Category Archives: Community

Work on Brentor’s new broadband network about to start

West Blackdown homes will be connected to a new fibre broadband network by June, thanks to the Universal Service Obligation (USO) scheme.  They will benefit from the latest high speed ‘fibre to the premises’ technology.

Others in part of the village centre can also get free connection but only if enough properties register for it! If 25 homes in the north side of the village centre JUST REGISTER INTEREST in the USO scheme, a cluster of 31 properties will be offered FREE CONNECTION to the new network……….. and more could follow.

The government-funded USO scheme allows Openreach to claim a grant of £3,400 for each of 70% of eligible properties, whether they register or not. That’s 22 of the 31 in the cluster, leaving a shortfall of £8,358 to be raised locally.  BUT THERE IS AN EASY WAY TO GET FREE CONNECTION – 25 people in the cluster just actually need to register interest in the USO scheme! The extra USO grant (3 x £3,400) will cover the £8,358 shortfall and EVERYONE IN THE CLUSTER WILL BE OFFERED FREE CONNECTION.  BT confirms that if you register interest there is ABSOLUTELY NO COMMITMENT to sign up later for a fibre connection.

SO PLEASE REGISTER!  We’ve been moaning about our poor broadband service for years and here’s a chance to do something about it free of charge and with no financial commitment!  So far only about 18 properties have registered – WHERE ARE THE REST OF YOU?  The number to call to register is 0800 783 0223.

It doesn’t help that BT won’t tell us which properties are in the cluster of 31.  The USO help desk says that it doesn’t know how many properties have signed up so far!  We just have to trust BT and Openreach to tell us when we get to the required number – not  a very satisfactory situation for a government-funded scheme that’s supposed to benefit our community.

But it does help that a number of residents in the cluster of 31 who are currently connected to Airband are now being offered Universal Service Obligation funding, despite the rule that only houses with less than 10mbps are eligible for it.  They have been told that their connection is deemed not sufficiently reliable to count as being over 10mbps.  If you already have an Airband connection but are unhappy with its speed and stability, it will be worth contacting the USO help desk to see if you can register for the USO scheme.  The telephone number is 0800 783 0223.

BT’s Crowdfunding scheme

Registering for the USO seems to be the best chance for most of our village to get a free fibre network.  Until we were told about the possibility of free connection by registering 25 properties, the large sums quoted by BT for a fibre broadband connection seemed to make connection impossible.  BT has been criticised by Ofcom for the way it has asked individual properties to pay the full excess connection cost for an entire cluster. So, to spread the cost of connection, BT’s response has been to pilot a crowdfunding scheme in our village to encourage Brentor villagers to band together to raise the funding required. The company has engaged the spacehive.com website to enable everyone to get together to pledge the funding needed.  This is a pilot rollout of BT’s crowdfunding scheme, which, if successful, could be implemented nationwide.

Letters like the one here have been landing on residents’ doormats since the beginning of February in the cluster of 31 properties from the War Memorial to Hammer Park, in Church Lane and Station Road.  The ‘someone’ mentioned is, in reality, BT!  We might be forgiven for feeling that the crowdfunding initiative is rather a diversion from getting free connection by simply registering. You can make up your own mind whether or not you contribute. The shortfall of £8,358 to build the network is really not a lot of money – in fact so little that it seems incredible that a £multi-billion company like BT/Openreach couldn’t find it without paying a crowdfunding company to help!  Bearing in mind that Openreach will own the network, and will automatically receive over £70,000 in government funding, they will be getting a bargain even if they pay the excess cost.  BT will be making money from their broadband ISP charges, so it’s a winning situation for BT and Openreach.

But what about the rest of Brentor parish?

Another ‘cluster’ in Brentor comprises 13 properties in the Darke Lane area, who have been quoted £36,871 to be connected – that’s over £2,800 per property. This cluster is currently not part of the pilot crowdfunding initiative. We should question why it costs so much more to connect these properties compared to others in the middle of the village – some will be very much nearer to the new fibre cable than houses in the cluster of 31.  However, once the cluster of 31 is connected, BT suggest that residents in the 13 cluster should re-apply for connection through the USO scheme and may receive a much more favourable quotation!  A pity that they can’t do this straight away to give us all some hope and encouragement!

The Liddaton and Lydford Station areas of Brentor Parish are even more disadvantaged regarding their broadband connection and are served from the Chillaton and Lydford telephone exchanges. Residents in these areas are working hard to find other ways of connecting to a fibre network.

BT and Openreach have managed to turn what should have been a positive and beneficial project for Brentor into a complex and frustrating experience for residents.  It is unfair and divisive to split a small village community into arbitrary ‘clusters’ with vastly different installation costs. Openreach needs to explain clearly why the costs vary so widely.  But really it’s about time that they get their act together and get our network built within the generous funding parameters of the USO scheme.  If they can do it free of charge for the spread-out West Blackdown community they should be able to do it for the rest of our village.

It’s not easy to understand the facts about the Universal Service Obligation scheme.  If you want to contribute to the information in this article please contact the website editor at brentorvillage@btinternet.com.

For more information about how this issue has evolved in Brentor click here

You can check your broadband speed by clicking here.

Drainage and hedge maintenance – who is responsible?

The recent storms have brought the issue of road drainage into sharp focus.  Drain and ditch clearance has always been important in Brentor, but the effect of climate change, bringing heavier and more frequent rain and storms, is now making this even more vital.
Significant public funding is invested by Devon County Council in their programme of ditch clearance to drain the water from the highway.  However, in the majority of cases, the responsibility for ditch maintenance rests with the adjacent landowner, even if the ditches take water from the highway.  Therefore local authority funding is being used to undertake works which are, in part, the responsibility of landowners!  This is reducing the funds available to undertake works which really are the authority’s responsibility.

It is often illegal to block drains that take water from the highway onto adjacent land, even if it is your property.  Also landowners and occupiers are required by law to trim any hedge next to the public highway where the growth is preventing the passage, or affecting the safety, of the highway user.It’s worth taking a look at the following documents if you own property by a road:
• A factsheet titled Roads and farmers produced by Devon County Council.
• Information regarding overgrown vegetation is available on the Devon County Council website here by clicking here.

Village Hall rebuild put on hold due to the pandemic

Brentor’s Village Hall and Playing Field Committee has been looking for ideas on how to move forward with rebuilding the main hall of the Village Hall.  They are a registered charity, whose duty is to run the Village Hall and Playing Field for the benefit of our community.s

Although the Hall was improved with a new kitchen, toilets and store in 2010, the old part of the building, dating from 1912, has significant problems with its fabric.  About 20 villagers (including most of the Parish Council) went to the meeting earlier this year about future plans for the Hall and heard from Sheryl Burroughs, the Chair of the Committee, that a structural survey of the hall has revealed that the Hall’s outer cladding will need complete replacement.  There is also a great need to address the condensation problem of the old building, relating to its lack of insulation.  Click here to read the full Village Hall Structural survey.

Many attendees at the meeting expressed a great love for the Hall in its present form, but the meeting overwhelmingly came to the conclusion that it would be far wiser to attempt to rebuild the Hall, enabling it to be properly insulated and to improve the quality of its provision for our village, rather than trying to continually repair the existing building.

The Village Hall and Playing Field Committee has set up a sub-committee to progress the rebuilding of the main hall.  It met in October 2020.  Due to the large sum of money that will be needed to rebuild, it was clear that a substantial amount would need to be won from sources such as the National Lottery and previous funders of the village hall such as the Biffa landfill tax fund.  Sadly the biggest potential funder, the National Lottery, is currently, and for the foreseeable future, only funding pandemic recovery items .

Therefore the Committee has decided to put the work on rebuilding the hall on hold.  Much of the background work has been done in planning for the rebuilding, and there is substantial experience from the initial refurbishment of the hall done in 2010, so hopefully when the financial situation becomes more easy this project will be able to do ahead.

Community Housing

There has been very little obvious progress since July 2019.  There is still no sign of a planning application, but it is understood that the scheme’s plans have been amended by the architects to reflect the views given at the open days.

Brentor Parish Council released the following statement on 18th July 2019:

PROPOSED HOUSING 

Figures have now been collated from the Housing Needs Survey conducted in July 2018 and the 2 public presentation days.  

The presentations were very well attended and figures show that the development is oversubscribed by local people who will be eligible to live there.

The latest data indicates a need for 11 affordable homes and 6 open market homes, which meet the criteria for an affordable development as required by WDBC and DNPA.  The planned development remains fixed at 12 properties.

Further progress has been slightly delayed due to the recent elections, but it is understood that the plans will be submitted to DNPA shortly with a planning decision expected in September.  Construction should then commence late Autumn or early next year.

 Further information will be published as and when it is received.

We need your contributions!

Do you have an interesting photo, an informative item about the village or an event that you need to promote?
We want to keep this website topical, local and up-to-date, so please send your potential contributions to the Editor at brentorvillage@btinternet.com .

We want your recipes!

This website now has a recipes page, but there’s only a few recipes on it! 
As we all know, lot of Brentor’s social life revolves around cooking and eating with family and friends.  The recipes on the new page have been provided by Brentor residents past and present.  No doubt some have been adapted and improved as the years pass – and they are reminders of residents past and present and of many good times around the table, as well as being household favourites.
WE NEED LOTS MORE RECIPES!  So please email your contributions – a recipe with a small introductory text – to the editor, Colin Dawes, at brentorvillage@btinternet.com . 

Click here to go to the Recipe Book page