Category Archives: Ongoing Community Issues

New Housing needs survey to be carried out

Although there has been no obvious movement for some time, the subject of Affordable Housing is still very much an ongoing matter.

Parish Councillors are aware however that the information collected from the Housing Needs Survey conducted some time ago may now be out of date.  In view of this, Councillors are intending to establish current need by means of a new survey.  Once this information has been collected, a meeting will be arranged to discuss the findings. The survey will be accessible to all and Councillors hope to circulate details of it and how to respond within the next few weeks.
Caroline Oxenham,  Parish Clerk

Broadband update – Airband delivery more than one year late!

LATEST NEWS

A month on from the last Parish Council meeting and still no sign of an Airband transmitter on Christchurch tower
At the last Parish Council meeting on 17 July , which included a discussion about local broadband provision, we were told by Simon Palmer, the Airband representative at the meeting, that installation of the Airband transmitter on Christchurch was imminent – “within a week or so”.  A month later and we are still waiting for this crucial transmitter that will serve many of the properties in the centre of the village.
Time was time limited at the Parish Council meeting and therefore a full examination of the issues was impossible.  Matt Barrow from Connecting Devon and Somerset outlined progress in providing wireless broadband to Brentor via Airband, and we learned that six transmitters will now provide a service to the Parish.  Of course some of these only serve a very small number of properties. When the Christchurch transmitter is finally installed, which he said should be very soon, a lot more houses will be able to choose this option.  It was conceded that there will still be many properties that will not be able to receive any Airband service, including some that are currently being told that a service is available!
The audience was able to ask a few questions, but there are many yet to be answered.  In particular it was disappointing to hear that there are no large Internet Service Providers willing to use the ‘open network’ provided by Airband, so there is no competition for pricing.  This is comparable to just BT offering telephone lines and broadband – which is what the Government has been trying to eliminate for years!  It was noticeable that there is a great deal of support for our village to have a fibre connection to the Mary Tavy exchange, to provide a reliable fast broadband service with plenty of competition from providers.  
County Councillor Phillip Sanders sadly had very little to add to the discussion.
After the meeting the audience congregated outside the hall where they were able to question Matt Barrow and Simon Palmer,the Airband representative.  There was considerable complaint about the sales technique of Airband relating to the need to sign up and provide bank details before Airband will do an on-site survey to determine whether their service is actually available. At least one villager has gone through this process, only to find that in the end there is no service available despite targeted email advertising to the contrary.
 
The Parish Council agreed to arrange another meeting dedicated to  discussing broadband provision, and to invite not only representatives from Airband, Connecting Devon and Somerset, and the County Council but also a representative from BT.  It would be useful if Openreach could also be represented, since they could provide the fibre services!
 

 


Back in November 2015 we were told at a public meeting in Mary Tavy that Brentor would have a wireless broadband service by mid-2016.  Recent information from Connecting Devon and Somerset is that the transmitter planned for the Christchurch tower in the middle of the village will be installed by the end of June 2017 – a year late and it’s still not here in mid-July!  The application to the Diocese to install AirBand from Christ Church has been accepted, the church is now waiting for the formal license (essentially, planning authorisation).  As soon as that arrives (which should have been by the end of June), the church will be asking AirBand to start work as soon as possible.  

Even when this transmitter is installed there will still be a large number of premises in Brentor that will probably not receive any service, due to hills or trees in their line of sight.  It also appears that even properties currently described by Airband as being able to receive a service cannot in reality get a signal due to trees etc in the line of sight and will still be unlikely to be able to get one when the Christchurch transmitter is operational.  

Some residents currently receiving a service from Airband report that, in adverse weather conditions, their signal is erratic.

At the November 2015 meeting we were told that the Airband network would be an ‘open’ service that can be used by any internet service supplier. In reality only small ISPs are willing to supply a service through the Airband system.  It now seems very unlikely that the larger ISPs, such as BT and Virgin, will supply their service via the Airband network as described at the meeting, so there will be very little price competition.

Many local villages and hamlets with overhead telephone cables are having these upgraded to fibre, but the link to Brentor is underground.  An email message from Openreach to the editor dated 16th January 2017 suggests that Brentor residents should consider part funding the cost of a fibre link to Mary Tavy themselves – although using the £20 per metre cost that Openreach quote this would cost £40,000 – £50,000 in total…….

There are plans to provide Fibre to the Customers at a distance from the Exchange (in Mary Tavy) however they are in early stages of Planning. I would request you to keep an eye on our website: http://www.homeandwork.openreach.co.uk/when-can-i-get-fibre.aspx,  for latest updates.

I understand that you are looking for the options to get Fibre, I can suggest you to get together with neighbours or a local community group and raising the money to help build the network yourself. We offer a community fibre partnership scheme where we work with local communities to jointly fund fibre cabinets. We can’t always guarantee this will be feasible, but we’d be willing to look at it if you are interested. To find out more, visit our website https://www.homeandwork.openreach.co.uk/fibre-broadband/community-fibre-partnerships.aspx.

It should be noted that some other very small local hamlets such as Hornden and Cudlipptown are now connected by Openreach to the superfast fibre network at no extra cost to their residents, despite being in the designated Airband area!  Unlike Brentor, their fibre cables are being routed on existing poles.  The Government’s policy is that it is supporting investment to provide superfast broadband coverage to 95% by December 2017 – so it looks as if much Brentor will fall into the unlucky 5%.

You can still check your broadband speed by clicking here. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).

For more information about how this issue has evolved click here

Colin Dawes, Editor

Ongoing community issues

A new section has been added to this website – ‘Ongoing Community Issues’

This sets out to provide a source of information about issues which are of ongoing concern to our village.  Often these issues first appear on this home page, but require additional space to do them justice.
Click here for information about Broadband provision for Brentor
Click here for information about Affordable Housing provision in Brentor
Click here for information about the possible new railway line through Brentor