Neighbourhood phone boxes to go

Telephone box
Telephone box

Traditional BT telephone boxes could be switched off forever if deemed unnecessary in a public consultation.

Use of payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade with the increase of mobile phones, but in Elmsett there were still 673 calls made from its telephone box in the last 12 months. In many other places the phones have not been used at all.

The following telephone boxes in the region were not used once in the past 12 months: Polstead, Leavenheath, Thorpe Morieux, Alpheton, Hitcham, Benton Street Hadleigh, Beaumont Way Hadleigh, Lower Raydon, Little Cornard , Hillside Road Sudbury, Acton and Long Melford.

Excluding Elmsett and Ballingdon Street in Sudbury which was used 140 times, the other boxes identified to be removed were only used a handfull of times: Higham 8, Angel Street Hadleigh 29, Kersey 3, Glemsford 6, Stanstead 1, Newton 15, Cross Street Sudbury 3.

BT is proposing to remove all of the boxes listed along with others in the county but is first undertaking a 90-day consultation process.

A spokesman for the firm said: “We are required to initiate a consultation exercise in which local communities will have the opportunity to adopt a traditional red ‘heritage’ phone box and make them an asset that local people can enjoy.”

Communities can do this for a nominal £1 fee. For further information on this visit: business.bt.com/phone-services/payphone-services/adopt-a-kiosk/.

The spokesman added: “As part of the consultation process, BT wants to hear your views on these proposed removals.”

Babergh District Council is responsible for coordinating consultation responses.

If you wish to contact the council regarding this, email BTConsultation@baberghmidsuffolk.gov.uk

BT says even the need for phone boxes for emergencies in rural areas is much reduced, stating that at least 98 per cent of the UK has either 3G or 4G coverage, with emergency calls possible even if there is no mobile network signal or credit available.