Buckingham Town Council are asking for a full consultation to take place before the last public phone box is removed from the town. 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, and this hasn’t been fully followed as yet.
A notice has been displayed, but only inside the phone box, which hardly draws attention to the issue. BT have not provided information about why they believe it is reasonable to remove the box. It is the role of Buckinghamshire Council as the Planning Authority] to decide whether to use its local veto to object to the removal. Buckinghamshire Council must also work within the terms of the Communications Act 2003, which requires the Council to justify their decisions, as well as encourage competition and look after the interests of us all as citizens. Town Councillors felt that validating the notification into the system with no publicity or supporting papers did not constitute a consultation process.
The Town Council are therefore calling on Buckinghamshire Council to conduct a local consultation per the Ofcom rules.
Town Councillors 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.
Councillor Geraldine Collins, Mayor of Buckingham, said, “It is very important to keep Buckingham’s last remaining phone box in place. Not everyone has a mobile phone and in an emergency this is their only point of contact. To those people the phone box is a lifeline. To disregard this would be a reckless decision and one I do not want to see happen. The phone box is perfectly placed in the town centre, to be able to assist many and I implore BT to think again and make the right decision for Buckingham.”
For enquiries please contact Paul Hodson, Town Clerk at Buckingham Town Council on 01280 816426, firstname.lastname@example.org.