Phone boxes given stay of execution

Dozens of iconic red phone boxes across Norfolk could be set for a stay of execution, despite a national cull of the least profitable public pay phones.

Dozens of iconic red phone boxes across Norfolk could be set for a stay of execution, despite a national cull of the least profitable public pay phones.

BT announced proposals to remove more than 300 phone boxes in the county last year as a result of a lack of use, caused by the rise of the mobile phone.

But the company last week revealed that 36 town and parish councils in Norfolk had signed up to an 'adopt a box' scheme, which would see communities paying �1 to keep their traditional red box - minus its phone equipment.

A spokesman added that BT had also received six applications from local communities willing to pay �500 a year to retain their closure-threatened kiosk and pay phone.


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It comes after officials from South Norfolk Council, which was scheduled to lose 63 phone boxes, received requests from 10 villages wishing to join the adoption scheme.

Ian McArthur, head of special projects at the district council, said that none of the town and parish councils in the area had been willing to pay the sponsorship to keep their local kiosk and phone service. However, a number of them wanted to see their red box retained as part of the character and heritage of their village.

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Mr McArthur said that BT was set to remove the service, but leave red boxes in Pulham St Mary, Burgh Apton, Forncett St Mary, Hempnall, Forncett St Peter, Bramerton, and two in Bunwell. He added that the district council was still fighting to keep a phone service within red kiosks at Wacton, Shimpling, and Hales.

'We can understand where BT is coming from because there has been very little usage of some of the phone boxes. However, it is very important to retain a service in little rural villages where mobile phone signal is poor and there is a need for a public pay phone for emergency situations,' he said.

Michelle Monk, cabinet member for tourism, heritage, enterprise, and culture at South Norfolk Council, added: 'With our rural villages, there are certain symbols and features you expect to see and red phone boxes are one of those symbols. If they disappear, it would be a sad loss to our heritage.'

A spokesman for BT added that the company was currently processing and working through all the applications that had been received.

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