Plan to cut phone boxes partly put on hold by council chief

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BT
The phone box at Drake Close, New Milton, is one of 10 officials have chosen to save (Photo: NFDC)

CIVIC chiefs are refusing to call time on 10 of the district’s public phone boxes, arguing they are needed to serve local communities.

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Deputy leader of New Forest District Council, Edward Heron, has officially objected to BT removing the public booths, spread across towns and villages including Ringwood, Pennington and New Milton.

As part of a nationwide review, BT proposed getting rid of the 34 public boxes it operates throughout the area covered by NFDC and the national park authority.

It posted a notice on all the boxes about the proposal and wrote to local councils asking for their views as part of a consultation.

By objecting to the removal of a box, NFDC can stop that happening. However, it has to justify keeping it.

Reasons include the box being used sufficiently over the past year, inadequate mobile reception at nearby homes or a poor demographic. The likelihood the box will be needed for 999 calls was also considered.

In his decision, Cllr Heron said it was “considered necessary” to retain 10 boxes in total.

Cllr Edward Heron
Cllr Edward Heron has signed off the decision

They include two in New Milton, at Drake Close and Ashley road; and a third at Marine Drive in Barton.

There were also two in Hythe, at Cedar Road and Fairview Drive; and another outside the post office in North Road in neighbouring Dibden Purlieu.

Others the council has sought to keep include boxes at Water Lane, Totton; the village hall, Damerham;  Efford Way in Pennington; and at the junction of Butlers Lane and Gorley Road in Ringwood.

Further phone boxes may be saved by local councillors as individuals or groups can adopt a phone box by paying BT £1, for which they have to manage and maintain the site.

Cllr Heron’s decision noted that Cllr Caroline Rackham wanted to pursue retaining two other public phone boxes in Totton for the community through the adoption scheme.

Copythorne Parish Council has also indicated it wants to adopt the box outside the post office in Oakfield Road, Bartley.

The objections lodged by NFDC will be registered with Alok Sharma MP, the secretary of state for the Department of Trade and Industry, and BT.

BT can then challenge any of Cllr Heron’s 10 objections, after which an appeal hearing would take place to make a final decision.

What do you think? Write to the Advertiser and Times letters page via letters@adt.press.

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