News relating to the provision of fibre broadband to Winterbourne Stoke by the Wiltshire Online project.

A303 Stonehenge Statutory Consultation Documents

We have provided the two key documents for the A303 Stonehenge Scheme Statutory Consultation in the “Documents” section of this website.

The first of these is the e-version of the Public Consultation Booklet – February 2018 – Click the link to go straight to it.


The second is the Consultation Response Form.

Both of these will be available in hardcopy from the various briefing meetings, in local shops and doctor’s surgeries and, we hope, Stonehenge Filling Station.  Please can you ALL make individual responses to Highways England in addition to the one that we, the Parish Council, will submit collectively, based on the feedback we receive from villagers here online, in hardcopy and verbally.

We wouldn’t presume to tell you how you should respond to this consultation.  In any event, your personal and unique views and perspectives on the issue are likely to carry more weight than are multiple versions of a single statement.  That said, we will be happy to point you in the direction of any factual information we may be aware of and, if necessary, try and help you make sense of it.   The information being released by Highways England will be found here.

Gone Phishing

Christmas is coming and so are the crooks.  In the last week, we’ve seen one email account hacked and a new phishing attack.

You should all have a fire-walled computer and be running one (and only one) good anti-virus program that is regularly updated.  You also need to be aware of the behaviours the crooks try to exploit using social engineering.

If you get an email that is from someone you don’t know, don’t open it.  Ignore it.  A genuine sender will find another means of contacting you.

Never click on a link in any email from any source, but especially banks and building societies, that says there is a problem with your account.  If the email is addressed to your email account (Dear, that’s a fair bet to be a con.  Even if it is addressed to you by name (Dear Mr Bloggs), use discretion.  Preferably, search for the companies email using a web browser and contact them by phone or email to the number or address you find there.

Hovering your cursor over a hyperlink in an email will flag up the real URL of the recipient.  This again will give you an indication of whether or not this is a genuine site or not.

Take the latest phishing attempt on BT customers.  You may receive an email like the one below:

So, its purportedly from someone with the username – that’s odd for an email from a large company.  There would normally be further details in the signature block.  Here we just have BT Team.  The email is addressed to “Dear Subscriber”, not a named individual and its not even clear if its been sent to your email address.  Hovering your cursor over the Click here to verify hyperlink, produces the grey pop-up box shown.  This shows the real address to which you are being directed (………..).  This really doesn’t look like a BT site, now does it?

If you click on the link you will probably asked for your BT email account and password and guess what, you will be told that your account has been verified.

A few days later, the crooks who are now armed with your email account details and password will take over your account and lock you out of it.   They will search you emails for banking details and other bits of useful information and will try to hack into other accounts you might have – like your online banking.  As a ridiculously high percentage of internet users use the same simple password for every site they visit, the chances are they are on to a winner.  they will have a very merry Christmas indeed – at your expense.

Please be careful out there

URGENT: Are You Having Problems Signing-Up For Fibre

We heard earlier today that one villager, living on Church Street, had been told by an Internet Service Provider that they could not get superfast fibre broadband on their phone line.

Unless you happen to live on the Berwick Road and have a phone number beginning 01722, all phones in Winterbourne Stoke are connected back to the Shrewton exchange via the old green cabinet and the new cabinet (Shrewton 7), which are located outside Manor Farm on the A303.   So all villagers, for example, those living on the A303 (High Street), Church Street, Brook Close, Meadow View and St Peter’s Close, should be able to get connected without any problem.  What’s going on is a bit of a puzzle

We’ve already got BT looking into this one case, but if you have had a similar response in the last week from any Internet Service Provider,   please can you let us know, by email as soon as possible and we will pass the information on to the team responsible for this particular scheme.   We need your name, address and phone number. 

We haven’t forgotten those who live on the Berwick Road either.  There is at least the possibility that a self-funded scheme could be used to connect back to the Shrewton 7 cabinet and the Shrewton telephone exchange.  We will hopefully know more in the next week or so.

The Wait Is Over!

Well, barring any more last minute hitches, it seems that with no fanfare whatsoever, Winterbourne Stoke has been connected up to the outside world with fibre.  I know we thought we had been here before and only yesterday, we were preparing to announce yet another unforeseen delay, but today, all the broadband providers are showing that we can sign up up for superfast broadband today.

I signed up earlier today and am told that BT are offering a “guaranteed” 44 Mbps at New Street.   PlusNet are offering 34 Mbps.   I haven’t bothered to check with any others yet.

Those of you who signed up with Wiltshire Online may have received an email from them showing the likely speeds at your property.   Mine looked like this:

So, it would seem that BT are claiming glass half full speeds and PlusNet are claiming the glass half empty speed.  I expect that other ISPs will fall between these two extremes – subject, of course, to where you are in the village and what you are prepared to pay.   Please note, that unless you specifically ask for fibre, and pay for it, your internet speeds won’t automatically improve.

This has been a long time coming and many villagers have helped to keep the pressure on BT and Wiltshire Council over nearly a decade.  Thank you to all of them for their efforts and persistence – having been told categorically back in 2008 that we would never have a fibre broadband service some of you kept pushing!

Please let us know how you get on with a fibre connection, or if you don’t sign up for the new service, whether your existing broadband improves at all, stays the same or gets worse!

The Last Post?

Well,  after the fiasco of last week, BT managed to get nearly everyone in the village reconnected to both telephone and broadband;  though we did hear only yesterday (26th July 2017) that one poor unfortunate was still to be reconnected!    Please let us know if you have heard of anyone else in the village who is still without phone or broadband.

Sadly, many of those who have been reconnected have seen their broadband speeds plummet and quality of service drop like a stone.

On the positive side, BT Openreach have installed the last telegraph pole needed to carry the fibre optic cable over the southern end of the B3083 near its junction with the A303, from the western side to the eastern side, where it can join an existing pole and then, presumably, be brought across the A303 to the new DSLAM.

BT engineers were adamant, when spoke with last week, that the physical infrastructure for the new superfast broadband would be completed by the end of July.  The revised goal of the end of August for signing up to the new service does seem to be a real possibility.  That said, the champagne bottle will remain firmly corked up until we have some hard evidence that the work really has been completed.  After all, we’ve thought we’ve been here before!

Winterbourne Stoke Cut Off From The (Digital) World: The Dark Ages Return

The irony of this post is not wasted upon us, as those it is of most interest to are the ones least likely to be able to read it at the moment.   Over the last couple of weeks, BT Openreach contractors have been beavering away, making the final infrastructure provisions to bring the fibre-optic cable from the BT exchange in Shrewton to the DSLAM (the new green box) on the verge of the A303 close to the entrance to the Manor House.

Yesterday (19 July 2017), they were mole-ploughing in the ducting for the fibre on the south of the B3083 close to the junction with the A303; a matter of a few hundred metres at most.   What could possibly go wrong?


Despite carefully surveying the route, the contractors appear to have put the mole-plough through the old and festering aluminium telephone cable, thereby cutting off Winterbourne Stoke from the outside world.

BT first told us that they were waiting for specialist engineers to arrive to work out where the break was and that it wouldn’t be fixed until Friday 21st July.  Later in the day, a relative of a vulnerable villager who is reliant on a land-line service for emergency situations, was told it was going to be fixed either last night, or this morning.  As of  0900 on 20 July, the telephone lines lie silent.

What is quite frightening is just how reliant and vulnerable we all are when it comes to communications.  Yes, many of us have mobile phones as well as land-lines, but the coverage in the village isn’t perfect and they can’t always be depended on.   Some facilities, like emergency alarm systems for the sick and elderly, only work with a land-line (or fibre) so when the telephone line fails, we have no back-up.

We have villagers awaiting phone calls relating to urgent medical appointments.  Because the lines have been cut, the caller simply hears the phone ringing and ringing and ringing.  They can’t get through or leave a message.  Relatives may try and call family members and also can’t get through.

The broadband fails as we do not have fibre. People who normally work from home, can’t.  Files can’t be uploaded or downloaded – deadlines can be missed.

Of course, if we had a reliable mobile service, mobile broadband would be an option for some – at a price.  Even then, many have this facility on a mobile phone, but may not have the facility or knowledge to “tether” a desktop or laptop to their phone.

One of the most important reasons for our drive to get fibre to the village was to allow us some redundancy in communications.   We will get there, and we hope it will be soon.

If any villagers need to send urgent emails or files whilst the village is cut off, please contact a Parish Councillor and we will see what we can do to help.   Similarly, if you can read this and we are still disconnected from land-lines,  please check on your neighbours to see if they have any communications problems we might be able to help with.

Putting In The Ducting

Anyone who has been looking for signs of BT activity on the Shrewton road over the last couple of weeks would have found it hard to spot anything at all.  However, today there were a few signs that things are moving forward.

First of all, some BT subcontractors were spotted feeding ducting or possibly cable into one of the access chambers that were installed last year.

Further down the road, another contractor was pumping out another access chamber in the road at the foot of a BT pole:

However, they don’t appear to have brought the mole plough back yet, as the yellow plastic poles are still in the verge:

There is no evidence that they have installed any of the poles for which they had sought permission for traffic controls.  That might suggest there is a bit more work to be done over the next couple of weeks.  Apologies for the poor quality of the photos; they are stills from a windscreen video.

Broadband News: An Unfortunate Delay

The Wiltshire Online-BT plan to deliver fibre broadband to Winterbourne Stoke has, as mentioned in previous updates, hit some barriers to progress; particularly a crop being planted in one of the fields that needs to be negotiated between here and Shrewton.

BT are very apologetic about having been unable to meet the original forecast but, to be honest, this has been due to circumstances outside of their control.  They are sure that they will get there and are changing the plan in order bring in the delivery as soon as possible.  The new route is unaffected by crops and the need to harvest them.

BT informed us over the weekend:

“We have been working in Winterbourne Stoke and an Openreach engineer will be on site on Monday 19th June to light test 3km of fibre.  In addition an engineering team will be installing cabling for another 500m section of the route over the coming weeks.

We require agreement to three wayleaves in order to complete the work. One was signed very early on while the other two are being worked through with the appointed land agent and the MOD and  we have asked the council to help where they can with wayleaves. Once resolved, then the mole ploughing of the remaining  2km route will commence and the solution can be fully commissioned.  The mole plough is on site now in readiness.

As you will understand this is one of our more challenging deployments, but we don’t give up.  Delivery of service is now targeted for August.”

So, watch this space.  BT will be providing regular updates which we will pass on as soon as we have them.

A303: Latest Comments from UNESCO/ICOMOS On The Highways England Proposals

A second UNESCO/ICOMOS Advisory mission to consider the emerging proposals on the Stonehenge to Berwick Down Scheme occurred in February 2017. The mission report acknowledges the responses to the first advisory mission recommendations, particularly on processes, archaeological investigations and assessments, but notes that some matters are yet to be implemented. This second mission recommends that a non-tunnel by-pass to the south of the property be re-considered and that further work should also occur on longer tunnel options, particularly in relation to portal location and potential impact on the overall Stonehenge cultural landscape and the setting of the property.

The full report is not yet available, but is sure to raise further concerns and questions locally.  If a southern, above-ground route is going to be pushed-for, nationally and internationally, by the bodies responsible for the World Heritage Site, we all need to consider where the best route for this might actually lie; if the idea starts to be taken seriously by government.  The F10 route, referred to below, follows the same course between Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick St James as does the southern bypass route offered in conjunction with the tunnel; with all the same issues for us as the by-passed village and for Berwick St James.  However, there are many other alternative routes that have been proposed, historically, that would take the A303 to the south of Berwick St James, with some of them offering possible partial solutions to the A36 congestion problems as well as those on the A303 – and they are also likely to prove cheaper than the existing tunnel solution, let alone a longer one.