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Advisory Group - Business and Telecommunications



Rattery Parish Council - Business and Telecommunications Advisory Group

Aims:

1.       To gather information and provide advice to the Parish Council on matters relating to the business community within the parish and to matters concerning the provision of efficient and effective Broadband and mobile telephony services;
2.       To offer an interface between parishioners (including the business community) and the Parish Council on matters relating to business and telecommunications services;

Objectives:
1.       Consult with parishioners on matters relating to business and                                telecommunications;
2.       Carry out research as above;
3.       Liaise with outside bodies;
4.       Monitor and report on progress with the Parish Plan;
5.       Make recommendations to the Parish Council;
6.       Organise community action (as agreed by the Parish Council);

Membership:

Membership will be open to interested parties, including businesses operating in the parish.  The Council will nominate a serving Parish Councillor to provide the formal link between the Advisory Group and the Council.  Representative(s) of outside bodies will be invited to attend meetings at the Chairman’s discretion.

Initial membership of the Advisory Group is as follows:

Michael Jack CBE (chair)
Cllr Rob Hatt
Mr Nigel King
Mrs Debby Charman
Mr Chris Charman
Mr Will Edwards
Ms Elaine Leach
Mr Ian Samuel

January 2018


FAST BROADBAND FOR RATTERY - Updated April 2018

Since its establishment last summer, the Parish Council’s Business and Telecommunications Advisory Group has continued to investigate the possibility of obtaining improved Broadband services for the whole of Rattery Parish.  A meeting in late 2017 with Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), the organisation set up to deliver next generation broadband infrastructure to areas where the market has failed to invest, provided further information about implementation plans, which are summarised below:

The existing BT / Open Reach system

Because it is based on copper wire, the current BT/OpenReach system cannot provide fast broadband speeds.  At one point it was thought that BT might be prepared to bring a fibre cable to the cabinet at Almshouse Cross, utilising the underground ducting that already exists.  If that were to happen then households in the immediate vicinity would be able to access fast broadband via the Open Reach network.  But it has emerged more recently that this will only be possible if a substantial financial contribution is made by the community.  Given the limited scope of such a solution this is not something that is currently being actively pursued.

Fixed Wireless Internet

Fixed wireless is the broadband of choice in a number of countries including South Africa, Italy, America, Australia and many others.  The technology is generally robust and is not affected by the weather because the signal only covers very short distances.  Fixed wireless provider Airband Community Internet Ltd. have erected two masts in the Parish (one on Culver Lane, the other close to Willing Cross) and to date approximately 30 premises in the Parish have subscribed to this service.  It should be noted that a number of early teething problems were reported, most believed to be the result of power supply issues which Airband claim to have resolved with the installation of additional equipment.  It is hoped that the service will now be more reliable, but please continue to report outages if these occur.

Premises that are within “line of sight” of one of the two transmitters are expected to obtain high speed broadband of at least 20Mbs. To establish whether you can obtain this service, log on to Airband’s website (www.airband.co.uk) and enter your address in the checker.  The website contains information about the services that are available, including a video that demonstrates how it works.

4G cellular network

4G is a relatively easy way of quickly gaining a faster internet connection. It works by using the well-established 4G mobile phone network to access broadband services.  4G technology is offered by four companies listed on the Connecting Devon and Somerset website.  EE seem to provide the best 4G coverage in this area and as the majority of EE 4G masts are by the main A roads, the infrastructure is already there.  The Vodafone network has recently been upgraded and may provide an alternative to EE.

These two companies have conducted preliminary surveys which show good coverage over most of the parish but with weak reception in the low-lying part of the village centre. If you are considering this system then companies will conduct an individual survey before you agree to installation.

Its worth noting that no 4G network offers an unlimited data option making usage potentially much more expensive than indicated by the advertised monthly figures. With any capped service such as 4G, care needs to be taken to avoid accidental data usage, such as switching iPlayer to standard definition rather than HD and avoiding automatic cloud photo backups. You could start on a 30 day flexible contract to establish data usage and then upgrade to a 12 month contract. Some users opt to maintain their phone line broadband service and use this for overnight cloud uploads.

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

Once available this technology potentially offers the fastest broadband option, with speeds of 50Mbps – 1Gbps promised.  CDS have recently awarded a contract to Gigaclear Ltd to deliver ultrafast fibre broadband as part of their programme and have confirmed that Rattery is included within the “South Moor” Lot 6 of the implementation programme which is scheduled for delivery in 2019.  Gigaclear’s website () includes the means to check whether your address is included within their rollout plans, and if so provides the chance to register your interest in order to receive updates on progress.   We’d recommend as many people as possible in the Parish to register their interest at this stage as this should reassure Gigaclear that there is likely to be demand for their service once it becomes available. 

Although yet to be launched, we understand that CDS is developing a new voucher scheme which will be designed to help towards the cost of connection to the new service for the owners of eligible properties.  In addition, the Government has recently announced its Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to assist small businesses and surrounding local communities to gain access to gigabit capable connections.  Further details of both schemes will be shared once this become available.

It is clear that the position is continuing to evolve as further funding streams become available.  In the circumstances the Advisory Group would urge you to revisit this page from time to time as it will be updated to reflect latest available information.

April 2018


Report to Parish Council meeting on 13.02.18. - Cllr R Hatt
Broadband
Connecting Devon and Somerset have not responded to the letter sent in November, but from copy correspondence seen it appears that the announcement that Gigaclear have included Rattery within their plans means that it will not be possible for the Parish to receive further support. Thus when deciding how the gainshare funding repaid by BT is to be used, CDS will focus on the remaining hard to reach properties that are not currently included in any of the lots from both phase 1 and phase 2 of their delivery programme.

If this is correct, it raises some questions, particularly as Gigaclear have identified less than 70% of the properties in Rattery Parish for Fibre to the Premises connection. These proposals fall well short of the Government’s commitment that 95% of the UK would have access to Superfast broadband services by December 2017, with Gigaclear’s service not due to become operational until 2019 and there being no indication at this stage how the needs of the remaining properties in the Parish will be met. The Advisory Group will reconvene to consider the position prior to further contact with CDS. In the meantime, updated information has been posted on the Rattery Village website outlining the options current available and encouraging parishioners to register their interest with Gigaclear.
Signage and Parking
“No parking” signs have been placed on the left hand side of the entrance to the village green; on the lane directly opposite the entrance; and adjacent to the junction with Garden Close. This, together with signs directing traffic towards additional parking at the village hall appears to have eased the congestion that was being experienced in the run up to Christmas.


Report to Parish Council meeting on 09.01.18.
Broadband
Following discussion by the Parish Council at the meeting on the 14 November 2017, a letter was sent on 22 November to Ms Keri Denton, Programme Director for Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) c/o Devon County Council requesting the release of funds to allow OpenReach to instal the planned cabinet at Alms House Cross and link this to BT's fibre network at Buckfastleigh. The letter also included an offer of assistance by the Parish Council to help CDS/GigaClear identify farms and other remote properties within the Parish as part of their planning process. Unfortunately, to date no response has been received from CDS. The letter was copied to Cllr Stuart Barker (DCC) and Cllr Hosking CC.
Following the presentation by a representative of CDS to the Business and Telecomms Advisory Group (B&TAG) in September, further information has now been posted on the CDS website indicating that work by GigaClear to connect individual properties in the Parish to their dedicated fibre network is scheduled to commence in January 2019 and be
completed by June 2019, although the website notes that "this may be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.” At this stage there is no confirmation of the premises that will be within scope for the programme, the website merely saying that there is a commitment to "send out communications to properties involved as soon as the scheduling process is complete.”
Given the level of uncertainty about future Broadband options, it is not surprising that as reported to members of the Business and Telecommunications Advisory Group this issue remains the number one priority for local businesses. The Advisory Group met in early December to consider the outcome of a number of one to one discussions involving some of the larger local employers and concluded that at this stage it would be premature to arrange the planned breakfast meeting with businesses until more detailed information becomes available about future Broadband provision. In the meantime, the Chair of the Advisory Group will make contact with Sarah Woolaston MP, whose office has, at the suggestion of CDS, recently been referring enquiries from parishioners about Broadband delivery back to the Advisory Group - a less than satisfactory situation for all concerned!
Signage and Parking
Contact has been made with Messrs Eddie & Rob Watts, the owners of the Windy Corner industrial units, to discuss signage. They recognise the problems caused by delivery vehicles unable to locate the estate and whilst reluctant to place a specific sign at the entrance to the estate agreed that improved signage to identify Windy Corner itself would help; this has now been achieved by adding the name “windy corner” to the existing finger post.
The ongoing pressure in the centre of the village for parking places during busy times was discussed at a meeting in December convened by the Parish Council involving the owner of the Church House Inn (Will Edwards), the PCC (represented by Cllr Jopson) and the chair of the Village Hall committee (Alison Samuel). It was confirmed that use of the Village Hall carpark as an overspill (when not otherwise required) remains a viable option and a sign to that effect is now placed at the entrance to the "village green" on a semi-permanent basis. This has been supplemented by a direction sign pointing towards the Village Hall on a wall to the right of the entrance. In addition, the publican has ordered a number of “no parking” signs which will be placed close to the entrance to avoid unsafe parking on the road and in the immediate entrance to the "village green”. These steps will hopefully help to overcome the problems recently experienced by local neighbours, but in the longer term it is possible that an area of land immediately adjoining the Village Hall will be made available to offer a more permanent solution. The idea of marking out parking spaces on the "village green” was again mentioned, with design ideas currently being worked up for further consideration. Should a detailed proposal be put forward, we made it clear that this would need to be considered and agreed by all three parties (CHI, the PCC and the Parish Council) before any action is taken.


Planning for the Future of our Businesses
South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council.
As part the ongoing work towards the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan, South Hams and West Devon Councils are currently gathering information that can help them to understand the future need for commercial land and premises in our area.
So if you own a business and think you might need bigger premises, more land or you might want to move into the South Hams or West Devon in the future, please take five minutes to fill in our short survey. You will be helping us prepare for your future needs.

Click here to go to survey