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Lancashire Council Stall B4RN’s 1Gbps Broadband Build for Schools

Monday, July 2nd, 2018 (8:38 am) - Score 4,978

The B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) ISP project, which has been deploying a 1Gbps community built and funded Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network to rural UK homes since 2012, appears to have hit a snag with Lancashire County Council hampering their UK rollout in both Caton and Halton.

The work that B4RN does would normally be too expensive for small rural villages but the operator overcomes this by harnessing local volunteers to help build the network (often in exchange for shares instead of cash). On top of that their model also relies on local landowners (e.g. farmers) being generous and agreeing to waive their right to payment as part of a wayleave (access) agreement, which enables the fibre to be dug through their land.

Unfortunately this approach can occasionally run into trouble, particularly when Lancashire County Council (LCC) gets involved. The council has a somewhat long history of shunning B4RN’s work in favour of their state aid supported Superfast Lancashire (SFL) project with BT (Openreach) and these days B4RN finds it easier to just get on with the job of deploying their network, while largely ignoring SFL’s plan.

We should point out that one of the reasons why B4RN can afford to ignore SFL / BT is because their strong community engagement (i.e. getting locals to help build their own fibre) tends to result in incredibly high take-up in a very short space of time (65% was the last average we saw). Nevertheless there are times when B4RN still needs to talk with LCC and sadly this can result in problems.

One of two recent examples stems from their planned rollout to the large rural civil parish village of Caton (Caton-with-Littledale), which had been initially planned around the need to build a main fibre optic cabinet on the Caton Community Primary School property. In return the school would gain access to free Gigabit broadband and then local homes would obviously benefit, at least they would if not for LCC.

B4RN Caton Project Update (May/June 2018)

As previously published, a formal request for wayleave was submitted to Lancashire County Council; unfortunately LCC have since requested payment for the processing of this request, despite all the savings and benefits B4RN could bring to the school. The project is therefore currently on hold whilst B4RN try to resolve the issue with LCC.

If matters cannot be resolved with LCC then unfortunately we will have to revisit the design and look for alternative sites for the cabinet.

Because of these issues and the holiday season, there will be no further monthly meetings until the autumn.

Apparently LCC initially wanted £850 for the wayleave, although an intervention by the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Cat Smith, has now resulted in this being reduced to just £200. B4RN is of course a community benefit project and doesn’t pay for wayleaves, which means that even a comparatively small figure of £200 is still an obstacle. On the other hand the council may be wary of setting a precedent that commercial organisations might then seek to harness and conflicts with existing School ICT contracts could also be an issue.

We should add that Openreach’s (BT) superfast broadband (24Mbps+) capable FTTC (VDSL2) network is already available to much of Canton, although B4RN’s network would be an order of magnitude faster and clearly has enough community support to proceed. One downside is that this might pull customers off FTTC (reduce take-up), which would mean less funding available for future reinvestment via SFL clawback (gainshare).

Meanwhile a similar problem is developing in the nearby and much more urban village of Halton (Halton-with-Aughton), which is one of the most densely populated areas that B4RN has had to connect and this brings with it plenty of new challenges. Luckily there are lots of fields nearby and the optical cable has already been built to the village centre (the service itself is not yet live).

The work in Halton is being supported by £60,000 that has been raised by the community but unfortunately a report in the Lancaster Guardian reveals that one “big stumbling block” remains.

Robb Thompson, Member of B4RN for Halton, said:

“The big stumbling block at the moment is getting into the school field. There’s a lot of effort taking place to get Lancashire County Council to plant a wayleave into the school field. It would save the school a lot of money to have free Wifi and it also gives them a great connection.”

In response Susie Charles, LCC Councillor for Schools, said that the county council was still “waiting for more information from B4RN about their proposal” before considering it, although B4RN appear to feel as if they’ve already provided enough of the relevant information. “We have to assess how this would affect any future requests, such as from other providers and for other sites around the county,” added Susie.

Susie is somebody that is known to have been present at several past meetings concerning the B4RN project, including when it was visited by the UK Secretary of State a few years ago (here), and so she should by now be intimately familiar with it. Meanwhile the school in question allegedly continues to be charged several thousand pounds per year by LCC for their internet connection, which B4RN will do for free.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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96 Responses
  1. Joe says:

    Depressingly boneheaded Council.

    1. wireless pacman says:

      Have to admit am in 2 minds on this one. There must be a risk for the council in setting a precedent for “good causes” that could backfire on them. After all B4RN is hardly a charity. Plus even £850 is pretty small beer in an ftth rollout, equating to around 3 customers for one year.

      Also, if it really will save the school thousands then surely they ought to be happy to stump up the dosh?

    2. New_Londoner says:

      No doubt the council has had to consider the funding in the context of State aid rules. Presumably all future wayleave requests from all organisations will attract a similar discount?

    3. Joe says:

      Generally BARN build in areas that are just not viable via conventional means (at least for fibre) hense the volunteers. Fees for wayleaves are not a true reflection of the costs involved in granting them. I wondered about the School paying – they may of course be tied into a contract.

      If as the article suggests the ‘school in question allegedly continues to be charged several thousand pounds per year by LCC for their internet connection,’ that looks like a clear conflict of interest.

    4. Mark Jackson says:

      @New_Londoner. I think saying “all SIMILAR organisations” would perhaps be more fair than “all organisations,” since governments and councils often have to take different approaches to reflect different types of organisations and B4RN are a not-for-profit social company.

      But there is an element of slippery slope in such council positions / decisions and whether or not you then allow the same for commercial companies. Perhaps only provided they’re also following the same approach and thus are willing to deploy FTTP to the rest of the community + school, at no cost to the council/state aid etc.

    5. New_Londoner says:

      I’m pretty sure a fee reduction would count as state aid unless it applies equally to all organisations.

      The suggested savings of thousands are almost certainly spurious as school connections usually include bundled services such as firewalls which need to be approved and are required. That is why there are number of specialist school service providers, I doubt B4RN is one of them.

    6. Joe says:

      @NL That may well be the case re the cost. My issues was if the council was the beneficiary of that contract and would lose it by BARN building and has the wayleave decision that is a CoI.

      State Aid has De minimis rules. This may well be considered below it or as Mark said a little creative thinking around it for NfP or Charities should be possible.

    7. TheFacts says:

      @MD – why can’t the cabinet be on the highway? When outsourcers get the client deciding they want some particular kit it can get complicated.

    8. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “….Presumably all future wayleave requests from all organisations will attract a similar discount?”

      Wayleaves are judged and costed on a case by case basis, what one wayleave costs has no bearing on what another may cost.

  2. Martyn Dews says:

    Frustrating but unsurprising. Due to the council’s obstructiveness, the school and its pupils will likely lose out on having this connection.

    As for Susie Charles, our County Councillor, needing more information, this is frankly nonsense. I worked with Eric Ollereneshaw , our MP at the time, to get the Secretary of State to visit B4RN. Up to that point, Mrs Charles had shown no interest in B4RN and had given no support to the project. Coincidentally though, she just “happened to be passing”, dropping off election leaflets. Which was nice. Of course it would be rude not to get in the photo.

    Also bear in mind that the locations that B4RN was deploying at that point were in the middle of nowhere; you normally don’t “just pass”.

    1. NGA for all says:

      What is the school currently paying LCC/BT for internet access? Protection of the underlying private circuit based revenue, means fibre beyond the cabinet solutions have been ignored, despite the fact the money is there to the work.

    2. Martyn Dews says:

      @NGA. I have no idea how much LLC charge for their Internet services to schools but I’m sure it will be in the several thousand pounds per year range and almost certainly not zero.

    3. TheFacts says:

      Has B4RN provide access to other schools in the LCC area and how does the support work?

    4. NGA for all says:

      Martyn – what medium – fibre, copper, wireless is used to service the school?

    5. Martyn Dews says:

      @NGAforall It will be copper. As to what flavour, I’m not sure. I doubt it would be anything other than the standard BT VDSL service as it’s only a small school.

      @TheFacts B4RN has provided to lots of schools in the area. To my knowledge, none of those are LCC controlled schools, they are Church schools or independent. As far a s I know, North Yorkshire CC have been more accommodating in this sense. Hopefully LCC will see the benefit.

    6. Jim Weir says:

      Many LA had framework contracts for school connectivity which pre date the NGA / BDUK rollout (not @NGA) which generally were based on combination of fibre circuits plus some microwave and SDSL links and included firewalls and content filtering. Many of those frameworks gave now ended as it is more viable for small schools (primary) to operate from VDSL services while larger schools can contact a leased line (using existing fibre) which is more suitable for a secondary school

      I don’t know about LCC but there was central funding IIRC so I imagine they have something.

  3. Steve Jones says:

    This might also trip up over unfair state aid issues if different operators are treated differently. As far as I’m aware, B4RN is set up as a limited company, and as such, doesn’t qualify as a charity. Yes, there’s a lot of community voluntary input, and it’s completely open to private landowners how they deal with aspects such as wayleaves. However, state authorities aren’t like that. Generally they have to treat all commercial operations equally. Where state aid is given, then there will be rules that have to be followed.

    So, I think when writing articles like this, it’s as well to be aware of the legal issues and the status of the parties. B4RN doesn’t appear to be a register charity, not is it a purely voluntary organisation.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      You’d have to prove that it could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union (EU), which is not a case that the EU would hear if it involves just £200 (down from £850) and could clearly fall into the bracket of “good aid” under B4RN’s model. You could debate that until the cows come home but, in the current climate of Brexit and the EU’s change of focus toward fostering FTTH/P, it would be a wasted effort.

      I should add that so far state aid is not an excuse that has been given for the above issues.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Forgot to add that B4RN is registered as a community benefit society with the FCA, it can never be bought by a commercial operator and its profits can only be distributed to the community.

    3. Joe says:

      Give state aid can be up to E200k over 3 years. (some sectors are different and much lower) I think its farcical to argue £200 is likely to distort the market! Given numerous EU strictures on broadband and fibre rollouts I just don’t buy there is a legal risk here.

    4. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      There is no legal risk, this is about one thing and that is money. BT council members are involved with BT in providing the schools networks.

      If someone comes along and suddenly offers the school broadband for free then BT and the council which have been rolling in the schools money will obviously be upset if they can not do so any longer.

      It is just another example of why government should never be involved in broadband and another example of protecting the BT monopoly.

    5. Steve Jones says:


      It doesn’t need to be taken to the EU. It can be dealt with by a UK court, and maybe judicial review. There have already been cases about similar issues.

    6. Clifford says:

      I doubt anyone is going to go to court for anything related to an internet install and a cost of £200. It would be mad to do so, certainly cost a far greater amount for both sides involved. There would be no winner in such a case, just expense all round. To even scream about courts over a reduced fee is stupid, in fact even if it was not about a reduce fee and the original £800 odd cost would be stupid to go down the take them to court route. Unless the taken was done by a really petty organisation/individual which had nothing better to do.

  4. Oh well says:

    So the B4RN juggernaut comes to a screeching halt because a land owner actually wants paying for plant on their land… when just £200 can destroy a roll out then we aren’t looking at a sustainable network here.

    By the way, around £700 is normal for a farmer to even start discussions about wayleaves on their land when openreach approach them. I guess B4RN will be getting a new found appreciation for the OR roll out when £200 can stop them dead.

    Maybe we should start a JustGiving collection to raise the cash?

    1. Joe says:

      £700 is doing well. You get about 450 for a few poles.

    2. Joe says:

      BARN seems perfectly sustainable. Their model works and depends upon getting free access and/or labour. Thats the expensive bit – they are building where others won’t because its non commercial (with normal build costs). Once running the costs look perfectly commercial

    3. Oh well says:

      The model is sustainable and works providing every land owner that B4RNs plant needs to traverse allows access for nothing and all labour is free.

      That’s like saying my model to sell brand news cars for £100 a pop is sustainable and works, providing all parts of my supply chain charge me nothing for labour and parts.

    4. Joe says:

      But thats how many not for profit/ Community entities and charities work. And its a good thing.

    5. Mark Jackson says:

      @Oh well. Not for nothing, it’s in exchange for shares and in other areas the community will raise investment to help cover the core costs. B4RN then gets funding back from the subscription to pay its staff, cover on-going costs / loans and expand their network.

  5. Meadmodj says:

    LCC surely need to assess the wider liabilities and they already have a recommended provider in BT Lancashire Services which appears to provide a wider service than just Internet. In addition there are currently funding options specifically for schools and public building which no doubt LCC will be seeking and further phases of BTUK. It may be simply a precedent, contractual obligations or simply a formal agreement with B4RN regarding their service and resilience. Either way surely this should have been resolved before promising the community that the school would get free broadband.

  6. Optimist says:

    Make this a political issue by putting up independent candidates at the next round of council elections. The threat that they might upset the result, even if they do not win, by taking more votes from one party rather than another, thus possibly threatening the incumbents seats, will concentrate their minds wonderfully.

  7. Jim Weir says:

    Surely this is simply down to B4RN have to stick to their guns – they don’t pay for wayleaves. I’m sure landowners in their area are the same as landowners elsewhere – happy to oblige when everyone is treated equally, but a slippery slope if any one gets different treatment.

    Sure schools will require approved filtering and managed services but that is perfectly possible to tack-on to any access network.

    Likewise LCC will likely be tied with a framework contract that covers every school in LA control – plus they simply don’t have a tick box that says “allow for free” so they are stuck feeling they are being reasonable offering £200 fee, but loosing site of the wider complex picture.

    Hope alternate options are viable for these communities

    1. Martyn Dews says:

      Exactly that Jim yes. Hopefully common sense will prevail.

    2. chris conder says:

      yes indeed Jim, B4RN farmers who have freely given wayleaves would be very cross if LCC got any money. B4RN will have to stick to it’s guns. If the council want these rural areas connected then they have to help altnets not hinder them. But LCC are run by BT, so they probably daren’t upset them. That’s why in these parts it is called superfarce Lancashire. You couldn’t make all this stuff up… 3 other parishes are affected, think Chipping is one, can’t think of the others off hand but there are 5 blocked by the council at the moment.

    3. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “…B4RN farmers who have freely given wayleaves would be very cross if LCC got any money.”

      Not that i would want to upset the farmers, but i suspect many including myself who have nothing to do with B4RN would be willing to come forward and make a £200 charitable donation, if it helped. That way there is no money out of B4RNs pocket or the farmers 🙂

    4. Andrew says:

      The argument keeps coming up that B4RN can do it cheaper than BT/Openreach because they can get free wayleave from the Farmers and landowners.
      If I am correct BT already have wayleaves to the vast majority of properties as almost all rural properties have a telephone landline. Changing the copper to fibre would have a virtually nil wayleave cost.

    5. CarlT says:

      If it requires digging it needs wayleave.

  8. dragoneast says:

    I suspect nowt really to do with State Aid, Brexit or any of the usual suspects to which we like to pander to our prejudices.

    Typical bureaucracy. It’s sitting on an officers desk somewhere since it gives them a job to string it out as long as possible. It happened before the EC came along, and will happen well after, if ever, they’re gone. And it’s a game we all play given half-a-chance, “make work” to give us something to do, particularly when it’s anything we enjoy. We could work with others to make things happen, but it’s much more fun to work for our own self-interest. All guilty. It’s the British hobby “being difficult”. We mistake it for doing our job. Always has been the same and, I suspect, always will be. Others of course do it too, but never quite with the same obsession.

  9. chris conder says:

    Very kind of you un4h731x0rp3r0m but we live and die by our principles and our community ethos says we all give wayleaves for free. The council seem to forget they are paid by us, the people. Their job is to do what is best for us, not for the corporation that has taken them over. BT don’t yet own our county council even if they are running it… it is a case of David standing up to Goliath at the moment. Silverdale is another council school property they won’t let us go over. They are aggravating many of their constituents by their unhelpful behaviour. The volunteers give so much time and effort up to help their communities, and the council should be first in line to help them, not throwing obstacles in their way.
    The person at the council who has a b4rn response sitting on his desk is away till the middle of july, then no doubt when he gets back everyone else will be on holiday, so it could be winter before these communities can start digging these routes in. All part of BT’s plan I guess…and the council fall for it. Well there will be plenty of mud in winter, and someone may very well start slinging it.

    1. FibreFred says:

      Libellous comments Chris.

      Should always be careful when representing B4RN which you are indeed a representative of.

    2. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “Very kind of you un4h731x0rp3r0m but we live and die by our principles…”

      Well if anything changes be sure to give a shout on here, im sure I as well as others would be willing to help.

      The other possibility (though this depends on how outraged the school is with the council) is for them to consider academy (or whatever it is called now) status, which would give them and those they elect control over the decisions made on school buildings, grounds etc. Oh how that would screw some on the council and their money making schemes 😉

    3. New_Londoner says:

      In reality might this be a case of B4RN not doing the paperwork properly (or at all) again? You know, just like what happened during the BdZuK open market review?

    4. Clifford says:

      “Libellous comments Chris.”

      Libel has to damage a persons reputation or clearly identify an individual without naming… I did not see her mention any individual by name. Or any individual which could be identified by readers clearly.

      If you are trying to say anyone stating an opinion about a council being useless or BT being obtuse is libel then i wish you all the best with that case as that would be nothing more than personal opinion and in no way damages the council or council members positions or BTs business or finances.

    5. FibreFred says:

      “Libel has to damage a persons reputation”

      Also includes businesses

    6. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Looking at your posting history on some organisations and your opinions you best stop then.

    7. FibreFred says:

      I don’t represent an ISP. Chris does, the one that is the subject of the article.

    8. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Does not matter if you represent a company or not.

    9. FibreFred says:

      If you cannot see this issue.

      Ok 🙂

    10. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Do you think her comments are going to cause BT shares to fall even further?

  10. TheFacts says:

    Martyn – if it was a eg. Capita contract and not BT how would they deal with it? Presumably the contract would be similar. I cannot see how wayleaves have anything to do with BT, but then thats’s the usual nonsense from CC representing B4RN.

  11. Fastman says:

    I assume this has stopped as it would set a huge precedence for the council and they would then have to waive all wayleacv costs period

    The fee is not the issue it’s the precedence

  12. Fastman says:

    No council will agree to that as would set precedence way being a small school field in Lancashire

    1. Martyn Dews says:

      @Fastman I believe that’s incorrect as North Yorkshire And Cumbria councils have done just that.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Councils have also waived wayleaves fees before for all sorts of related things, including in relation to the BT/BDUK contracts. As I said above, context and scale matters a lot when dealing with areas that can usually only be upgraded with support from public funding. The flexibility exists, it is not black and white.

    3. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “Councils have also waived wayleaves fees before for all sorts of related things, including in relation to the BT/BDUK contracts.”

      Funny how certain people never complained about that.

  13. Barry Forde says:

    Several points that deserve an answer so here goes.
    Firstly wayleaves, the key to B4RN’s affordability is we avoid digging up roads and go over private land instead, BUT that means we need a wayleave and equally importantly it has to be free! We have several thousand landowners who have gone along with that because otherwise the build costs would be much more and the projects viability challenged. We setup B4RN as a not for profit community benefit society specifically so that landowners could see clearly that no one would profit from their generosity, any spare cash has to go back to the community, so the community benefits, not individuals or member/shareholders. On that basis they have given us free wayleaves. But we cannot make a payment of any sort to any one landowner or the others would also want payment (especially if it were to a public body like a council) and this would push up our costs dramatically and potentially break the model. We commit to connecting 100% of properties in a parish who want service. If the costs go up then we could end up just connecting the low hanging fruit in the village hearts and avoid the expensive remote farms and properties. That’s not what a social enterprise should be doing, we pride ourselves on being inclusive BUT that means that the landowners have to support us, and almost 100% of them do and take pride in helping their community. Its not about the amount of the fee its the principle of the thing that matters. We will never ever pay for a wayleave but will always take an alternative route if necessary. Every Government department and public body has accepted that and granted us wayleaves free of any costs. I’m sure that Lancashire County Council will do the same once they have got up to speed with what our project is. I think its just a bit of confusion.

    Someone asked about school connections. We have 14 schools connected to B4RN and after a quick check I can confirm that they are all CofE supported or endowed schools. There is no reason why there should be any financial down side to the council’s NEN provision. All we are doing is replacing an expensive slow BT tail with a 1Gbs/1Gbs B4RN tail. If the school wants to use that to setup a VPN to the councils school network then that is fine with us. The council gets a free tail and the school can continue to take the other services offered by the council. However if the school wants to go it alone then that too is fine with us. We are not here to dictate what users do with their connections.

    1. TheFacts says:

      @Barry – Thanks for a good explanation from B4RN. (Unlike the previous one…)

    2. CarlT says:

      Thank you. A timely and complete reminder of why private companies cannot attempt to replicate your success and of the things that make your project special, and allow it to work.

    3. Martyn Dews says:

      Thanks for the explanation Barry. Clarification from a company CEO is always helpful.

      I’m sure that LCC will allows this once they assess the benefit. I hope so, as the feed for my connection will come via this route!

  14. Fastman says:

    Those i assume are bduk contract where the local authority is investing so not quite the same

    1. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      I believe Martyn, Mark and Barry have explained things nice and clearly.

  15. chris conder says:

    nice one Barry. Just out of interest for anyone reading here, the astroturfers don’t like my comments, and say I represent B4RN, I don’t at all, I am nothing to do with B4RN I am just a volunteer and committed to a fantastic project. My comments are my own. Barry represents B4RN. The same astroturfers think fibre comes down phone lines. Believe who you will.

    1. TheFacts says:

      ‘Barry Forde’s background as an industry leading UK specialist in networking, particularly wide area fibre networks, means B4RN is professionally designed to world class standards; fast, resilient, expandable and futureproof. Chris Conder and Lindsey Annison as founding members of the team brought experience from other local community wireless mesh and fibre networks.’

      Founder member
      March 2011 – Present (7 years 5 months)Lancashire UK

      A refreshing and open description of the B4RN project by one of the management committee
      Here’s a link to an audio interview with Chris Conder of Broadband 4 the Rural North, where she presents in clear and easy to understand language exactly what the Community Fibre project is all about.

    2. FibreFred says:

      Nothing at all to do with B4RN:-

      “B4RN co-founder Chris Conder and Huskie had their turn at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, a beaming Chris being presented her MBE by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in his very fine RAF uniform. “I smiled for 3 days. it was a brill trip.””


      You represent B4RN. To great effect sometimes. Other times, not so much.

    3. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      You do realise you can be a company founder but have nothing to do with the daily business or be a staff member of it? Much like Richard Branson and Virgin Media.

      She certainly does not work for them…

    4. Fastman says:

      Chrismay not work for b4rn but comments around lcc and Superfarce coming from a b4rn volunteer who has an mbe becauase of b4rn is going to get attributed to br4n regardless of whether they are employed by b4rn or not

    5. Gadget says:

      “Nothing to do with the daily business” – https://b4rn.org.uk/chris-conder-invested-by-prince-william/ quote from item “Chris returned home yesterday and is back to answering B4RN emails and charging round the countryside supporting staff and volunteers. ” Not sure how you can answer an email if you don’t speak for them???

    6. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      It does not say she is answering emails for or addressed or on behalf of B4RN.

      Maybe they are emails from other volunteers involved in B4RN projects direct to her that would be a “B4RN email”. They could be emails either just thanking her, asking for additional advice in how to get involved or any other infinite possibilities. Why you would assume they are business related i do not know.

      Context is a wonderful thing….

      I personally am always busy.

      In fact right now i am about to get back to being “busy answering BT emails”, but I do not work for them or have anything to do with BT either.

      Go on feel free to question me, call me a liar, ask how i do that, or my role and capacity in “answering BT emails”.

    7. Gadget says:

      Apart from the fact its the most spurious rebuttal I’ve heard in a long while, the quote if you notice is taken from the official B4RN website and in the same sentence also talks of her supporting staff and volunteers.

      But perhaps there is a very easy way to get to the bottom of this @Barry Forde – who can definitively answer this question “Does Chris Condor speak for B4RN, and if she does not what is B4RN’s official position on her claims that BT own the council”?

    8. FibreFred says:

      un4h731x0rp3r0m (other aliases apply)

      I thought as you’ve already been pulled up for trolling you might have… well.. done less of it?

    9. Clifford says:

      “and in the same sentence also talks of her supporting staff and volunteers.”

      I see nothing that states she is answering emails for staff or volunteers, that part of the sentence says she is “charging round the countryside supporting staff and volunteers.”

      Considering you do not know how she is supporting staff or volunteers you are doing nothing but assuming things.

      I once charged up the road and supported BT staff by making 3 Openreach engineers cups of tea. That does not mean i have anything to do with BT or Openreach the companies, or does it?????

    10. FibreFred says:

      It seems others are as equally confused:

      ‘“So far, 200 people have bought shares in the enterprise at £1 a share,” says farmer Christine Conder, one of the B4RN management team’


      “The report features interviews with

      Andrew Metcalfe, a local farmer.
      Christine Conder, B4RN Committee Member.
      Brendan Dick, Managing Director, BT Regions at BT.
      Barry Forde, CEO B4RN.”


      “As reported previously on this site one of the B4RN team, Chris Conder, attended the Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels”



      Chris even has her on b4rn email address.

      But… isn’t anything to do with them, apart from it being all over the Internet she is. Even on their own website

    11. Clifford says:

      The first link can pretty much be ignored. That paper has previously even got MP’s positions wrong.

      The second link and being a committee member means nothing, in most cases when there is a committee the idea is to have those of varying opinion and position on it. It also again means nothing to do with running the organisation is entirely possible or that she has any power beyond what has been given as a committee member as to how B4RN operate. For all you know her position on the committee may be nothing more than deciding what biscuits the engineers should be allowed with a cup of tea…. And before you say that is ridiculous, that is what a school committee recently decided with regards to a schools caretakers.

      The third link… B4RN value people, if you look further on their site you will find they even call volunteers or people that just allow access to their land team members of B4RN. I guess like any company with morals they do not forget the little people.

      The fourth link, sorry i do not see where she has her own B4RN email, though even if she did i fail to see what that shows, every BT customer has or can have a BT email address.

    12. FibreFred says:

      Really? 🙂

      Founder of b4rn


      You can find her email online. Didn’t want or need to add it to a comment.

    13. FibreFred says:

      I am not questioning whether she works for them. I said represent.

      Which she clearly does.


    14. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Please tell, How do you represent a company without working for them?

    15. FibreFred says:

      Ask Chris.

      “Thanks to everyone at ISPA, I have never met so many awesome people in the online world in one room before.
      It was a fantastic do, and we were so proud to represent the fantastic community of B4RN in thatLondon. The keynotes were mega, and although we were happy just to be nominated it was amazing to actually win the award. Thank you to the industry peers who have embraced the rural broadband cause and voted for us. Lancashire salutes you”


      Representing. In her own words.

    16. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      She clearly says she was representing the community of B4RN. Barry forde who attended was no doubt the company representative.

    17. FibreFred says:


    18. Clifford says:

      “She clearly says she was representing the community of B4RN. Barry forde who attended was no doubt the company representative.”

      Seems to be right, especially as the award was handed to him.

      Nothing was said on stage by Chris who you believe to be the official spokesperson/representative either.

      Why did she not make the speech if she is the spokesperson for B4RN??? That is what spokes people and representatives are for are they not, to speak and represent?

  16. RogerDodge says:

    It seems that there is clarity here from some and plenty of goodwill by most – wanting communities to be connected – however that’s done (although clearly 1Gbps symmetrical FTTP has to be the preference if you have the option).
    In the other hand you have an obstructive and pretty dim-witted LCC who have already had issues with their closeness and collusion with BT in other areas.
    Surely the important thing is ensuring that the kids at the school have the best connection that’s available – especially if it’s free…
    What isn’t so nice here is the harping and sniping by other regular “contributors” to this forum who appear to act like they are BT’s and on this occasion, LCC’s hit squad.
    So to FibreFred, the inappropriately named TheFacts and others of their ilk, I suggest you might consider ceasing the unprofessional personal attacks and take a deep breath. Take the time examine just what is important in life, and perhaps have a strong reset of your moral compass before spouting off.
    It’s not nice, it’s not accurate and it’s certainly not very clever.
    Oh, and just before you might consider a response that will confirm what people already think of you – and have a go at me, I’m just a reader of this forum. I have no interest in BARN or BT.
    Have a nice day

    1. FibreFred says:

      No personal attacks here. Cannot speak for anyone else.

      Fastman understands the point being made.

    2. TheFacts says:

      Interesting your comments are followed by an ‘unprofessional personal attack’ by CC on someone she calls a ‘snake oil salesman’…

  17. chris conder says:

    Fastman, I didn’t get my MBE for b4rn, I got it for helping rural communities get online. I spent from 2000 to 2009 helping build wifi networks. I have dealt with councils and politicians and snake oil salesmen and astroturfers (who don’t even use their real names) for 20 years. I speak up for rural people and farmers. B4RN speaks for itself. As Barry clearly has done.

    1. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Its a pity some that are clearly in a manner linked to an organisation be it indirect or directly do not have the guts unlike yourself and others altnet parties to identify who they are or why they would persistently support an organisation.

      Its quite funny how the small players are happy for everyone to know who they are, but a certain organisation is less forth coming.

      Perhaps they are scared that if anyone gets wind of the organisation they are linked to the 9+ million users they have (oh no now i have obviously identified who they are and will also be sued for libel… in their minds) would have an additional finger to wave “infinitely” (hohoho) at about their useless products.

    2. Martyn Dews says:

      Always an interesting discussion here and a great site but I often find myself frustrated by the fact that many regulars on the comments section here are all too willing to make comments, (rightly or wrongly) but are completely unwilling to use a real name.

      Why is this? What have you to hide? If stand behind what you are saying, whether is be right or wrong, (we all are entitled to an opinion after all), why not use your real name.

      Come on @Fastman, @FibreFred and the rest, lets have some real names.

    3. Gadget says:

      I don’t believe a forum name should have any bearing on the accuracy, legitimacy or basic politeness of the comment expressed, so accepting that some names may not be what is on their birth-certificates how does it affect the statement, opinion or question posed in the text?

    4. Martyn Dews says:

      Personal opinion I suppose but I’d be inclined to think that a person would be more likely to be confrontational, looser with the facts or just generally more likely to troll if they are anonymous.

      What’s to hide anyway, if the facts are good even if they are wrong, entering into a respectful debate is always more fulfilling if you know who you are conversing with. On top of that, it would give that person more credibility in the wider community too.

      Just my opinion of course but if you are not willing to identify yourself then that’s your choice.

    5. Clifford says:

      “… how does it affect the statement, opinion or question posed in the text?”

      According to your friends that also like to harass elder woman on the internet, statements made make a lot of difference. In fact going as far as to claim false statements are libel.

      Seeing as you can not prove any of your mystery ISP, nameless, faceless and positionless statements about said elder person those may also be libellous.

      Perhaps like you wish of others you should stick to things which are not questionable or your own opinion on a person or organisation.

      Then again a quick search for B4RN news items on here, finds a treasure trove of some of the cohorts on their witch hunt dating back years.

      Including the chestnut brought up in this thread of of wanting to know Chris’s position and making claims about what her position is, like here…


      Some things never change including the real nameless trolls that pick on (i hope chris does not mind the term) elder woman.

      No wonder they do not want to say which organisation they represent.

    6. TheFacts says:

      There is no doubt that Chris is the face and voice of B4RN, I’m not aware of anyone else in their publicity. Although Barry does provide a welcome professional view of the organisation when he comments.

    7. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Too bad you can not prove a single bit of what you think.

    8. Clifford says:

      “Too bad you can not prove a single bit of what you think.”

      The sadder fact is he/she/they do not wish to even identify there-self’s or what they do in their daily life but want to know what another persons position is in their daily life and do not even give a reason why.

      Coupled with the fact he/she/they have been regularly making the same and worse accusations for well over a year, just makes it even more pathetic.

      When they reach a similar age maybe someone will harass them on a regular basis also. I suspect only then they will understand their deplorable, pathetic behaviour.

  18. chris conder says:

    Don’t worry about me, as a village elder I have no worries when it comes to what the astroturfers say on here. 😉 I find it quite amusing. I bet Mark could check back to see all the fantastic posts he’s written and how it degenerates into a vendetta if I put a comment on… which totally confuses the reader, so the important point of an article is often missed. That is the job of astroturfers. They are a lower life form than trolls, as they are rewarded for their work whereas trolls just do it for meanness.

    1. Clifford says:

      Good to hear you do not let them affect you Chris, i suspect that makes them even more bitter 🙂

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