Do we still need public payphones or does mobile technology mean they have had their day?
This is the question that people are being invited to answer, following BT’s announcement that it’s proposing to remove 80 of the remaining 120 public payphones across Central Bedfordshire that are no longer regularly used.
Central Bedfordshire Council with be co-ordinating the official response to BT, following a public consultation that’s running until Thursday, December 15.
The consultation is for residents to comment on the council’s first decision on whether it agrees or objects to the removal of each of the 80 phone boxes identified by BT as no longer necessary.
The council points out that overall, the use of public payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is diminishing all the time.
At least 98 per cent 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.
Cllr Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “Public payphones have played an important role in our communities over the years, but with an increase in the use of mobile technology, better network coverage and changing customer habits there is a question over their continued value.
“We want to make sure that none of our vital public payphones are removed and, by following Ofcom’s rules and through consultation, the council can use its powers of local veto to protect essential services.”
Have your say in the public consultation at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations.
The proposed cuts and number calls made in past year:
For Tebworth: Jcn Wingfield St, St Marys Close (2), Wingfield Road(0).
For Eaton Bray: Jcn High Street, Knights Close (0), Near High Street, Wallace Drive (5).
For Heath and Reach: Birds Hill, (0).
For Hockliffe: Adj Police Station, Watling Street (12).
For Leighton-Linslade: Jcn Churchhill Road, Clarence Road (9), Nr Soulbury Road, Bideford Green (1), Jcn Himley Green, Bunkers Lane (11), Jcn Hockliffe Road, Brooklands Drive,(2), Grovebury Road (0), O/S Church, Milebush (0), Aries Court, Appenine Way (10).
For Totternhoe: Lancotbury Close (1).