Category Archives: News

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.

See below for more information about fibre broadband in Brentor.

COVID-19 latest


The rules for us 
are currently:

  • both indoors or outdoors you must keep to the rule of 6 – unless legally exempt
  • businesses and retail can continue providing they keep to COVID guidelines
  • Hospitality venues must ensure customers eat food and drink while seated, and must close between overnight from 10.00 p.m. until 5.00 a.m.
  • If you are a business or venue selling take away food, you can continue after 10.00 p.m. as long as this is food is collected, delivered or via a drive-through
  • tourist attractions are open with nightclubs remaining closed
  • schools and universities continue to stay open
  • places of worship remain open subject to social contact rules
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 for wedding and 30 for funeral ceremonies and 15 for receptions or wakes
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of six is followed.
  • Care homes are open to visitors with additional precautions

You must:

Please continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can
  • when travelling, plan ahead or avoid busy times and routes. Walk or cycle if you can.

Further information can be found at the Gov.UK website.

Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal

This year there cannot be house-to-house collections or face-to-face contact without keeping to Social Distancing rules.  The collection dates this year are from
Saturday the 24th October until Remembrance Sunday on the 8th November. 

Please take the necessary Covid-19 precautions when handling any of the items sold or distributed.
The local team of collectors intend to circulate (post!) in early October some poppies in “Gift–aid” envelopes around the Parish with instructions contained within as to how to return the envelopes and pick up more poppies as required. These include poppies, large and small, 2020 enamel poppy pins, some VE poppy pins, poppy bracelets, magnetic car, van and lorry poppies, wooden crosses, wrist bands and other miscellaneous items to do with the Poppy
Appeal.  The team of collectors for this year are: Simon and Gaye Martin (810637), John Burrows (810494), Bob Lemon (810415), Rob Ormsby (860344) and Peter Cameron.
Last year the Parish collected the magnificent sum of £877.17 – a significant contribution from a small village such as ours. This is so much appreciated by the Royal British Legion, whose efforts to care for so many of our wounded, mentally distressed and ageing
ex-servicemen just cannot be underestimated. Thank you all so much.
Furthermore, £302.50 of last year’s collection was kindly “Gift-aided”, which meant an extra £75.62 for the British Legion. It does make such a difference gift aiding – an extra 25p for every pound donated to the Royal British Legion.
Thank you all so much for your co-operation. 

Please email Peter Cameron, Poppy Appeal Organiser for the Parish, if you have any queries, at petercameron@btopenworld.com .

Fibre broadband is coming to Brentor! Universal Service Obligation update

Brentor residents who currently have no access to fast broadband are likely to be getting 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.  Recently an Openreach surveyor has been making detailed plans for the new network, visiting every property in Brentor which is deemed to be eligible for the USO funding.

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.

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 have been quoted over £30,000!  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 should 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, so things are actually beginning to happen on the ground, but Openreach as a policy don’t offer any 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 remains closed for large gatherings

Brentor Village Hall

The current guidance from the government, states that village halls are to independently decide on whether to reopen or not whilst adhering to social distancing, cleaning etc. As the guidelines mean that our hall would only be allowed to seat a maximum of 20 people, due to the restrictions, including the wearing of face coverings, the village hall and playing field committee have decided that social gatherings, including coffee mornings cannot be held for the foreseeable future.

The committee has also made the decision that meetings can be held at the village hall, if a member of the committee is present, so that cleaning according to Covid 19 guidelines can be administered, as well as track and trace implemented.  Seating has been placed accordingly.

The village hall relies on events for fundraising as well as bringing our community together and we are trying to put events on the playing field to help minimize the effect of the hall closure. Thank you to everyone who has been to those events. They include: Millie’s café, coffee morning, compost toilet opening, the car boot sale and friends of the field( please contact Sue Stephens for details)

As you can imagine this is a steep learning curve for the committee, who are all volunteers and we are having to continually adapt, sometimes with little notice. The committee has sought guidance from Devon Communities together and will continue to do so.

We will try to keep you updated as much as possible.

Clare Percival ( Vice Chair), email brentorvillagehall@gmail.com

Printed Brentor News delivery resumed

Printed copies of Brentor New are once again being delivered, having been suspended during the coronavirus lockdown.  Our local news sheet will continue to be delivered in its full colour version by email if you are on the Brentor ‘E-Robin’ mailing list (see below).  You can also opt to ‘go paperless’, in which case you will no longer receive a printed version, saving costs and resources for the Brentor Community Trust. 

Click here to go to the Brentor News page.

The Brentor ‘E-Robin’ mailing list is a free service run by Brentor Community Trust.  Over 100 households are already on this list and receive the latest information about events in the village as well as Brentor News in full colour.  During the coronavirus pandemic this system also provides a way to disseminate useful information quickly throughout the parish.
If you would like to be added to the free ‘E-Robin’ mailing list please email a request to brentorinfo@btinternet.com.  Remember – you can opt to go paperless by requesting this on your email.

Back issues of Brentor News now available online

Almost all the back issues of Brentor News are now available to view on this website.  Take a nostalgic look at how life was from November 1987 to the present day!  It’s been a mammoth task to scan all the copies and post them online, but it’s now complete! 481 copies are online but you will see that four are missing from the Brentor Living Archive’s collection. Perhaps you might have copies of the elusive ones somewhere at the back of a cupboard – if you do please contact Colin Dawes on 811079!
Click here to go to the Brentor News page.

Drainage Maintenance Responsibilities

The February storms have brought the issue of 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.
At a recent Town and Parish Conference a great deal of interest was shown in who is responsible for maintaining and clearing drainage systems on and around Devon’s highways.  Significant public funds have been invested by Devon County Council in a 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 the landowners!  This is reducing the funds available to undertake works which really are the authority’s responsibility.

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 Open Meeting suggests rebuilding the Hall

Brentor’s Village Hall and Playing Field Committee has been looking for ideas on how to move forward with 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.

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 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.  This could apparently cost up to £30,000, and the Committee asked for suggestions on how the money could be raised.  Click here to read the full Village Hall Structural survey.

However, members of the audience questioned the sense of spending so much money, only to end up with a building with the same problems as at present.  As well as the issues with the cladding, they pointed out that there are problems with the floor structure, which will probably soon need replacing at considerable cost.  Also the completely uninsulated nature of the building leads to condensation and mould growth on the inside walls.  Due to the timber-frame construction of the building it is not possible to insulate the walls and roof within the structure, and the roof would not be strong enought to be insulated internally.  A representative of Brentor Parish Council said that the Parish Council had discussed the issues of the Hall and would not support any proposals just to maintain the Hall as it is.  It was said that Government regulations relating to the declared Climate Emergency would necessitate improving the environmental sustainability of the Hall if it is to remain open in the future.  It was also pointed out that most grant-giving bodies these days rightly insist on building work improving the sustainability of the building being funded, so the likelihood of funds being available to maintain the status quo were therefore reduced.

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.  When the Hall was refurbished in 2010 with a new kitchen, toilets, store and disabled persons’ facilities, the grant applications were made on the understanding that this was phase 1 of the project, with the replacement of the main hall as a phase 2 for the future.  The new build was constructed so that this could happen, and therefore only the hall would need to be replaced completely.  It was suggested that, with careful design from a sympathetic architect, the new Hall would be able to preserve its current welcoming atmosphere and character.

There was also concern about closing the Hall for up to a year during the rebuilding period.  However, when the Hall was closed in 2009/10 for the phase 1 rebuild, events such as the Mistletoe Fair were successfully held elsewhere in the village and the Brentorians created a film rather than a play.  When the improved Hall reopened in 2010 there was a marked surge in bookings due to its much improved facilities.  Now that the Hall owns a marquee this could be used on the playing field for larger events during the closure period.

A number of attendees at the meeting volunteered to help with fundraising for a hall rebuild, and at the end of the evening the Village Hall and Playing Field Committee agreed to discuss this matter at their next meeting and to progress this issue further in the near future – watch this space!

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.