BT have commenced its programme of proposed public payphone removals across Great Britain. Each local authority in the Country are in various stages of the consultation process.
People living in rural areas argue that many kiosks earmarked for disposal are potential life-savers, especially in areas where mobile signals are unobtainable, or where elderly residents may not have mobiles. However under privatisation rules BT is not allowed to subsidise its payphone business... despite this the company has pledged its commitment to the service, particularly for those people who depend on payphones. Yet another example of both Tory and Labour not seeing public phones as a public service.
BT have advised Stroud District Council that there are two components to the programme locally:
(i) Under new Ofcom guidance there are a number of public payphones which are within 400m of another. BT are not required to consult Council or the public in relation to those to be removed under this scheme. Council will be advised of those to be removed in the coming months.
(ii) BT have identified 51 additional public payphones to be removed in the Stroud District. These were identified by BT as they have “little use”. These include locally Chapel Lane, Ebley, Ludlow Green, Ruscombe and Westrip Farm, Westrip. See list here. I know Randwick Parish are looking at this issue.
The Randwick village telephone box has been used in the local press in photos talking about the closure - however it does not seem to be listed despite a threat only a little while ago when BT tried to close it before. I hope the case that was made then, ensured it is not under threat?
Part of Ofcom’s review in 2005 states that it is the responsibility of the local authority to initiate its own consultation process to canvas view of the local community on proposed closures. Further that notification of Council’s final decision should include all justifications as BT may wish to challenge any unreasonable objections within its appeal process. This consultation must be completed by 6th September 2008.
Officers in the Regeneration Service have already sent information out to the Town and Parish Council’s and the community, place information on the web site in order to gather intelligence on the phone boxes. If readers of this blog have information then please contact the District Council before 20th July so that info can be collated - they will be looking at mobile phone coverage in the area, the number of calls in past year, proximity to a population who may not have access to a personal land line or mobile, proximity to an economically deprive community, heritage listing, proximity to a traffic blackspot and usage of the phone for emergency purposes. Clearly there maybe good arguments for some closures but it is a sad day to see yet more erosion to our local services.
See Ofcom website: