We have some very exciting news to share regarding our progress and succession plans, full details below. Firstly we would like to welcome Ian Thompson as our newest board member, he has been an avid B4RN supporter and champion for his area since 2014, you can read more about Ian here.

The company is now 5 years old, and over that period it has grown rapidly from being a small local initiative to a company operating on a larger scale, and across a much larger area, than originally envisaged. B4RN now operates from fit for purpose premises located in Melling, employs 14 members of staff, and by the end of the financial year (March 2017) will be providing service to over 3000 households and businesses. The company has over 1000 shareholders and has issued shares to the value of £2m. The network continues to expand, and one consequence of leasing the fibre link to Edinburgh to improve network resilience (on top of our continuing link to Manchester) is that communities in parts of Cumbria and the Borders are starting to express an interest in becoming part of the B4RN network.

Given the emerging context, and further to points raised at the last AGM of the company, the directors of B4RN have been giving a lot of thought to succession planning. Most shareholders will know that much of the technical knowledge and expertise within the company has rested on a small number of people, and particularly upon its CEO, Barry Forde. The directors think that it is both prudent and necessary to widen the spread of both technical and managerial expertise within the organisation, to ensure that B4RN is properly equipped to sustain the effective operation of the network into the future.

In the early part of 2017 the directors will begin the search for a new Chief Executive of B4RN, to take over the role which Barry has occupied with such distinction since the formation of the company. Thankfully Barry will not be lost to B4RN as he will continue to be closely associated with the company as Chief Technical Officer. He will also continue as a director of the company. These factors will enable B4RN to continue to be able to draw upon his technical expertise and vision as the company develops into the future. We envisage that the new CEO will take over from Barry early in the 2017/18 financial year.

The company will also continue the enhancement of its own in-house technical expertise through the appointment of an experienced network engineer to work as part of the team led by Tom Rigg. This will increase the capacity of the company to handle the continued growth in the scale of the company’s activities and will enhance its capacity to respond quickly to the occasional network emergencies which inevitably arise. It will also give B4RN a more secure base from which to manage the increasing demands which the geographical spread of the company’s activities places upon its staff.

In their discussions about the management of B4RN into the future, the directors are ever-mindful of the importance of the roots which B4RN has in local communities. The unique sense of pride which shareholders, volunteers and landowners have for B4RN is an asset without price, and is something which the directors are determined to preserve, whatever the scale or range of B4RN activities.

We will keep you updated as and when we have more details.