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Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Calling all payphone users across Central Bedfordshire

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Central Bedfordshire residents are being urged to give their views on BT's plans to remove 29 public payphones.

BT has proposed to remove 29 payphones that it has identified as unnecessary across Central Bedfordshire.

As part of the process, we're required to undertake a public consultation and to inform BT of the results. The consultation, which runs until Friday 6 November 2020, will enable residents to comment on whether they agree or object to the proposals.

Find out how to have your say.

To make sure that the local community are fully informed, BT has placed consultation notices on these payphones and we're asking the community for their opinion.

You may remember that we conducted a similar consultation for BT at the beginning of this year. The new consultation includes 28 phone boxes that were consulted on in January 2020 and one addition, which is the payphone in Vimy Road, in Leighton Buzzard. We received 86 responses in January 2020 regarding BT’s proposals to remove these public payphones.

Based on the responses received during the January 2020 consultation, our Executive decided the 28 payphones should remain and based on recent feedback received from Leighton Linslade Town Council relating to the phone box on Vimy road, we're proposing to object to all 29 payphones being removed.

The previous consultation indicated that there was general support for retaining the boxes in villages, either as payphones or adopting them for community use. There were a handful of suggestions that the payphones could be used by the community as small lending libraries.

Some of the objections were about the lack of mobile signal in the villages, and the need for payphones in the case of network outages. Some communities voiced concerns that removing the payphones would have more of an impact on the elderly and disabled.

A further month will now be given for local people to have their say, ahead of a final view being requested in December from our Executive, who will be asked to consider and agree a response to BT. A final decision notice will then be published on our website, which will outline the position on the proposed removals.

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

We have listened to and reviewed all of the comments provided to us by those who responded to the January 2020 consultation, including the public and town and parish councils. We have also been looking at a number of other factors, including usage of the payphones in the last year and housing deprivation around where they are located.

You may have seen details of this consultation posted on affected phone boxes within this area. We would like to ask for any further comments before we submit our final response to BT, which details whether we agree or object to the proposals for each payphone and the reasons why.

If BT disagrees with any of the objections we make, it will ask to formally review those objections with us. Ofcom will then make a decision on the proposed closures.