Buckingham Town Council are celebrating the decision by Buckinghamshire Council to object to the removal of the last phone box in the town. Objections to the removal were submitted to Buckinghamshire Council by the Town Council and also Buckinghamshire Councillor Warren Whyte.
Buckinghamshire Council officers revealed in their Case Officer Report that
“A leaflet produced by BT about their policy on payphone removals states that no payphones will be identified for removal in suicide hotspots, accident blackspots, where there is no mobile coverage and within 400 metres of the coast. In addition they will not remove payphones where there is a reasonable need. For this criteria they will retain a payphone where it is the only payphone within 800 metres, which has had at least 12 calls in a 12 month period and where the local population is not fewer than 500 households within 1km of the payphone. …The data provided alongside the notification, indicates that the payphone kiosk has 6 uses per month – and therefore on average 72 uses per annum. The kiosk also appears to be in location where there are more than 500 households within 1km. In addition the nearest phone box to the notification site is in excess of one mile away, and therefore it is considered that the kiosk in question may fall into the category of having “reasonable need”, and therefore further justification would be required to overcome concerns raised.”
The phone box in question is on Market Hill opposite M & Co. The nearest remaining phone box would be in Middle Claydon. BT have to follow an agreed process when they remove the last public phone in an area, which includes requesting permission from Buckinghamshire Council.
Buckingham Town Councillors had opposed the removal of the phone box, pointing out that it is in the centre of town and accessible to all; not everyone has a mobile, or unrestricted access to a phone – such as children, vulnerable adults, or those in an abusive relationship who may need to call a helpline without the abuser knowing. The means of calling the emergency services is also vital in a town centre where accidents or medical emergencies may occur. The sparse local bus service may mean that residents of surrounding villages need to call a private hire cab if they miss their bus home for any reason.
Town Mayor Geraldine Collins said, “I am delighted that our last remaining Public Phone Box is to stay and that this vital service remains available to our community”.