Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

BT plans to remove 30 public payphones across Central Bedfordshire

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Do we still need public phone boxes or does mobile technology mean they are no longer needed?

BT has launched a consultation to remove 30 of the remaining public payphones across Central Bedfordshire that have been identified as unnecessary, and the public are invited to have their say.

As part of this process, we're required to undertake public consultation and to inform BT of the results. The consultation which runs from Tuesday 5 November 2019 until Tuesday 3 December 2019 enables residents to comment on whether they agree or object to the removal of each of the 30 phone boxes identified by BT as no longer necessary.

Find out how to have your say >>

Red phone box

The consultation process also gives the local communities the opportunity to adopt a traditional red ‘heritage’ phone box and make it an asset that local people can enjoy. Adopting a phonebox could mean that the local authority, town or parish council, or a registered charity could adopt a given phonebox and retain it for an alternative community use. Some examples of how phone boxes have been used include housing defibrillators, art galleries and libraries. It’s really simple to do and it costs just £1.

BT indicate that use of public payphones has declined by over 90% in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is diminishing all the time. At least 98% of the UK now has either 3G or 4G coverage, which makes it possible to call the emergency services even when there is no credit or coverage from your own network provider.

Councillor Richard Wenham, our Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said:

Public payphones have played an important role in our communities over the years, but with mobile technology being more widely used, better network coverage and changing customer habits there is a question over their continued value.

However, we want to make sure that none of our vital public payphones are removed and the community have the opportunity to buy their local phone box, so I am encouraging everyone to have their say in the public consultation.

The consultation will run until Tuesday 3 December.