A303 Consultation Begins

At a meeting of the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group  (STAG) this evening (5th Jan),  Ian West advised the meeting that he had been told earlier in the day by John Glen MP that the Highways England A303 improvement consultation exercise was imminent.   We are led to understand that “events” will be held at the Manor Barn, Winterbourne Stoke on the 13th and 14th January and at Shrewton Rec the following week.  There is little detail at present, but Highways England advised the Parish Council that this will follow imminently and the first public indications are likely to found at:




We will provide updates here, as and when they are available.  However, as of 07:15am on Friday 6th January, neither of these landing pages is yet active.  This may suggest the formal starting gun has not yet been fired.

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

Email: clerk@winterbournestokepc.org.uk

or buttonhole any of the Parish Councillors!

Similarly, if you haven’t seen the website https://winterbournestokepc.org.uk/ 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 digitalinclusion@wiltshire.gov.uk 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.

Update on the Website

We have been getting a good number of hits and page views since the website went live and earlier in the week we received our first US visitor.  As of this afternoon we have had over 100 discrete visitors and each visitor has looked at on average 8 different pages.  This is statistically equivalent to every villager visiting the site at least once.

We have 9 subscribers to the Newsletter and 20 registered forum users.

A few people have had minor difficulties registering to use the forum.  We are not sure why this is, and it may simply be the need to check your email Inboxes and Spam boxess to see if you have been allowed on to the site proper.  Anyway, if you have an issue,  get in touch as we can sort it out very quickly – Joy Horne,  John Summerhayes. White Rabbit and rwpalmer have all been helped to get registered today.

Thanks to Joy Horne for spotting a teething trouble.  Some of the Comments on the News are not appearing correctly – some of the words are hidden.  We’ve asked theis to be corrected asap.  Please let us know if you come across any other minor problems like this.

BT’s Response on Superfast Broadband in the Village

Following our email yesterday,  BT’s Bill Murphy immediately undertook to chase things up with the regional team working with Wiltshire Council’s superfast broadband team, on our behalf.   Today (4:00pm on 08/12/2016) we received the following email”

If you can’t read the original above, the important bit says:

“…Work is progressing on bringing fibre broadband to Winterbourne Stoke. There are no outstanding way leave issues but we will need to use a  “mole plough” to install the fibre along part of the route which may require a road closure – the detailed plans are in preparation to identify whether this will be needed.   
We anticipate that the new cabinet will be installed and accepting orders in the spring of next year.

Clearly, this calls into question everything that Terry Young has been told recently by Wiltshire Council officials working for Wiltshire Online.  It will be interesting to see what Wiltshire Online now come up with, as clearly either they or BT are wrong.   Sadly, no information that Wiltshire Online have provided to villagers, in response to legitimate questions, has yet proved reliable.

More Delay to Superfast Broadband in Winterbourne Stoke

Seemingly, not good news! Yesterday, we were alerted by villager Terry Young to the probability that we face a further delay to the provision of superfast fibre broadband to the village.  The Parish Council had been assured by BT back in the autumn of 2015 that the installation would be complete by late 2016 and that you would be able to sign up for the service in early 2017.   In the summer, as a result of Wiltshire Online and BT sending out leaflets saying you could already get the service when you plainly couldn’t, the Parish Council recontacted BT at senior level for an update.  We were re-assured that although there had been a slight slippage, maybe 3 months, we were in the build phase and things were moving forward.  This statement was reinforced because we were made aware that BT had sought, and been granted,  a wayleave for a new DSLAM to be situated close to the existing PCP (green box) on the A303.


In emails to Terry, Wiltshire Online have made the following claim:

“Unfortunately there has been a delay.  The surveying has thrown up an issue as a large length of existing infrastructure is buried directly into the ground so there is no existing ducting we can utilise. We are looking to install 1.7km of new ducting and the land this will need to cross is private land.  The team are working on the route and any necessary wayleaves that might be needed.”

The exchange goes on to say:

“It is certainly our intention to bring fibre to Winterbourne Stoke however, as my colleague Sarah has said we need to find a new route and get agreement from the relevant land owners which, depending on how receptive they are, can be a long process.  I honestly cannot say what timescale we are looking at, it is a significant length of new ducting but of course it is none of our interests to delay the build.
 I would suggest contacting us again in the new year when we are likely to have a better idea of the proposed route and the challenge we face.”

Some of you are aware of the inaccuracy of this claim.  To save you having to read a lot of historical material, here is our email to Wiltshire Council earlier today:

“Apologies if this duplicates my telephone message to some degree – I wasn’t sure that the Wiltshire Council switchboard had put me through to the correct line…

Yesterday, I received an email from a villager, Terry Young, with whom I believe you have been having an email exchange on the subject of bringing superfast broadband to Winterbourne Stoke. The content of the emails was both alarming and depressing as they told a very different story to that we have had previously.

At the end of 2015, we were told by BT that fiber was being brought to the village and that it would be completed by late 2016/early 2017. In the summer, due to some confusion caused by incorrect statements (and leafletting campaign) being made about superfast broadband availability in the village by both BT and Wiltshire Online, we were re-assuredby BT that things were still moving forward, that we were now in the “build” phase but there had been a slight delay and that we should expect the work to be completed in Q1 2017. We were also encouraged by the fact the BT had sought, and been rapidly granted, wayleaves for the new DSLAM to be situated on the A303.

I wrote to Bill Murphy back in October of this year to seek an update and he had passed this on to Kevin Rutterford for action, though despite a chaser, the Parish Council are still waiting for this.

Your emails to Terry Young suggest the delay is likely to be considerably longer than this with no time frame given. I am particularly concerned by the mention of the need to provide 1.7km of new ducting, the inference being that this is something that has only recently come to light. Nothing could be further from the truth as both BT and Wiltshire Council have been aware of the state of the ducting issue since at least August 2008 – as internal BT emails obtained under the Data Protection Act clearly show. Both Ian Baker and Bill Murphy discussed this issue with me, in the course of a discussion on the failing aluminium cabling between the village and the exchange, at a meeting in Warminster in May 2013.

Consequently, I would be very grateful for a full update on the situation, an explanation as to why it has taken so long to understand the ducting issues and a very, very clear timeline to show to the Parish Council and parishioners, what work needs to be done, when it will be completed by and when people will be able to sign up for a reasonable broadband  service. Furthermore, the Parish Council would like monthly updates on progress or lack thereof.

It would also be helpful to know of potential routes so that we might intercede on wayleave issues, if that is needed! Indeed, if there is an issue with wayleaves in the Parish, I am surprised that you have not yet brought this to our attention.”

We will keep you updated with the responses we receive from all parties.  We look forward to receiving some comments on the issue!

We Need Your Help!

From time to time, we are going to use the Forums area of the site to seek your opinions on issues of direct interest to the village, but you will need to register to have your say.  At the moment (December 2016) We are seeking your help in deciding the fate of the red telephone box on the A303 and where we might be able to site a public access defibrillator.  The best way forward, in both cases, may be linked or may be not.  We need your input, so just click on the links in this text to see what it is all about.

Registering on the Website

If you are going to register on the site to comment on posts or participate on the forums, which is something we want to encourage, we would ask you to enter your first name and last name in the sign-up process, as well as picking a nickname.  The purpose of this is simply so we know that you are really a villager and entitled to have your views considered.  Sadly, in this day and age, it also reduces the chances of abuse.  Applications must now be approved before you can participate.

Initial Website Feedback

Well, the Parish Council leafleted most of the village last Friday and we have already had some positive verbal feedback and we have had a useful contribution which has illustrated the benefit of doing this sort of thing on-line, rather than the traditional way of doing things on paper.  Now we are not saying the traditional way is wrong, but it is very inflexible and much more time consuming than doing things online, so if you have an event that changes after a publication has been sent off for printing, there may be no way of correcting it.  At best, you may have to send out a correction slip to every recipient.  Here, it’s a matter of a few keystrokes and the change of time or venue is corrected.

Better still, if you have an electronic diary (Google Calendar or iCal), you can add a diary event to your electronic device with a single click saving you time and effort.


Of course, if you still prefer a printed version, you can always print one out for yourself.