Investment Update – May 2019

B4RN is now expected to be going live in parts of Rathmell by the end of June.

As you will remember our initial investment target was for us to be able to start the dig on Route 1.

We have raised £65k so far and that money has now been spent in bringing Route 1 to its current state, under budget.

Unfortunately the Government voucher scheme isn’t going to give us anything like the remaining amount for the rest of the work.

We need to raise approximately another £30-50k to complete our Phase 1 area which includes Route 1 (almost complete), the rest of central Rathmell, and the initial part of the route to Wigglesworth/Tosside as far as Cappleside. The exact amount we need will depend on how many vouchers are successfully applied for and our future digging costs.

To make an investment download a form from here

https://b4rn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Share-application-form-B4RN-V6-13.11.18…pdf

The B4RN share prospectus is downloadable from here

https://b4rn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Invitation-to-Subscribe-for-shares-in-B4RN.pdf

The majority of the investment so far has come from people who are going to have to wait for more money to be raised before they can get connected.  It would be great if those who will shortly be able to go live on B4RN who would like to invest could return the favour and help us raise the funds needed to complete Phase 1.

We would also welcome any additional investment that existing investors could contribute.

Gooselands Voucher applications

One of the postcodes that has been accepted by DCMS for both residential and business vouchers is BD24 0LT i.e. Gooselands in Rathmell.  B4RN have asked for as many BD24 0LT residents as possible to register now on http://b4rn.org.uk/postcode-checker as this will help both to lower costs and release more money back into the project.  This should also mean that we would be able to get Gooselands properties dug and connected sooner rather than later.  

May 2019 update

Dig & Fibre Blowing progress

As per the map below we have had a lot of progress over the last week or so. 

Green shows where there is Live fibre, Red shows where fibre has been blown into the access chambers (manholes) but is not yet spliced (joined up), and orange shows where we have duct. 

n.b. when the fibre is blown into the chambers it then needs to be split out and spliced to the next section of fibre, either to link to the next chamber or to serve a property(s), this splicing is done by a separate team who need to get scheduled in by B4RN. 

Further route 1 fibre blowing is now awaiting the arrival in stock at B4RN of the 288 fibre cable that we need to have blown into the rest of route 1.

The road crossings at the old school field and at Gawthorpe House have both been completed this week, we just need to get a few ends of ducts dug in and jointed and we will have a fully dug in trunk route ducting.

Digging has been ongoing up at Rome farm and the line to Parsons Close has now been completed. Digging will continue in Rathmell next week to lay in the property spur ducts on the north side of Hesley Lane from Gawthorpe House to The Grange and a couple of other outstanding property spurs off route 1. 

If you are on Route 1 then if you haven’t already done so you need to be working on the following: Get your garden dig done

Get the ducting into your garden (in most cases from the field adjoining your property) and across the garden to your house wall.  As per previous emails the orange duct needs to run below ground, please do all you can to go under garden walls / fences rather than through or over them, and please consider the chances of you or someone else damaging the ducting when doing future work in the garden (probably best to be more than a single spade depth down), use extra protection (e.g. blue water pipe) if you can’t dig it in deep.

If you need help in doing your dig then ask around for help from neighbours, a group working together can do a lot in short time.

There is also a gardener who has done work for people on garden digs on other B4RN projects and would do similar work for residents on this project, his name is Robert Davidson and he can be contacted on 07766662861 or email robert.davidson83@outlook.com.

Get a House Kit installed

I’ve given out 25 house kits over the last few weeks and have another 20 ready to get out to you.  Rather than me spend time chasing people to try and give them out, I’ve decided that it would be best if people arrange to come and pick up a kit from me, so get in touch to arrange a pickup if you are on Route 1 and don’t yet have a kit.

We have a Rathmell based electrician, Craig Curry, who is B4RN trained to install house kits and you can contact him on 07941 085086 or email craig.curry@btinternet.com to arrange an install.

4th April 2019 update

Now the whole area voucher application has been approved, Route 1 is no longer ‘on hold’ and the ordering / blowing of fibre is being worked into B4RN’s plans and will proceed as soon as possible.

We also have dates for the 2 road crossings on Hesley Lane which are planned as

29th April – Old school field crossing

1st May – Gawthorpe House crossing

The crossing at the Reading Room to the lane beside the church has been quoted for and so should follow in the next batch of planned work during May or early June

The control node cabinet is now in place on its concrete base in the Reading Room car park, which is another major step forward.

Digging has also still been under way and ducting is now in place up to Swainstead incorporating the first stretch of the route towards Sheepwash and Wham.

Voucher scheme update

Voucher scheme update

We’ve had some news back on this from B4RN as follows, and it does get a bit complicated so I’ll do my best to set it out as simply as I can:

  • DCMS responded that more of the postcodes included in the whole area application will also have to be excluded as there has already been some government money allocated to properties in the same postcode (n.b. this can be money for contracts that have been awarded but where work has not been started), this primarily affects some, but not all, of the properties on Route 1 and central Rathmell
  • DCMS have now accepted the whole area application once it was resubmitted without those postcodes
  • non-business properties in excluded postcodes will not be able to be included in the whole area application that B4RN have submitted and so will not be eligible to apply under the voucher scheme
  • B4RN have found that they have been able to successfully apply on a single property basis for a business that is in one of the postcodes that is excluded under the whole area application so it seems the rules are different for businesses

B4RN will be inputting the relevant lists of postcodes for both the project area and the postcodes that are eligible for a voucher under the whole area application into their online form and will notify me when it is ready for people to sign up. The online process will automatically give you the relevant form for a voucher / non-voucher based on your property postcode.

This may well mean that there will be places where one residential property is eligible for a voucher and their immediate neighbour is not purely based on them having a different postcode.  I have to stress that this is solely due to the DCMS rules and not under the control of either B4RN or the local project team.  We should just treat it as a bonus that the whole area can get some benefit for every voucher that we can make use of.

Important: on the non-voucher version of the form it will have a tick box for you to say whether the property is a business or not – if you tick this box the B4RN office will follow up with you to go through a single business application on your behalf, and as part of the process will need to see one of the following pieces of evidence for the business:

  • VAT registration
  • Charity Registration
  • HMRC notification/letter stating the sole trader/partnership UTR number
  • Certification of incorporation (Limited Companies)
  • Business bank account statement issued within the last three months
  • Non-domestic rates reference
  • A Recent utility bill  

A qualifying business can be anything from a sole trader / micro business (e.g. a mobile hair dresser who does their books at home) up to a medium sized company, or a farm.  It does not unfortunately apply to people like me who work from home for a company based elsewhere.

Benefits of the voucher scheme to the property owner are as follows:

For a business (either under the whole area application or single property application) : £300 cash back towards costs of getting across the curtilage / house kit installation and the normal £150 connection fee is waived, so an effective £450

For a residential property: £150 cash back towards costs of getting across the curtilage / house kit installation and the normal £150 connection fee is waived, so an effective £300n.b. the cash back is payable when B4RN get confirmation from DCMS that the connection is live, and DCMS check this by emailing the property owner when B4RN tell DCMS they have been connected.  These emails must be responded to within 28 days or the voucher becomes void and B4RN don’t get to claim their costs back and the property owner would not get the cash back.The benefit to the project is that whatever costs B4RN can claim back for a property on the voucher scheme will be ploughed back into the same project allowing us to do more and reduce the amount of overall investment required.

21 March 2019 update

Dig Progress

Route1 Trunk is now all dug in!! The remaining road crossing at the old school field on Hesley Lane is expected to be in April.  The B4RN civils team laid the base for the distribution cabinet (green box) and dig in its power connection from the Reading Room.  Once the cabinet base is in place B4RN will be able to install the cabinet itself. Digging will continue over the coming weeks to fill out the Route 1 spurs to Rome / Swaw Beck / Swainstead / Old Sawmill / Hesley Lane (Gawthorpe House-The Grange) and the central Rathmell ‘head-ends’.

Voucher Scheme

B4RN are still waiting to hear from DCMS regarding the Voucher Scheme application for the area, B4RN have a number of applications in progress and have been in contact with DCMS to prioritise our area application.  Once the application is approved I will be able to send you a link to B4RN’s online form where you will be able to register to get a connection under the voucher scheme.  I’ll send more details on this at the time.

House Kits / Garden Digs

I am going to be collecting a batch of house kits from B4RN during next week and so we will soon be in a position to provide them to those who have asked for them so far.  If the voucher scheme is approved I am told there should be an allowance per property being connected under the voucher scheme to be put towards the house kit install and/or garden dig costs.  I don’t have full details on this yet but I will provide more info as soon as I have it.

2nd October update – digging well underway, and we’re looking for contractors

Over the summer and since the last update, Roger has made sure that good progress was made… digging started and several kilometres of cable are now in the ground between the LEWFA project and Rathmell. As I write, we’re expecting an imminent visit from B4RN’s technicians to have a look at details such as power supply up at Rathmell Reading Room, where our central cabinet will be located.

wanted: mole plough contractors

But we’re also slightly victims of our (or B4RN’s) success, because our mole plough contractors have been too busy to dig for RW(G)BB in recent weeks.

We’re putting out a call for other people who would be willing and able to mole plough to get in touch with us. B4RN experience / accreditation is an advantage because there’s immediate work for anyone who can jump straight in and knows the specifics of the project. We think training can be arranged for contractors who mole plough but not yet for B4RN, so please get in touch if you’re interested in the work!

RWBB first dig training meeting – 16th May 2018

On Wednesday 16th May, we held our first meeting since reaching the initial funding target and being given the go-ahead by B4RN. The purpose of the meeting was for B4RN’s experts to give basic training to our own dig team. A mole plough is on its way to us, and the digging of our own network could even start before the end of May!

questions, decisions

instructions

planning and building the network for easy maintenance

how to keep everything clean and free of kinks so fibre-blowing is fast and painless, and the importance of accurate labelling of each duct’s destination.

cutting and capping duct to keep it clean

Public Meeting – Tuesday 6th March, 2018 7.30pm at The Plough

Meeting report:

We had another room full of people at the Plough, and a wide range of questions asked of Roger Vincent and David Ryall, B4RN’s Community Liaison & Planning Coordinator. Any further questions you may have can be passed on to David and the B4RN staff, so by all means send them in to us.

The things we need people in the area to do now or as soon as possible are Register, Invest & Volunteer.

Register

If you (or your neighbours) haven’t yet indicated your interest in getting better broadband for your home or business in Rathmell / Wigglesworth, you can still register via this website. Registering helps make sure you’re on our lists and – more importantly – the local network route maps.
We should soon have a couple of banners up in Rathmell and Wigglesworth to try and make sure that everyone is aware of the project.

Invest

Investment in our project is open and as of Monday 5th March we already have a total of £15,500 invested in shares.  We will periodically get an updated number from B4RN and we will update the total on our website which you can see here http://rwbb.org.uk/b4rn-investment-progress/.

We need to keep pushing towards our initial target of £50,000 in order to be able to start digging so I would encourage everyone that is able to, and particularly those who are included in Phase 1, to make their investment in B4RN as soon as they can.

If you want to invest through shares the ‘Application for Shares’ form which you need to fill in can be downloaded from here https://b4rn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Share-application-form-B4RN-V5.1-21.9.17.pdf. If you don’t have the facility to print off a copy, and don’t have a handy neighbour who could print you one, please let us know and we will get a copy to you.

You can also invest via making a loan to B4RN which can be more beneficial compared to shares for non tax payers. The availability and terms of the loans can vary over time but typical terms are a 5 year loan paying 4% compound annual interest with the capital and interest being repaid at the end of the term.  Let Roger Vincent know if you want to know more about loans and I will give you details of how to proceed.

We will need to raise a total of at least around £85,000 for Phase 1 to be completed as this would be the minimum amount needed if all digging is done as ‘work for shares’ by landowners/farmers.  We are hopeful based on indications from the Phase 1 farmers / landowners that practically the whole route can be done as work for shares, but there is no obligation on farmers / landowners to do this. n.b. a farmer / landowner can do ‘work for shares’ on someone else land (obviously with the permission of the owner/tenant of the land).  Another important point from Dave Ryall was that the shares gained through ‘work for shares’ are eligible to claim the 30% EIS tax rebate on, and furthermore will also qualify the shareholder a waiver of the £150 connection fee if they earn 1500 shares.

For both Shares and Loans investments please make sure you fill in the Allocation Preference on the forms for the ‘Rathmell and Wigglesworth’ project to ringfence the investment to our project.

As discussed at the meeting we are aiming to commence our dig around the end of April / early May, the exact start date will depend on when we can raise the £50,000 to start digging, and just as important the state of the weather / fields.  It is possible for the dig to progress quickly and for the work to be done in weeks, but a more realistic timescale is probably in months.  We would be aiming to get Phase 1 done and be working on one or more of the next routes to be done by the end of this year.

Volunteer

Not everyone needs to do this but every bit of help we can get will help keep the project moving along.

Ways in which you can help include:

  • Helping with main route digs – wrangling ducting ready for mole ploughing, helping prepare holes under field walls, helping install access chambers, backfilling
  • Helping with garden digs – helping get 7mm duct from the garden wall to the house wall where the resident is not able to do so by themselves
  • House installs – this involves drilling through the house wall and putting the last length of duct through the wall and fitting the interior and exterior wall fittings, training may be required (n.b. the termination of the actual fibres will be carried out by B4RN engineers)
  • Local coordinator – liaising with a cluster of neighbours, seeing who needs help with a garden dig and arranging a common date when B4RN can come to get fibre blown to all the cluster and prepare the connections in the properties in one go.
  • Food & Drink – a digger will feel much better after a snack and a cup of something warm

progress update 1st January 2018

To paraphrase Roger’s informative email of the 28th December…

Routes

Signed wayleave agreements are now in place for nearly all of the initial Route 1 from Armitstead Hall, Lawkland down to the centre of Rathmell (as well as many of the local property spurs on that route and around central Rathmell).

A slight change has been made to this initial route which will shorten its path, but that has involved a few ‘new’ landowners, and a few more wayleaves to get in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Progress on other routes will be able to be made once this initial connection to LEWFA’s network is finalised.

Costing / investment

B4RN are trying to get a costing to us by the middle of January.

They will also tell us how much initial investment we would need to have in place in order to begin digging. The initial amount needs to be enough to purchase our cabinet and the ducting / cabling for Route 1, and to cover the cost of digging (although not all digging costs need to come out of the budget, because some of our landowners are willing to dig in return for B4RN shares).

As soon as we have our last Route 1 wayleave signed up and our investment target in place, we will make the call for investment to begin.

Call for volunteers

Once wayleaves and investment are in place, the digging can begin and the rest of us in the community can play more of a part. Please let Roger know if you are willing to help with any (or all) of the following phases of work:

  1. Digging
    We will be talking with landowners/farmers over the winter to get a rough plan for digging. We aim to start digging in April / May (which should coincide with the fields being available for the work too). We’ll need people to help with the digging itself, and with the supplying of tea / sandwiches / cake to the diggers. 
  2. Garden digging
    Once the line reaches each property, the property owner is responsible for getting the line from the boundary (e.g. the garden wall) to the house. Not everyone can do this digging by themselves, of course, so if you are willing to help those who can’t, please let Roger know.
  3. Getting the line into each house
    Once the line has reached the property itself, the project team takes responsibility for drilling through property walls and getting the line into each house, as well as for mounting the external and internal termination boxes. We also need volunteers for this phase; appropriate training will be provided.
  4. Local co-ordinators
    When we reach the stage where individual properties can be connected, it will be done in clusters, with all properties served by the same local access point (i.e. the nearest manhole on the route) done on the same day, which requires some coordination between neighbours. Around each manhole / access point, we will be looking for a local coordinator to go between the project team and neighbours to set a date for the cluster’s connections to be made (and make sure everyone is in!).

Please let Roger know if you are willing to volunteer.

 

Public Meeting – 2nd August 2017, 7.30pm at The Plough

A public meeting was held at The Plough in Wigglesworth on Wednesday 2nd August at 7:30pm… B4RN’s Community Liaison & Planning Coordinator, David Ryall, defined the spectrum of public meetings he had attended as ranging from “7 people, and a dog, who fell asleep” at the low end, up to “standing room only, and it was a big room” at the top end.

We’re pleased to say that our own public meeting was up towards the top end of the spectrum, with about 20 people left standing at the back after all the seats had been filled, some people overspilling into the bar area and calling for speakers to shout for the benefit of those at the back, and a few people even standing outside looking in through the open windows, until the rain became torrential.

Mr Ryall gave a down-to-earth (excuse the pun) and informative presentation about Broadband for the Rural North, and how we might expect our own B4RN dig to go. He answered questions ably and entertainingly, and there was more excitement after the meeting than one might reasonably have expected for anything involving putting miles and miles of orange duct under the ground and digging up your own garden, and paying money for the privilege. Perhaps it was the anticipation of both 1Gbps download and upload speed AND cups of tea and pieces of cake that did it? Or maybe it really was the sense of promise at a community alternative to a faceless corporation, a potentially good return on investment, and raised house prices, as various people mentioned.

The meeting was an excellent opportunity to find out more about B4RN from Mr Ryall, and from members of the neighbouring LEWFA and Clapham B4RN projects who attended and gave their own answers to residents’ questions.

Thank you to all who organised, spoke, asked, answered or just attended, and to the Plough for hosting the meeting.