Phone a friend if you want to save BT telephone boxes – Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Liz Needleman, BT Group, North of England.

A traditional red telephone box.

I’M writing in response to an article headlined ‘Council’s united front against BT removing ‘lifesaving’ call boxes’ (The Yorkshire Post, December 12).

Usage of payphones has fallen by around 90 per cent in the past decade, largely due to the huge increase in the number of mobile devices, resulting in the traditional payphone becoming largely redundant.

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A festive twist has been revealed to the innovative uses for decommissioned phone boxes and one village has turned theirs into a Christmas card. Rather than sending paper cards this year, villagers in Stutton near Tadcaster are posting messages of goodwill onto the old red phone box, with the proceeds to be donated to Martin House Hospice.

However, it’s important to make clear that we consider a number of factors before consulting on the removal of payphones. We won’t consult to remove payphones where we know about suicide hotspots, accident blackspots, if it’s in an area with no mobile network coverage or close to the coastline with no other payphones nearby.

When we do consult on the removal of any payphone with local authorities, we always follow guidelines agreed with Ofcom where there isn’t another payphone within 400 metres.

The local council carries out a consultation with interested parties. The consultation runs over 90 days and we also display a notice inside each phone box affected. The outcome of the consultation is carefully considered before any decision is taken.

An important feature of our consultation process is the promotion of our Adopt a Kiosk scheme. This was set up in 2008 to enable communities to retain red ‘heritage’ phone boxes and turn them into something inspirational for their area. Since then, more than 5,800 red phone boxes have been adopted across the UK.

It only costs a one-off fee of £1 to adopt one of our boxes and if electricity is already supplied to the box we’ll continue to provide this free of charge.

We’ve seen some fantastic transformations over the years, from units housing defibrillators to mini-libraries, cake shops and information centres. One payphone in Devon was even turned into the “world’s smallest nightclub”.

To find out more about Adopt a Kiosk visit