Storm Dennis hit Brentor on 15th February, heavy rain causing the river Burn to overflow near Station House. The centre of the village and Station Road was awash with water, caused by the the drainage system being unable to cope with the volume of water. A few days before storm Ciara caused similar flooding.
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.
Brentor Commons Association submitted an application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in December 2019 for a grant to enable them to continue and expand their work on the Brentor commons and to carry out surveys to produce an up-to-date picture of their flora and fauna. It will enable a five-year conservation management plan to be produced, train and equip volunteers, hold events such as bat detecting, moth and small mammal trapping, pond dipping, and bird watching. They will also run walks and hold talks on the commons in the village hall.
The bid for £44,500 was successful! Well done to everyone involved! Of course the Association members are very excited about the prospects that the grant will open up, but now the real work begins. The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports environmental projects and ones which try to involve as many people as possible in the conservation, enhancement and understanding of habitats, so this application was exactly what they were looking for.
The award fits well with the objectives in The Commons Association Constitution:-
(i) To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation, and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Bowden and Liddaton Down.
(ii) To advance the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of the Brentor Commons.
The Executive Committee will be meeting soon to discuss plans and how they will implement them over the next 3 years. They will welcome ideas, suggestions and involvement from everyone in the coming months and years as this grant opens up many possibilities that they have aspired to in the past but have not always had the resources to follow up.
In 2018 the Government introduced a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband provision, aiming for this to be in place by 2020 at the latest. It is now being introduced from 20 March 2020.
The Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband is a UK-wide measure intended as a “safety net” to deliver broadband to those premises that do not have access to a decent and affordable connection. Although it will be up to BT to determine who is eligible, it would seem reasonable to think that homes in Brentor that cannot currently receive a service from Airband, and which also cannot get 4G mobile service will fall within the eligible group .
The Government have defined a ‘decent connection’ as one that can deliver 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed (along with other defined quality parameters). Ofcom has defined an affordable connection as one that costs less than £45 per month.
The USO provides a legal right to request a decent broadband connection, up to a cost threshold of £3,400. For Brentor the question may be whether the cost of providing a fibre cable across the moor from Mary Tavy will cost less than this price per household supplied under the terms of the USO, but of course such a connection would benefit other premises in our village.
BT have been designated as the Universal Service Providers responsible for fulfilling requests from eligible consumers, so what are the eligibility criteria?
Residents and businesses are eligible for the USO if:
• they do not have access to a decent broadband connection (10 Mbps download speed, 1 Mbps upload speed and other specified quality parameters); or
• if the only service available that can provide the minimum criteria costs more than £45 per month; and
• the property is not due to be connected to a publicly funded roll-out scheme within 12 months; and
• the connection will cost no more than £3,400 to build (or the customer has chosen to pay the excess above that amount).
Access to a decent connection means by any technology capable of delivering the standard, including wireless networks such as mobile broadband.
Ofcom estimated in December 2019 that approximately 155,000 premises (0.5% of UK) would potentially be eligible for the USO taking into account fixed-line and wireless connections.
So when and how can a request be made? We will be able to request connections from 20 March 2020. Requests will be made through BT. Once a request is made, there will be standards placed on BT for how quickly they must assess and deliver on requests for connections.
Any technology capable of delivering the minimum technical USO standards could be considered to deliver connections, including mobile broadband. In practice, the government thinks that most connections under the USO are likely to use full-fibre technology or fibre-to-the-cabinet.
Depending on the technology used to deliver the connection some consumers may receive a higher quality connection than the minimum standards.
Ofcom has published an FAQ page on the USO: Your right to request a decent broadband service: What you need to know (9 October 2019). Click here to see it.
In their 2019 election pledges the Conservative party made a further pledge beyond the USO. Their manifesto states:
‘We are Europe’s technology capital, producing start-ups and success stories at a dazzling pace. But not everyone can share the benefits. We intend to bring full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025.’
In his election leaflet in December 2019 our local MP, Geoffrey Cox, states that he will be ‘Turbocharging Digital Connectivity’. To do this there will be ‘gigabit broadband for all parts of Torridge and West Devon by 2025 with a new £5bn commitment to rural areas.’ He also restates elsewhere in his leafle that ‘A pledge of superfast digital connectivity for rural areas will be backed by a £5bn commitment.’
If you don’t have a decent broadband connection it will definitely be worth applying for one under the USO regulations. Perhaps, if enough Brentor residents apply, BT will put a fibre cable across the moor to Brentor! It might also be worth contacting Geoffrey Cox MP to ensure that both of the Government commitments are actually implemented as promised! Even 10mbs would be better than the 5mbs and below for those of us in the parish who are unable to access the Airband system. Superfast broadband would be a game changer for those Brentor residents currently trying to manage with less than 5mbs!
For information, below is the House of Commons Library Briefing that details the Government’s plans to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband. It was published on June 5, 2018.
What is the broadband USO?
The UK Government is introducing a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband. The new USO is a UK-wide measure to deliver broadband connections to the hardest to reach premises in the UK. It is intended to fill the gap left by the UK Government’s existing broadband roll-out programs.
The USO will provide a legal right to request a broadband connection of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed. Eligible consumers and businesses will be able to request a connection under the USO and a Universal Service Provider(s) will be required to fulfil all requests up to a cost threshold of £3,400. The USO will be funded by industry through a cost-sharing fund.
The USO is underpinned by secondary legislation made under the Digital Economy Act 2017, and will be implemented by Ofcom. The Digital Economy Act allows for the Government to review the USO and to increase the minimum speed. There was broad cross-party and consumer support for the introduction of a statutory USO for broadband in general, but there were mixed views from industry stakeholders as to how universal access to broadband should be delivered.
The minimum technical standards for connections made under the USO will be:
- Minimum download speed of 10 Mbps.
- Minimum upload speed of 1 Mbps.
- Additional quality parameters: medium response times, a minimum data cap of 100 GBs and a contention rate of 50:1 (which means a maximum of 50 users to share one bandwidth).
A mix of technologies that meet the minimum specifications will be used to deliver the service. In 2016 Ofcom advised that satellite connections will probably be the only option for some consumers (approx. 0.2%) but may not be able to fulfil the additional quality parameters.
When will the USO be implemented?
The Government is aiming for the USO to be in place by 2020 at the latest. Secondary legislation was laid in Parliament in March 2018, and came into force on 23 April 2018. Ofcom has responsibility to implement the USO and that process is expected to take up to two years. Several factors need to be finalised, such as the designation of a universal service provider, and the design of an industry cost-sharing fund. Ofcom’s first document on the USO implementation is expected in summer 2018.
How many premises will be eligible?
Ofcom reported that as of January 2018, 925,000 premises in the UK (3%) would qualify for the USO based on the proposed technical specifications.
The USO will be available only to those consumers that do not have access to broadband connections that fulfil the minimum standards, not those who have such a connection available but choose not to subscribe to it. The number of premises covered by the USO will ultimately depend on the number of consumers that register.
If anyone in Brentor has further information please do contact the website Editor, Colin Dawes, at email@example.com.
For more information about how this issue has evolved click here
You can still check your broadband speed by clicking here. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).
Colin Dawes, Editor
There will be a fundraising event in the Village Hall to raise funds for the Australian bushfire disaster, a Charity Meal on Friday 28th February, at 7.00pm. You are asked to bring a ‘Buffet Dish’, hot or cold, to share. The suggested donation is £5.00 per person. Why not come along and enjoy a fun and sociable evening get-together! Bring your own drinks.
More details from Sheryl, tel 870554
The CHICKS national charity (Country Holidays For Inner City Kids) has sold its Brentor property, Moorland Retreat (formerly Bonnaford) as a potential hotel. The sale has been agreed and it is understood that the new owners intend to open the property as an hotel.
The charity bought Moorland Retreat in 2006 but has not been using it for holidays since 2018 and has other bases in Cornwall and Derbyshire. At one time the charity had intended to build its headquarters in Brentor and to refurbish its property here. Its annual reports show that it has been considering what to do with the Brentor property since 2018.
The organisation is one of the charities supported this year by the current High Sheriff of Devon, Simon Martin, who lives in Brentor.
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!
After almost three years, Villages in Action events are back in Brentor Village Hall on 8th March. This service, which organises professional drama, dance and music events in rural locations, closed due to loss of funding from Devon local authorities. But it is now back , piggy-backing on Cornwall’s Carn To Cove organisation. Funding from Arts Council England has been influential in making this happen.
The first event is ‘Twisted Tales Vol.2’ from the Owdyado Theatre company – Don’t miss it! Tickets, £9 for adults, £7 for children and concessions, £25 family, are available from Sue Fraser, tel 811097, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to a grant from the Communities Lottery, the Village Hall and Playing Field Committee is pleased to announce that they have ordered a compost toilet, which should be installed in early March at the Playing Field (weather permitting).
Once installed, the toilet, which is also suitable for disabled persons, will be open for public use and a path will be added later when funds allow.
The toilet will belong to the whole village who will ALL be responsible for looking after it.
If you have any queries about this project please email email@example.com
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:
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.
The Parish Council is trying to organise a meeting with the County Council Highways department about local concerns regarding the speeding of traffic through our village.
The current speed limit throughout the village is 60mph, which is clearly too fast for many of our roads. If you have witnessed traffic obviously travelling too fast through Brentor please contact Caroline Oxenham, Parish Clerk, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
There are many people in Brentor who remember happy times in the Brentor Inn when it was open – a real meeting place for the community. Do you have any photographs that could be made into a gallery about the pub on this website? Here’s a good one as a starter…….
Did you know that the Brentor Inn used to be called The Herrings Arms – no doubt because for many years the Herring family owned Langstone and local land, including some alongside Burn Lane.
What a shame that Brentor no longer has a pub that is open. Back in May 2005 Brentor News carried the following article:-
‘ Brentor Inn Update
The new owners of the Brentor Inn – Cynthia and Dudley Smith, daughter Emma Harcourt- Smith and partner Andy Stone – are hoping to open by Christmas. Since buying The Brentor Inn last June, they have needed several re-thinks on structure, design and layout but now feel they have an achievable scheme and “will be applying for planning permission for the changes within the next two weeks”.
Changes will include a new kitchen, toilets and a cellar. The intention is to open initially as a pub with a range of beers and simple but goodbar food. The function room will open later – hopefully with restaurant facilities.
Sharp-eyed passers-by will have noticed the recent appearance in the car park of a JCB, which has been purchased for the construction. The family has engineering experience in varying forms – which should help.
We are happy to report that they all categorically deny any rumours about applying for change of use! ‘
In response to this website’s request for memories of the Brentor Inn during its heyday, (scroll down the page to see this), Francesca Bell has sent this photo.
She writes: “Just having a lovely read of your Brentor Village page and thought you may like this photo. It’s at the then Brentor Inn the day of my younger brother’s christening about 1968. My dad in the background, Eric Doidge, farmer at Cross Trees Farm South Brentor, my Mum Celia (a Brentorian, I’ve memorabilia from then – original programmes and photographs), then there is my sister Beverley, my brother Ashley, myself Francesca and my grandmother Ethel May Scott (formerly of the Fox and Hounds).
Many a cherryade had on that day by the look of it!
Regards Francesca Bell (nee Doidge) “
If you also have any memories of the Brentor Inn we would be pleased to hear from you.
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 email@example.com .
This section of the website 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
Our new Village Hall is there to be used! Why not use it for a party or other event? Very reasonable charges!
You can find out when it is available by using the Events Calendar on this website.