News – Page 1
Hello from the Nags Head, Woodborough!
With all the talk about pubs partially reopening, I’m reminded of a story that a friend of mine told me. He used to work in a pub situated next to a hospital, and he told me about a chap who walked in one day with his hospital gown on and holding a drip on a stand that was still connected to his arm.
My friend said “I asked him how I could help and bizarrely he said, ‘Can I have 2 pints of lager, 2 pints of Guinness, 4 jack Daniels and coke, 3 gin and tonics, and 6 shots of tequila’.”
“It’s a free country, so I started to pour the drinks and put them on the bar one at a time. As I finished pouring all of the drinks he downed them in order and finished on the shots of tequila which he dispatched one at a time in a quick pace.”
“He then looked at me in a really sad way and said, ‘I shouldn’t have drunk all that with what I’ve got.’ I said, ‘Why, what have you got?’ He said, ‘About £3.50.'”
Super-fast Broadband scheme
This last fortnight has seen a tremendous appetite for the voucher scheme to bring widespread super-fast broadband to properties within the village; many thanks are due to those that have contributed time in helping us achieve this. It has been an incredibly frustrating process throughout, created in no small part by the seemingly random nature by which properties were originally deemed eligible or not; there have been countless examples where two properties have been deemed eligible, yet the one sitting between them has not!
Very shortly after the Openreach ‘pledge-site’ was opened, I was informed that the original list of 415 ‘eligible’ properties had been whittled down to just 323, with the removal of 29 properties in NG14 6EA (Main Street) and 63 properties in Calverton that had their voucher eligibility removed. Apparently, DCMS (who ultimately have the final say in determining any property’s eligibility), reckoned that superfast broadband was ‘already available from Virgin’; (I have yet to meet anyone that actually agrees with that!). Frustratingly, the estimated cost to the community of the scheme remained unchanged at £480,000, so with 92 properties suddenly deemed ineligible to receive the Govt voucher, we were faced with an almost impossible task. Unless we had an almost 100% take-up (which was never going to happen), the funding target was never going to be reached without additional match-funding being made available by Nottinghamshire County Council, which was always a major part of the whole scheme from the outset.
At the time of writing (29th March), 159 eligible properties out of the potential of 323 had pledged their support towards the scheme, (133 homes and 26 businesses), with a voucher value of £290,500. Consequently this would require a further £190,000 match funding from NCC. A couple of days ago I learned completely unexpectedly that this funding would not now be made available, a decision made by DCMS in conjunction with NCC. This is so completely unfathomable when DCMS set the original criteria for Woodborough, and when NCC had been so very supportive from the outset in encouraging us to take advantage of the match-funding. Regardless, we are sadly now where we are!
Much of the recent confusion has been brought about by Govt altering the eligibility rules for these voucher schemes from 1st April. Woodborough will lose its eligibility as a ’Tier 2’ community because, as a semi-urban community, DCMS believe that ’normal commercial pressures’ will bring super-fast broadband availability to the community within the next ten years, which of course doesn’t really help anyone! As I understand it, a new voucher scheme will be introduced very shortly, but without DCMS being persuaded to re-evaluate our eligibility, it does seem highly unlikely that as a community we will be able to access any new scheme.
What the process has revealed is that over 250 properties in the village actively seek super-fast broadband, and I’m sure there are others that we have simply been unable to reach given the tight timeframe we have been required to work to. This is a significant % of the whole village and so the fight needs to, and will, continue. To anyone who has pledged their support, a big thank you. To add insult to injury, those that have are now being asked in an email from Openreach to ‘redeem their voucher’. Sadly this is completely meaningless because the scheme is not going ahead! However, it is important to note that for anyone who may have already redeemed their voucher, they will not somehow lay themselves open to any charges from Openreach in the future.
Be aware of vaccine scams
Criminals are using the COVID-19 vaccination programme to take advantage of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
When it is your turn to have the vaccine, the NHS will contact you by letter, and will never:
- Ask for payment – the vaccine is free
- Turn up at your home to offer the vaccine in exchange for payment
- Ask you to send documents or provide bank details to prove your identity
Find out more on how to protect yourself and your family from scams by visiting our COVID-19 scams prevention page or if you need support and advice or wish to report a scam then you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or complete their online form.