2 March 2021

A lego figure wearing a hard hat, connecting a ADSL cable to a router.

Sydenham Damerel team have signed final contract for installation of fibre broadband with the backing of West Devon Borough Council. A contract worth £174,200 has been underpinned by the Borough Council to provide 29 rural businesses and 70 homes with fibre broadband. This was provided using government vouchers to broadband provider Openreach.

The Council has been keen to support the village team who have been a driving force in bringing the provider to the area to improve broadband and boost digital connectivity. This issue is a key priority for West Devon Borough Council, especially since the Covid pandemic, to allow businesses to continue to operate and to improve social inclusion and mental wellbeing. It will also considerably help the increasing numbers of people who are likely to be working from home for longer periods in future.

The strong community broadband model shown by Sydenham Damerel's team is one that the Council intend to use it as a pilot for other rural communities in the Borough.

The local team, worked with Openreach, to take advantage of the Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Rural Broadband scheme. The scheme allows businesses to claim a voucher worth £3,500, while domestic properties can claim £1,500 to cover the cost of the infrastructure.

Cllr Terry Pearce, Lead Member for Communities for West Devon Borough Council, said: "We are delighted that we have been able to support the fantastic work that this wonderful team have worked so hard to achieve. We're proud to underpin the project to ensure it goes ahead without any issues and hopefully within a year, the community will have a faster and more reliable internet which will benefit both businesses and families alike.

"What's more, it's been such a success, that we have gone one step further to employ a member of staff to develop broadband connectivity schemes that are available. Although this particular voucher scheme has come to an end, we are awaiting details of its replacement. This will ensure other rural communities who have missed out on broadband opportunities will get the help and support they need to drive it forward in their area too. It's great news and I'm delighted with the progress we are making."

To further support other communities who would like to follow Sydenham Damerel's example, the Council have committed to employing a dedicated Community Digital Connectivity Specialist for two years. Their role will be to improve digital connectivity and broadband coverage, while engaging with communities and securing grant funding for superfast gigabit infrastructure.  

If you have experience in this field and would like to find out more, please visit: www.westdevon.gov.uk/jobs

Sydenham Damerel's Team Lead, Peter Hurdwell, said: ""The last year has been tough for everyone but on the positive side it really brought out the spirit of community here in Sydenham Damerel.

"Thanks to the hard work of my four colleagues; David Cullen, John Hearn, Russell Rose and Richard Windemer (all of whom are independent parishioners). Their work means we have managed to move our community from the 5% of the country with the poorest internet to the top 20%. Ultrafast Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is now available to every household.

"Through the interest and active engagement of those living here this will have enormous benefits to life in our beautiful corner of Devon. We've had incredible support from our West Devon Borough Council representatives Cllr Neil Jory and Cllr Terry Pearce together with Steve Mullineaux the Deputy CEO of West Devon."

If you are a community representative, who is interested in finding out more about broadband fibre opportunities in your area, please email:  communitybroadband@swdevon.gov.uk