14/11/2019 - Permalink

Shropshire Council issues provisional view on 75 BT payphones proposed for removal

Related topics: Community / Partner organisations

Shropshire Council is today issuing its provisional view or First Notice with regard to the 75 payphones in the Shropshire area that BT propose to permanently remove from service.

BT has an obligation to consult with Shropshire Council with regard to the proposed removals. The formal 90-day consultation period, as set out by Ofcom, is now at the stage where the council is required to publish its interim comment in order to then allow for a 30-day period for any further views.

BT payphone - a red phonebox, in Shropshire

A red payphone box in Shropshire

Lois Dale, Shropshire Council’s rurality and equalities specialist, said: 

“We have been heartened by the feedback we have received to date, not only from parish councils and town councils but also from the public and local Shropshire Councillors. This has been enormously useful in assisting us to reach a provisional view for each of the 75 payphones, whether that is for adoption of the kiosk, where several areas wish to turn them into defibrillator storage points, removal of the payphone where it is no longer seen as necessary, or retention of the service, where it is seen as continuing to fulfil a social and community need.

“It was also really helpful to have BT confirm that, although there were originally 135 set for consultation with a view to removal, with notices placed in such kiosks, BT reduced this down to 75 in recognition that mobile phone coverage was not assured at these payphone locations at this time.

“The 75 kiosks are therefore the only ones under consideration in this exercise. If people have further views, or perhaps have not been in a position to make comment to date, we would be very grateful if they could look at the list with our interim comments, and come back to us by the final deadline of 4pm on Monday 16 December 2019. Thank you all very much.”

The listing is available at https://shropshire.gov.uk/shropshire-council/bt-payphones/

There are additional online resources for parish councils and town councils who are considering adoption of their kiosks for usage such as defibrillator storage, whether these are on the 75-strong listing or not.

iconic red BT phone box

During the 90 day period, the task of the council as the local planning authority is to seek views from local town councils and parish councils and to include any views from local councillors, residents, policing teams, and so forth, in order to help in reaching a decision in each case as to whether to Consent to removal of the service and kiosk; Object in order to keep the service operational, or Consent to removal of the telephony and retention of the kiosk itself where the local parish or town council wish to adopt.

Where the council has not as yet heard back from a local community, we have held to our default position of objecting to removal of the telephony in order to seek to ensure continuation of the service.

For feedback on your views, please contact the lead co-ordinating officer, Lois Dale. via email to ensure that we have a written record of these views. The address is lois.dale@shropshire.gov.uk.

Further information

The initial views are known as the First Notification, which will be copied to the relevant Government department in line with the formal direction from Ofcom. The minimum one month consultation period, for any further comments on the draft view, takes us up to 4pm on 16 December 2019. After this, the council will issue a Final Notification of the decision of Shropshire Council on this matter with regard to the payphones above, which will also go to the relevant Government department as well as to BT by 4pm on the closing date of 19 December 2019.

The stated starting position of Shropshire Council, as a predominantly rural county with a dispersed population, is to Object to removal of telephony at kiosks unless local feedback suggests otherwise, due to concerns over things like emergency access, physical access where the next nearest payphone may be some distance away for those with mobility problems, and concerns over consistency and quality of mobile phone coverage.

Equally, the council is looking to consider factors in favour of removal of the payphone where the views of the local community are that its use is no longer warranted, or that adoption would be a better option in that area, perhaps for defibrillator storage, or that there has been repeated vandalism or misuse of the kiosk.

For more details, please click the link to see the listing and other resources on the website at https://shropshire.gov.uk/shropshire-council/bt-payphones/

The listing is going to clerks for all town councils and parish councils, and to members of the Shropshire Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly.

Online resources include details about what to do if a local parish council or town council wants to think about adopting the kiosk for a use such as a defibrillator store. Individuals are not permitted to adopt kiosks, but they can also be adopted by community organisations.

There is also advice from the historic environment team about what can or cannot be done if the kiosk is a listed structure, and how to ask if there are queries about conservation considerations.