Plans drawn up to remove 61 payphones across Shropshire

A consultation has begun on plans to remove 61 payphones from across Shropshire.

A Shropshire payphone
A Shropshire payphone

The 90-day consultation will decide on how many of the BT payphones and kiosks across the county, of which there about 350, will be removed.

Ending on August 5, the consultation is set out in two stages.

The first stage lasts for a minimum of 42 days, after which a provisional view from Shropshire Council, as the local planning authority, has to be issued and sent to the government.

This will draw upon comments and views received at that stage from town and parish councils, Shropshire councillors elected in the current local elections, policing teams and the public.

Lois Dale, Shropshire Council’s rurality and equalities specialist, said: “The council would like to hear from people by 4pm on Wednesday June 23. There is then a further month in which any further views are encouraged, taking us up to 4pm on July 30. A final decision will then be issued by the deadline of August 5.

“We have already made town councils and parish councils aware that this consultation is starting after the Shropshire Council local elections so that as many people as possible can have their say, including newly elected councillors. We know that many of these payphones have come up before, and we are producing a spreadsheet recording details of comments from previous occasions, for all the payphones affected. This will be on the council website from Tuesday May 11, in the section on BT payphones.

Concerns

“This time around, we are particularly keen to hear about any issues with mobile phone coverage at any of the payphone locations, to help us build up as good a picture as possible of where there continue to be such issues. This is not least due to our concerns with regard to payphones in isolated locations, and indeed for people who may not have mobile phones themselves.”

During the 90-day period, the job of the council as the local planning authority is to seek views from town and parish councils and to include any views from councillors and residents in order to help the authority reach a decision as to whether to consent to removal of the service and kiosk, object in order to keep the service operational, or consent to removal of the telephony and retention of the kiosk itself where the local parish or town council wish to adopt.

The stated starting position of Shropshire Council, as a predominantly rural county with a dispersed population, is to object to removal of telephony at kiosks unless local feedback suggests otherwise, due to concerns over things like emergency access, physical access where the next nearest payphone may be some distance away for those with mobility problems, and concerns over consistency and quality of mobile phone coverage.

Equally, the council is looking to consider factors in favour of removal of the payphone where the views of the local community are that its use is no longer warranted, or that adoption would be a better option in that area, perhaps for defibrillator storage, or that there has been repeated vandalism or misuse of the kiosk.

For more information visit shropshire.gov.uk/shropshire-council/bt-payphones and to give feedback contact lois.dale@shropshire.gov.uk

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