New round of BT payphones removal consultation commences: local views sought
Shropshire Council has received a listing from BT of 61 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 removal.
A formal 90-day consultation has therefore commenced with the council, as set out by Ofcom, which concludes on Thursday 5 August 2021.
Whilst this may seem a long way away, the consultation is set out in two stages. The first stage lasts for a minimum of 42 days, after which a provisional view from the council as Local Planning Authority, has to be issued and sent to Government. This will draw upon comments and views received at that stage, from local town councils and parish councils, Shropshire Councillors elected in the current local elections, local policing teams, and the public.
Lois Dale, Shropshire Council’s rurality and equalities specialist, said:-
“The council would like to hear from people by 4pm on Wednesday 23 June 2021. There is then a further month in which any further views are encouraged, taking us up to 4pm on 30 July. A final decision will then be issued by the deadline of 5 August 2021.
“We have already made town councils and parish councils aware that this consultation is starting after the Shropshire Council local elections so that as many people as possible can have their say, including newly elected councillors. We know that many of these payphones have come up before, and we are producing a spreadsheet recording details of comments from previous occasions, for all the payphones affected. This will be on the council website from Tuesday 11 May, in the section on BT payphones.
“This time around, we are particularly keen to hear about any issues with mobile phone coverage at any of the payphone locations, to help us build up as good a picture as possible of where there continue to be such issues. This is not least due to our concerns with regard to payphones in isolated locations, and indeed for people who may not have mobile phones themselves.”
During the 90-day period, the job 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, and so forth, in order to help us to reach 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.
The necessary arrangements are being made with local town councils, parish councils and freshly-elected Shropshire Councillors accordingly, in order to seek views on behalf of the local community in each area affected. These include publicising the details so that anyone from the public who wish to comment will be able to do so. Online resources, including the full listing, are available on the council website under https://shropshire.gov.uk/shropshire-council/bt-payphones/
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:- firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
The date of the poster in a local kiosk is the date that the poster was placed, rather than the commencement date of the 90 day formal consultation that they are required to have with us. BT have added this to the listing.
The listing will also go to clerks for all town and parish councils. 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, and we will include the criteria on that.
We also include 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.