Community and Communications Committee Minutes 6 February 2012

Minutes of the meeting of the Community and Communications Committee held in the Reading Room, Church Road, Buxted at 7.30p.m. on 6 February 2012

  Public: 5. Mr J Packham, Mr J Pack, Mr J Penfold, Mr J Vernon and Mr P Benham; all residents of High Hurstwood.All in attendance wished to refer to item 5 on the agenda – Rural Broadband Issues, hoping they were pushing on an open door when asking for the Parish Council to pursue this issue with the relevant authorities. Broadband service in High Hurstwood is particularly bad ranging from no connection at all to 0.4mb at best as well as multiple disconnections.


1. Apologies for AbsenceApologies were received and accepted from Cllr. Warner who, as Vice Chairman of the Council, is automatically invited to all council meetings but will not be participating in this committee.
2. Declarations of Members Interests.None
3 Remit and Responsibilities of the CommitteeMembers referred to Appendix A which lists the current roles and responsibilities of the committee. It was resolved that the list remains as is with the addition of the website and community voice newsletter as local communications channels.
4. WebsiteUse of the Calendar

Mr. Cox explained the current situation regarding the calendar on the website and how two calendars have been in existence until now, neither working effectively. These problems are currently being resolved with only one calendar now on the website with parish council meeting dates having been added. Members discussed future control of the calendar and if events, other than that related to the parish council should be included. It was widely agreed that as many parish events should be included on the calendar which may also encourage further general use of the website.

It was resolved that:

  • Mr. Cox, together with both clerks would have access to upload details of events onto the website calendar
  • Further investigation would take place regarding the lack of space on the calendar page which restricts the view of each event so you can only read part of the text (Cllr. Blandford)
  • Investigate the possibility of having different color text for parish council/non parish council events (Clerk)
  • Further investigation as to the need for the Google mail email address; is it currently receiving emails and could it be used in the future? (Clerk/H Cox)

Making Better Use of the Website

It was agreed that there is a lot of useful information on the website but there is a definite need to encourage more people to use it which means capturing people’s interest. At present, the website is predominately used to list council agendas and minutes and to disseminate parish council information. However, pages exist for clubs and societies to upload information and for photographs to be submitted and uploaded. The committee was also very keen on using the ‘featured stories’ on the front page to provide various pieces of news and information across the parish, not just parish council news.

There were concerns that the current website has an identity crisis as it is a ‘parish’ website, but being dominated by ‘parish council’ business, unlike the Hadlow Down website which provides much more village information. It was noted however that the Hadlow Down website is not owned by the parish council and is updated on a daily basis by a committed volunteer. Discussion also took place following a suggestion that each village have their own dedicated pages, however it was decided that this meeting is to encourage further use of the website rather than discussing changes to the layout of the pages. This is a subject for future discussion.

Following further consideration it was resolved to recommend to the Parish Council that:

  • Links from BPEC to ‘featured stories’ would encourage visits to the website.
  • Clubs, societies, parishioners should be encouraged to provide information/news/photographs that can be uploaded onto the website

Facebook Policy

Members viewed an example of the current Buxted Facebook page which is being well used with photos and messages being uploaded. It was agreed that it is working well at the moment with anyone being able to become a ‘friend’ of the site and adding comments and photos as they wish. It was however agreed that links between the Facebook page and website when news features are uploaded may encourage more visitors to the website.

Online Surveys

It was considered important by all members that there is a facility available to the parish council by which consultation through the website could take place. Thinking ahead, this is something that may be useful when carrying forward the Rural Broadband issue.  It was therefore recommended that the Parish Council be requested to make funds available for software to enable the website to facilitate online surveys.

5. Rural Broadband IssuesThe Parish Council first became proactive regarding rural broadband issues in December of last year when Cllr. Manchester attended two conferences hosted by ESCC and Airs. He advised that the newly formed Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has been set up to provide broadband throughout the UK. In response to this, ESCC have a target of rolling out broadband to 100% of the county with coverage of a minimum of 2mb per second. How they propose to do this and in what timing is yet to be confirmed, but to date the Parish Council have been asked to register support on the ESCC website, which it has done. To fund the project, ESCC have been allocated (but not yet received) £10.6m from BDUK, and will add a further £15m from existing funds.

With regards to existing coverage in the parish, members of the public from High Hurstwood had already advised the committee of poor coverage prior to the start of the meeting, however Cllr. Manchester added the following information:

  • East Sussex have the 2nd lowest broadband performance in the country
  • But have the 2nd highest take up of broadband
  • East Sussex are the second lowest in the country at receiving 2mb of service
  • East Sussex are in the lowest bracket in the country for receiving superfast broadband
  • East Sussex are the second lowest in the country for the synchronization scheme

At this point, ESCC are preparing a Local Broadband Plan which they will submit to BDUK in order to draw down funds, but it is expected that following this, parishes may well be asked to submit further details regarding existing broadband delivery within their area. We do not know yet what questions will be asked, but it was considered important by the committee to be as far ahead of any forthcoming requests from ESCC as possible. It was suggested that evidence can start to be gathered now to ascertain general broadband speeds across the parish.

Without knowing how ESCC will move forwards, it is only assumed as this stage that broadband delivery would be on a needs must and first come first serve basis; therefore by starting to collate information at this stage, Buxted Parish will be able to react as quickly as possible when the time comes. It was also considered appropriate for the clerk to contact ESCC to try and ascertain what questions we may be asked to convey to the parish. The committee also discussed various methods of how a questionnaire could best reach as many residents of the parish as possible.

In addition to discussing potential future surveys, Members also drew attention to a current questionnaire on the ESCC website which asks 5 basic questions regarding existing broadband services and if you would be prepared to pay more for an improved service. All who attended the meeting are encouraged to complete the questionnaire and to tell as many people as possible to do the same and register and interest in the subject.

Following a detailed discussion, it was resolved that:

  • Broadband speeds across the parish can start to be collated now in order to best inform ESCC when the need arises
  • A message to be uploaded to BPEC and to the parish council website to encourage the completion of the current ESCC broadband questionnaire
  • The clerk to contact ESCC to try and establish what, if any information the council could be asked to collate from its parish
  • Recommend to the Parish Council that once these details are established, a questionnaire be brought to the attention of parishioners via the website, Facebook page, BPEC, school book wallets – possibly directing to a survey on the website (if this facility is approved).

In addition to the above, the committee also discussed a recent message on the Buxted Village Voice discussion forum which suggests that Taylor Wimpey could be adverting the new development at Buxted on the basis of supplying BT Infinity to households, which we know is impossible at this stage. Mr Cox advised that he had read all of the publicity information regarding the development and he had not seen this as part of the advertising. The committee agreed that this is probably misinformation; however, contact would be made with Taylor Wimpey to ascertain if this is, in fact, true.

6. Community VoiceIt was agreed that the quality of the photographs in the newsletter is not great and that this should be carefully considered in future editions. This led to discussions regarding the possibility of exploring alternative producers in order to remain cost effective.

It was also considered important to ensure that the newsletter remains in touch with new technology and the way in which publications are produced.

Members were not opposed to opening the newsletter up to input other than that of the parish council e.g. recipes, articles from clubs, societies, individuals within the parish.

Timings of editions, format of the newsletter and reference to the website and Facebook were also discussed.

It was resolved to recommend to the Parish Council that:

  • The website address/Facebook page should be added to the bottom of every page of future issues of the community voice.
  • Two full editions of the newsletter should be produced per year in addition to a single 1 page issue on a specific topic together with the monthly parish updates in the Buxted Messenger and High Hurstwood Review (still complying with Quality Parish Council requirements)
  • Investigations to be made into alternative producers of the newsletter, as a review of costings
5. Members QuestionsNone this meeting


6. Any Other Matters Properly NotifiedCllr. Blandford commented that prior notification of the Annual Assembly should be included on the website as a feature story.

In respect of better communicating with the parish, the committee also suggested that the existing three noticeboards within the parish should be updated and possibly moved to more prominent locations. It was therefore resolved to recommend to the Parish Council that:

  • The noticeboard in Buxted be moved or replaced by a new board outside the village shop (if agreed with the shop owner) and a further noticeboard be placed at the new surgery (if approved by the doctors)
  • The noticeboard in High Hurstwood be replaced and moved to a suitable location – possibly The Hurstwood (GM to investigate best position)
  • The noticeboard in Five Ash Down be replaced by a larger board. Its current location of the village hall is considered a good location.

The meeting closed at 9.00p.m.

Posted in Communications Committee