With the easing of lockdown your community volunteers have begun to press on with improving the broadband connections in our parish….sorry for the break in service and we hope you have kept safe and well! During these difficult times it has become much clearer how important good internet connection is, whether it be to assist those working at home, our children as they try to do home schooling, or simply to keep in touch with loved ones far away. And this will continue to be the case.
So let’s get 1Gbps connections to every household and business within this parish (for some that represents 30 times faster download and 200 times faster upload…and for some even more than that!) . Let us continue to help each other. Please remember that in parts of the parish closer to the A590, or those with line of sight wireless you may feel your current broadband arrangements are perfectly adequate. But with a direct fibre broadband connection to your property this will future proof you as the need for data connection speeds continue to grow exponentially.
SO how are we getting on?
The Witherslack, Ulpha and Meathop community B4RN project has now got 137 sign ups (in excess of 33% of properties in the parish). This means that we have £298,000 government grant already allocated to this project;
We have worked out the route for Route One (Levens to the hub end at the Village Hall). And we believe we have talked to all relevant landowners along this route and have, in principle, reached agreement for crossing various parcels of land…a great achievement.
In our last newsletter we told you about our four routes
Route 1 Gilpin Bridge-Foulshaw-Town End- Village Hall
Route 2 Millside-Beck Head Oversands School- The Lawns
Route 3 Town End-Derby Arms-Faraway-Ulpha Farm-Meathop
Route 4 Halecat- Dean Barwick School Spa-Strickland-High Low Farm
Fern Hill- Nichols Moss-Helm Crag
Along Route One we have 59 of a 153 possible properties signed up. This route includes two spurs; one serving Foulshaw properties (where we have 65% of properties signed up) and one serving Whitbarrow Lodge (where 80 % properties are signed up).
We have also begun to plan for Route Four (Village Hall to serve Dean Barwick School and beyond) and we are progressing well with all landowner discussions along this route.
Last week there were three events that have increased confidence that this will happen (and very soon):
Firstly the Govt announced additional funding to those parishes not well served by broadband in Cumbria, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Borderlands Infrastructure is intended to double the value of vouchers values, possibly allowing us to bring down additional funding to our parish project – further details to follow; If you haven't applied for a voucher CLICK HERE to apply
Secondly, the Govt announced additional funding to connect rural primary schools; and
Thirdly we had a meeting with B4RN, and subject to wayleaves being signed and for us to begin encouraging community investment in the project, then build may begin in Autumn this year i.e. possibly as early as end of next month!! (Please note that it will only be once fibre is blown will you be able to actually use the 1Gbt connection so don’t cancel any contracts yet!)
So what are our next steps?
We now need to seriously consider what goes into First Build (i.e.Phase One). Route One for certain (subject to landowners signing wayleaves) but, additionally, we are now pursuing the inclusion of the whole of Route Four (again subject to wayleaves). Route 4 links the village hub with properties along the Winster valley including Halecat, Dean Barwick school and beyond. And that could be for starters.
We need fibre duct routes as planned by B4RN confirmed on the ground with landowners and wayleaves signed. A small team, led by Niels, have been doing an incredible job and our sincere thanks to all landowners who are agreeing us free access across their land – again demonstrating this is a whole community effort. Speed and additional volunteer power are now of the essence. Please get in touch with the team if you can assist with landowner coordination, route confirmation/walkovers and wayleaves.
We need to encourage further sign ups in the parish, but particularly along those Routes going in to Phase One. Over the next three weeks we intend to leaflet drop to every house and business who has not yet signed up along Phase One, updating our intention for build this year. If anyone wishes to volunteer to help on these leaflet drops then please email Steve at email@example.com. But, please, the best thing for this project is for you to tell your neighbours and friends.
We need to encourage community investments. This is something we haven’t yet encouraged as (a) we only wanted to ask once we have certainty that we will deliver; and (b) we still don’t know the amount needed as it all depends on govt voucher take-up and overall costs. But this opportunity is now opening up. And our maximum target is £60k.
So the details: B4RN Shares are purchased at £1 per share, currently attract 5% interest payable annually, have to be kept for a minimum of 3 years, and can only be sold back to B4RN for £1 per share. When investing in B4RN you SHOULD name the Witherslack, Ulpha and Meathop project as the one you wish to help build. These shares are called “withdrawable shares”, there are risks associated with buying these shares given that they are subject to the society’s financial position and the decisions of the directors. For more information about B4RN shares see B4RN investments Investments of £1,500 and over are eligible for free connection (saving £150). Each investor can benefit from up to four free connections from a £6,000 share purchase. These free connections can be donated to other people. You may feel it appropriate to take professional advice before investing.
…and we need to do all of this within a few weeks!! So if you feel energized then get ready…B4RN is coming and we will need more volunteers (and investors).
As always, if you have any questions then please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your WUM team :-)
Sue Caddy (B4RN)