Councillors set to oppose BT’s attempts to remove Richmondshire payphones

Councillors want to save the phone box in Hudswell. Photo: Google.

Plans by telecoms giant BT to remove scores of public payphones are to be opposed by Richmondshire District Council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Following BT announcing its intention to remove 42 phone boxes across one of the country’s most rural districts, the council said it had found there remained “a clear and overriding social need” for many of them, in both remote and densely populated areas.

It is the fifth time since 2008 that BT has sought to remove numerous payphones in Richmondshire, an area where despite repeated attempts by authorities to improve mobile coverage, there are many places with poor or no phone signals.

BT says overall use of 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, with at least 98 per cent of the UK having either 3G or 4G coverage.

The telecoms firm argues that as there is network coverage, it is now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider.

However, members of the district council are set to consider an officer’s recommendation to strongly oppose the removal of payphones in Langthwaite, Newbiggin, Bishopdale, Worton, West Burton, Carlton, two in Colburn, Grinton, Hudswell, Marrick, Gunnerside, Preston under Scar, Thwaite, Reeth, Healaugh and Scorton.

Councillors will also be asked to consider issuing a holding objection over the majority of the other payphones as defibrillators require the ability to call 999 to obtain the access code and the absence of a mobile signal would render the defibrillator inoperable.

An officer’s report to a full meeting of the authority next week states many parish councils had said the call boxes remain a vital link for both residents and visitors due to unreliable mobile signals in the area and can be the only option in an emergency.

In addition, the report states frequent severe weather conditions in the Yorkshire Dales often disable mobile networks, and even landlines can be unreliable. Preston Under Scar residents said they reported a fault to BT last October, but the repairs had still not been carried out.

In some of the district’s most populated areas, such as Colburn, the council said it had identified a social need, with the Broadway phone being used 77 times over a 12-month period.

The report states the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has confirmed it wishes to see all payphones within the national park retained unless it can be clearly demonstrated that there would be no significant detrimental effect upon local communities and visitors.

The park authority does not consider that BT’s generic criteria is adequate to consider has the specific circumstances of a deeply rural area like the national park and objects to the proposals in their entirety.

1 Comment

  1. I remember living in Garsdale some idiot moved to the area and wanted to save the phone box that no one used because “everyone is old I Garsdale and many of them are too stupid to know how to use a mobile phone so they need a BT phonebox”. That same idiot went on to become a parish councillor, not elected just made one by fellow cronnies on the parish council, none of which have ever been elected and the chairperson doesn’t even live in Garsdale. Remove the phoneboxes, they just become public toilets eventually

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