Tag Archives: vvsm

Birdland – in Draycott in the Moors

One of the interesting side-effects of the lockdown is that a lot of us began to notice a lot more the bird-life around us.
April and May are a very busy time for birds – the dawn chorus is at its loudest (!), they are nesting, and in late May the migrating birds start arriving.
So, while nobody was happy about lockdown, at least it was a good time to watch out for birds.

Curlew-Wading, courtesy RSPB

The curlew, the (endangered) iconic bird of the Staffordshire Moorlands, visits us

And, if you keep across the village Facebook forum, you’ll notice that some of us are also great wildlife photographers, and they keep us updated with some brilliant pictures of birds in action.In this article, we outline some of the birds you can see locally, why Draycott in the Moors is a special place for birds, and how you can help with recording and conservation.

Blithe flood-plain

Within our district is a special place for wildlife.
On the fields between the railway line and the A50 Highway is a narrow stretch of Green Belt (on the western side of Cresswell Lane); and the prime reason it is Green Belt is because of the flood-plain around the River Blithe there. The Blithe runs right through our district, parallel to the railway (more or less), from Blythe Bridge through Draycott/Cresswell down to Church Leigh and the further.
This Draycott/Cresswell flood plain sits in a ‘special landscape area’ (though, to be honest, SLAs seem to be less important these days, and do not have any protected status.)

Species

The district, and the floodplain in particular, welcomes all sorts of birds.
Most of us will be aware of the enormous population of goldfinches (because of the considerable thistle growth), and the several buzzard nests and three resident rookeries (with all the noise you expect from them!). Most people will know too that our local sky-lark population is not bad, when you consider that sky-larks are in real decline.
But people may be less aware of the curlews (now endangered), white throats, reed buntings, snipe and Jack snipe, as well as several breeding pairs of yellow-hammers and

In a survey, five years ago, a local ornithologist spotted lapwings, a breeding pair of yellow wagtails – and several willow tits, which are sadly also becoming very rare.

Golden-plovers-Cresswell, courtesy LH

Golden plovers feeding on the Cresswell site. Copyright: LH

The real unusual sight though that he discovered is our feeding golden plovers – about thirty pairs visit here each year, and they are very special to bird-watchers.

Conservation

The presence of this wildlife was one of the reasons that the former local action group, VVSM, opposed the extension of the Cresswell business park back in 2014. As we all know, the plans for the extension to the business park were passed anyway (though work has not yet started, oddly).

As a sort of reminder to the authorities of the importance of local wildlife, VVSM fund-raised to create a small wildlife information board (see pic), which was put up in 2015 in the centre of Cresswell, and is still there to this day.

Wildlife Board unveiled

Councillor Mark Deaville (right) unveiled the board, watched by VVSM’s Jacquie Leach (left) and some young enthusiasts

The board lists the twenty or so most common mammals and birds which can be seen in Cresswell.
But, with the disbandment of VVSM, there is no local organisation taking an active interest in the natural environment of Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow.

Help

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust says they would welcome applications from anyone who wants to set up a local branch with them.
(A lot of our local wildlife was protected under European Commission directives, but, what with Brexit, it’s now unclear where protection will come from, so local advocates are more necessary than ever).

However, if you are one of those able to sit and enjoy the birds passing through (and over) your garden, you can also help, in a very easy way – just record what you see. Sign up to British Trust for Ornithology’s ‘Birdtrack’ project – a free, central online recording system which provides info to all our local wildlife conservation groups too.

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

Birds of Staffordshire Year List 2020
Not sure if you’ve correctly identified a bird? Click here to see if you got it right!
Advice on How you can directly help birds
Article: Spotting our Draycott-in-the-Moors wildlife (2014)

And… thanks to Nick Pomiankowski for advice.

Draycott Cresswell Wildlife Sightings 2014

Draycott Cresswell Wildlife Sightings 2014, courtesy Staffs Ecological Record

 

Climate-change concerns

May we draw your attention to a new article which has just been published about the large building plans for Cresswell on the Blythe Park site?
The authors of the article say that the acceleration in climate change over the last five years should make local councillors rethink their 2015 decision to approve the proposals.  (Climate change leads to extreme and unusual weather conditions, including excessive rainfall & flooding).

The decision to allow building on the Cresswell flood-plain was a huge surprise to many experts at the time ; will planners now need to revisit that decision?

Click here to read Climate change, flooding and Cresswell

Field (Sandon Close in background)

Cresswell floods regularly. This field (Sandon Close in background) is the one earmarked for new housing

Climate change speeding up

The article has been written just as the world found out that climate change has now set in solidly. The last decade of 2010-2019 has been the hottest ever recorded.
See: Last decade confirmed as warmest on record

But we continue to blunder on blindly into the massive problems that climate change is presenting.

NEWS: VVSM end / Anthony exhibits / best to Dave / trees success

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-December 2017
In this post we have news of…: VVSM action group disbands / Anthony Hammond exhibition / Dave Trigger’s operation / Xmas Tree fest goes well…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including loads of carol-singing get-togethers!!..  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
VVSM no more

One bit of news that residents may not welcome, but will certainly be welcomed by all the developers who want a bit of Draycott, is that the local community-action group VVSM has decided to disband (see their announcement).
It seems like not enough people were coming forward to help keep the group running, and the weight of work was just too much for the few people left.

It’s a great shame, as VVSM can rightly claim much of the credit for the fact that, back in 2009, the developers who wanted to build a gas power station in Cresswell eventually withdraw their application.
The group went on to hire legal teams to fight the next big problem, the Blythe Park housing estate application, and managed to expose an awful lot of facts that had been kept hidden and even misreported, thus slowing down the progress of those plans.
They also contributed to the general life of the community, installing a defibrillator in Cresswell among other achievements.

However, as VVSM say in their latest post, it does seem as though everyone in the district, from householders to politicians, now just think that there is very little that can be done about development issues… and have given up. This may explain why no new members have come forward.

It may be something we regret though. The housing-estate at Blythe Vale has now been approved as well the one at Blythe Park, so the developers will now next be looking hungrily at Cresswell ridge (on the skyline above Uttoxeter Road) where outline planning permission for further development is already approved.
Without VVSM in place, those developers will certainly have a much easier ride.

– – –
Fun with trees

Congratulations to Pauline & John Clarke, the organisers of the Draycott Christmas Tree Festival. Once again, they created an event that really did try to pull the local community together – and there really aren’t enough of such events in Draycott.

Among the groups that decorated, themed, and submitted trees were the Draycott Women’s Institute, the local cricket club, the bellringers group, Forsbrook School, the Draycott Brownies and more. Draycott Manor School did the event a compliment by putting in four trees!
The most thoughtful tree (we think) was the one from Forsbrook Primary, which was a Poet-Tree (geddit?) with poems written by the children hanging from the branches.

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However, as usual, it’s a shame that more groups, families and businesses did not take part.
Community spirit does seem to be declining in Draycott, especially compared to all the wonderful things happening in the villages surrounding us. What can be done to improve it?

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Anthony gets exhibited

It’ll soon be the kids’ holidays, so if you’re looking for a quick trip out, why not try Newcastle-under-Lyme Museum? There is lots of stuff for kids there.
But the reason we mention the museum particularly is because local man, Anthony Hammond, has an exhibition on there at the moment; it runs until January 8th.

Anthony Hammond soldier sculptureAnthony specialises in carving sculptures out of tree-trunks, which he does with a specially adapted electric saw. Many of us will have seen him doing his stuff at the Draycott Summer Fayre.
He was recently in the papers for a fantastic carving of a World War One soldier (see right), which you can also see at Newcastle.
Well worth a visit.

Incidentally lots of you ask after his grandmother, local-legend Betty Hammond. Apparently, she is doing well at the moment, even if she is less mobile than she was. This Christmas will be her 104th!

– – –
Best wishes

One person who has been sadly absent from village activity for quite a while is Dave Trigger, one of the three councillors who represent this district on Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

Dave has a wealth of knowledge about local government and about engineering (his specialist subject) and he often brings a lot of common sense to the table whenever he has got along to a Draycott Council meeting in the past.

He has faced a major operation, which – everyone hopes – will go some way to getting him back on his feet.
If you still haven’t completed your Xmas card mail-out, you could add him to it…

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Do you have news you’d like to see written up on this website? If so – just 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

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)

The benches of Draycott in The Moors

See if you can remember…: how many public benches are there in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow?  It’s probably more than you think – answer is at the bottom of this page. Have a guess!

We thought it might be an interesting mirror on our village to go out and find benches we have here and photograph them.
And this article is about what we found out.

Quiet places

When we conducted this mini-survey, it came as no surprise that many of our benches are to be found in the two church graveyards we have (at St Margaret’s in Draycott, and St Mary’s in Cresswell).  Obviously, they provide a quiet place to sit and remember loved ones.
Some of these graveyard benches have even been paid for by grieving families, who have dedicated the bench to a relative’s memory.

Interestingly, the local Women’s Institute have paid for two benches to be set up.  They installed the one at the top of Cresswell Bank – a good place for a bench, as you can have a breather there after walking up the rise! – and the one on the track outside St Margaret’s.  Both were erected to commemorate  the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1977.

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The one on the Cresswell lay-by was installed by the local community-action group, VVSM , which wanted to honour the memory of the former stalwart of the parish council, Ken Shelley. There was quite a moving ceremony in 2013 when two parish councillors and the Cresswell Catholic priest did the formal unveiling.

The bench slap bang on Draycott crossroads is the most resplendent.  At first, because of the large lettering, it looks like Draycott Parish Council has erected it as a tribute to, erm, itself (!) but the smaller print will tell you that it is meant to remember the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Responsibility

It’s not totally clear whose responsibility these public benches are.  The Parish Council clearly has to look after the Diamond Jubilee bench (and did carry out some maintenance on it last year in fact), but who looks after the rest?  If you know, please let us know too, using the Comments Box further down this page…

Mostly, they are placed on Highways land, so permission to put one up has to be sought from the County Council; and the parish council will also be asked if it wants to approve the request.
But neither the county nor the parish council has to be responsible for maintenance.One bench that had to go – for safety reasons, as it was rotting away – was the one at the end of Brookside (off Cheadle Road).  It was demolished last year.
Wooden benches do need repair, and it is interesting to see that one of the newest ones – the one on Cresswell lay-by, put up by VVSM – is made of ‘new plastic’, meaning fewer repairs.  Though… not everybody likes the look of plastic. (What do you think? – use the Comments box).

Public space

We got to wondering though – what is the point of the benches?  Maybe you know different, but we rarely (if ever) see anybody sitting on one!   (And they can come expensive; Draycott Parish Council paid nearly £1000 for the one on the crossroads).

Admittedly, they can be lovely memorials, so that is a good purpose, but, being wooden, they do need a deal of maintenance…
Would it be better to plant a tree perhaps, or even establish a ‘natural’ sculpture?

However, when we talked about this in the pub, a good point was made.  In this country we do not have many ‘public spaces’ where people can just gather and gossip. (All we could think of was Trafalgar Square.)
So the theory is:  benches are ways of creating a ‘public space’.  That is, well-placed ones can become a focal point for local people to stand around and chat – and every community needs some of those.
Though… maybe not in winter…

Relax on a bench

The best benches for this ‘gathering’-type purpose are the ones at the cricket club.  There’s nothing better than sitting down on one, with a drink & sandwich, and admiring the view – and the cricket. And passing the time of day with someone.
One of the cricket club benches is on the public footpath that passes through the ground, so one can sit there anytime.

Bench at Upper Newton Farm

Bench on public footpath at Upper Newton Farm

It was surprising to us that there is no bench on the green at Rookery Crescent (Cresswell).  It would work as a focal point in the way described.  If you live in Rookery Crescent, let us know – would a bench on your green be a good idea?

Answer

So – how many public benches are there in Draycott-in-the-Moors?
Well, including the one on the public footpath on the cricket club ground, we made it twelve.  Maybe we missed one or two, but we think that’s right…


This survey of local benches was put together by a volunteer who wanted to write something for this website.  If you fancy doing something similar, we have a lot of suggestions for interesting subjects; just contact us and we’ll let you have the list of subjects –or come up with one of your own.

Also, don’t worry about spelling&grammar; we have someone who sorts that out!

NEWS: good Sport news / Draycott werewolf / community spirit / action funds needed

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid November 2015
News of…:  construction projects for tennis and cricket clubs / Emma’s happy Halloween at Huntley / a show of community spirit by the Arms / fund-raising drive launch from action group …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Star-Gazing Night. Check out the Events page)

– – –
Sporting good times

The best news we’ve heard in a while is the news coming out of our two big sports clubs.

At at Draycott Sports & Racquets Centre, it’s just been announced that tennis-courts 3 & 4 are about to be completely re-made with a new ‘astro turf’ surface. For those who like to know such things, the colours of the surfaces will be blue and green. The work starts at the end of this month.
The extra great thing about this is the belief shown in the club by the Lawn Tennis Association, which has put up an interest-free loan which will fund 75% of the project cost.  Obviously the LTA see a real future for the sport in Draycott.

And, just a hundred yards away, at Blythe Cricket Club, there is other good news. As you may well know, the club has been concerned about the state of their pavilion for some time. It’s almost ninety years since it was constructed, and the small building with its thin wooden walls simply doesn’t fit modern needs. So… way back in 2012, the club first set off down the track to planning and funding a replacement.

Blythe Cricket Club pavilion

Blythe Cricket Club’s pavilion is showing its age

Well, the latest is that the process of seeking a Lottery grant for the new pavilion, aka the ‘Community Hub’, has gone through its last stage – successfully!  So – the money is in place, and building can start.
Of course, this will mean some disruption at the ground next year whilst the works are carried out, but it will all be worth it…

And, as we are on this stretch of Cresswell Lane, I suppose we shouldn’t forget the third sports club there – the Checkley Bowls Club, which plays on the green at Blythe Business Park.  The club, which is in its winter recess, recently had its awards evening; and our congratulation go to Eric Worsdale, who picked up the Cowans Cup award for the best average score across the season.

– – –
Werewolves in Draycott Cross

Did you have a sighting of a werewolf on Halloween night? Well, we did – as the guests of the Haunted Huntley Halloween Event experience.

The spooky Halloween activity took the form of a walk through the (very dark) Huntley Woods – with all sorts of weird and …gulp… gory sights along the way (we were on the Adults-Only walk!). Bits of corpses were strewn across our walk; a very strange forester came to talk to us, as did a badly wounded scientist; and there was howling coming from the old quarry. Unnerving: to say the least!
And then this Scarefest culminated with a … yes … a werewolf, stumbling out of the trees toward us.

Huntley werewolf

One of the group managed to get a photo of the werewolf

Fortunately this hairy and snarling beast was eventually put down by the guides, using their special powers; and so Draycott’s Beast Of The Night was laid low.
Until next year that is, when, we are told, he will rise again….

One of the guides on the night was Emma King, one of the founders of the Huntley Wood Centre. Emma explained how, now the centre is up and running, she has decided to give up the actual management side; and has turned back to her first love, science.

Huntley Wood's Emma King

Emma King (left) explains the Huntley Wood concept to a visitor

So, Emma, who is a cosmologist with a PhD in physics, will be running science shows for children in Staffordshire schools next year. One of her shows is called “Explosive Food”; children will probably have much fun with that!

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Building on Blythe Business Park ?

One of the odd things about the planning proposals for Blythe Park is that they are STILL not signed off.
Although the SMDC Planning Committee gave formal approval for the plans – to build an extra 168 homes in Cresswell, and double the size of industry in the hamlet – way back in August, the proposal is still listed as ‘Awaiting Decision’.   This is because the community-agreements are not yet in place, and presumably there are still negotiations rumbling on.
Which all means that there is still a chance to defeat the plans.

The local community action group, VVSM, has taken advantage of the situation and have been roaring ahead with their work – briefing their legal team, brushing up on the research, and generally keeping spirits high.
The group has a period of six weeks following any finalisation of the plans to make a legal objection, and this is what their thinking is at the moment.

Of course, that all needs money; and the group has launched a fund-raising drive. If you want to help, click here to find all the details.

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Dangerous junction

Sad to say there was another crash on Uttoxeter Road a few days ago. Two vehicles collided on the Draycott Arms junction, just as one of them was pulling out of Cheadle Road.
Fortunately, no one was really hurt, though the car looked a write-off to us when we saw it.

Draycott Arms
Good to know there is some great Draycott community spirit around though…
The first volunteer on the scene was none other than the chairman of Draycott Parish Council, Roger Holdcroft, who busily cleared the road of crash-fragments, so that the waiting cars (which were by now in a long tail-back), could progress.
And what of the lady involved in the crash? Well our Zara, landlady at the Arms, rushed over, and was able to take the lady back to the pub and give her hot tea until the rescue services turned up.
Good to see.

Incidentally, Roger will be holding his first come-and-meet-your-councillors session this Monday (16th November) at the Draycott Church & Community Hall (in Church Lane), 6.45-7.15pm. If you fancy a chat about anything in the district, he says he will be all ears.

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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)

NEWS: break-in / public spirit / solar arrays / tidy village

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid October 2015
News of…:  thieves strike in Draycott / latest on Blythe Park application / another solar farm on the way? / police thank residents / congratulations to Fulford …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Christmas Crafts Fair. Check out the Events page)

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Yet another vehicle break-in

We’ve been mentioning on this website for a while now, on and off, that there seems to be a spate of petty thieving going on locally.  The police say it’s down to small gangs of thieves driving over from Stoke-on-Trent to look for opportunities to make off with ‘portable’ items.
They seem pretty brazen too.  One resident told us he went outside his home when he heard some banging in the street, around 9pm, only to see some lads trying to force open his van! They ran off of course.

But, last night (14th October) thieves did manage to actually break into a van – parked on the owner’s drive – in Draycott Old Road, taking power-tools. Anyone with information should call the police on 101 – quoting incident number 0113.
The moral of the story is of course: if you see something suspicious going on, try to get what details you can, and phone the police.

– – –
Public-spirited

Meanwhile, it’s good to know that the police were so impressed by the public spirit of some of the residents of Draycott that they have gone on record saying how grateful they are to them.
Some local people took part in the search to find a missing person, the unfortunate Michael Heath, whose body was eventually found last week in wooded areas at back of Draycott Old Road.  Mr Heath had enjoyed camping in the area when he was alive.

The death of Mr Heath, who came from Blythe Bridge, is not being seen as suspicious.

– – –
More solar planning planned

The success of the solar-panels array at the Lower Newton Solar-Panels Complex between Totmonslow and Cresswell has led other local land-owners to consider installing them.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)

This is a photo of panels on a typical solar farm.

They use up otherwise under-developed land, create some income for the hard-pressed farmers,  provide more supply for the country’s electricity needs –  and it’s claimed they can even provide a little help in fending off climate change.
Just off Cheadle Road up at Draycott Cross, at Fields Farm, a planning application for one is under consideration at the moment.

The very latest move is a project proposed for Totmonslow; and it would be well-placed there, being close to the grid-lines that are supplied by the present one running at Newton.   However, it’s only in the early stages.

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Meanwhile, another planning application, the one at Blythe Business Park (Cresswell)– to build 168 homes and double the size of the industry in the hamlet – is now just over one year old.  Seems amazing to think that it was only a year ago that this giant proposal was first brought to our attention!

Cresswell proposal

Blythe Park Cresswell proposal – the planned new build is in pink – housing on the left, industry on the right. The stuff in blue is what is already there. The railway is marked by the grey line along the top of this graphic

There were over 150 letters of objection at the time, and the local community action group VVSM took that on board – and so have been stalwart ever since in opposing the development.
They are still managing to hold it off, though they could, as always, do with more support and more volunteers.  You can check the latest updates of what they are up to by clicking here.

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Community-minded

There has been a lot of talk in Draycott recently about whether we should all be more community-minded.  Well, one place that really has developed its sense of community is next-door Fulford; and it’s congratulations to the residents there who have worked so hard to keep their village beautiful and tidy – and, in so doing, picked up the Mid-Staffordshire Best Kept Village Award.

The Fulford Community Group – in partnership with their own parish council there – does a grand job of maintaining a community spirit.  Well done to them on their achievement.

***
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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: cuts to buses / VVSM action / Draycott champions / superfast arrives

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late August 2015
News of…:  change of bus provider, and cuts to services / we are the (tennis) Champions! / latest moves over Blythe Park development / at last, local Superfast Broadband goes live  …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a free music festival. Check out the Events page)

– – –
Goodbye number 4, hello number 12

Well, any bus-user will be feeling a bit fed up looking at the new bus timetables for our area, which will activate in in a fortnight’s time on September 6th.
The changes have been implemented by Staffordshire County Council, who pay for the service to operate.

Our district only has one bus service nowadays, which goes through Cresswell, then out to Blythe Bridge & Longton along Uttoxeter Road, and to Stone in the reverse direction.
Bennett’s will no longer be running this service through Cresswell-Draycott, which is now taken over by D&G Buses. So, the number 4 bus (Bennett’s) will be replaced by the number 12 (D&G).

Bennett's Number 4 bus

Bennett’s Number 4 bus – a last sighting?

The route is very twisty indeed, going Cresswell – Blythe Bridge – Longton – Stone in a sort of loop.   You can get to Barlaston if you want.  See the complete new timetable here.
You can also see that the number of bus services passing through per day has now dropped from eight (four in each direction) to six.   Yes, they have now taken off the last bus, the one that used to run around 4.30pm.
There is an bus-information event in Stone on Thursday 3 September at Market Square (near the Co-Op) from 10am-2pm.  If you go along, and find out any more, would you let us know?

Things are getting so bad for bus-users, that, in neighbouring Fulford, the Parish Council there has helped to start up a voluntary car scheme to enable residents to get about.

Slowly, slowly, they are whittling our services down.  Soon, we will all need to be getting taxis!

– – –
Draycott Parish Council – a deafening silence

There was a nice big attendance for the meeting organised by local action group VVSM last week to discuss the latest set-back for residents over the Blythe Park development. Despite an overwhelming majority of residents in Cresswell expressing opposition to the plan and the fact that it broke Staffordshire Moorlands own Core Strategy, the SMDC planning committee confirmed its decision to approve the plans.

Unless VVSM can overturn the result legally (by proving negligence on SMDC’s part) all that remains is for the ‘Section 106’ terms & conditions to be thrashed out… though that could take months.

What’s amazing is the Draycott Parish Council’s complete silence over this matter, and over the other local big planning issue, the current housing allocation consultation for Draycott.
Most of us expected that the PC would call an emergency meeting, or at least issue some sort of statement to residents … but not a peep.
The members can’t all be in Tenerife, can they?

– – –
Champions … again!!

Well done to the Draycott Sports Centre tennis team, who have done us all proud by bringing the City & Suburban League Championship title back to Draycott again.

The team, ably led by Craig Leese, were trailing Florence for a lot of the season, but achieved a stunning result at the beginning of August, beating Florence 4-0.  That result made the way to the championship much easier.
Congratulations, lads!

The centre is now going to build on its brilliant tennis reputation by setting up a proper ‘tennis committee’ to develop the club’s plans to branch out even more into the community.  If that is something that you think you want to give some time to, just contact the club’s Jack Redfern.

Incidentally, talking of sport, the last we heard is that Tara Burndred (who is the 4th Dan Black Belt who runs the martial arts centre in Cresswell) is still planning to defend her world title at the Ju-Jitsu International Championships next month in Switzerland.
So, stay fit, Tara … and good luck!!

– – –
Superfast crawls in, at last

Well, after months (and months) of waiting, superfast-broadband is finally here in Blythe Bridge-Draycott-Cresswell.  Twelve months ago, we published an article asking what was happening to the roll-out!
However, the cabinet in the Cresswell lay-by (see pic, below) now proudly bears its little sticker.

Cresswell broadband cabinet
The sticker means the cabinet is now live at last, and – if you upgrade your system – you should be able now to get download-speeds of 80Mbps and upload-speeds of 20Mbps.
If you do sign up, let us know if it’s working as well as that for you.

– – –
Busy busy

Finally, don’t forget to make sure your diaries are up to date with local events.
The pick of the crop are the Draycott Sausage & Cider Festival, which takes place this Bank Holiday Monday of course, and then the annual Cloggerfest Free Music Festival, which takes place the following week at Blythe Cricket Club (on September 5th).
Cloggerfest has over a dozen acts on stage – including Jimmy Dammage & The Shadow, Gypsy Whores, Quiet The Thief, Baxter, Barrelhouse Jukes, Ryan Doole, Rain, Hornswaggle, Dawn, Rich Clough, Nixon Tate and Venus Rising. And the whole event is free.
For parents, there is the good news that weekly Brownies sessions return to Draycott Church Hall in two weeks’ time.

But there are loads more events – check out our What’s On page for the details of these and all the other events.

One what’s-on notification we got did surprise us though…  The Quick-Quick-Slow Dance Studio in Cresswell is advertising a couple of dances that they say will sell out fast – so they are urging us to sign up asap.
And when do the dances take place?  At Christmas!!
(Whatever happened to autumn?!!)

***
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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).

Blythe Park planning decision confirmed

Well, as you might have guessed, the Staffordshire Moorlands Planning Committee did not change their minds about the Cresswell planning application (for hundreds of homes and lots more industrial units at Blythe Business Park), even at the second time. As the councillors did in February, they passed the application again by a large majority, despite the concerns expressed by so many people.  See: SMDC August 2015 Planning Meeting agenda

Well done to the local people that turned up to the meeting, and voiced their dissent though. The massive majority of residents in Cresswell don’t want the new development, so they did speak on Cresswell’s behalf.
Only three parish councillors turned up (as far as we know – please tell us if others were there), Pauline Clarke, Jacquie Leach and Mark Deaville, who voiced their opinions forcefully.
The most forceful of all however was resident Nick Holdcroft, who told a member of the planning committee (who had tried to interrupt him, while he was delivering his address) to just keep quiet and wait his turn!    Kate Bradshaw was there too, and she will be doing a report for our Draycott Parish Council, we expect.
The only speakers there in favour of the development were … the developers themselves…

It was all to no avail though, even though there were new members on the planning committee (voted in since the elections in May), and the Conservative-majority committee voted it through.   In a way they had to, because the way planning committees work is that, once the original decision is taken, the protocol is to accept the original meeting’s decision, even at a later meeting when there are new councillors.
In fact, the real business of this meeting was to agree the terms and conditions attached to the approval – and they make for interesting reading – see SMDC Blythe Park discussion agenda

What now?

Nothing is over till it’s over, as they say, and some residents say there is still a way out.

As there seems to be a vague silence from the parish council at the moment, so the local residents’ action group, VVSM, has stepped into the breach; and have called an open meeting for this Tuesday (18th August), to take place at Draycott Sports Centre at 7pm. All who are interested are welcome to attend.

VVSM will be letting residents know if they have had back any information from the Environmental Law Foundation, who have been giving advice about calling a Judicial Review (which is a formal objection to the whole decision-making process that has gone on).

VVSM, jointly with parish councillor Jacquie Leach, have also submitted a complaint to the Ombudsman about how SMDC and the Planning Committee have carried out their duties. They will be reporting back on how that is going.

Please tell anyone you know that this meeting is taking place.

***
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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).

Step closer for Cresswell housing estate plans

The possibility that we will see a large housing estate built in Cresswell has taken a step closer, after our MP Bill Cash revealed that the Government has turned down his request to review the planning permission decision made back in February.

Despite over 170 letters of objection from local people, a formal objection from Draycott Parish Council, and a ‘recommendation to refuse’ from the planning experts at SMDC -, the councillors on the Staffs Moorlands District Council Planning Committee decided five months ago to support a plan to double the size of the Blythe industrial park and build 170 new homes in Cresswell.

Late last week, the Minster for Local Government, Marcus Jones, contacted Sir Bill to tell him:   “…I have decided not to ‘call in’ this application…. I appreciate that this is not the preferred outcome for you and our constituents.”

Emergency meeting

This decision by the Government leaves the way open for Staffs Moorlands District Council to ratify their decision to allow the housing estate & to permit the doubling of the number of industrial units on the Blythe Park site. (See SMDC’s Cresswell Planning Application page)

Cresswell proposal

Cresswell proposal – planned new build is in pink colouring – homes on the left, industrial units on the right, with the present industrial park in blue. (The railway is seen, being the line along the top of this graphic)

The local residents’ group, VVSM, has held an emergency meeting, and have decided however not to give up the fight.
Shelagh Wood, the group’s chairperson, said: “The next course of action would be to apply for a ‘judicial review‘.  We think we have a case, as the SMDC planning committee members deliberately flouted their own experts’ advice and also went directly against the Moorlands Core Strategy.

Shelagh Wood

Shelagh Wood

“…But… to press for a judicial review will cost money, so we need to see what support exists among the local residents – we will be holding an open meeting next month to see what level of feeling there is in the community for this step.  For myself, I think if the plans go ahead, it will change Cresswell forever.”

All eyes are now on Draycott Parish Council, which has its next meeting on Monday 20th July, where members will discuss the issue.
In the past, the council has refused to do more than write a letter of objection to the plans.  The then-chairman said they could do no more, as they “had to be fair to all sides.”  (This was said even though there were over 160 official letters of objection to the plans, as against four in favour).
However, the election in June has seen an influx of new faces on the parish council.  Will the newbies be prepared to spur the council into firmer action?

It will also be interesting to see if our three local district councillors, who (apart from Councillor Colin Pearce) have been very quiet on this issue, also decide they now need, at the last minute, to take a more public stance.

***
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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).