Tag Archives: forsbrook parish council

The Future is coming

The next ten years could bring big changes to Draycott, and could completely change the district from being a semi-rural district into a suburban ribbon.
Resident Mark Stewart has written this piece, warning that we just don’t seem to be waking up to these facts.
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Five years ago, I wrote on this website about the way we were all sleepwalking into a possible development explosion in Draycott-Cresswell. Three years ago, the late parish councillor Steve Jones added: “The biggest threat to Draycott is the Constellation Project development plan … around the A50 in Draycott-Cresswell”.
And, as far back as 2014, the VVSM group pleaded with the then village council to vigorously get behind an official ‘neighbourhood plan’, in order to pre-empt potential large development.

All these warnings were ignored at the time, by residents as well as the village council, and suddenly we are now faced with 350-to-500 new homes going up here in this village in the next two years, increasing Draycott’s population by a whopping 90%. And there is the distinct prospect of even more building to come following that.

And Draycottians are still sleepwalking.

More building to come

St Modwen Homes openly plan to carry on their current (Blythe Fields) development further, into ‘Phase 2 and Phase 3’, which will see them building almost as far as Cresswell, along the top of the ridge overlooking Draycott and the A50, with a mix of more housing and light industry.

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

The grey line running vertically through this photo is the A50. On the left side of it Phase 1, in red outline, Blythe Fields, has already started. The next two phases (in yellow outline) will see building stretch almost as far as Cresswell Pumping Station.

You’d think this would be alarming – but nobody, either councillors or residents, seems to be paying attention.

Thanks to this apathy, the planning authorities see Draycott as a pushover.
Staffordshire Moorlands Council (remember the shocking way they ignored official & expert advice in 2015 in order to pass the Cresswell Blythe Park estate development?) have already approved more development here, percentage-wise, than in any other of its wards or parishes. SMDC planners are already making provision for Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Who is standing up for us?

The ones who really should speak up for us, our political representatives, have been barely visible in these planning matters. Our MP, Bill Cash, who represents both Blythe Bridge & Draycott, has only sent letters (nothing more), while our own Draycott village council, which should care most of all, has been slow, feeble and muddle-headed, to say the least.

Blythe Fields outline diagram

The current Blythe Fields estate of 180 homes (up near the roundabout in this photo) only fills 10% of the land already approved for development (in red outline) in the district of Draycott

So, because of such apathy, the current SMDC Moorlands Local Plan has been able to allocate virtually the region’s whole quota of housing for semi-rural areas in … guess where? …Draycott-Cresswell… An amazing stat.

The apathy goes deep. A few months ago, in view of the seriousness of the situation, a local resident put in a proposal to the village council, that one of its members should be appointed to take special responsibility for The Future (including planning matters) as a way of bringing some urgency into meetings. But the idea was rejected out of hand.
(Even though, at the same meeting, a councillor was indeed given a special responsibility – to monitor village odd-job tasks!  You couldn’t make these things up…).

Another example: we all know about the current traffic chaos caused by the works – yet back in the summer it took a some local residents to make a great fuss before councillors even bothered to react to the Highway Department’s plans.

Compare our Draycott representatives’ apathy to councils in places like Cheddleton, where similar proposals have brought councillors and residents out on street demonstrations and where they have twice defeated the proposals; and in Tean, where the village council is threatening judicial review against ‘excessive’ development.

And some residents are losing patience with their village councils’ inaction.  Recently, in Creswell, a village near Stafford, every member of the parish council was forced to resign when householders simply lost patience with their representatives, and demanded they step down.

Housing

Yes, of course, this country, and this county, desperately needs new housing, but it’s not quite fair to place so much in one area, surely?
But it’s simply a lot easier for authorities to shove housing, even in large numbers, into areas where they know locals are not united.
Belatedly (and well after the Blythe Fields building started), a ‘Parishes Together’ group has been established, where village councillors from Draycott, Checkley and Blythe Bridge get together to talk about joint matters of interest. But this initiative looks to be far too late in the day to stop large development; and right now it is still just a talking-shop.

Boundaries

One excuse Draycott village council put up at the time for its lack of action over the Blythe Fields development is that most of the ongoing (i.e. Phase 1) building works fall into the boundaries of Blythe Bridge & Forsbrook council.

Blythe Fields on Forsbrook Draycott boundary

The St Modwen developments cross the Forsbrook-Draycott official boundaries

Through a strange lack of logic in the way parish council boundary lines were originally laid out years ago, land that should properly be in Draycott was allocated to Blythe Bridge. (Last year a resident called for Draycott Council to request a change of boundaries – this was again rejected).

But, when it comes to massive planning developments on their doorstep (ones like Blythe Park), all affected councils have a full right to get involved. If Draycott Council say “it’s not in our boundaries, we can do very little”, then they are very wrong.

And Forsbrook & Blythe Bridge’s council‘s view? It actually supports the Blythe Fields development. (Keith Flunder, a district councillor for Blythe Bridge, said at the time of the application: “People in general are in favour”.)
And why shouldn’t Blythe Bridge people support it? It means loads more council tax for them (as much as £5,000 a year or more), and they will get few of the social and environmental problems – which will nearly all accrue to Draycott.

Doesn’t it matter to most of us?

Of course, the fact is that most of Draycott’s population simply don’t worry about these issues.
Year in year out they vote for the self-same groups of people in elections (or don’t vote at all); while (to be fair to the councillors) participation from all but very few residents in any major new initiatives in the village is lacking.
So, we may lack leadership, but then we also lack community spirit. (The local community-action group, VVSM, after some amazing achievements, folded in 2017 – mostly because no new support was coming along.)

Maybe it’s simply that we believe that we can’t change things, even if we wanted to.
In fact, on the village Facebook page, this resident’s view seems to be the most accepted:  “…find some positives! The houses are not cheap so it should bring some extra cash. Extra cash means an extra boost to local economy, and a better local economy means we get better produce, products, services (here’s hoping) etc”.  Some residents even believe that those who don’t like the idea of huge expansion ‘should simply get out of Draycott‘.
Only a couple of small voices ever object to the lack of protest, such as this one: “…after destroying some beautiful countryside, on the new housing estate they have built so far what can only be described as the most bland red-brick buildings imaginable…

Hello to the Future

So…… As it stands, planning decisions indicate the following:
The last census (2011) put the population of Draycott at 1000 but, in ten years time, it could well be 3000 (including Blythe Fields expansions).

One can predict that the village’s traffic flows, pressure on schools and doctors’ surgeries, and social disruption will all grow.
On the other hand, we may get a shop, and more business for our pubs… Is that enough?

However – whether we are happy with this vision or not -, should we really all sleepwalking into it?

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Ref:  Original Blythe Fields planning application

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

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

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

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Chandni burglary

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

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

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

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New Haden generosity

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

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

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The fun of the fayre

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

Draycott Fayre 2016 - 25 years banner

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

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

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‘Missing’ notification

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

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

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

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Pollution report

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

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

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

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

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This post has been edited since being originally published.

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

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

NEWS: top cricket / MORE houses? / open nurseries / council tax concern

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: Blythe CC go top of division / 100+ more homes for Draycott? / plant nursery re-opens / council tax worry…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Draycott Sausage and Cider Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Blythe go top!!

It may not have been the best of summers – but our local cricket team has certainly given us a lot to cheer about!
The first eleven at the Cresswell-based Blythe Cricket Club have been among the top teams in the NSSCL First Division pretty much all season, but they went even better than that this last Saturday by beating the leaders (away).
Their victory – by the narrowest squeak, but a proud triumph anyway – takes them straight to the top of the league.

This win now virtually assures them of an historic promotion to the NSSCL’s top tier – the Premier Division – though, yes, the final games must still be treated very seriously.

Musharraf Hussain victory signCaptain Peter Finch, who himself has played incredibly well all season, told the sports newspapers in an interview that a lot of the team’s success is down to this year’s professional, the Bangladeshi all-rounder Musharraf Hussain (see pic right).
Musharraf has settled into Staffordshire much better than many of his compatriots and produced consistent high-level performances.
Everyone has also been excited to see a fresh lease of life for the county over-50s bowler, Mark Stanyer – in one game, Mark produced figures of five wickets for no runs….

Why not get along to the Cresswell ground and check out the team’s run-in? See dates for Blythe’s remaining home games on our Events page.

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More planning than we thought

It’s been a big few days for anyone who cares about the future of Draycott.

The very latest proposals designed for The Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan (the strategy by which house building, open spaces and employment sites will be carried out in this region over the next fourteen years) are now published, and available for view either online or at your local library.
It is literally hundreds of pages long, so the local community-action group VVSM is still sifting through it trying to see what the main implications are for us locally. They should put out their views soon (we’ll let you know their conclusions as soon as we have them).

However, suddenly, yesterday, everything shifted under our feet…

We all knew that the fields on the ridge behind the houses on Uttoxeter Road up to the A50 highway have long had permission to be used as an employment site (the so-called ‘Northern Gateway’), but the poor state of the economy has meant there has been no takers … until now.
So, the owners, the St Modwen Group, have now started an interesting campaign to try to persuade the Moorlands District Council that at least part of that planning permission should be switched to house-building instead. They want to build 118 new homes on the triangular parcel of land almost next to and behind the Chandi Cottage Restaurant, then right along to the roundabout and around.
See map below.St Modwen Vale plan leaflet
This comes completely out of the blue to us, but in fact St Modwen say they have already had preliminary discussions with the council. All they need now is the planning permission, and they could start building in 2018.
After what happened in Cresswell, where a similar application for 170 homes was passed through – despite all the recommendations against it -, you have to wonder if St Modwen might well get their plans through.

Already a protest group of residents is being formed.
The protesters do have one advantage. Due to a strange quirk of boundary-creation, the St Modwen land sits just inside Forsbrook Parish Council’s responsibilities, not Draycott Parish Council’s. Remembering how Draycott PC was almost completely useless when it came to doing anything about the Cresswell application, it’s probably better for the protesters that they will be working with Forsbrook PC, which is a much more energetic council.

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Shrubs and more

Despite the sluggish economy, people are still – thank goodness – trying to make a go of business.
So, it’s nice to see that Draycott Plant Nurseries have new owners.
Neil & Carolyn left earlier this year, after putting a lot of hard work into the place. Many of us had started to rely on them for plants, so, when even they felt they could not make it work, many of us feared the place would fall derelict.

However, new management is now in place. Draycott plant nurseriesBasically the stock at the moment is large shrubs, meant for designers creating ‘ready-made’ gardens, so the market is really trade customers – but anyone is welcome to go along and have a look. The nursery is open five and a half days a week.

We were told that, once everything is settled, the range will be extended, and we should see bedding plants on sale there by next year.

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Deeper pockets needed by local council-tax payers

Just as we hear inflation is about to hit 3%, you can (probably) add yet another expense to your bills.

At its last meeting, Draycott Parish council had a debate about a large sum of money that it needs to pay out. Should it pay it in instalments, or instead pay the lot at once?
Experienced councillors pointed out that paying a large amount in one lump sum might leave the council’s financial reserves under-strength, meaning an increase in council tax would be required in the Spring to bolster them.

However, the remaining councillors decide to ignore that advice and plumped to pay in one lump sum. It’s unclear why they decided to do that.
It rather reflects the fact that Draycott Council already has an unenviable  record as one of the top twenty per cent of councils in the whole country that likes to put council tax up the most

As usual, the local tax-payers may well have to dig into their pockets to pay for this council’s strange decisions.

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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)

Our library is under threat

If we don’t act now, the future of our nearest library looks grim …  That appears to be the message from campaigners who have been studying the latest proposals for the library service across Staffordshire.
The public has only a month left in which to make its views on the proposals known.

Library shake-up

We all know that libraries are changing.  Once you just went there to borrow a book, read a newspaper, or to study.  But now, there are all sorts of services.  At Blythe Bridge library, the nearest library to Draycott, there are now story-telling sessions, adult education sessions, public-meeting spaces, internet-access computers to use, and even a small art-gallery!

Blythe Bridge Library

Blythe Bridge Library

Libraries must keep changing – especially as they do less book-lending and more of providing e-publications online.  Footfall in libraries is not what it was.
Staffordshire County Council also has to cut its budget by fifteen per cent over the next three years.

So the County Council is redefining its libraries.  The biggest four (now known as ‘Extra’ Libraries) are safe; and fifteen more (known as ‘Core’) will be reviewed.  But the remaining twenty-four (now to be known as ‘Local’) have an uncertain future, and may well have their services broken up or ‘re-assigned’ – and Blythe Bridge Library is in this third, endangered category.

The county council is saying that it hopes local communities, using volunteers, might agree to take on ‘Local’ libraries – or somehow split the current services offered by the library across various local groups.  Or, maybe, under the ‘Local’ idea, it will give us an enhanced mobile-library system, or find a new and smaller building.

Campaign

Of course, local people have not taken the news lying down.  A packed-out meeting last month saw objections flying thick and fast!   Forsbrook Parish Council has taken the lead in a campaign to resist major changes.
(Our own Draycott Parish Council is aware of the proposals, but has yet to take any major stand).

campaign doucument (opens as a WORD document) put out by Forsbrook PC makes interesting reading.  The figures in it show that not only is Blythe Bridge Library more popular than Cheadle Library, it also is considerably cheaper to run. Yet, strangely, Cheadle is safe!

Making views known

Nothing is yet decided.  The current proposals are only proposals; so the County is now ‘consulting’ the public.  (See: Library Future Proposals)
If you have views on the library service, locally or cross-county (or both), now is the time to make them known.
You can find the consultation sheets in any county library (Stoke-on-Trent libraries are separate to all this of course), or, if you prefer, you can fill in the consultation questionnaire online.  Closing date is October 7th.

Forsbrook PC is recommending that you answer Question 33 on the consultation document by ticking ‘Strongly Disagree’.

The sad thing is that questionnaires never quite get to the reality of the situation.
Think about it… with church halls and village halls now locked all the time; and with ‘community corner shops’ less and less in evidence; and with pubs getting more expensive; and with schools forced to exclude ‘outsiders’, where is there for a village community to freely meet and greet each other?  Only the library.

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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).