Fibre broadband is coming to Brentor! Universal Service Obligation update

Brentor residents who 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.

However the West Blackdown 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 ombudsman has judged BT not to be at any fault in this matter and unfortunately has no jurisdiction over Openreach, since they do 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 are  being asked to pay £8,358 each to be connected to the same network! They of course are also contesting this through the communications ombudsman’s service 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.

There is a small ray of hope for a smoother outcome – recently one resident near West Blackdown has been offered free connection to the new network within 12 months, without having to fight for it! Their terms and conditions still, however, reserve the right to charge something if Openreach overspends on building the network.  Still, BT and Openreach could finally be getting the message.  The notice below, that appeared on a telephone pole opposite Station House, seems to imply that the installation of the fibre network could be  imminent, although the reference to Cornwall Council Planning does make us uneasy!  Don’t worry – it’s already being questioned!  And by the way, the email address on the poster doesn’t seem to exist!  Ah well.

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

Brentor Playing Field gets a woowoo!

Brentor villagers came together last Saturday (socially distanced) to celebrate the latest installment of the Village Hall and Playing Field Committee’s renovation project at the playing field.  A new compost toilet with disabled access ( known as a WooWoo!) and a variety of new seating joins the new shelter which was erected last autumn.  After years of little use due to a lack of facilities, a determined group of local people have continued to fund raise during lock down.

  • Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Communities Fund they were able to install the compost toilet in March.
  • A £6,000 grant from the Postcode Lottery has provided new seating for 60 people which will enable community events to be held on the playing field.
  •  A £2,500 grant from Devon County Council and money from the Lottery celebration fund has financed a path to make access easier to the shelter, seating, and toilet.

“ It has made all the difference to be able to come up to the field and spend the day here , knowing there is a toilet and shelter”  said Clare Percival.  The next stage of the restoration project is to raise funds for an adventure trail, which they hope to install next year.  A special thank you should go to Will Walker-Smith, Margaret Calder, Anna Percival and Clare Percival for all their continued hard work and fundraising.

Brentor Parish Council vacancy

DO YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR YOUR PARISH?
There is currently ONE vacancy on Brentor Parish Council
Brentor Parish Council invites members of the public who are registered electors in the parish to apply.
The Parish Council consists of 7 Councillors who all live locally and volunteer their time to support their community. Council usually meets on a Monday evening each month for a couple of hours, although this is a little different given the current pandemic.
You don’t need any special qualifications to be a local Councillor (although there is a qualifying criteria) but you do need to able to commit to a few hours every month for Council matters whether it’s attending Council meetings, reading Council papers on community matters or catching up with local residents.
So if you have a passion and enthusiasm for your community then why not find out more. The Parish Council does offer a varied and very rewarding opportunity to be a voice of your community, and to see and have a real involvement in how your parish is managed and evolved.
For more information and an application form, please contact the Clerk, or visit the Parish Council section of the village website:
Mrs. Caroline Oxenham, 1 Abbotsfield Crescent, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 8EY
Tel. 01822 481415 e-mail: brentorpc@yahoo.co.uk www.brentorvillage.org
Closing date for completed applications: 10th September 2020
The vacancy will be filled by co-option at the next Parish Council meeting on 14th September.

Any problems with Airband?

Our local MP, Geoffrey Cox, would be grateful to know of any residents who have had Airband installed and are experiencing difficulties. 
Should constituents wish to contact Mr Cox regarding this matter, they should be aware that he will pass on their concerns and details to Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), as they are keen to know of any issues in this respect.  You can contact Geoffrey Cox by email at tellgeoffrey@geoffreycox.co.uk .

Highland cattle issues

The highland cattle are back on the moor at Gibbet Hill and are causing some concern for some local residents.  Last year several people were involved in incidents with the cattle, so if you have any concerns, or wish to report an incident , please contact Parish Councillor Dave Williams by email at brentorpc4@gmail.com.

Brentorians postpone their next production

The Brentorians drama group has decided, taking into account the temporary closure of the Village Hall and the developing situation concerning the Coronavirus epidemic, that it is necessary to postpone the Brentorians production due to be performed at the end of March.  They now expect to mount their production on 19, 20 and 21 November and hope to restart their rehearsals in September.

Important Covid-19 updates from W Devon BC – what we all need to know

Important new guidelines on social distancing, meeting outdoors in public and in you own gardens, day trips etc have been issued by the government.  Here is a clear and concise guide to what they mean.

10th July – Click here to see information about changes to shielding, quarantine after foreign travel etc

3rd July- Click here to see the latest information on track and trace, weddings and civil partnerships, MOTs, driving tests etc

Phone Hotline for Council coronavirus help now available

South Hams and West Devon Councils are now offering a hotline number for residents needing help and support during the Coronavirus outbreak – but please only use it if you don’t have access to a computer or smartphone.

The number, which will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, will be answered by the Community Co-ordination Team at the Council. Outside of these hours an answerphone service will be available.

The team can help people with a wide rangeBrentor Village – A Dartmoor Community of queries, such as where to get additional help and support, as well as putting residents in touch with their nearest community support group.

The hotline is intended for people who can’t access the information and support available through the council’s websites or social media.

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: “We’d urge you to keep this number free for those residents who don’t have a computer or a smartphone, and find it more difficult to access the help we can provide. I’m pleased that we’re able to offer our most vulnerable residents this extra service during this difficult time.”

Cllr Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council agreed, saying: “It’s really important that we support our residents who are vulnerable and need help. Unfortunately these residents are often the most isolated members of our community without the benefits of technology. We want everyone to know that they aren’t alone and that if they have any questions they can pick up the phone and speak to us. If we can’t help there and then, we’ll know someone who can.”

The Community Support number in West Devon is 01822 813683.  An answerphone service is available outside of working hours.

Brentor News delivery suspended but you can still see the latest edition here

Brentor Community Trust, which publishes Brentor News, must of course suspend the delivery of printed copies of its news sheet during the coronavirus outbreak.  However you can access the latest copy and future copies of Brentor News online on this website.  You can also receive it by email if you are on the Brentor ‘E-Robin’ mailing list (see below)

Click here to go to the Brentor News page.

The Brentor ‘E-Robin’ mailing list is a free service run by Brentor Community Trust.  About 90 households are already on this list and receive the latest information about events in the village.  During the coronavirus outbreak 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 .

Sign up to receive Brentor event reminders by email!

How often do you think ‘I wish I had remembered to go to that!’?
If you sign up for the free village event reminder service that won’t happen again.
For many special village events or activities you will receive an email reminder during the week before the event. Occasionally events are put on at short notice and may only be advertised by this service.
So why not join over 80 households who have already signed up!
To take advantage of this free service just send your email to brentorinfo@btinternet.com.
Colin Dawes
 

Back numbers 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 latest

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 .

Ongoing community issues

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.

Click here for information about Broadband provision for Brentor

Click here for information about Local Needs Housing provision in Brentor

Click here for information about the possible new railway line through Brentor (part of the Dawlish alternative route)

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