BT hangs up on 61 West Suffolk public phones

Barton Mills Parish Council's chairman Pamela Boura  and clerk Abigail Davies at the red phonebox the council wants to use for a defibrillator ANL-160803-084247009
Barton Mills Parish Council's chairman Pamela Boura and clerk Abigail Davies at the red phonebox the council wants to use for a defibrillator ANL-160803-084247009
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More than 60 public payphones are likely to be retired across West Suffolk, though the traditional red phone boxes may survive disconnection.

BT has applied for permission to remove 41 underused payphones in St Edmundsbury, from Hopton to Haverhill, and another 20 in Forest Heath, including two each in Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Higham, Newmarket and Brandon

The company’s usage data usage data shows 25 phones in St Edmundsbury and nine in Forest Heath (62 per cent) have not been used at all in the past year.

The most used phones in St Edmundsbury in the past year were one at the junction of Acacia Avenue and Dovedale walk in Bury St Edmunds with 428 calls and one in Strasbourg Square, Haverhill, with 181, though most had under 10 calls..

The most used phone in Forest Heath’s 20 was the one outside Lakenheath Library with only 22 calls.

Bury Town Council has raised no objections to losing any of the phones in its area.

BT is offering councils the chance to ‘adopt’ a box for £1 and some parish councils, including Barton Mills and West Row, have already shown an interest in having defibrillators in redundant village phone boxes.

In some parts of the country they have been used as libraries and even an art gallery

A BT spokesman said: “BT is carrying out an ongoing review of payphones which we believe are no longer needed.

“BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, but with usage declining by over 90 per cent in the last decade, we’ve continued to review and remove payphones which are no longer needed.

“In all instances where there’s no other payphone within 400 metres, we’ll ask for consent from the local authority to remove the payphone. Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone.”

The full list of phones is available by searching for ‘payphone’ on the West Suffolk Planning Portal. Consultation runs until December 15.

The red phonebox was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also worked on Liverpool Cathedral, Waterloo Bridge and Battersea Power Station.

Sir Giles’ design was introduced in 1924 as the K2 box though most today are the larger K6, introduced in 1936.