.
So you’d think that Bill would have quite a lot to say now, because both Draycott (which faces around 500 new homes in the next ten years) and Cheadle (which he also represents) contemplate massive increases in development.
But… we’ve heard nothing. Many of us would welcome his views, so c’mon Bill – say something!

If you do want to take part in the public consultation on the government’s white paper ‘Planning For The Future’ you have until October 29th; click here to see the details.

_ _ _
Life goes on

To end on a happy note… Walking round Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow you may notice many pumpkins on display on people’s fronts. What you are seeing is the Draycott Pumpkin Fest, which runs until Nov 2nd.It’s all the brainchild of local resident Lee Warburton (who also put together the village planters project) and he’s been using the village facebook page to explain the idea. But, in essence, it’s simple enough – decorate a pumpkin (real or artificial, doesn’t matter) at your home, and then put it on show for the delight of those walking by.

Pumpkin Fest beauties in Cresswell Old Lane – thanks to Dave Cole

In these times, it’s great to have someone who can bring a little cheer, so … Happy Halloween, all…!

***
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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