BT wants to remove most phone boxes

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Most of the public phone boxes on Arran could be removed if BT gets its way.

BT has notified North Ayrshire Council it would like to remove 15 of current phone boxes around the island, which it has identified as being no longer required given the low numbers of calls made over the preceding 12-month period.

These are the five phone boxes in Brodick, three in Lamlash, two in Whiting Bay with the others in Corrie, Sannox, Kildonan, Shannochie and Catacol.

However, while some of the phone boxes have been little used, the phone box in Springbank Terrace has been used 201 times in the past 12 months and the one at Brodick pier 70 times.

However, in contrast, the phones boxes in Kildonan, Kilmory and Shannochie were not used at all and the ones in Corrie and Catacol just twice. The BT notification begins a 90-day consultation period.

BT’s justification makes reference to the declining use of call boxes in the UK generally, the increasing incidence of mobile phone ownership and improvements in the mobile network to provide access to the emergency network even where there is no network coverage from the users’ own provider.

In addition, BT has applied three criteria and has not considered locations to which all three apply: the only payphone within an 800m radius; has had at least 12 calls of any type within the preceding 12-month period; and the local population is not fewer than 500 households within 1km of the payphone.

A spokeswoman for North Ayrshire Council said: ‘We have been notified by BT of their intention to remove a number of public payphones in the North Ayrshire area. These payphones have been identified by BT as no longer required given the low numbers of calls made from them over the past 12 months.

‘Planning permission is not required for payphone box removal. However, Ofcom rules require BT to notify the local authority who can decide to use a veto to object to the plans. The local community also has the option to adopt a traditional red heritage phone box for a nominal fee (£1) and in turn retain it as a community asset that local people can enjoy.

‘As part of the local consultation, we are consulting with the affected local councillors, community councils and housing offices and are inviting public comment.’

Consultation responses should be sent to planning officer John Mack via email:  Any comments should be received by Thursday April 2.