Public consultation on the proposed removal of Shropshire phone boxes
Shropshire Council is appealing to residents, town councils and parish councils to have their say on a proposal by BT to remove 214 public payphones around the county.
As the local planning authority, the council has the right to:
• Object to the removal of the telephony service and kiosk in any particular area.
• Consent to removal of the telephony service, whilst keeping the physical structure of the kiosk.
• Consent to the permanent removal of the telephony service and the kiosk.
Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for rural services and communities, said:
“In addition to the advantages of having a working pay phone, many communities consider their phone box as a landmark and something they wish to preserve. We know there are payphones where there have not been any calls made in the last 12 months, or indeed since the last time BT asked us about this in 2014. Nonetheless, some areas have a real social need to keep the telephony, particularly if mobile/broadband signals are very poor, or for example, in accident blackspots.
“Whether communities wish to retain a telephony service, adopt the physical kiosk, or feel the time has come for removal, I would urge anyone with an interest to speak up as part of this consultation.
“I would also stress that payphones that have been saved as a result of previous consultations may well be under threat once more, so it is important to engage with us again.”
The basis for any decision must be backed up by recording the views of local people that are likely to be affected by this proposal. To ensure each community’s options are fully understood, help and advice is available through Shropshire Council’s community enablement officers that can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01743 253077.
To find out if your local payphone is part of the BT proposal click here, or talk directly to a community enablement officer.
Whilst some communities will find that a payphone is of little or no use to them in these times, we would encourage careful consideration because removal of the facility will be permanent. Even if there is no public support to retain the telephony, there is the option to retain and reuse the kiosk.
The formal consultation runs through until January 2017, although we would urge individuals and groups to make their thoughts known ahead of an initial stocktake on Monday 28 November 2016. There is then a further chance for local communities to comment on the Council’s provisional view before the final decisions are made and sent to BT in January 2017.
As part of this consultation we would also be grateful for local views about mobile phone coverage to add to ongoing efforts to secure 100% digital connectivity across Shropshire.
The full guidance is available via the Ofcom website at www.ofcom.org.uk.