A third of BT public phone boxes to be axed in Scotland

A red phone box in Bearsden Cross. Picture: TSPL.
A red phone box in Bearsden Cross. Picture: TSPL.
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Nearly a third of Scottish public payphones have been earmarked for removal, it has been revealed.

Usage of phone boxes, once a familiar sight in Scotland, has declined by over 90 per cent in the past ten years due to the popularity of mobiles.

According to BBC Scotland, BT is currently consulting plans to axe about 1,500 payphones across Scotland, mostly in rural areas in Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders, Fife, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire.

The firm say that, of about 4,800 payphones currently in Scotland, fewer than five calls were made from 1,280 of them over the last year.

But local MSP John Lamont told the BBC that those in remote areas of his constituency provided a valuable, and sometimes lifesaving, service.

“These phone boxes provide a lifeline for many rural communities, both for visitors and the people who live there,” he said.

“While their usage has inevitably fallen it remains vital to many local communities to continue to have access to a phone box where mobile phone reception is patchy or non-existent, and for those who choose not to have a landline.

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“In an emergency, the closure of these payphones could cause real problems.”

A spokeswoman for BT said: “BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, but with usage declining by over 90 per cent in the last decade, we’ve continued to review and remove payphones which are no longer needed.

“Any removal of payphones is carried out in strict adherence to the Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of local authorities.”

They are also promoting their Adopt a Kiosk scheme, whereby councils or charities can “buy” a kiosk for £1.

About 155 red phone boxes have been adopted by communities in Scotland - some are used to store defibrillators, while others are used as tiny art galleries or libraries.

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