Friday, August 22, 2008


Bus passengers will suffer while Doxey Bridge is closed

The closure of the road bridge on the edge of Doxey Fields will certainly cause a few problems for some local residents.

The County Council say they have no alternative but to shut the bridge for around three months so a replacement can be built. However this plan will cause major disruptions.

I personally am worried on three counts.

Firstly emergency vehicles to Derrington and Seighford will be forced to use longer routes, which, as they are along main roads, can at certain times be heavily congested.

Secondly, emergency, breakdown, and maintenance vehicles trying to access the motorway service area at Doxey will again have to find alternative routes. As Seighford is already covered by a weight restriction this could mean more heavy traffic through Derrington.

Thirdly, passengers using the Ruralink bus service that travels over the bridge will be forced to walk between a new temporary bus stop by the entrance to the motorway depot to the bus-shelter near Doxey Church. At a recent meeting the County Councillor for the area said this wasn’t a problem as it was only six hundred yards, but I beg to differ! It may only be six hundred yards but that is quite a distance for many of the elderly passengers that use that service, especially if they are carrying full shopping bags. Also the land between the brook and the church rises steadily which makes the walk even more demanding. And if the weather we have experienced over the past few weeks continues I for one would certainly not want to walk that distance in the pouring rain.

What the County Council passenger transport team really need to do is reconsider this proposal and arrange for the Ruralink buses to be re-routed. I know this will mean a longer journey time which equates to more expense, and even perhaps the need to employ an extra vehicle but surely the wellfare and the well being of the passengers should be put first.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Gnosall Ruralink - R.I.P.

Friday 29th August is a special day in more ways than one for Gnosall Ruralink – the community transport service which provides a public transport link to a number of small villages to the west of Stafford. On that day the organisation not only celebrates its 7th birthday but also runs its last service, as on the following Monday a new operator – ABC Coaches from Stoke-in-Trent takes over the routes.

Originally set up as a joint venture between the County Council, Gnosall Parish Council, and the surrounding communities Ruralink has provided a much need bus service to villages such as Church Eaton, Bradley, Morton and Ranton. Certainly new to this part of the world, the concept behind the service is underlined by part of its name, as the small minibus linked the rural communities it served to buses run by Arriva on mainline routes.

Over the seven years the service has relied on Government grants and subsidies from the County Council to keep running. However free handouts can not go on for ever and a few weeks ago the County Council went out to tender to see if they could get a better deal for the local Council Tax payer. The successful bidder for the work was, as already mention above, ABC Coaches who already run a similar service elsewhere in the County.

As one of the volunteer Directors of Ruralink I am sad to see the service moving away from direct community control, but at the end of the day it is the fact that the villages are still getting the public transport service they need that is far more important than who the service is run by. However as a Councillor, I will be monitoring the new service and will be the first to complain to the County Council if it deteriorates.

ABC Coaches takes over the Ruralink routes on the 1st September. Timetables and ticket prices will, for the time being, remain the same as those currently enjoyed.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Aircraft noise once again shatters Little Onn quiet

Residents living near to the old Little Onn airfield are once again complaining about the noise of low flying aircraft. However this time it is not the drone of wartime Airspeed Oxford trainers that is shattering the peace and quiet of this part of Church Eaton Ward but rather the high pitch whine of model planes.

It appears that a model flying club are regularly using one of the old runways, and although the local residents are not against the club using the site it is the length of time that flying is taking place that is the problem. I’m told that on most Sundays the noise of small petrol engines can be heard from the middle of the morning until, on some occasions, late afternoon. Those affected tell me it is the constant whine of these engines that they object too.

I’ve already taken the matter up with the Council’s Planning Department who tell me that no planning permission is needed unless flying takes place for more than 28 days in any twelve months. To help gauge whether this rule is being broken residents have been asked to keep a diaries by the Council the content of which can be used as evidence if action needs to be taken.

However I do think that local residents should not have to put up with undue noise and my next step is to talk to the Council’s Environmental Health Department to see if they can monitor the noise levels and if these are found to be excessive if they can take immediate action to prevent further nuisance.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Doxey residents unite against drugs

Tonight’s public meeting in Doxey, arranged by the Parish Council and chaired by David Kidney, so that residents could discuss with a panel of representative from public bodies their concerns over crime and community issues was extremely well attended.

Surprisingly the bulk of the meeting was taken up with a discussion over the growing problem of drugs in the Doxey area. Time and time again local residents voiced their worries that a small number of drug users and dealers were congregating in the area and that on the face of it very little was being done to tackle the problem. It appears that certain places in the “Village” are renown as dealing spots and that the same people and cars are seen on a regular basis and that this information has been past to the police. Residents also reported that discarded syringes are also a common feature in some places and that unless removed promptly they caused a real danger to local children.

Frustration certainly was running high as the general tone of the residents was that both the police and the housing associations in the area were doing little to stamp down on the problem. This view was certainly not helped by the police representative who having said that things were happening but because of the way the police work to tackle drugs crime this would not be obvious to the general public then went onto to say he had listened to what was being said and would ensure action was taken to ensure the issue was addressed!

However what did become clear was that the drug scene in the area revolved around a very small number of people, some of whom obviously travel in from other areas, and in no way reflected the community in general.

Tackling drug crime is not an easy thing, and in many ways the answer lies in the hand of the community itself. Certainly the police must not only be made to take action but must also be seen to be doing it by the local community. However they can only act with the full backing of the community itself, something I’m sure Doxey residents are quite willing to give. Already the local Police Community Support Officer Helen Walker is making her mark and this surely must be the foundation on which to build future mutual co-operation.

A few individuals should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of a community and everything must be done to ensure this doesn’t happen in Doxey.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Malthouse Lane dangers still unresolved

I was really disappointed to hear at last night meeting of Church Eaton Parish Council that speeding traffic is once again causing a problem for residents in Malthouse Lane, Church Eaton.
As everyone in the Village knows Malthouse Lane, which is only single width, is used as a rat run by motorists travelling between Gnosall and Wheaton Aston and the A5 just to save a few extra yards over taking the wider and safer route along Wood Eaton Road and the High Street. While the lane is only a couple of hundred yards long it is extremely dangerous as there are no footpaths and the driveways to each house open out into the road from behind mature hedges.

Over the past few years I’ve raised the issue time and time again with the County Highways Department but there seems little willingness on their part to do anything to improve the situation. Along with the residents and the Parish Council I have suggested all manner of improvements including making the lane one way, putting a weight restriction on it, and even turning it into a cul-de-sac – all to no avail. It is extremely easy for the County Council to ignore the problem, but I do worry that it is only a matter of time before a serious accident does occur. Perhaps then they will take notice, but of course that will be the classic case of “shutting the stable door long after the horse has bolted”!

I certainly do not support that stance and have today written once again to the County Council urging them to take action now before someone is killed. I’ve also written to Staffordshire Police asking them to visit the lane during the morning and evening rush hour period with one of their speed “guns” in an attempt to slow the traffic down.
Using the number of serious and fatal accidents as the main criteria for deciding if a road should qualify for safety improvements is in my mind immoral and one which I cannot support!

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