Welcome to Unstone Green, Derbyshire’s “forgotten” village

Feature on Unstone, pictured are local residents Vince Pykett, Ann Thompson and Suzanne Thompson
Feature on Unstone, pictured are local residents Vince Pykett, Ann Thompson and Suzanne Thompson

The residents of a North Derbyshire village are angry at council chiefs over what they say is the neglect shown to their community.

People in Unstone Green, including elderly and disabled residents, say the state of disrepair their village is so bad they cannot enjoy it the way they used to.

The "bottom" park on Whittington Lane

The "bottom" park on Whittington Lane

And they say their repeated requests for repairs and improvements have been ignored by Unstone Parish Council, North East Derbyshire District Council and Derbyshire County Council.

Campaigner Vince Pykett said: “We’ve got rotting benches, rusting bins and bus shelters and phone boxes with plants and trees growing in them.

“The path leading down to the bottom park is impossible for older people or people in wheelchairs and on top of that there’s nothing at all for the children to do because the parks aren’t looked after.”

A brief tour of the village confirmed many of Mr Pykett’s claims.

Vince Pykett inspects weeds and plants growing in a dilapidated bus shelter

Vince Pykett inspects weeds and plants growing in a dilapidated bus shelter

Of six benches seen by the Derbyshire Times not one had all of its slats and the ones that were there were severely rotted.

The bus stops were in a similar state of disrepair and some had grass and weeds growing out of their roofs.

All the bins bar one were rusted beyond repair with some having rusted so badly that any rubbish put in would simply drop out of the bottom.

And one of the most surprising sights was an old red phone box, faded, peeling and dilapidated with what appeared to be a fruit tree growing in it.

One of the offending benches

One of the offending benches

In terms of activities for children, while it is true the “bottom” park is poorly maintained, the village does benefit from a new play area which was built in 2012.

However, even this area lacks adequate seating at which parents could watch their children play, and is underused as a result.

And perhaps most worryingly, Mr Pykett says his attempts to get Derbyshire County Council to install slow signs around the bottom park have fallen on deaf ears.

He said: “The parish council keep on saying they have not got enough money for all the repairs but I don’t know what they are spending it on.

An old red phone box with a tree growing in it

An old red phone box with a tree growing in it

“Just up the road in Dronfield they have hanging baskets and loads of parks with zip wires and all sorts - they are well looked after.”

“We now have a new district councillor in Rosie Smith so hopefully she’ll be able to get things done and we do get a lot of support from County Councillor Janet Hill, but still not much seems to happen.”

On the way round the village other members of the community were only too happy to agree.

Ann Thompson, who uses a walking frame and depends on support from her daughter Suzanne to get out and about, said: “It is really a lovely village that has gone to rubbish.

“I would like to be able to get around the village more but the only place I go is the bus stop once a week so I can get into Chesterfield.”

Similarly, Denise Platts, whose disabled son Christopher has often struggled to get around the village, said: “It’s hard for him to get about so it’s been difficult for him to do anything in the village really.”

The village notice board

The village notice board

“It’s only recently that the kerbs have been lowered so growing up he used to just sit and watch the traffic from the side of the road.”

And Gail Rhodes, who lives near the bottom park on Whittington Lane, said: “There’s just nothing round here for the children to do and yet they wonder why kids go playing in the stream.”

When pressed on Mr Pykett’s claims, Councillor Sandra Hopkinson, chairman of Unstone Parish Council, said: “We are aware about one of the benches which we are getting round to doing on a rolling programme. We are a small parish and we haven’t got as much money as others but we do employ a handyman whose job it is to look after the benches and bus shelters.

“We are more than happy for Mr Pykett and other residents to come to our meetings to let us know their concerns and we will try to do something about them.”

And Derbyshire County Councillor, Janet Hill, said: “I do know there is a list of jobs to be done and I’ll speak to the parish and district councillors to see if we can chivvy people up a bit.

“I’ll also get the county council to look at the issues raised which are our responsibility.

“I know traffic calming measures around the bottom park have been broached before but the decisions are based on the level of risk and that particular place must not have met the criteria.”

However, despite the councillors’ promises Mr Pykett says he will believe them when he sees things improve.

“They have known about these problems for years but they never seems to do anything about them.”

“It seems to go in one ear and out the other.”

There are no slow signs around the bottom park

There are no slow signs around the bottom park