Christmas Report 22nd December 2016
This Christmas report follows on from the one we filed online in November and is full of seasonal cheer!
Balance of Funding – joining Hants County Council Match Funding Scheme would more than solve the shortfall!
Our shortfall from the original funding was only £12,000. One option was to repeat the request for funding or take up offers of guarantees from some generous residents. But as you know, we have been quietly working at finding an alternative solution. It’s been months in gestation - and we regret that for confidentiality’s sake we have had to keep our cards very close to our chests - but now we can publicise this option.
Hampshire County Council made an important announcement on 14th December under the title ‘Thousands more Hampshire properties to benefit from superfast broadband’. You can read it here , but for us the only really significant sentence is the final one:
“….A further 2,000 premises could also be reached through the £1m Community Match Funding Scheme which allows the County Council to provide up to half of the funding for communities who want to self-fund”.
That means that by joining, the Hyde Community Project will be eligible for up to 50% funding, which removes any issues over the shortfall and raises the very real opportunity of a refund to all pledgers of a significant proportion of their generosity.
From very early on we felt that our funding solution could be met through transferring our contract into the HCC match-funding initiative at an appropriate juncture in our contract’s performance. It has been a slow process, not least as the BDUK contract operated by HCC required Government approval and is technically rather different to ours - the legal eagles have been heavily involved! However, the goodwill on both sides has been firm: if HCC could get to the point of starting to operate their self-funding programme and could find a way of facilitating the contract change and if we could ensure that our key points remain in place, then both sides very much wanted to make the transfer happen.
We are now close to agreeing the final Change Contract wording and then it will be formally announced by both HCC and BTOR. As soon as the ink is dry on those papers we will be in touch with you all to confirm and provide more detail on the implications of those changes.
In other areas of the project:
Cabinet sitings and approvals
We have made good progress over the last 4 weeks. With Roly’s invaluable help The Verderers have given their approval to our sites and plans and the New Forest NPA has given consent for the cabinets in Stuckton, Frogham Crossroads and at Strawberry Farm for Blissford. We are now consulting with Natural England over the remaining 2 sites and we hope to resolve any issues at the start of January; that will allow the NPA to clear the way for BT Openreach’s construction works.
Morrisons are the Civil Engineers who will be installing the ducting and cabinets and David and Roly are working closely with the BTOR engineering group who are commissioning the work. If we are to keep to our 31st March completion deadline, this work will need to start in early January. There may be some minor disruption around the build sites and we would ask for your smiles, cheery waves, hot coffee and leftover Christmas cake and general encouragement for the installation teams - after all, without ducts and cabinets there will be no fibre!
Post delivery service support
Once the system is live and residents have contracted with a CP (comms provider) of their choice, individual problems will be handled by the CP under the service agreement. However, where e.g. several homes in one area all have a similar service problem, then it may well be a network issue - and that is the point where our direct support from BTOR would come into play.
You may recall that 7 of our neighbours have not been offered any improvements at all from the Community Scheme or from BDUK’s Scheme for North Gorley. We are pressing hard for BT to confirm what the solution is for these premises and are hopeful that, after a year of persistent nagging by the Hyde team, BT will provide a viable way forward. But it appears this solution could impact the project costs, hence some caution is still required over the final price for the Community Broadband Project.
North Gorley Scheme
You may also recall that earlier in the year the broadband cabinet in North Gorley was subsumed into the HCC/BDUK Programme. This meant that this cabinet would be provided free, though many residents there continued to support the remaining 5 cabinets in a wonderful demonstration of neighbourly support. This cabinet is also nearing approval from Natural England and we suspect that all the cabinets and civil works etc will be synchronised to allow one delivery team to work on all the cabinets.
So we wish you all a Happy Christmas & lots of reasons to be cheerful in the New Year!!
Peter, David, Roly - and the HCP Committee