Have your say on proposal to remove 30 phone boxes in Central Bedfordshire

Central Bedfordshire Council is encouraging people to have their say on BT's proposal to remove 30 public payphones.

As part of the process, the council is required to undertake public consultation and to inform BT of the results.

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Following the first phase community consultation, Central Bedfordshire Council has received 209 representations regarding BT’s proposals.

Based on feedback from the local community and other public organisations such as town and parish councils and evidence provided, the first decision proposes objecting to 27 payphones being removed.

The second phase of the consultation which runs until Tuesday, January 21, will enable residents to comment on whether they agree or object to the first decision.

During the first phase of consultation, which was published on the council’s website, the number of responses for each payphone was relatively small, however there is general support for retaining the boxes in villages – either as phone boxes or adopting them for community use.

There were a handful of suggestions that the phone boxes could be used by the community as small lending libraries.

Some objections were about the lack of mobile signal in the villages, and the need for payphones in the case of network outages. Some communities lodged objections arguing there are concerns that removing the payphones will have more of an impact on the elderly and disabled.

A further month will be given for local people to have their say ahead of a final view being submitted in February to the council’s Executive, who will be asked to consider and agree a response to BT.

A final decision notice will then be published on the council’s website which will outline the position on the proposed removals.

Cllr Richard Wenham, deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources, said: “We listened and reviewed all of the comments provided to us by those who responded to the first phase of the consultation including the public and town and parish councils.

“We also looked at number of other factors before making a first decision including usage of the payphones in the last year and housing deprivation around where they are located.

“However, we want to make sure that none of our vital public payphones are removed and the community have the opportunity to buy and adopt their local phone box, so I am encouraging everyone to review our first decision around the phone boxes.

“Those living in the areas of proposed closures are in the best position to know the impact the removal of a payphone would have on them and their community.”

If BT disagrees with any of the objections made by the council, it will ask to formally review those objections with the local authority and Ofcom will consider the decision on the proposed closure.

For more information, including a list of the public payphones proposed to be removed visit: www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations.