Welcome to The Leek Log, an opportunity to share news and views on business, leisure and community activities in Leek and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
If you have something to tell others about, let me know either by commenting on the blog or emailing me at david@davidcliffe.com

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Leek road plan: the big vote

It's about time for me to return to the blogosphere. Tomorrow, Jan 6, is the big chance for Leek people to vote on the proposed 'improvements' to Leek town centre roads as put forward in the Sainsbury's planning application.

Firstly, I haven't got a big gripe against Sainsbury's, although the store will certainly present a major challenge to some shops in Leek.

No, my issue is with the changes to Leek traffic flows and the completely unacceptable standard of public consultation on the scheme. Finding the exact details on what is planned has been like pulling teeth. SMDC and Sainsbury's should have done much more to tell local folk about it.

As we heard at the public meeting in December, those who have tried to get info have been met with responses like 'the document's too big to email' and 'the general public won't understand traffic flow data'.

What this member of the public doesn't understand is what the junction at the bottom of Ashbourne Road has to do with a Sainsbury's supermarket at the far side of the town. Without doubt the setting of the Monument will be damaged by placing traffic lights a few feet away. And I'm certainly not convinced by the artist's impression which magically shows three lanes of traffic and a pedestrian refuge in Ashbourne Road where there is currently room for two lanes.

Similarly, every aspect of the road plan seems to raise more questions than it answers. The only area they seem to have ignored are the streets closest to the Sainsbury's site which will be most affected by those seeking to avoid a magical mystery tour of the town centre - ie West Street, Garden Street and Belle Vue.

For those who still want to find out more, please visit the old Bamboo shop in the Market Place between 10 and 2 on Thursday. All credit to those who have put the display together and who have taken action to get people involved.

Please get out an vote between 4pm and 9pm on Jan 6 - it's the only way to prove what the town really thinks of the scheme.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

From trainee to Leek Post editor in 3 years

The Sentinel has appointed one of the country's youngest editors to head up its Post & Times titles in Leek, Cheadle and Uttoxeter.

This is how the trade press announced Hayley Parker's remarkable achievement:

A young journalist who joined a weekly title as a trainee reporter less than three years ago has been made its editor.

Hayley Parker has been appointed as editor of the Post and Times Series, in Staffordshire, and officially took up her new role today (November 30).

The job encompasses the editorship of the Leek Post and Times, Uttoxeter Post and Times and the Cheadle Post and Times and includes responsibility for five reporters and a sports editor.

Hayley takes over from Rob Cotterill, who has returned to daily sister title The Sentinel, where he was previously news editor, to take on another senior role.

Said Hayley: "I was delighted to be chosen for the job. It's a massive step up for me but it's gone well so far."

After joining the Uttoxeter Post and Times as a trainee in early 2007, she qualified as a senior reporter this time last year after passing her NCE exam.

Sentinel editor-in-chief Mike Sassi said: "Hayley is an excellent young journalist who has worked hard to achieve this promotion. I'm certain the P&T will prosper under her leadership."

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Charity shops prove how 'green' we are

On seeing the new Donna Louise shop when we were walking in town today, my companion commented that Leek must have more charity shops per head of population than any other town in the country.
And yes, quite a few folk have been moaning on about the number of prime locations which charities are taking in the middle of town.
But surely isn't this overload of cast-offs a good thing? Doesn't all this recycling and re-use prove just how green we all are in Leek?
By filling our shops with secondhand stuff - clothes, paperbacks, whatever - rather than new imports shipped across the globe, aren't we showing that here in the Moorlands we're not a throwaway society and care that little bit more about the future of the planet.
OK, few of us have actually asked for any more charity shops, but they certainly seem to be well patronised, showing that there are plenty of us who are quite prepared to choose used as well as new.
Taking it a step further, a new retro boutique, The Closet, has opened above The Passion Pit salon in St Edward Street and they certainly have no shortage of cast-offs to plough through. (Those folk have made an excellent job of using that fine building - congratulations).
And round at Leek College, art & design students have just finished a project transforming secondhand stuff from the Dougie Mac shop - it's called upcycling amongst the fashion-conscious (such as myself) and Vivienne Westwood is mad about it, apparently.
So charity shops are cool after all.
Leek's long been famed as a mecca for antiques (recycling,restoring,re-using) - perhaps we should be proud to be the capital of charity shops, too.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Canal burst photos

For anyone who has not seen the dramatic results of the Caldon Canal bursting its banks on the edge of Leek ten days agoe, there are some superb pix on this blog by Brett Trafford - plus many more excellent ones of Leek and the Moorlands


Helpers needed to make older people’s lives less lonely

An award-winning local charity which helps older housebound people in the Staffordshire Moorlands keep their independence is looking for more helpers.

Home Link, which began in Cheadle in 1986, provides contact and support for people who want to remain in their own homes for as long as is practical. And the organisation needs more volunteers to befriend its elderly members on a one-to-one basis now that it has expanded its services into Leek.

Befriending Co-ordinator Diane Sellers explained: “We have a superb network of helpers who give up an hour or so of their time each week to call in on our members for a cup of tea and a chat.

“Many members are housebound and have no family living nearby and our volunteers provide vital friendship and support but, quite simply, there aren’t enough of them to go round.

“Befrienders are not expected to carry out domestic tasks or caring duties – the aim is purely social contact – and we provide lots of support.”

Volunteer Jane Keeling, a retired office manager, has been visiting 83-year-old Marjorie Mayer in her home town of Cheadle for the past twelve months. Jane said: “I really enjoy my visits to Marjorie and we sometimes go out for lunch or visit a garden centre. I feel as though I am bringing a bit of normality back into her life and we both get enjoyment from the visits.”

Miss Mayer, who herself puts something back into Home Link by phoning other lonely members for a regular chat via the Phone Link service, said: “Jane is a very good friend to me and I feel as though we hit it off from the start. We both speak the same language and we are interested in similar things. It’s great to have someone call in for a natter about what’s going on in the world.”

Volunteer Pam Piggins, aged 72, from Cheadle, said: “I get a lot of pleasure from helping Home Link as a befriender. I think it’s a two-way thing and I really enjoy visiting members to bring them a bit of company as well as helping out at the Christmas parties held in the church hall in Cheadle. There is always a really lovely atmosphere. I can recommend volunteering to anyone.”

Helpers are needed in all areas including Leek, Cheadle and the surrounding villages. For more information on the befriending scheme, contact Home Link manager Helen Wainwright on 01538 750511.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Derby Street - eyesores or what?

How pleasing to see Derby Street today, unblemished by the burger van and its accompanying chairs, table, motorbikes, dogs - oh, and customers.

Am I alone in thinking that mobile food wagons like this have no place in the middle of an allegedly protected and much-loved historic street? I suppose they provide a useful service for those burger-munchers who prefer the outdoor life so they can smoke unimpeded. But does this really add anything to our town - it certainly detracts from its appearance Lord knows what the neighbouring teashop owners think about it.

Even though the burger van was blessedly out of sight on a quiet Thursday afternoon, Home & Colonial still managed to litter the pavement with assorted pallets, trolleys, boxes and the occasional box of East European-branded food teetering on the edge of its use-by date.

I know they've become a local 'treasure', but how the heck do they get away with it?

And don't get me onto the subject of those artistic 'bollards' that no-one has been able to fathom for years. Firewood, perhaps?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

How to beat the planning system

Members of the Moorlands Council Planning Applications Committee were furious yesterday afternoon when they admitted defeat to a Rudyard couple who, councillors said, have 'beaten the system'.

The couple bought a set of farm buildings down a track off the main Macclesfield Road back in 2003 and moved into what was effectively half of a portal-framed livestock building. Their side of the shed was gradually converted into a one-bedroom home, while the farm animals continued in residence on the other side of a partition wall. The only problem was that no-one bothered to tell the council.

When SMDC eventually found out some months ago, officials took a very dim very, because converting the 'barn' to house stood no chance of gaining planning permission.

However the couple were able to produce documentary evidence that they had lived there for more than four years - thus establishing a legal right for their humble abode to remain. Through gritted teeth, councillors had to give in, but are going to press for a change in the law, raising the time limit to ten years.

In the meantime, councillors are worried that the case may tempt owners of other suitably remote 'barns' in the Moorlands to chance their luck and set up a home ...as long as no-one notices for four years.