BT is planning to remove 29 payphones within East Northamptonshire, one of which is in Oundle, and they have asked local councils to comment on the proposal. The original deadline of 29 November has been extended until 20 January.
BT reported that the number of calls made in the last 12 months from the phone on Glapthorn Road in Oundle totalled 0. Other proposed phone removals within the district include a phone in Rushden, which has had 184 calls made in the last 12 months, and a phone in Irthingborough with over 400 calls made from it.
The nearest phone to Oundle receiving any use is in Achurch, from where 79 calls have been made. Phones in Stoke Doyle and Pilton have had 0 calls made, however Pilton’s K6 cast iron telephone box designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1935 is listed, a status which might protect it from removal.
BT has consulted with East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) and has asked for comments on their proposal. As part of this consultation process, BT and ENC would like the views of residents as to whether they wish to support or object the removal of these payphones, or whether local communities wish to adopt the box themselves.
Unfortunately, the pay phone on Glapthorn Road is not a heritage phone box, and would have little value to the community under the programme to adopt a kiosk for £1.
BT states that overall use of payphones has declined by over 90% in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situation is diminishing all the time, with at least 98% of the UK having either 3G or 4G coverage. As long as there is network coverage, it is now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from a mobile provider.
Other considerations to take into account include whether the phone box is located in a neighbourhood of rental properties where residents are less likely to have home phones or mobiles. It could be that there are people on low incomes in the neighbourhood that need access to a public phone.