Tag Archives: footpaths

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).

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.

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.

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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NEWS of: church funds / Totmonslow housing / police Facebook / footpaths

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early August 2019
In this post we have news of…: parish council doze through Totmonslow development / report those footpaths / police join Facebook / fayre funds for church… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Sausage & Cider Festival…  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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Village council lack of action

The recent news that a development for five houses at Totmonslow has finally got planning permission launched a surprising discussion at the last Draycott parish council meeting.
Pete Wilkinson, one of our newly elected district councillors, had dropped in to observe the meeting. He expressed his deep unhappiness with the Totmonslow news, saying that the new cul-de-sac which will be built for the development is too dangerous: the cul-de-sac will exit straight onto the main Draycott-Tean road, too close to the brow of the hill for Mr Wilkinson’s liking. In fact he said accidents would be the inevitable result.

He is not the only one who feels this way. Among the official objections to the original proposal were comments from half-a-dozen residents and from Checkley Parish Council too (even through the development is inside Draycott-in-the-Moors area, and only borders on Checkley’s area).

Then Mr Wilkinson asked how Draycott Council had responded.
It turned out that, though our village council were aware of the application, and its various updates, even discussing the issue a year ago, they had just … forgotten to make a response.
So what we see here is that the neighbouring parish council and a number of local residents had managed to put in official responses, but our own council, whom we depend on, had failed to.

It seems to us that this really is not good enough. Village councils should be there in the front-line, battling away on issues that affect the community, not dozing on the sidelines. Whether they agreed with the Totmonslow proposal or opposed it, their first duty was to make some sort of response. And they failed.
Ad this is not the first time (see Council’s dismal record).
So, again, we would ask Draycott Council to … just please wake up.

_ _ _
Watching the detectives

According to surveys, the main public issue that bothers small communities like ours is crime. This is quite surprising, as small districts don’t usually suffer a lot of crime.

Moorlands Police logo
Our local Moorlands police are aware of this concern; and put on monthly meet-the-PCSO sessions at both Blythe Bridge and Tean to try to reassure residents.
But they have now gone a step further and last month launched their own Facebook page. It will list traffic reports, news of convictions & arrests, diary dates for consultation events and so on.

In one way, this doesn’t seem like a big contribution to crime-fighting – but it is part of the drive by local police to publicise what they do, in order to make us feel safer.

But, what do you think of this latest move by Moorlands Police? Is it just a gesture, or a useful initiative? Use the comments box on this webpage to express your thoughts.

_ _ _
Hurrah for the fayre

The final receipts are in for the annual Draycott Fayre, which was held just a few weeks ago. Once all costs are taken out, the fayre raised a handsome £4000-plus for the parish church fund. St Margaret’s is nearly 800 years old, and, without such donations, would simply start to crumble.

In fact, the last annual report for the church tells us that it spent a staggering £50,000 in the twelve-month on maintenance (which admittedly did include major roof repairs). Fortunately, some grants had become available, and there were donations of £12,000 from local well-wishers, but you can see how money can get swallowed up very quickly.
(Surprisingly, this current annual report for the church has not been made available online, even though previous reports have been. A copy is available in the church itself though).

So, if you went to the fayre (see highlights below), you can have the satisfaction of knowing that a great heritage & community asset is safe for another year, thanks to your support…


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By the way, an even better series of photos of the day than the ones above has been created by Neil Archibald, and is available online for all to enjoy – check out the Draycott 2019 Fayre Album

_ _ _
Report blocked paths a new way

Most footpaths in Draycott-in-the-Moors are maintained very well (though there are some problems in Cresswell where overgrown and blocked paths continue to be a long-standing and thorny issue).

It has been very frustrating trying to report problem issues over the last few years. Staffordshire County Council (who are responsible for path maintenance) have set up easy online ways of reporting potholes, flytipping, problems with bins etc – but not an online way to report footpath problems.
Until now.

Near NewHouse track

A blocked footpath

At last, you can report local footpath and bridleway problems on a custiomised webpage, thanks to a newly set-up and simple online process.
Click on Staffs Public Rights Of Way Issues.
Having created your online account, you can also track the issues you have reported (to make sure they do get fixed); and also can see matters reported by others.

Lots more people are walking for health – and our district has plenty of good countryside footpath routes (see some examples by clicking here and here) – so let’s make it as easy as we can for us all to keep walking.

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

NEWS: elections day / footpath preserved / new 40mph zone

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early May 2019
In this post we have news of…: double elections, both parish and district, on Thursday / 40mph to come on dual carriageway / Draycott footpath is safe… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including an Exhibition about the Blythe Colour Works…  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

_ _ _

This week is Local Elections Week: with all of us going to the polls on Thursday (May 2nd) to elect members for Draycott-in-the-Moors village council and also members for our ward on the Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

Both elections look to be very interesting as each will have a lot of fresh names on the ballot paper (following resignations of some long-time faces). Because of the way the maths of it all works out, a number of these new faces will definitely be elected, come what may.

One thing to remember when casting your votes is that you don’t have to use your maximum allowance (each of us gets seven votes in the parish council elections, and three in the district council elections).
Thus, for the parish-village election, you are entitled to vote seven times – for seven different people. However, by doing that, in this election, you virtually nullify your effort!  (It’s all to do with the maths).
So some experts recommend you don’t use all your votes, but only vote for the candidates you really really support.
You can only vote once for each candidate.

It’s good too to see that most candidates in the village-parish election have taken the campaign seriously, and have delivered ‘manifestoes’ through our letterboxes. It makes it easier for us voters to select candidates.
But, if you live in Draycott Council’s boundary area – of Draycott, Cresswell, Draycott Cross, Totmonslow, Newton, Draycott Waste (i.e. along the Hilderstone Road) – and haven’t had an election manifesto through the door, you can always phone the candidates to get a rundown of what they are promising.

These elections take place this Thursday (May 2nd). The polling station for all of us in this area is Draycott Church Hall, from 7am to 10pm.
There is no election this year for the county council.

_ _ _
Go slow(er) in Draycott

There is always a silver lining to every storm-cloud, and the project to build a huge new housing estate, the ‘Blythe Fields’ estate, on the fields above Draycott (i.e. behind Chandni Cottage) has produced a couple.

One is that the county Highways Authority are now demanding a 40mph limit on our Draycott bit of dual carriageway – the stretch between Chandni Cottage and the big roundabout. (Up to now it has been a 60mph limit).

A521 : 60 limit speed signs

There is currently a 60mph limit on entering the dual carriageway stretch here – but not for much longer, probably

All the traffic on and off the new estate will have to pull onto that stretch – and there is also going to be a pedestrian crossing there – so a new 40mph limit there would make sense.
Pretty much all residents we spoke to have  welcomed the move.

However, like everything, the proposal is subject to public consultation.
You have until May 29th to make your views known, for or against – click here for details on how to do that (look for ‘A521 Proposal’).

_ _ _
Footpath ring-fenced

Talking of the Blythe Fields Estate, one thing we were worried about was whether the public footpath over the ridge (it goes from the Izaak Walton, over the A50 footbridge and along & down to Chandni Cottage) would be respected. It is right next to the building works.

But, credit where credit is due, and the developers, St Modwen, have ensured there has been no interference with the footpath, which is now fenced (see pic).Blythe Fields foot path
Incidentally, building work has already started up there, with the construction roads now almost complete (see below).

Some are estimating that houses there could be up by the end of the year, if not earlier.

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

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

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

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Car in fireball

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

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

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

– – –
Disappointment – with result, with council

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

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

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

– – –
Footpath maintenance under threat

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

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

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

– – –
Babies get balletic

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

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

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

The Norman home of the Draycotes

Hi – happy Easter!
Many of us have been spending the day out walking in the country, as Easter is traditionally the day to get walking-boots back on again.

This reminds us that there are lots of fascinating places round here to visit during the course of strolling around.
For example, on the Cresswell-Fulford guided walk led by local lad Austin Knott a few weeks ago, he led us to the remains of the ancient Hilderstone Moat, which would have surrounded a timbered house belonging to the local gentry around a thousand years ago.

Malbank moat at hilderstone

The remains of the ancient moat. The higher land beside it is where the manor house once would have stood

He said the manor house could well have belonged to the ancient family round here, the one going back to the Norman Conquest – the Malbank (or Malbanc) family, whose lands stretched into Draycott parish.  Hugh de Malbank, who received the land round here in the twelfth century, changed his name to Hugh de Draycote – and thus started the Draycott family.

However, was the building that was once here really the home of the Draycotes?  This theory still needs a few facts to back it up – so if you know where we can get the evidence, please let us know!
Other suggested sites for the home of the Norman Draycotes are Blithewood Moat in Checkley and even the Old Rectory in Draycott itself!
The Malbank family is remembered now by the fact that its biggest estates were in south Cheshire.

According to fulfordvillage.com, there was an old chimney still standing there in 1986; and the site is known as ‘Chimney Pool’.  Apparently (they say) the ghost of a lady in white has been seen here…

Other easy Draycott Parish walks can be found by clicking here

Make the most of the railway path!

Mac Wylie dropped us his views on the new railway path from Cresswell to Totmonslow.  (Thanks Mac!).  He wants to see an extra section of path tacked on to it.
Here’s what he had to say:

In Draycott in the Moors you have an ideal stretch of ground for walking dogs.  The old railway line from Cresswell through Totmonslow to Cheadle was pulled up a couple of years ago, but now you have a fantastic track for walking a dog.

The best bit of it is the southern half, from Totmonslow (you can join it on the other side of the road from just opposite where Breach Lane begins) to Cresswell, a length of about a mile roughly.
The trouble with the northern half (the bit from Totmonslow to Cheadle) is that it is uncomfortable walking: the ground is just made up of stones from all the left-over ballast of the old railway line.
I don’t know why the southern half is virtually clear of the stones, but it is, so it’s a much more pleasant walk.

Railway path in snow

Part of the Cresswell to Totmonslow railway path, photographed after the recent snowfall

I took the dog along the Cresswell-Totmonslow stretch, and he could stretch his legs!  There is only one field with sheep in it alongside the way, but all the fences are sturdy.  There is (of course) no traffic.

Problem of access

There is only one problem.  It’s very hard to get to the track!
If you are walking to get to the track, you have to first walk along some very narrow lanes to get to it, and no one wants to take a dog along those narrow lanes – because they can be dangerous.

But if I want to take the dog there by car, there is no place near to the track to park!  One solution is to park in Breach Lane – but Breach Lane is really too narrow for parking, and there is only one safe space.  I’m sure people living in Breach Lane will agree.

So, I have given up the idea of taking the dog there.
There is a “problem of access” you might say.


May I make a suggestion?
The southernmost, last, 200 yards of the track (the bit that would take you to Railway Cottages, and then on to Cresswell Bridge), is blocked to walkers.  Though it is just a field, it is private property, and you cannot cross it.  The only thing a walker can do when they reach it is turn right round and walk all the way back to Totmonslow!
[For a map view of this location, click here – and enter ‘Railway Cottages, Cresswell’ in the subject field]

So… here’s what I think is a good idea.
Is there a chance that the Parish Council, or one of the district councillors perhaps, could approach the landowner and ask them if they would grant a ‘permissive’ path along the side of the field?  It would be very public-spirited of the land-owner indeed, and the line of the route could be narrowly fenced off with rope to make it clear where walkers must go.
[A ‘permissive’ route is one where the landowner allows walkers to cross his or her land under strict conditions, without surrendering any legal rights to it]

Railway Cottages view

So close – yet so far!    The rail track path ends here, 200 yards from Cresswell Bridge beyond it. This field, which is overlooked by Railway Cottages behind it, is private property, so it can’t be crossed.        Mac says, is there a chance of getting a permissive path along the edge of it?

If that were created, walkers could then easily get access the track just a few yards from Cresswell Bridge – and, you guessed it, without having to negotiate down the very narrow, dangerous Cresswell Old Lane for half-a-mile.
What’s more, there is very easy parking around there too, which solves my problem with the dog.

So, come on Cresswell councillors, what about it?
Why not make the best of a fantastic asset??!

Mac Wylie
If you too want to get your views off our chest, please email us with your thoughts; and we’ll do our best to publish them.

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

Walkers – beware of cows

The news that a woman was attacked by cows last month, in a field not far from here, just goes to show that one needs to careful walking fields at this time of year.
The fact is that cows with calves are as dangerous – and, some say, even more dangerous – than bulls.

Every year brings another story of walkers being trampled and killed by mothering cows, so it’s fortunate that the woman we mentioned was only injured.  The former Home Secretary David Blunkett got three broken ribs after being trampled in 2009.
Two people are killed every year by cows, some of them farmers.
However, you are also more likely to be attacked if you are walking a dog – as it is the dog that worries the cows.

… in Draycott

Draycott has miles and miles of footpaths, so it’s not surprising that we spotted, just this week, mothering cows with their calves – standing right on a footpath in west Draycott.
We did the discreet thing, keeping to the field fence and walking well away from the cows as much as possible.

cows with calves

The herd, including cows with calves, was on the right of way

The law is, by the way, that mothering cows are not deemed a threat – so farmers have every right to place them in a field with a footpath.
The law (The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981) only applies to bulls – and bans the keeping of them in fields crossed by a right of way.

cow with calf

The mother cow keeps the calf close

So – what is the official advice?  This what the NFU says:
*Don’t be afraid of cows BUT – be mindful, they are protective of their young
*If you feel threatened, let your dog off the lead.  The cows are more interested in the dog than you
*Take a walking stick with you. Don’t strike the cows, but use it to keep them away from you
*Be bold and walk straight through them if the cows move towards you (except mothers with calves)

Also, at this time of year, there are lots of inquisitive young bullocks.  They may act more wildly than cows, and chase you or run around you, but actually they are (cross-fingers!) generally harmless.
So, walk firmly, with a good occasional shout at them to frighten them away.  Their curiosity will make them come back each time… but, just keep walking and keep your nerve!


If you are interested in walking in Draycott, click here for a list of walks.

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

If you find the photos on this webpage too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately.

NEWS: local markets / World Cup / path closure

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late May 2014 
We have news of…:  a car-boot sale in Cresswell, a nearby produce market, and a car-wash in Draycott / where to watch the World Cup locally / PCouncil approves footpath closure / Jean Tunnicliff passes away.
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Saturday shopping

Well, you wait ages for a market – then two come along at once!  And they are both taking place this Saturday (31st May).

First, the local community group, the CCG, are staging a car-boot sale on Saturday between 10am-2pm (weather permitting), at the Izaak Walton Inn.  It is a joint venture between the group and the pub to raise funds for a mobile defibrillator, which will be sited in a case on the outside of the pub.
Latest advice is that all villages should have a defibrillator – as, after a cardiac arrest, it acts to deliver an electrical current through the chest, which shocks the heart back into action.  Because time is of the essence after cardiac arrest, they are – literally – life-savers.
If you want a table at the car-boot, contact Shelagh Wood (07818 610248) or email CCG.  They cost £5 apiece.

Meanwhile, at next-door village Hilderstone, they are starting a monhtly fully-blown local produce market in their village hall – also on Saturday (but in the morning only – 10am to 12.30pm).  They are looking right now for craftspeople and produce people to take stalls, and welcome folks from Draycott & Cresswell.
So, if you make anything from jewellery to cheese, you might like to hire a table, which costs £5. Money goes to the Church Fund.
Incidentally, if you only produce a few potatoes, or just have a few flowers from the garden, you don’t have to take out a whole table. You can add them to the ‘General Produce Table’, at no charge.
Contact Jennifer for details.

And finally, don’t forget that tomorrow (Wednesday 27 May), you can get your car washed in the Draycott Arms car park for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity.

It’s all go, isn’t it?

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En-ger-lund, En-ger-lund!

Talking of action, you will not have forgotten that, in just two weeks time, the Soccer World Cup gets under way.
But… where should a true fan go to watch the games?
Well, in Draycott, you are spoiled for choice.


Brazil hosts the World Cup

At the Draycott Sports Centre, all the matches are being screened in the bar, and the centre’s new bar licence will allow the serving of alcohol until midnight.
For England’s game on Saturday 14 June, which doesn’t start in the UK until 11pm, the club is putting on a whole evening of entertainment, including a pub quiz from 8pm.  Fans will need to buy all their post-midnight drinks at half-time!

The Izaak Walton is also pulling out the stops.  The TV in the pub’s bar will carry the games, with free bowls of chips at half-time at England matches to keep the supporters’ strength up. The Izaak has the same arrangement for post-midnight drinks on Sat 14 June as the sports centre.

It’s worth keeping an eye on the two venues’ Facebook pages for any World Cup updates.

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Footpath to close

Draycott Parish Council has given its support to the closure of footpath 18a, the 100 yard stretch that runs from St Mary’s Church in Cresswell down to Railway Cottages.  It seems a shame to lose that footpath, as – if another bit of land had been loaned in the future – it could have been a route through to the start of the old-railway track, which is now being developed as a ramblers’ trail.
However, it has little real use at the moment.

Talking of the Parish Council, its annual accounts are now available for inspection and comment, until late June.  Contact the parish clerk to be able to go and see them.

And, talking of government in general, our votes have now been counted in the European Parliament elections and the results are in.
Draycott in the Moors is part of the West Midlands Region, where we now have two Tory, two Labour and three UKIP MEPs representing us.

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Finally our condolences to Stuart Tunnicliff, whose wife Jean has just passed away.  Many will know Stuart, who has been a stalwart of Draycott life for many years.
Back in 2009, he and Jean bravely spoke to the newspapers about the news that not just one of them, but both of them, had developed cancers; and how they had dealt with the shock.

Stuart Tunnicliffe

Stuart Tunnicliffe sold some of his paintings at the 2012 St Margaret’s Fayre to help out fund-raising for the church

By one of those sad ironies of fate, Stuart has just been featured in the Sentinel newspaper – where his memories of Longton Garages made fascinating reading.

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Proposed solar farm – details outlined

There will be a commercial-scale solar farm completed in Cresswell by the end of this year.
The solar-power company, Novus Solar Development, outlined their proposals at a one-day exhibition in the local church hall this week.

Sheep and solar

The idea is to build frames, each holding around forty solar energy panels, placed in wide rows across three fields on Lower Newton Farm.
Lower Newton Farm is reached by a long driveway, south off the road near the A50 bridge on Cresswell Old Lane. (See map of area and proposed site).

Because the panels are on raised frames (around two-and-a-half metres high),  sheep can happily graze round them and even under them – and thus, what’s more, the fields are still in agricultural use at the same time.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)

This is a photo of another solar farm. The one at Newton will be slightly different – it will have lower frames, and panels will be at a more acute angle.

The electricity generated from the panels will be transferred to the nearest 33kV pylon, about 300 yards away, by means of an underground cable – and from there will be carried on to the National Grid.
Lower Newton will be able to supply enough electricity to power over 3000 homes per year.

It sounds an interesting project – and one that will benefit the farmer, the company, the National Grid, and, of course, the environment.   Solar power is one of the forms of sustainable energy that the authorities are trying to encourage:  a project such as the Lower Newton one will attract government subsidy.


However, as with all big projects, questions remain.  At the church hall exhibition, we put a series of queries to the representatives from Novus.

Q.  Will there be a glare from the panels?
A.   The panels, which are a dark blue-grey colour, are deliberately designed to absorb as much light as possible – so there is very little glint from them.  Also, they are pitched at an acute angle of 25 degrees, so, the chance of reflection to observers is much smaller.

Q.   Why choose this particular site?
A.    We are constantly looking for appropriate sites, which are ones where visual impairment is low, and a connection to the Grid is cost-effective. This site is ideal.

Propsed site of solar farm in Newton

The pale green area shows the site Novus wish to use. The thick grey line you see is the A50. The conurbation to the left is Cresswell, the conurbation in the top-right is Tean.  The house to the bottom left of the site is Paynsley Hall Farm. (Picture copyright: Novus)

Also, things have changed since the first solar farms – planners and communities are now very much up to speed on what they want to see with solar farms, so you have to meet their more knowledgeable demands too. Because Lower Newton Farm is in a kind of bowl, with very few properties near it, the view around it is very limited – which means it’s a better than usual spot for any nearby community.
What’s more, the land on these fields is classed as medium-to-poor soil, so that reserving the area to grazing sheep will not affect the agricultural balance of this area.

Q.   How long do you expect to be around?
A.    Well, planners will allow us no more than 25 to 35 years permission.  But we expect that, unless there is some totally unforeseen development in the energy market, we will be here for the duration.

Q.    Will there be much traffic to and from the site?
A.     No – in fact hardly any at all!  We will send in a maintenance person just to check things once every six months or so, but actually, we expect that, once it’s built, the system will look after itself virtually.
The Lower Newton farmers, Martin and Fiona Bostock, are fully behind the scheme; so I should think they will be keeping an eye on things too!

Q.    Do solar panels have any major bad effects on wildlife?
A.     No.  As we’ve said, sheep will be grazing in and around the structures quite happily.  In fact, there will be a net benefit for wildlife, as we are developing the edges of the fields and the hedgerows as wildlife-friendly areas.  Expect to see owl-boxes put up there!
An environmentally-sound fence will run round the site though to prevent larger animals straying in.
Also, remember that the farmer is still responsible for caring for the land.  We lease our rights to use the land from the farmers, yes;  but they still have the duty to ensure all is well there.

Q.     There is a public footpath that runs right through the fields you want to use.  Will you be asking to divert the path?
A.     No, the path stays where it is.  What we will do is create a ten metre-wide dedicated thoroughfare, along which walkers can easily pass.  A small fence will line each side of the path to show people where to go.

Q.    How do you see the application going?
A.    If there are no major objections, we will apply for planning permission quite soon.  If all goes well after that, and we get permission, we’d hope to start putting up the structures September-ish, with a view to everything being in place by late autumn…

And, if anyone has other queries?
Tell them to write to us.  Ed Jessamine is the person who is overseeing this project.  We’re very keen to be as open as possible about this – so the more questions the better!  (Email Ed Jessamine).

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.

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NEWS: busy meeting / re-Marriage / cricket hog / turbine / Brookside path

News-in-brief of Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-January 2014
We have news of…:  busy parish council meeting!  / wind turbine coming / a celebration of Marriage / cricket club starts a college, with a hog / overgrown footpath at Brookside / school places deadline.
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Get your seat early! 

The Draycott Parish Council meeting on Monday 20th January promises to be an interesting one.

Starting at the earlier than usual time of 7pm, one item that will definitely be raised is the question of the proposed housing development in Cresswell (click here for details).
And, though it may be difficult to fit in a full debate, the amount of ‘precept’ that the parish council wants to set as its council tax for the forthcoming year should be decided too.

The VVSM local community-action group is holding a pre-meeting on Thursday (16th) at 8pm at the Church Hall to gauge residents’ feelings about the Cresswell proposals; and will be taking their impressions from that session to the parish council meeting too.

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Married? Do it again!

There are only a few churches across Staffordshire taking part in Marriage Week, but Draycott St Margaret’s is definitely one of them.

On Saturday 8th February, it’s Marriage Day at the church, when there will be a display of marriage memorabilia (photos, dresses and more!) during the afternoon; and a renewal of vows for couples at 4.45pm.
Any couple that is married can apply to be part of the renewal of vows ceremony, and we understand that there is even a video being made of the occasion, so you will have a permanent record of the moment if you get involved!

If you want to take part, ether in the renewal of vows or by contributing memorabilia/photos, please contact the church wardens.
You do not have to have been originally married at St Margaret’s.

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Cricket club is going places – with a hog…

Congratulations to Blythe Cricket Club on their latest signing – a water-hog!
Actually a water-hog is a device for mopping up water off a wet pitch, and will come in useful if this summer proves to be rainy.  The club has now replaced the old one they had, so chances of ‘play resuming’ at their ground in Cresswell are now much higher.

Water hog

A water hog is basically a set of rollers, attached to a device to suck up water. The club’s new one has a seat…

The hog is being acquired thanks to a £10,000 grant from Sport England, and the money will also provide for new rain-covers for the cricket-square, and a fascinating new development in cricket coaching at the club.
Members of the club are setting up a ‘Blythe Cricket College’ – which basically will see them providing cricket coaches in local schools and running community-based cricket sessions for youngsters.

It’s really great to see that young people in Draycott and around will have these kinds of opportunities for their leisure time as the season gets under way.

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School places

Incidentally, talking of youngsters, parents should be aware that, if they want to apply for a new school place for their child – to start in September 2014 – they have only one day left to make their application. The closing date is 15 January. (Click here for details).

The catchment-area primary school for us is William Amory in Blythe Bridge.

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No way through

Thanks to Bill who sent in this photo of the footpath that leads off Cheadle Road down to Brookside.

Footpath finger post, from

Footpath finger-post at the point where Cheadle Road goes down to Brookside

As you can see, it is completely overgrown, and really needs cutting back.  In fact, it is impassable at the moment.

Bill, we’ve passed on this photo to parish councillor Gordon Winfield, who takes a special interest in our local footpaths, and to the Staffordshire Ramblers.  The Ramblers groups now work hand-in-glove with the county council trying to keep footpaths clear.

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etting the wind up

Almost eighteen months ago, we reported on an application by New Buildings Farm to erect a wind turbine to generate the farm’s own electricity.  It was a relatively small one by comparison with some, but was still turned down by planners last year.

But the farm, which is in a remote spot between Cresswell and Hilderstone on a ridge looking down on to Bromley Wood, did not give up; and re-submitted the application with improved environmental standards.
It has now been approved.  For conservationists it will be a good result; though some countryside campaigners will be less happy.

So… it will be interesting to see how another application for a turbine in Draycott – at Draycott Cross (click here for details) – will be treated by planners.

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