Tag Archives: Localism Bill

NEWS: neighbourhood plan / church re-fit / bye to Bill? / Chandni 5*

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: repairs programme for St Margaret’s / Draycott to change MPs? / will YOU be part of plan process? / Chandni Cottage Restaurant report…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Valentines Ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Church’s birthday re-fit

You may have noticed that our parish church of St Margaret’s is currently covered in scaffolding. It turns out that this is all due to some necessary repairs ordered by the Church Of England authorities – and will cost a stinging £40,000…

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The 13th century church developed a leak in the roof a while back, which was fixed eventually by the church’s own volunteer project manager, John Clarke.  John is well-known for his unstinting efforts to keep the ancient church viable. (See the Saving The Bells story).

However, then along came the compulsory Church Of England ‘Quinquennial’ five-year review – and that report has demanded the repair of virtually the whole main roof. The trusted restoration experts, Midlands Conservation, are undertaking the work because of the great historical value of the building.
Fortunately, the church wardens at the church have been putting money by, so this won’t bust the bank, but it does mean fund-raising efforts (such as the Draycott Summer fayre) will have to be intensified.

Curiously, the refit comes just as the church is about to celebrate its 750th anniversary – which makes it a sort of birthday present!

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Got a plan for our neighbourhood?

People in Draycott district have been kicking around the idea of developing a ‘neighbourhood plan’ for some years now.
Well, slowly, slowly, the Draycott Council has been progressing the idea. In fact, it now has formal approval for the project, and has been given a grant of £5000 to make it happen.

A ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ outlines what a local community wants to see for itself in the future – especially as regards large planning developments (for and against). The government supports the idea of NPs and gave them official backing in its Localism Act in 2011.
The most important thing about Neighbourhood Plans is that they give formal protection to what a district wants for itself – for the ways it views its green spaces and how new building projects should ‘fit in’ etc.

Next stage of the process here in Draycott is where YOU come in.
An open forum has been called for Fri 26 Jan (see details), and everyone in the district (including Cresswell, Totmonslow and Draycott Cross) is invited to come along to express views.
An expert will be on hand to explain more, and to outline how you can take part even more than just saying your piece, even how you can get to sit on the district committee if you want.checkley neighbourhood plan posterA number of other districts have already pushed ahead with neighbourhood plans and they say they do energise the community. Checkley & Tean have been particularly energetic (see pic above) – have a look at their website’s N Plan pages to find out more.

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Goodbye to Sir Bill?

There now seems to be backing for a proposal to move Draycott district out of the Stone parliamentary constituency and into the Staffs Moorlands parliamentary constituency.
The government’s Boundary Commission has been taking public comments on the proposals and Staffs Moorlands councillors are the latest to come out in favour of the idea.

Sir Bill CashIf it goes through it would mean a change of MP for us, as we would move out of the remit of Sir Bill Cash (see pic right), and would find ourselves being represented instead by another Conservative MP, Karen Bradley, who currently holds the Staffs Moorlands constituency.

However – a lot of political commentators say the proposals have no chance of being accepted.
(So…bit of a waste of time really…!)

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Chandni celebrates

Nice to see that Chandni Cottage, the Indian restaurant at the Blythe end of Draycott, has got a five-out-of-five rating for its food hygiene standards, following a visit from environment inspectors. It had a less than excellent rating the previous time inspectors visited, so they’ve done a fair job to turn it around.

Chandni CottageIt’s well deserved. Yasmeen Yacqub and her team have been in place ever since the restaurant opened in 1996, so they know the business well, and they know their customers well.
It was from listening to customer demand that they developed fat-free versions of most of their dishes, put together the recent refurbishment, and even organised a ‘diners club’ which enables members to taste cuisine from around the world.
Actually, the customers play a full part in the Chandni’s outlook – exemplified by one group of regulars, headed up by Andy Bird, who even go out on country walks to raise money for charity.
That would build your appetite up…!

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Last thoughts before the election

Mark Stewart gives his personal view on what voters might want to consider before they vote this Thursday to elect a new local Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council.

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Parish councils have hardly any powers, and very little money to spare, so they are not like other tiers of government.
Therefore… virtually the only thing that makes parish councils important is that they have personality – including a passionate desire to inspire their community, to listen to their community, and to lead their community.

Do we feel we have had that from Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council in these last years?  Is fresh blood needed?

Long time

It is almost twenty years since Draycott council had an election.  Four of the current council (out of seven) have never had to face the electors at all – they have actually been ‘co-opted’ on.
This is not to say that the current councillors have not done what they had to do; they seem to have all done their duties properly.

But, especially as it has no mandate, this current council does not seem to have inspired local people or created great achievements.  A couple of individual councillors do some good work, but, as a team, the council just seems… tired.

At the Annual Parish Assembly on Monday night, the chairman’s ‘annual report’ was over in two minutes; because there was, presumably, not a lot to report.
This is all the more strange because this last twelve months has seen a huge impact on parish councils because of the changes brought about by the government’s Localism Bill and the new Transparency Code – but this was not mentioned at all in the report.

Action

Councillors also complain that hardly anyone comes to parish council meetings or takes an interest – but in what way has the current council tried to encourage contact & participation?  Its meetings are almost those of a select club.
It even has had to be virtually forced into openly publishing its decisions and agendas.

In fact, without the drive and commitment of local organisations like the Summer Fayre Committee, the congregations of the two churches, the Church Hall committee and the untiring energy of the VVSM action group, the wider community in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow would be very under-served indeed.

In my opinion, any newly-elected parish councillor needs to be someone who will ‘step up to the plate’, as the saying goes, of the new challenges.

New blood?

Is fresh blood needed?  In my humble opinion again, yes.
And, after May 7th, there will be newcomers on the council for sure, because statistically that has to happen: five of the nine candidates standing are completely new faces – and there are only seven seats.

Will they be any better than the old ones?  Who knows?  And it is always a mistake to allow experience and expertise to flood away.

But, the government has brought in lots of new rules to try to make parish councils function in more democratic and accountable ways, and also to drag parish councils into the 21st century, so at least any new councillor will come fresh to that situation; and they will know that, under the new rules, they must try as hard as they can to communicate with the electors.

How will we know who to vote for?  (See: candidates page)

It seems to me that electors will want to ask all the candidates – “How will you work to make the new parish council inspire me?  Will you be open and accountable, and reach out to residents in the community and co-operate with them?  Will you try to work as part of a team on the council so that it can work efficiently to ensure a better outlook for us?”

If they cannot answer those questions satisfactorily, one wonders if they should even be standing at all.

MS
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