Tag Archives: Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan

Development for Draycott now even bigger

Well, we didn’t expect any different did we – really?
The proposal to expand the number of houses on the forthcoming Blythe Vale/Fields development site (on Draycott level, at the roundabout ) passed the Moorlands Council Planning Committee very easily.  All the councillors on the committee voted in favour.
In fact, they loved it – because it all helps with their regional quotas…

This proposal was to expand the original number of dwellings planned for the site by a very large amount – almost 25% (meaning obviously a proportionate rise in population). Predictions are that the estate will now hold around 400 people.
This new plan squeezes in more homes on the site – meaning incidentally that even more of the new houses will be close to the A50 highway.

St Modwen Vale plan leaflet

Blythe Vale-Fields. Now up from 118 homes to 146.  The A50 is on the left in this diagram; the Draycott level road at the top

Now, you’d think all this would be controversial, and worth a deep debate, wouldn’t you?
Nope. The whole thing seemed done & dusted even before it started.
You can see for yourself: the webcast-video of the committee in action (the whole item only lasts just over 15 minutes) is online, and can be seen by clicking here and then clicking on ‘Item 7’.

No representation

You’d think too that someone from our own Draycott village council, or from next-door Forsbrook Council (it’s illogical, but they share the issues relating to this site with us), would turn up to speak about this issue at this meeting, wouldn’t you?
But… no, they didn’t.

The only person from Draycott who turned up to speak was resident Paul Meredith, who lives down the slope from the coming estate. But his comments were brushed aside.

Lack of interest

Poor Draycottians! There has been virtually no one speaking up for them. (In fact there were barely any comments on the official feedback website about these plans).
And, despite being asked for their full thoughts, Draycott Council instead had submitted a rather feeble opinion about possible traffic issues. (As it turned out, Staffordshire Highways experts thought the traffic aspect was so insignificant that they didn’t even bother submitting a comment about it).

But let’s not just criticise Draycott Council for their lack of interest.
Our local Moorlands District councillors remained silent; and Forsbrook Council (much of the site is within their boundaries) didn’t even bother with any feedback at all!

Get used to it

Including the development at Cresswell, the population of our district is about to increase by a massive 50% – yet our politicians just say… zilch.

And… not to be too depressing … there is even more housing development in the pipeline for our little area during the next ten years, even after this current phase of double-development.

All this really does show why we need to elect new, more capable councillors. The current lot may be nice people – but they just aren’t up to the job.

***
Want to comment on any of the thoughts 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: vacancy deadline / council tax mess / banner of history / Local Plan debates

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late October 2018
In this post we have news of…: the council needs you! / council tax mess-up / Draycott’s history banner / debates at Local Plan inquiry …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a talk about World War One…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Be a councillor… for six months…

Following the death of its vice-chairman, Draycott in the Moors Parish Council has announced that any resident who feels themselves suitable to fill the post should come forward and apply for a place on the council.
There won’t be an election; instead, any resident should just drop a line to the clerk explaining why they think they could be good in the role.

There are a few stipulations: you must live or work locally, be an elector etc (see councillor stipulations), but it’s all fairly straightforward.
Your note to the clerk should give a brief description of yourself and what your connection with the Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow area is and a line about why you want to be a councillor. If you are selected to the short list, you’ll be expected to make a short presentation about yourself to the councillors too. The councillors will then make a choice.

This is a great opportunity for someone who just wants to see up-close how local government works at the village level. So…. why not give it a go??
As there will be full elections next May, this post is only for six months (though the candidate can seek re-election then if they want, of course).
You have until November 9th to email the clerk (draycottparishcouncil@aol.co.uk); and you should be available on the evening of November 12th to see the councillors.

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Banner of history

The History Weekend at St Margaret’s Church was a great success, with dozens of people coming from far and wide to check out the ancient building and also to join in the celebrations for its 750th anniversary.
There were some really interesting discussions too on the extremely unpredictable future of the St M’s: what really is going to happen to it over the next twenty years…and what can be done about it?

But the highlight of the weekend was the unveiling on the Sunday (Oct 21st) of a specially-made banner.

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The Draycott Craft Club – especially its leading lights, Jackie Knott, Pauline Clarke and Pam Hibell – had created it as a tribute, and it was unveiled by the bishop, who had arrived for the day.  It really is a simply terrific piece of work, outlining the history of the village over the last millennium, and has been beautifully made.  A credit to the makers, it now has pride of place in the church.

Unfortunately the church is kept locked most of the week, although the church is open for services on Sundays, so it can be seen at those times.
For more pictures of the history weekend, click here.

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VVSM gets a hearing

Well done to Jacquie Leach (a VVSM supporter), who made sure that the controversial issues regarding Draycott & Cresswell did not just get swept under the carpet at the recent Moorlands Local Plan inquiry. The inquiry, based in Leek and headed up by a government-appointed inspector, took place over seven days at the beginning of this month.

Jacquie LeachOn the day appointed for discussion about Draycott district, Jacquie (pic, right) was there to speak up and debate the issues with the inspector. Jacquie told us that she felt compelled to give it one last shot.

She stood up and told the inquiry that that our district was in danger of being swamped – with 500 new houses in the pipeline and a large expansion of industry on the way, all of which would lead to a near-doubling of the population (and traffic) over the next ten years. She pointed out that much of the development was contrary to the regional Core Strategy guidelines. For more of how the day went, click here.

Let’s hope the government inspector listened, and gave her arguments full consideration.

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Council tax mess up

We know now how much the new clerk at Draycott village council is to be paid. This was kept under wraps at first (why, who knows?) but it was bound to come out eventually because it has to be mentioned in the monthly accounts, and so it has.
(A council clerk is basically the ‘manager’ of the council’s business and, amongst everything else, also has to deal with all the new government legislation that keeps coming in).
Denise, who was appointed in May and will be part-time (4.5 hours a week), is to be paid £10 an hour, i.e. £200 a month.

Last year there was much discussion at village meetings over the rate of pay & hours for the clerk, (which has not gone up in many years). It’s a responsible, legally-fraught position, but while some felt that a clerk was not worth much more than the national living wage, others felt that the job had become much more demanding and therefore wages should be more in line with what other parish councils do (who pay up to £12 an hour).

person holding black pen wrting 'TAX'

Which leads us to … the council tax mess-up.

At the January meeting of the council, it was decided to go for a very large increase in the parish council’s demand for council tax – a jump of almost 12%… (!!) to cover an increase in pay & hours for the clerk. (It was pointed out at the time that it wasn’t strictly necessary, as there was enough money in the reserves to cover it, but the councillors went ahead anyway).
All over the rest of the country, austerity was still in place and other councils were deliberately trying to keep their council tax down – but Draycott Council went ahead anyway with this massive increase.

And then… the councillors changed their minds about the clerk’s pay-rate.

Again, we’ll never know exactly what happened – because the councillors’ discussion was in secret (why… who knows?) – but a few weeks later, the councillors reverted to offering £10 an hour. The then-clerk Kate Bradshaw resigned in disgust (not just about pay, but a number of matters); so a vacancy had to be announced – but a number of new suitable new candidates walked away when they learned the rate on offer.
Fortunately, eventually, Denise, a very able candidate, came along, and she accepted the rate of pay.

So… why exactly did we have to have the increase in tax foisted upon us???
In the end, the residents of Draycott parish were forced to pay considerably extra in their council tax for something that never happened.

It’s not even the first time that Draycott councillors have put large increases in council tax on us.  Over the last ten years, there have been inflation-busting demands for increases of 9.9% (2007), 11% (2009), 4% (2011), 14% (2012), a staggering 24% (!!) in 2014; 6% (2015); and this year (2018) 11.8%.
Don’t forget that, over this period, inflation was running only at rates between zero to 2.5%…

Roll on the elections next May!  We need new, common-sense, thoughtful representatives to come forward, stand for election and shake Draycott Council up; we really do.

***
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: sporting success / Local Plan inquiry / councillor vacancy / History Day

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-Sept 2018
In this post we have news of…: successful summer of sport / vacancy on Draycott Council / Local Plan inquiry to start / Church history day / A50 closed for weekend   …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including  a WW1 Evening…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Sporting summer

By any standards it has been a good summer of sport in Draycott&Cresswell. The cricket club led the way, but there was good news all round for our sportsmen and women.

Blythe Cricket Club’s First XI (based in Cresswell) surprised all the pundits with a hugely impressive first season in the NSCCL top division.
Despite being newly promoted, they ran neck and neck with the leaders right up until the last month, putting up some stunning performances. Even the last day of the season was a nail-biter – being an away match at local rivals Checkley for the honour of securing third place in the league… but captain Peter Finch and his boys overcame that hurdle, to cap a great run.
Well done to them – and there is a bonus, in the fact that the greatly experienced overseas player in the team, Jalat Khan, has settled in so well this season that he’s agreed to rejoin Blythe next year too.

At the Draycott Sports Centre, the men’s tennis side had an average season by their standards, but the actual sports centre itself has gone from strength to strength with the recent opening of a completely refurbished new gym (see pic below).
There are lots of offers on at the moment, so remember – you can now stay fit in comfort even when the weather turns lousy!

Fitness Club spinning bikes

The green-bowls side based in Cresswell (Checkley A), like Blythe CC, finished high up their division, ending the season as runners-up. After an indifferent first half of the summer, they raced through the second half with an amazing six wins from seven… !

Well done to all…

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Councillor needed

Even though Councillor Steve Jones only died last month, process grinds on; and already Draycott Council is advertising the vacancy. Seems hard to be so quick at it, but it’s a legal requirement.

However, it’s not so simple as just holding an election.
For community councils like Draycott, an election has ‘to be called’ first, which means that ten people (who must all be on the local electoral register) must sign a document to say that they want an election.

The alternative is that the existing councillors will simply decide among themselves who should fill the spot (this is called ‘co-option’).
Usually ten electors would ‘call’ an election because they don’t trust their current councillors to make an intelligent or an unbiased co-option.

The notice-of-vacancy has now been published (see Draycott PC Website), and the deadline for an election to be ‘called’ is October 1st.

If you’re wondering what the requirements to be a village councillor are, and what the tasks entail, click here

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Local Plan

It has now been announced that the formal inquiry into the ‘final’ version of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan will get underway in the first week of October.
[The ‘Local Plan’ is the framework for what will happen, planning-wise, in this Moorlands region over the next decade and more.]

Members of the Draycott community action-group, VVSM, have applied to address the inquiry, but it all depends on whether they get an invite – and that is in the lap of the gods. (See the article: VVSM hopes…)
They want to protest at the fact that 300 homes are to be built over the next five years in this small area, not to mention that there will be a large escalation of industrial factories. The Local Plan also sets out space for even further development in Draycott!

Our own local Draycott Council did not actually make a response to the final draft of the Local Plan (no one seems to know why!), so there is no chance of a representative from them being invited to speak, despite the massive issues facing our village.
One of the issues that should have been addressed by our council is the odd way that the planners are trying to change the ‘settlement boundaries’ around us. It looks like part of what was within the Draycott Settlement-Area appears to be being shifted into the new Blythe Bridge settlement area. Now, why is that happening?

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750 counting down

The celebrations for the 750th anniversary of St Margaret’s Church are hotting up: with the announcement that there is to be a History Day, during which the ways the church has been central to how this village’s growth since the thirteenth century will be outlined.
The event takes place on October 20th.

Draycott tomb ornament

This rose ornament seen here on an ancient tomb in the church was an heirloom worn by the women of the Draycott family down the years

Signed up to lead the day will be our two most prominent local historians – Matthew Pointon (who wrote the definitive book of the history of this area) and Lev Wood, the ‘face’ of the local history society.
We’ll bring you the details as they transpire.

Lev also has hit the limelight in a second way. Everyone who attended the Draycott Fayre this year will have seen his amazing World War One re-enactment complete with trench dug-out.
Well, Lev is also the man who has been credited with re-discovering an amazing, huge canvas on which is painted lots of scenes of battles from the Great War. It was painted by soldiers of the North Staffordshire Regiment, many of whom were recuperating from wounds themselves. It has a sad thrust though – along its base are listed over 900 names of the men’s comrades who had died in the conflict.
Click here for all the details.

This banner was stored away from sight for decades just decaying, but is now somewhat restored, and part of it can be seen in the special WW1 exhibition currently on at the Potteries Museum.
The exhibition is on there until November 11th, and includes other artefacts too, and it really is worth getting along as soon as you can.

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Finally … (but not totally finally…)

Don’t forget… the A50 is completely closed – in both directions – from Blythe Bridge roundabout to Uttoxeter from 8pm on Friday 28 September through until 5.30am on Monday 1st October.

A50 stretch

The bridge that stands there at the moment (by the JCB factory) should be fully demolished by the end of the weekend; and the adjacent new bridge finally up and working fully – so you’d think that that would finally be an end of the ‘A50-Growth-Corridor’ roadworks, wouldn’t you?
But, we’re told it won’t be. We can expect more disruption on the Uttoxeter end of the A522 until the end of the year.

***
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: village assembly / rural crime / Colours archive / council shenanigans

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late April 2018
In this post we have news of…: the forthcoming annual village assembly, rural crime questionnaire, the Blythe Colours archive on the move, local council inaction …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a local police drop-in session…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Village get-together

It’s that time of year again when this village will be holding its annual community assembly – the yearly meeting when the residents come together to discuss how life is going in the village. It’s a custom that goes back over 150 years. (For more about village assemblies, click here and for their rules, click Parish Assembly rules).

This year however, the village councillors who are supposed to organise it have seemed less than interested in sorting it out. A date has only recently just been advertised for it (it is a fortnight away); it will be cut to just one hour this year; and it’s still not clear what will be happening in the meeting!

However, from what we can gather, it will be a local-information event. It’s hoped that village groups from Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow will take a stand at the event and be prepared to talk about what they do.  However, if you also want to raise an issue for general discussion, just ask for it to be put on the agenda – any local elector can do it.
But it’s all a bit last-minute…

The 2018 Draycott-in-the-Moors-Parish assembly takes place at Draycott Church Hall on Monday 14th May from 6.30-7.30. To book a stand, email Dawn Plant

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Questions about crime

If you look at a map of our district of Draycott in the Moors civil-parish, you’ll see that the vast bulk of it is rural. Even most of us who live in the ribbons along Uttoxeter Road or Sandon Road overlook fields.
And this is why the Staffordshire Police Commission is asking communities like ours to help fill in the latest crime survey.

This questionnaire is about crime in rural areas specifically – whether enough is done to combat it, and why people in rural areas don’t report crime as much as those in urban areas.Deputy Police Commissioner Sue Arnold with Sgt Rob Peacock
The Rural Crime Network questionnaire only takes a few minutes to complete. If you do fill it in, you’ll make one of our local police officers, Sgt Rob Peacock (seen above with the Staffs Deputy Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold) a very happy man.

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Blythe Colours archive on the move

The difficult situation for the Cheadle History Centre will likely have a knock-on effect for history-lovers in Cresswell. (The centre at Cheadle has moved out of its current premises because the lease is up, and they have nowhere else to go).

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Volunteers from this website worked with the Cheadle history group to save the Blythe Colours Archive (see story), which consists of nearly three filing cabinets of material – all fascinating stuff if you lived and worked at the Cresswell factory over the last fifty years. It has been stored since 2015 at the group’s rooms in Cheadle High Street.
But where will the archive go now?

A temporary home has been found for it, but if nothing else turns up soon, it may have to be transferred out of the Moorlands to the Hanley Library Archive Centre. However, if you have ideas on what alternatively could be done with it, please use the Comments box at the bottom of this page.

Fortunately, we did manage to index all the material, and one of the volunteers has made a fantastic digital archive of it all, so progress has been made even in the short time it has been at Cheadle.
The website showing the material is really good, and well worth browsing if you have an hour or so to spare.

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Council Shenanigans

(Our local Draycott Council gets up to so many odd things that we simply haven’t been able to keep up, so we have given the council its own little section called ‘Council Shenanigans’. However, some people don’t like to read reviews of our leaders – so we suggest that those folk now click on to something else!)

Local Plan… not
Community-level councils such as Draycott Civil-Parish Council have very very few set responsibilities – but one of them is to comment on planning matters.
So, we were interested to see what our councillors would think of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan Final Version. As the official body representing the electors here, our council’s views would have been taken seriously.

And what thoughts did our council contribute?
Umm… None.

This is pretty poor of them.
Virtually the whole of the Local Plan’s ‘rural areas allocation’ of housing & industry for the Moorlands has been shoved into Cresswell – thanks to the Blythe Park development plan – so, surely our council should have been falling over themselves to get their views heard (whether for or against).
However, apparently they thought not. (They have had since February to discuss the matter).
Poor Cresswell… ignored by its own councillors!

The last time our council put in thoughts about the Local Plan was back in the summer of last year, but they were supposed to renew them in time for this final consultation. They didn’t. It’s not clear if they forgot, or just didn’t bother.
Some residents did put in views though, which you can see on the Local Plan Comments page – including thoughts from VVSM, the Cresswell community-action group.

Public participation
Nearly all community-level councils, such as Draycott Council, have a public q&a session at the start of their meetings, because otherwise members of the public would not get a say (the public is not allowed to interrupt the actual formal proceedings).

However, in a strange move a couple of months ago, the council decided to put the q&a session to the back-end of the meeting.
This was very strange, as the poor old public would have had to sit through the one to two hours of proceedings just in order to be able to ask one question…
Not surprisingly, an objection was put in from the public… and the council reverted, and we are now back to a bit of sense.
If you want to put a question in person to the council, you are once again welcome to attend the start of council meetings at 7.30, and put your question then.

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RIP Jean

One of the grand old ladies of this district has passed away.  Jean Edwards (born into the well-known local Shelley family) died at the end of April aged 93.
Her wish was not for floral tributes or the like at her funeral, but for mourners to give donations to her beloved St Margaret’s Church.

***
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: Local Plan / Armistice events / potholes!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2018
In this post we have news of…: Moorlands Local Plan / Armistice Day events / pothole misery …
(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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Plan coming to conclusion

The latest draft of the Staffordshire Moorlands ‘Local Plan’ is now published,  and copies can be seen in libraries and on-line. This is the fifth draft, and, in effect, this is the last, as no more changes are likely outside of a massive surprise.

It only reveals what we already knew: that Draycott, in effect, will soon become an urban village, as part of a ribbon development with Blythe Bridge. Blythe Bridge’s village-boundary is even to be extended this way.
Previous protesting comments from local residents did not shake the planners’ resolve.

So… Draycott will see two new housing estates in the next couple of years. Two already have permission to go ahead – one of 168 homes at Cresswell, plus one of 118 homes bordering the A50 on a site behind Chandni Cottage (which will soon grow, to become 300 homes). Overall, 1500 homes are set to be built in the Blythe Bridge/Draycott/Caverswall ‘ribbon’ area over the next 15 years.
Plus… the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road already has outline permission for further housing & employment ‘opportunities’ in the near future.

As for employment sites, Blythe Park in Cresswell is set to be one of the biggest developments across the region. Our local community-action group VVSM are on record as saying that “… what this means is that ALL of Staffordshire Moorlands’ quota for required rural allocation of employment-sites is now to be found in … Cresswell ! What’s more, the expected Blythe Vale allocation, which will stretch from Blythe Bridge to Cresswell, could mean dozens of workshops and small factories being built on the land there on top of the ridge over the next twenty years. All this will change the face of this village.”
Residents in Cheadle Road will also note that a new employment park is also earmarked in the Plan, on a site off New Haden Road (just down from Draycott Cross).Moorlands Local Plan symbol
(What’s a little mysterious is that sections on traveller-site allocation haves been left out. Previous drafts had sites in Draycott and Cresswell strongly tipped, but this current draft is silent on the matter. Watch this space, as they say.)

This final draft is now open to consultation, but only for legal points – one can no longer challenge the locations or numbers of homes & employment sites.

So… what’s next? Staffordshire Moorlands Council will submit this Plan for approval to a government inquiry in the autumn.
And there you have the only real reason to comment on the current Plan – because anyone who does make a comment will also be offered the chance to put their case before the government inspector in the autumn – in fact this is the only way you can ‘qualify’ to take part in the inquiry. It seems a daft way to do it, but there it is.
So, yes, fireworks could start again in the autumn – but don’t count on it.

SEE: Staffs Moorlands Local Plan Spring 2018 Revision

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Pothole misery

Once upon a time, a pothole in the roads was an unusual sight. Not any more.
In the 200 yards along Cresswell Lane, between the A50 flyover and Blythe Business Park, motorists now have at least five chances to crack their axles. Pothole in Cresswell Lane
This length of road is in such a poor state that, as soon as a pothole is repaired, it breaks up again.
Motorists who know this stretch play a dangerous game, of swerving round them.

The plague of local potholes came to a head during the recent snowfalls: if you can’t see a pothole, you can’t avoid it. One poor driver smacked into the huge, snow-covered pothole outside Grange Farm (on Cheadle Road) – and told us all that his van had to be off the road for over a week for repairs.
Residents attending a recent council meeting also complained of the pothole that has suddenly appeared outside Hilltop Farm on the road between the Draycott Arms and Totmonslow; cars swerving round that particular pothole (in a stretch where fast-moving traffic is prevalent), have already caused some real near-misses.

Responsibility for repairs falls to Staffordshire County’s Highways Department who are promising £5million to sort the issue, as of April. The county even has a dedicated Potholes Update webpage!
But, as far as we are thinking, the answer to it all is drive more slowly… the potholes are probably here to stay.

– – –
Armistice commemorations

It may seem a long way off, but in November the country will be remembering 100 years since the end of the First World War. A series of commemoration events across November 11th will look back at the day the nation emerged from all that misery.

Draycott is being invited to take part, as are all other parishes across the UK, by ringing its church bells in a ‘joyful peal’ in the evening on the day.
And the St Margaret’s Bell-Ringing group would welcome any new-comers who feel they could contribute. Recently the group has struggled a bit to find enough members, so volunteering to help them could be your way to take part in the Great-War Armistice Event Day.St Margaret's church in snow

Ring a bell at St Margaret’s!

Anyone can ring a church bell – but you do need some practice, so expressing your willingness is best done now or as soon as possible. Your man to contact is John Clarke, and he will tell you what’s what.

If you are interested more widely in how Staffordshire will remember Armistice Day, there is a free event taking place next Sunday (10th March) in Stafford – the Staffordshire Great-War Commemoration Conference – and all are welcome. If you have an idea, or just want to join in, this could be a meeting worth attending.

***
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: repairs / illegal planter / lots of industry / river trouble

In this post we have news of…: volunteers do self-help repairs / illegal planter / industrial hubs dumped in Draycott / River Blithe in trouble …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a harvest supper. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Doing it for themselves

Well done to those folk who have recently decided not to wait for whatever authorities to act, but to get out and fix some local street items themselves. According to a correspondent on the local Facebook page, it was all done by “community-minded” residents.

So… one of the parish council notice boards – the one on Draycott Level which was kicked over some time at the beginning of last month – now stands again! Its legs are a little shorter now, but as they are buried up to their top in soil, no one notices.
The torn felting on top of the Cresswell bus-shelter roof has been waiting a little longer for repairs, some six months or more, but it too has had a repair in the past week and now has a lovely new covering tacked on to it.

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The government is very much saying that local people must now volunteer to get out there and fix things in their communities themselves if they want them done – and it looks like someone is taking that advice to heart.

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Illegal weeds

One little job that, sadly, hasn’t been done by the authorities is the removal of the old planter (on our main junction, of Uttoxeter Rd and Cresswell Lane). A year ago, Draycott Parish Council promised to remove this eyesore, which has broken legs and is full of weeds, but so far they seem unable to locate a man & van to do it.Planter Draycott Junction

It further turns out, as the council’s clerk revealed at the last meeting, that it is probably illegally sited. It seems that you can’t just plonk a planter down in a public space – you need permission, and a licence to say you have permission. (Who knew?)

Maybe the news that it is an illegal will hurry along said removal.

– – –
Pity the poor Blithe

We had an interesting email from Nigel Peake the other week. There are probably very few people who know this village as well as Nigel, and he says that in all his days he has never been so concerned about the river.
He wrote:  “Sit on the bridge and watch the river go by??! A joke!!!! The river is virtually weed bound, hardly any river to see. I’ve mentioned this to a Parish councillor in the past, and as usual, naff all done. I was born and bred in Cresswell, and I’ve honestly NEVER seen the river in such poor condition.”

The River Blithe runs into Draycott from Blythe Bridge, before going on to Tittesworth reservoir and eventually meeting the Trent at King’s Bromley near Rugeley. It’s quite a significant river, and is the real reason that Blythe Colours settled here over a hundred years ago.

Nigel is right of course. It’s partly the invasion of Himalayan balsam – the weed that spreads like wildfire – which is choking the river, and partly the constant need to keep de-silting the water-course, which isn’t happening.

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Even the tributary into it, which runs from The Hunter pub through Paynsley fields and meets the main Blithe at the Blythe Business Base, is virtually invisible right now.
Further up, near to Wastegate Farm/The Hunter, the landowner is even now putting in extra drainage pipes, presumably to help it along.

Anyone got any ideas on how to save the Blithe?

– – –
Bringing industry to Draycott

The chance to comment on the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s ‘Local Plan – Preferred Options 2017’ has now passed. The results of the feedback should be known in the New Year, but we already know that many of the comments were deeply unfavourable.

Residents in both Draycott and Cresswell felt a bit frustrated that any comment by them objecting to the Blythe Park expansion, or to the Blythe Vale development, would be ignored – as the approval for both has already been passed, and the Local Plan only looks at future scenarios.

But, surprisingly, there was a mention of the developments in the council’s documents. They figure in the section on the council’s industrial strategy policy: –

•   8.26          Note that: no rural employment allocations are proposed … given that in May 2016 the Council granted outline approval for a major residential and industrial scheme in the countryside at Cresswell (Blythe Park expansion) covering approx 8.58ha of employment land.  This satisfies the District’s residual employment land requirement for 2016-2031.
And –

Note that: the 48.5ha allocation of land at Blythe Vale (Policy DSR1) for mixed uses responds to a special regional requirement for high quality, employment development independent of the general employment land requirements for the District set out in Policy E2.

In other words, ALL the region’s industrial development, for rural areas, for the next 15 years is allocated to … Cresswell & Draycott !

So, expect the fields along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road to be changing over the next few years – from quiet arable land to widespread warehousing and more.
And none of our political representatives, from local level to Parliament, seem that bothered.

***
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: grand opening / assault / Local Plan / fest success

In this post we have news of…: new community facility opened / man attacked / Local Plan emergency meeting / Cloggerfest success …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a meeting to discuss a Speed-Watch project for Draycott Level. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Assault

The Saturday night at the beginning of this month (2nd Sept) was not a good night to be out late on Draycott Level. A very loud group of lads were singing their way along Uttoxeter Road at 1.30 in the morning, a man was robbed and assaulted, and it was probably this night that a notice-board was kicked over and broken.

The worst incident, of a young man being assaulted, took place on the pavement almost opposite Stuart Avenue. The man was kicked and robbed of his wallet and jacket by a small group of youths who had jumped out of a car that was following.

Broken notice-board Sept 2017

The parish notice-board on Draycott Level – kicked over

An ambulance was called – but fortunately the injuries were not serious; and a friend, who had been walking with the victim, though he was chased, did manage to get away unscathed.
Curiously, the car had returned by this point – and the jacket and wallet thrown back (though some money was apparently missing).
Naturally, the police are looking for as much information as they can get. The car involved was a silver-coloured hatchback with one front light missing. If you know anything, they’d like you to call 101 and mention the reference number, which is 59 (Sept 3rd).

– – –
Local Plan discussion

Draycott Parish Council called an emergency meeting this week to discuss the new proposed Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan – the strategy which will decide how infrastructure issues such as housing will be allocated in the region for the next fifteen years.

About twenty members of the public attended and the general mood was not favourable. Many residents said how disillusioned they were with Staffs Moorlands Council and how they didn’t believe in the fairness of the planning process much anymore.
Mark Deaville, our councillor on SMDC, attended (though our other two SMDC councillors did not). He said that, yes, growth (especially in new homes) was needed if Draycott/Cresswell was to get funding for better infrastructure projects such as traffic-crossing refuges, but also said: “Confidence in the Moorlands planning department is at an all time low”.

Some people also said that confidence in the actual councillors who sit on the council’s planning committee was also very low.
They pointed out that the latest proposals could see three roundabouts along Draycott Level (plus a new one coming in Cresswell) in just a one-mile stretch!
There was also general unhappiness that virtually the total quota for new industrial development for the whole Moorlands is being allocated to Draycott/Cresswell…

It would have been good to hear from all our parish councillors about what they thought of the proposals, but only Mark and Roger Holdcroft (the chairman of the parish council) actually spoke up with considered responses.

What happens next is that the clerk of the council will collate the public’s responses, and then incorporate those into the council’s own comments. She is hoping to publish these comments on the council’s website by this Saturday (16th).
Comments on the proposals must be put forward by Sept 22nd. Every adult in the district is allowed to make comments on the Plan – and Roger Holdcroft is urging people to do just that.
If you do nothing else, check out paragraph 8.26 in the Plan, and comment on that – that’s the most significant paragraph as far as Draycott is concentred.

– – –
Grand opening

Much much better news is that the ‘Colin Dawson Community Hub’ on the local cricket club’s ground in Cresswell is at last open for business. Paid for by Lottery money, with generous donations from supporters also underwriting it, it is a magnificent building which will be warm and cosy all year round.
It has a large function room, a well-stocked bar, and a couple of smaller meeting rooms.
It really is a great achievement.
In the photo below, you can see : Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (NSSCL cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club’s Lottery Bid) and Simon Owen (club chairman).

In front of the new hub: Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club's Lottery Bid), Simon Owen (club chairman)

All smiles in front of the new community hub

Opened formally this last weekend – Draycott’s oldest and most well-known resident, Betty Hammond, cut the ribbon – surrounding householders were also invited to come along and look round (and eat the free food!). The ones we spoke to had nothing but praise.

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The next step is to invite local groups and events-organisers to use the centre; and a list of charges will be published soon.
We were told that a small part-time post is being created – to employ someone to go out into the community and publicise just what a great resource is on our doorstep.
In the meantime, Alison Grimley, who has been overseeing the project on behalf of Blythe Cricket Club, says just to email her if you are eager to start using the centre in the near future.

– – –
Cloggerfest success

A ‘new’ Cloggerfest was initiated this year.
Cresswell’s own two-day rock & nu-folk music festival is an annual event designed to appeal to the whole family. However, after a spot of bother happened last year, this year security was tightened, and the festival changed from a free event to a ticketed one.

Ange Heathcote, who organises the set-up, told us that all passed peacefully this year, partly thanks to some friendly police officers who were helping out the security effort! In fact some people without tickets were turned away on the advice of the security team.

Ange reported too that the admission fee did not deter people – some £2000 was taken on the gate and camping facilities were fully booked up weeks before…
The organisers on the music side told us also that the music fans themselves were well-happy with the line-up of bands and the quality of the sound; while the charity-events organisers (the local Rotary Club is big into this festival) said the kids enjoyed themselves too.

So… roll on Cloggerfest 2018!

***
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

Local Plan proposals – some thoughts

Had a chance to look at the Moorlands Local Plan (Preferred Options) document yet? If you have, good for you – at nearly 300 pages long, it can make your head spin after a while! Moorlands Local Plan symbol

Once it is set in stone, the Local Plan will earmark areas across the region for employment parks, housing estates, open-space, travellers’ sites etc. It will be valid until 2031.
What this is here now is a consultative document, so you can make comments on it (and hopefully, get listened to) – but you have only until Sept 22nd to do so.

And if you’re wondering why you might have a feeling of déjà-vu, well that is because this document was first issued last year – but then scrapped – and is now a revised version…
So, if you did make comments back then on the 2016 version, hard luck, because all those comments have been scrapped too – and everyone has to do any feedback all over again.

Overall

So – how is this draft different to the previous versions?
Well, the headline is that council planners have now decided that ‘smaller villages’ and ‘rural areas’ should hardly take any housing developments after all. Virtually all big new housing allocations in our region will be confined to the ‘towns’ such as Cheadle and ‘larger villages’ such as Blythe Bridge and Upper Tean.
That’s just the main headline of course; there is a lot more for us in Draycott to think about than just that.
But one has to really delve into all the details across the 300 pages to find it! It’s hard work, but already the local Draycott & Cresswell community action group, VVSM, is on the case, and is examining the document with a fine tooth-comb; and it says it will publish their comments shortly.

One thing is for sure: according to this draft, Draycott will probably have to accept a small estate of around half a dozen homes being built in its centre sometime in the next decade.
However, there is no longer a mention of the possibility of a travellers-site coming to Cresswell or Blythe Bridge.

Blythe Vale and more

Draycott is classed as a ‘smaller village’ – so how come a planning application for a housing estate of 118 homes at its eastern end, which has just been submitted, is acceptable?
Well, for one thing, strange as it may seem, it’s actually inside the Blythe Bridge boundary – thus making it officially a ‘larger village’ allocation.
Secondly, we on this website have been warning for some time that the proposed giant Northern Gateway site (which covers virtually all the fields south of Uttoxeter Road between the main Blythe Bridge roundabout and Cresswell) was a planning problem looming on the horizon.
In fact the ‘Northern Gateway’ has had outline permission for some years now, even though nothing was actually happening.
Until now.
The new preferred option from the planners (see pg 155 of the Local Plan document) is that this giant Northern Gateway site be reclassified from B1 (business & industry) to ‘mixed-use’. So, the proposed Blythe Vale housing estate site – a small part of this Northern Gateway site towards its northern end – is now seen as ripe for development for … houses. So, there you go.

Draycott site allocations employment

The dark green blob (on both sides of the A50 road), is the Northern Gateway site formerly earmarked for industry employment (and now for mixed-use). The Blythe Vale housing will take up the northern quarter between the blue line (the A50) and the orange line (the Dracott dual carriageway).  The light green space is Draycott Moor College

The weirder thing is, at the other end of Draycott, the new Blythe Park housing-estate development at Cresswell.
If this draft Local Plan were already in place, Cresswell would be left free of development as it is classified as ‘other rural area’. However, permission for the Blythe Park development was squeezed through when Cresswell was vulnerable, i.e. before this Local Plan could ever be enacted. (It was still a surprise decision though, as SMDC, by giving permission for it, went against their own Core Strategy!)
In other words, Draycott and Cresswell have few friends at the moment at SMDC Council…

Our prediction? With fifteen years, development will stretch from Cresswell through Draycott to Blythe Bridge, all in one long ribbon.

Confused?

Like we’ve said, VVSM will soon publish their very detailed views, so that might help us more to be less confused.
It’s not clear yet what responses local parish councils are collating.

If you do want direct answers to questions (good luck!) you can also quiz officers and councillors at the various Local Plan drop-in sessions. The nearest to us is at Blythe Bridge Village Hall on Wednesday 30 August, 5-8pm.

Finally, don’t be backward in coming forward if you spot anything interesting in this Local Plan document – let us all know! Just use the comments box  further down this page, or send us an email.

Resident Roger Holdcroft, who is also chair of the Draycott Council, did just that; and he says when we are looking through the document, the following pages will be of interest to local people:
Page 46 – Smaller villages: “Development on a large scale would be unsustainable, as it will generate a disproportionate number of additional journeys, undermining the spatial strategy”
Page 51 – Net Housing 2017-2031 – includes upcoming Blythe Park development at Cresswell
Page 54 – Neighbourhood Plan Areas. Draycott housing allocation
Page 67-68 – Draycott is a ‘smaller village’, Cresswell not mentioned.
Page 67-70 – Smaller villages area strategy Policy SS9
Page 78 – Greenbelt in Draycott
Page 209 – Blythe Vale development
Page 229 – Draycott Map
Page 249 – Blythe Business park development Map
Page 155-157 – Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway

That should make some good bedtime reading!

***
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

– – –
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.

– – –
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.

– – –
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.

– – –
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.

***
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)