Category Archives: News

Community Housing statement from Brentor Parish Council

There has been very little progress in developing the Brentor community housing scheme since July 2019.  Following a recent Parish Council meeting, the Parish Clerk has asked for the statement below to be made public.
HOUSING
Unfortunately there is still nothing new to report.  The Parish Council are as frustrated as everyone else with the lack of progress being made and are writing to West Devon Borough Council for clarification, an explanation for the continued delay and a timeframe moving forward.

Avian influenza (bird flu): Latest situation

New bird housing measures are now in force in England, Scotland and Wales.

Click on the following link to find out more – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/avian-influenza-bird-flu-national-prevention-zone-declared

The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have brought in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.

Whether you keep just a few birds as pets or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

·         housing or netting all poultry and captive birds

·         cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing

·         reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control

·         thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle

·         keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures

·         minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Register your birds

All keepers are encouraged to register their birds so that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) can contact you quickly if there is a disease outbreak in your area and you need to take action.

If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register your flock within one month of their arrival at your premises. If you have less than 50 birds, including pet birds, you are still strongly encouraged to register.   Find out how to register your birds.

Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7), and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.  Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice.

Public Health England advise the risk to public health from the H5N8 and H5N2 strains of bird flu is very low.

The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.  Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Ofcom to investigate BT over rural broadband implementation

On 15th October 2020 Ofcom announced that it is launching an investigation into how BT is implementing the Universal Service Obligation Broadband scheme.  This follows numerous complaints about the high quotations being given to rural residents for connection to new fibre broadband networks being built through the scheme.  Brentor residents have received outrageous quotes for such connection, although some, in the West Blackdown area, are now to get free connection having complained about their original quotes of over £40,000 per property.

Click here to find out more about Ofcom’s investigation into BT.

Residents who have received high quotations for connections should get in touch with Ofcom to give evidence to their investigation.  They don’t resolve individual complaints but the more people who complain the better!  You can telephone Ofcom on  0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040
The case reference number is CW/01256/10/20 and the investigator is Ian Strawhorne.

Fibre broadband is coming to Brentor! Universal Service Obligation update

Some Brentor residents in West Blackdown and Station View who currently have no access to fast broadband are likely to be getting free access to a new fibre broadband network thanks to the Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) introduced in March 2020.  The new network will be FTTP, providing a fast fibre connection directly into each property.  In August and September surveyors made detailed plans for the new network, visiting every property in Brentor which is deemed to be eligible for the USO funding.  Some residents are now being told that the new network will be built by June 2021.  There is even some activity on site, with marker posts for new poles being installed.

Getting this far has not been without its setbacks. Initially residents in West Blackdown were asked to contribute £42,457.20 each towards the cost of building the network.  After complaining to BT (who are running the USO on behalf of the government), Ofcom (who regulate it), the communications ombudsman (who police it) and our MP (who is elected to represent our interests), Openreach (who build it) miraculously found that they could after all provide the network for less than the £3,400 per property that the government provides.  The residents were contacted by BT and agreed to a £zero contract for the installation to their homes.  Residents in Station View have also been offered free connection.

However the West Blackdown and Station View residents are not out of the woods yet, since BT are now saying that, should Openreach overspend on building the network, they will once again ask residents for a contribution towards the cost!  If residents refuse to contribute apparently Openreach wouldn’t continue to build the network.  Could they really stop building it and refuse connection after already spending £100,000s of government funds? All this despite lots of us having a verbal contract agreeing to a zero priced quotation.   The communications ombudsman has judged BT not to be at any fault in this matter and unfortunately has no jurisdiction over Openreach, since the company does not subscribe to the ombudsman service (!)  So there seems little chance of changing what seems to be a very unfair situation.

Map showing the charges quoted for broadband connection

Meanwhile, nearer the village centre, another group of residents with no fast broadband are  being asked to pay £8,358 each to be connected to the same network!  Others in the Darke Lane area have been quoted £36,871!  They of course are also contesting this through the communications ombudsman’s service, Ofcom  etc.  It’s very hard to see how all this aggravation is necessary and how it could be part of the government’s grand plan to provide a decent broadband service in rural communities.

An Openreach surveyor visited Brentor in August and by now must have produced a design for our new network, and in September a second engineer re- surveyed this work.  This has led to notices on telephone poles that suggest some are to be replaced to make them suitable to carry the fibre cable, and the positions of these appear to be being marked , so things are actually beginning to happen on the ground.  However Openreach, as policy, don’t offer any firm dates for connection.  There are still plenty of Openreach engineers around the village on a daily basis repairing our antiquated copper telephone cables when residents lose the dismally slow broadband they already have!

Despite all the aggravation it is nonetheless worth applying for connection to the new fibre network through the USO scheme.  It will, if built, offer very fast and reliable broadband that isn’t affected by the weather, and users will have a choice of internet service providers, potentially introducing price competition.  Let’s hope that the more of us that apply, the more is the likelihood that the network will be installed at zero cost to everyone.

To get a Universal Service Obligation grant you must register interest. To do this you should call 0800 783 0223 – the USO helpdesk.  The staff you will speak to are very helpful and sympathetic and will just require your name, postcode and address, email address and telephone number and will talk to you about your current broadband connection.  It is free to do and there is of course no obligation to take  part in the scheme, even if you go as far as asking for a firm quotation of the cost.

Local residents have produced an advice sheet to help you with the USO registration processclick here to see it.

Click here to see Ofcom’s USO factsheet

Click here to see BT’s information on the USO

If anyone in Brentor has further information please contact the website Editor, Colin Dawes, by email 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. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).

Brentor Village Hall closed again

Brentor Village Hall

During the second pandemic lockdown period the Village Hall will be closed completely once again.

As regulations and the law changes the Village Hall and Playing Field Committee is constantly having to adapt and provide a safe environment for users, sometimes with little notice. The committee has sought guidance from Devon Communities together and West Devon Borough Council and will continue to do so.

You can contact the Committee if you have any questions by emailing brentorvillagehall@gmail.com

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.