West Norfolk phone boxes face axe in new BT plan

Phone box outside Battle Abbey. SUS-160510-124135001
Phone box outside Battle Abbey. SUS-160510-124135001

They’ve been a familiar sight in our communities for generations, but the days of the telephone box may be numbered in West Norfolk.

That’s because plans to remove almost 100 public payphones from locations across the borough have now been lodged.

A consultation has been launched and communities are being given the chance to adopt a box for its own use.

But BT says the plummeting use of phone boxes justifies their removal.

In a letter to West Norfolk Council planners, the company said: “Overall use of payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for emergency situations is diminishing all the time, with at least 98 per cent of the UK having 3G or 4G coverage.

“This is important because, as long 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.”

Among the 97 payphones that are listed for removal around the borough, BT claims that 43 of them have not been used at all within the past year.

Another 12 have only been used once, while 27 more were used 10 times or less.

The busiest kiosk is in Newlands Avenue, North Lynn, which was used on 334 occasions.

Another box on Hansa Road was used 101 times, while sites in Hunstanton, Snettisham, Dersingham and Watlington were also used on more than 50 occasions.

Communities can adopt boxes for local use, such as a storage site for a defibrilator or even as a mini-library, at a cost of £1.

BT says notices have been placed on affected boxes. The consultation will run until January 20.