Red Telephone Box Closure Programme

Closed 25 Sep 2009

Opened 25 Aug 2009

Feedback Updated 24 Oct 2011

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Overview

BT has informed the District Council about the intention to remove the service from a number of red telephone boxes in the District. The boxes will already contain a notice identifying they are destined for closure unless action is taken by the community to save them.

Why We Are Consulting

The District Council has been invited by BT to consult with Parish Councils and other relevant persons or organisations in accordance with guidance on such matters issued by Ofcom. Under these guidelines, the District Council has the power of ‘veto’ to keep the telephone box with a full service but it must exercise such power reasonably. The red telephone boxes identified for the withdrawal of service together with a provisional officer view of a reasonable District Council response based on past experiences.is available in the attached document. When faced with a similar exercise in June 2008 the Council exercised the veto in respect of 22 boxes out of 44 threatened with ‘closure’. Some of boxes which had the benefit of the ‘veto’ are under threat again. In carrying out this exercise BT have recognised that the red box is much loved in many communities for its nostalgic image and the contribution it makes to the street scene. But BT cannot overlook the fact that the boxes are not well used and are costing money to maintain. BT are under an obligation as a public service provider to maintain certain minimum levels of service but they are also under an obligation to deliver efficiencies where possible. It is against this background that BT have asked the District Council to consult local communities and give them the chance to ‘adopt a box’. Under this ‘adoption scheme’ the telephone service will be removed but power will remain and the box can then be used for any authorised purpose. Any community adopting the box can do so for £1 but they then become responsible for maintenance of the box. The adoption scheme is only open to ‘responsible authorities’ – in most cases this means the Parish Council but it can of course include the District Council. It is also open for ‘Responsible Authorities’ to ‘Sponsor’ a box. This involves the retention of the telephone service and on going maintenance of the box. There is of course a substantially higher charge for this service – currently around £500 per annum.

Views are invited by the 24th September and in the case of Parish Councils have been asked to indicate whether they will be taking up either the option to ‘adopt’ or sponsor’ any of the boxes on the attached list.

What Happens Next

The results from the consultation lasting until the 24th September will go to inform the draft decision. That draft decision will be published and a month given for any further views. The final decision is expected to be made around the 12th November which will include consideration of any views received as a result of publishing the draft decision. The final decision will be published shortly after the 14th November 2009.

Areas

Audiences

  • Councillors / MPs / MEPs
  • Neighboring Authorities
  • Community groups / organisations

Interests

  • Policy & Performance
  • Consultation