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Council Looks Set to Object to Phone Box Closures

Published Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Ribble Valley Borough Council looks set to object to the proposed closure of 42 phone boxes in the borough.

BT wants to remove public payphones from 50 sites in Ribble Valley, including the iconic ‘centre of the kingdom’ phone box in Dunsop Bridge.

But the council looks set to object to 42 out of the 50 proposed closures after consulting local residents.

Members of the council’s planning and development committee will hear on Thursday (January 12) that communities in the borough agree with the closure of six payphones and have offered to ‘adopt’ a further two, but want 42 left in service, citing rural isolation, poor mobile phone coverage and access to emergency services.

BT wants to axe payphones where usage has declined by 90 per cent or more, but have to consider keeping them in service if communities object.

Ribble Valley Borough Council’s head of regeneration and housing, Colin Hirst, said: “The mobile phone reception in Ribble Valley is patchy and there are numerous wireless ‘not spots’ throughout the borough, so some phone boxes provide a vital service.

“Payphones are a valuable asset and we are keen to ensure that those proposed for removal are not needed for emergency communications and residents have an alternative option.”

Under Ofcom regulations, if BT wishes to remove a payphone and there isn’t another within 400m, they must consult local councils and their communities.

Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning and development committee will be asked to approve a recommendation by officers that the council objects to 42 out of the 50 proposed closures.

The iconic Dunsop Bridge phone box is at the exact centre of the kingdom and was the 100,000th to be installed in the UK. It has become a tourist attraction since its installation in 1992, with visitors to the borough making their way to the picturesque village specifically to have their photograph taken inside it.

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