- Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January 2022 13:42
- Published: Tuesday, 11 January 2022 13:42
Chris Priestley (Openreach) and I scheduled a telephone call at 12 noon today to go over the issues with CFP 52531 (the Sun Lane Scheme) and my report of the conversation follows.
Last week I received a confused EMail written to a different FTTP scheme but quoting our reference number and implying that the DCMS had rejected part of the proposed scheme as ineligible for funding. The call was scheduled to clarify the situation.
Chris first confirmed that he had, last week, intended to write to me and that it is the New Alresford scheme that has a funding deficit of £83K due to DCMS declaring part of the works ineligible for voucher funding.
I queried him as to what part of the work was ineligible. He told me that costs related to the "Main Fibre Leads" were to blame. He clarified this as adding more fibre in the upstream part of the network in order to provide sufficient capacity to support the properties covered by the scheme. He was not clear as to the exact location of this work, but seemed to agree that it was between the exchange and the cabinet. It appears that the DCMS have claimed that essential work to deliver a meaningful service as "ineligible".
If nothing is now done, the scheme will go into the Project Gigabit Phase 1b procurement starting 14/1/22. However, it is not guaranteed to be picked up here as the same issue may apply. In terms of timescale, Chris told me that Cornwall has just gone through a similar process (Phase 1a?) to that which Hampshire is now entering, and there it took 8 to 9 weeks to determine which projects got picked up by the procurement. We are thus looking at around late March before we know the outcome of the Phase 1b selection process.
When asked whether there was time to get additional funding before the 14th January date, he was not hopeful about there being any time left, and claimed this would have been the case even if last week's confusion had not happened. We seem therefore to have been left "high and dry".
Checking the DCMS T&C, they are effectively judge and jury when it comes to deciding what is eligible for funding, but there was no indication about what might be ineligible. Chris claims that they too (Openreach) are learning about what is acceptable. You could be cynical about this and take the view that the DCMS' aim is to make it as difficult as possible to get voucher funding rather than to promote the take up of FTTP.
I also discussed with him the impact of the Taylor Wimpey development on Sun Lane given that the proposed industrial estate and housing will also require further fibre capacity for the same area. As previously discussed, they have a different point of contact to Openreach, but the same issues will apply and there should be an opportunity here to involve them.
The was contact last summer to see if Taylor Wimpey might be interested in contributing some funding. That went cold given that Openreach had already put our application in. I will talk to our local councillors about whether it is worth progressing this route.
However, it does seem like all the hard work has come to nothing. If you wish to write to our local and national representatives to vent your frustration then I would not stand in your way. I too am fed up with what seems to be financial "nit picking" at the DCMS rather than to have any apparent enthusiasm for implementing the Government's election pledge on fibre deployment.
FTTP 4 Alresford