Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of Dent Parish Council on Monday 14 December 2015
To be presented for acceptance at the Parish Council Meeting on 01 February 2016
Councillors Graham Dalton, Chris Evans, Rita Corpe, Tom Stafford, Jenny Pilgrim, Geoffrey Woof and Scott Thornley.
County Councillor Nick Cotton.
District Councillors Kevin Lancaster and Mel Mackie.
The meeting opened at 7.30pm.
Declarations of Interest:
Councillor Jenny Pilgrim in connection with her relationship with David Pilgrim as lead for the NEWCO proposal.
Councillor Graham Dalton in respect of being a resident of Flintergill, an investor with Fibre Garden and a holder of less than 1000 British Telecom shares.
Councillor Tom Stafford as a resident of Dent village and a Councillor representing the Cowgill Ward.
Councillor Scott Thornley as a resident of Dent village.
County Councillor Announcements:
3.1 County Councillor Nick Cotton announced that he had been in contact with the County Council’s Broadband Project Team, Connecting Cumbria, in respect of its position concerning the provision of superfast broadband in Dentdale.
3.2 County Councillor Nick Cotton stated that he would listen to the debate and answer any questions concerning Connecting Cumbria’s position. If he was unable to answer a particular question he would seek clarification and response from Connecting Cumbria.
Superfast Broadband in Dentdale:
4.1 Information was received concerning the delivery of superfast broadband in Dentdale as follows:
i) A briefing paper submitted by Jock Cairns as the Broadband Hub Co-ordinator representing the Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale Local Area Partnership.
ii) A proposal from British Telecom.
iii) A proposal from NEWCO submitted by David Pilgrim.
iv) A position statement from Fibre Garden.
v) A position statement from Connecting Cumbria.
4.2.1 Councillor Graham Dalton summarised the recent history relating to the provision of superfast broadband in Dentdale from the point that Garsdale and Dentdale were descoped from the Connecting Cumbria project. This position still remains the case.
4.2.2 Fibre Garden’s project had encountered difficulties which were highlighted at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 17 November 2015. Fibre Garden had taken away actions from its AGM with a mandate to investigate all possible options for providing a community-owned future-proofed broadband solution for all properties in Dentdale and Garsdale. The result of its investigation will be reported to an Extraordinary General Meeting on Thursday 14 January 2016 from which its members will determine Fibre Garden’s future intentions.
4.2.3 British Telecom, working in partnership with Connecting Cumbria, had put forward its proposed solution. Connecting Cumbria had highlighted that to rescope the Dentdale and Garsdale area, thereby gaining access to state aid, is a highly regulated process and was not in the gift of Cumbria County Council (CCC) to unilaterally achieve. Initially CCC would need:
i) A formal request from the Parish Council for the area to be rescoped, and,
ii) The Fibre Garden project would need to formally state that it no longer intended to deliver fibre broadband to the area to be rescoped.
4.2.4 A new proposal from NEWCO had been received being an initiative pursuing a Co-operative business model in partnership with B4RN. The objective of this proposal would be to provide:
i) A 1 gigabit/second broadband service to every property in both Garsdale and Dentdale within a reasonable timescale, and,
ii) Provide a process by which current Fibre Garden shareholders may recover some value in their investment.
5.1 Comments were invited from the public which commenced at 7.50pm. They included:
5.2.1 It was clarified that Fibre Garden would be unable to make a statement about its future intentions until after its extraordinary meeting on Thursday 14 January 2016.
5.2.2 It was stated separately by three members of the public that all properties within Dentdale should have a comparable broadband service.
5.2.3 It was emphasised that the NEWCO scheme should not be compared with the Fibre Garden project as NEWCO would be a self- help / self-build operation following a different business model. It would work in partnership with B4RN which has been successful in over 40 rural communities to date. David Pilgrim invited anyone from the community to speak with him should they require more information about the scheme.
5.2.4 A future-proofed computer system for the Primary School was essential.
5.2.5 The Parish Council was asked to think carefully about the risks involved given what had gone before and that British Telecom was willing to work with the community to provide the best solution it could. The risks with the NEWCO proposal are various.
5.2.6 The Parish Council was asked for the earliest ‘go-live’ date from competing suppliers. Councillor Graham Dalton stated that no ‘go-live’ dates were available for any scheme.
5.2.7 The Parish Council was asked to think about the community’s children and grandchildren. The British Telecom solution is short term and the community should be looking to the future.
5.2.8 It had been noted that 155 households would be beyond the reach of the British Telecom (superfast broadband) solution but the Council was asked to consider how many of those households would actually wish to use it.
5.2.9 In the age of spaceship tourism and communication by satellite it is unbelievable to think that there is a need to dig up roads to provide a broadband service.
5.3 The public forum was concluded at 8.17pm.
Decision of Members:
6.1 After reviewing all submissions members concluded that any proposal to achieve a comparable superfast broadband service throughout the entire Parish should be further researched.
6.2.1 It was resolved that a decision to request Connecting Cumbria to commence the rescope process for Dentdale should be delayed and reconsidered following:
6.2.2 The outcome of the Fibre Garden Extraordinary Meeting on Thursday 14 January 2016.
6.2.3 A presentation from B4RN, and,
6.2.4 A site visit of a B4RN superfast broadband community.
7.1 Close of Meeting:
The meeting closed at 8.36pm.
7.2 Next Meeting:
Monday 01 February 2016, 7.30pm, in the Sedgwick Room.