New Facebook Group For Villagers

Following a recent serious event in the village, where social media played a part in solving a pressing issue, not to mention all the other things that have been going on in the local area, Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council have set-up a Facebook Group for villagers.  It is open to anyone living within the Parish boundary who has a Facebook account (and complies with the Facebook minimum age limits!) – so adults and teenagers. We will also allow non-resident family members, who are carers for villagers, to have access to the group – particularly where there may be safe-guarding issues.
The group is purely for notification of things that are going on in and around the village and are likely to affect people’s lives.  We expect most of these will be urgent.  For example:
– problems on the A303
– events in the village
– Neighbourhood Watch – dodgy people and vehicles in the area
– a need for assistance by a villager
The group isn’t intended for general chit-chat, gossip, or advertising goods and services – just those few urgent things that might really matter.   The Parish Council may use it from time to time to alert you to meetings or notify you of other issues being published on the village website:
If you want to discuss an issue with other villagers then please use the Forum pages on the village website, or better still, come along to a Parish Council meeting and raise the issue there during the “Villagers Questions session at the start of each meeting.
The Facebook group is moderated and we will insist on a few basic rules being adhered to.  If you want to get access to the group,  just drop an email to the Clerk ( ) from the email address you use for FaceBook (that’s really important or else the invitation won’t work!), or have a word with any of the Parish Councillors who can help you sign up.   Please note that this doesn’t mean you have to be Facebook friends with anyone else in the village, you just get access to the group!  Please mention this to your neighbours.

URGENT: Email Malware On the Loose

It seems that a few villagers have fallen prey to an email malware attack.  If you receive an email, seemingly from someone you know (from within, or outside the village) and it has similar content to the one below, delete it.

Joe Bloggs

Reply to: J BLOGGS

Horrible Trip..Help Needed !

How are you doing?. I’m in terrible condition right now and i really need help. Let me know if you can help out of this bitter experience.



Please note that my new email address –  This email will stop in due course!

Now read the email again, but carefully this time.   Does it use the sort of language you would expect from your friend Joe?  Are the words the sort of words they would use?  Is the use of capitals correct?  Is the punctuation the sort they would normally use?  Does the “new” email address look correct – think very hard!

In this case, the email address is the give-away.  It might be subtly wrong, as here, by having an extra “s” in Bloggs, or it might be very different:

What’s going on here is a bit of social engineering.  The crooks want you to accept the new email address  as being Joe’s new one and for you to add it to your address book.   Very soon, you will like as not get a very personal email from “Joe” asking you for money, or some personal information which could be used to target YOU!

Ideally, try and spot this type of email from the preview and don’t open it in the first place.  Delete it straight away and call the person from whom you seem to have received it – they may not be aware and it’s possible that the email comes from a third party anyway.   If you don’t have up-to-date anti-malware running on your computer, you might want to think again. That said, your best defence is often being alert!

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.

Work Continues On The New Cabinet

BT contractors were hard at work today, stripping all the phone connections out of the old cabinet (it looks now as though that will be taken away completely) and putting the copper connections into the new cabinet.

It looks as though we were mislead a little last week.  The fibre we were shown was indeed fibre, but it was just a coil and it wasn’t yet connected back to Shrewton.   Hopefully, that will soon be here, so the rest of the installation can go ahead.


Watch this space for updates.    You might find you have lost your internet connection during the day.  It’s worth doing a speed test – you may be pleasantly surprised.  Do let us know if you notice a change in speed.

A High Fibre Diet For All

Well, a campaign to bring fibre to the village was kicked off back in 2008.  This week, we’ve seen the first visible signs that we were actually going to get it.  Back on Tuesday, BT contractors turned up to prepare the footings for the new DSLAM on the grass next to the footpath by Manor Farm.  By this morning (9th Feb 2017) the concrete had hardened and the site was deserted.

These are the footings with the earth for the power supply for the DSLAM cooling fan at the bottom left. We guess the power itself goes in to the bottom right and the 3 larger pipes are to carry the connections between the DSLAM and the old copper wires on the little pillar to the right of the second photo.  We’ve no idea what the middle pipe is – a drain perhaps.

By lunchtime, a shiny new DSLAM had been installed and a very nice Welsh chap was busy installing the ducting for wires, fibre optic cable and the power supply.  He reckoned all this would be completed by this evening.

It’s all a bit empty yet and a fibre-guru has to work his magic by knitting the fibre into the little blue trays.  That’s going to take a little while.  Then its all got to be tested and commissioned before it can go live. Of course to do all this you actually need to have the fibre to play with.  So, having saved the best bit of news to last, here it is; the fibre. All ready and waiting for the next phase of the work


Out With The Old, In With The New!

A happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year to you all; 2017 has arrived.

It is likely to turn out to be a very important year for Winterbourne Stoke.  Possibly this will be one of the most important years in the long history of the village as it should herald changes that will impact on the fabric of our day to day lives.  They are likely to introduce a range of social changes that we need to grasp and embrace to fully benefit from, or, we can try and fight against them through fear of change and risk losing many of the advances and advantages that such change can bring.

Of course, not all change is necessarily good and we are all going to have to look very carefully at what is going on and weigh things up carefully.  Even that isn’t going to be straightforward, as we need to think not only about how these changes are going to impact us, but also how they will affect our children, our grandchildren and generations not yet imagined.

So, what are these events that are going to be so important?

First, we have the coming of Superfast broadband.  It’s long overdue and many villagers are going to embrace even a modest improvement in speed with open arms, provided the service is reliable.  Hopefully, the whole of the core of the village should get speeds of 24 Mbps or above.   Those of you who have had access to reasonable broadband speeds at work and outside the village generally will know of at least some of the benefits this type of service can bring and there are many more to come: from education and health, to social inclusivity and recreation.  Even those who fight against the tide will notice the benefits as faster broadband speeds impact on house prices and attract businesses which would not be viable without such improvements in speed.  More business may lead to more jobs and a diversification of employment.

Second, is the A303.  The Highways England plan to create a world-class Expressway to link the south west and south east of England is well underway.  They are planning to go out to public consultation on the possible routes early this year where we will all be able to have our say.  After the consultation, Highways England plan to combine the feedback received with further technical analysis (a lot has been going on in the background over the last year!) and they will use this to decide their “preferred route” and this will be formally put to the Secretary of State for Transport this summer.  With luck, the Development Consent Order process will be completed and work will begin in 2020.

Just like the Superfast broadband, it will bring benefits in communication, and accessibility.  It has the potential to improve lives, health and quality of life for villagers.  Moving the A303 from the heart of the village may impact positively on house prices, but may have a negative effect on some of the businesses like the garage and the pub which may need to evolve to survive.  That said, the same change will introduce possibilities for new businesses that would not be possible with the existing infrastructure.

The key to Winterbourne Stoke making the most of these changes is engagement and timeliness.  We need to engage early, with each other, with all the bodies and organisations who are going to be involved and we need to make our voices heard – collectively and individually.  Your Parish Council will do its part, but we need everyone to do their bit.

In the past, change has been slow in rural communities, sometimes even glacial.  That isn’t going to be the case for us over the next few years.  We aren’t going to have the luxury of pontificating on things for weeks, or months on end.  Information and decisions are going to be needed in days at most, if not hours.  If you think this is a bit of hyperbole, think again.  The Highways Agency now has a Twitter feed for improvements to the A303 Stonehenge section.  The traditional ways of engagement are simply too slow and cumbersome in today’s world, so we will have to play the game with the rules in the new rule book, not the rules we might wish to have.

If we do this well and responsibly, we can leave a legacy to be proud of.

Onboard and Online

Now although the majority of villagers have access to the internet, it hasn’t escaped our attention that there may be those who don’t, or who do have access, but don’t yet feel confident enough to get involved with the Parish Council and other villagers on the Parish Council Website.  There may be a host of other reasons keeping people from engaging and it may simply be that they prefer the old ways of doing things.  To make sure everyone is included, we are introducing Onboard and Online; a new section of the village noticeboard in Church Street.  Highlights of information that has appeared on the website will be posted on the noticeboard, at intervals, as will an outline of topics that have been raised by the Parish Council, or Parishioners, in the Forum.  If people want to engage with the Parish Council on these topics, then they can do so by contacting Jim Carr, the Parish Clerk at:

1 Cleeve View
Winterbourne Stoke

Phone: 07973 366762


or buttonhole any of the Parish Councillors!

Similarly, if you haven’t seen the website and would like to do so, then again, feel free to ask one of the Parish Councillors who would be delighted to show you.

Digital Inclusion

One of our aims going forward is to encourage as many villagers as we can to get online.  Love it or loathe it, the digital world is here to stay and it will impact on every area of our lives – from the cradle to the grave.  We are in the early stages of considering whether to offer a bit of FREE training on PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones.  We already have a “Digital Champion”, a member of the UK Digital Champion Network in the village, who is prepared to give some time to this.  In addition to showing you how to get the most out of the Parish Council website, this can help you with any or all of the following:


  •   Using a computer for the first time and understanding the mouse and keyboard
  •   Using email, Skype or Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family
  •   Ordering your groceries and having them delivered to your door
  •   Searching and applying for jobs online
  •   Researching your hobbies and interests
  •   Using price comparison websites to find the best deals on everything from car insurance, to utilities
  •   Booking appointments with your doctor or hospital online
  •   Looking up bus and train times and finding the cheapest fares, flights and hotel rooms
  •   Organising and storing your digital photos and other documents
  •   Writing letters and printing and scanning documents
  •   Getting the latest news, sport and weather forecasts, or catching up on your favourite TV or radio programmes
  •   Accessing government services, such as taxing your car, renewing your library books, checking your rubbish collection days and paying your Council Tax.

We need to know the level of demand for this before moving forward.  It might be that a computer group is best if the demand is high, or one-on-one tuition if not.   Of course, you don’t need to learn in the village and Wiltshire Council, through its Wiltshire Online initiative are providing the same Digital Champion Network training at computer clubs across Wiltshire:

  • Bradford on Avon Library, Mondays, 2pm-4pm
  • Chippenham, Salvation Army Hall, Foghamshire, Tuesdays, 1:15pm-2:45pm
  • Corsham Library, Wednesdays term time only from 2pm-4pm (2pm-3pm supported by 6th form students from Corsham School)
  • Cricklade Leisure Centre on Mondays at 10am-12pm
  • Devizes Library on Mondays term time only 3:30pm – 5pm (supported by 6th form students from Devizes school)
  • Malmesbury Library, Wednesdays term time only from 3.30pm – 5pm
  • Melksham Library on Thursdays 5.30pm – 7pm
  • Mere Library on first Tuesday of the Month 2 – 4, Angel Tea Rooms – 3rd Wednesday of the month 3 – 4
  • Shrewton Maddington Church Rooms monthly – see notice board for more information
  • Tisbury Sacred Heart Parish Rooms 2nd and 4th Wednesday 10 – 12
  • Winterslow Truffles Cafe, Winterslow village Hall, check with venue

Please register before going along to any of these on 0300 456 0100 or email as places are limited.

If you are interested in the sorts of training shown above, please contact the Clerk (details above), or any Parish Councillor by 15th January 2017.

Specialist Help for the Disabled and Older Persons

Specialist computer assistance and training can be provided FREE, in your own home, for the disabled and the elderly, through Ability Net.   Simply call 0800 269 545 (Freephone) during normal UK Office Hours.

Current Forum Topics

There are two topics initiated by the Parish Council where input is being sought from Parishoners:

  1. The Red Phonebox – what should we do with it?
  2. A Defibrillator for the village – if we get one (and it may be FREE) where should it be sited.

Two topics have been initiated by Villagers:

  1. TDY is concerned there may be a lack of interest in village affairs.  Is that the case?
  2. Joy Horne is concerned that with the change of management and image at the Bell Inn, now the Solstice Rest,  we appear to have lost our village pub as it seems to be closed more often than it is open in the evening.   What are your views.

If you have views on any of the topics above, just jot something down on paper (handwriting is fine, providing its legible) together with your name (so we know you are a real villager!) and a nickname if you want to be anonymous on the Forum.  Pass these on to the Clerk or any Parish Councillor and we will do the rest and scan your views and put them on the website for all to see and comment on.

New Forum Topics

You can initiate a new Forum topic online if you are a registered user, in writing as outlined above, or verbally by coming along to the Villager’s Questions section of a Parish Council Meeting – in this day and age we can’t accept verbal input direct to an individual councillor or the Clerk due to the lack of an audit trail.  The next Parish Council Meeting is scheduled for 19:00 on Monday 16th January and we hope to hold it in the Solstice Rest.