Lochaber objects to some payphone removals

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Of the 13 BT telephone boxes left in Lochaber, residents are objecting to seven of them being removed, with a bid to adopt the one in Glenfinnan.

The objections were in response to a nationwide proposal to get rid of 650 phone boxes that see little or no use, including 110 in the Highlands.

Proximity to long walking routes, residents who lack mobile phones, and patchy or non-existent mobile coverage were cited as reasons by the communities wanting to keep the boxes.

Five objections were received for the box in Morar, Mallaig, saying it was the only payphone within three miles in an area that is occasionally cut off by snow and flooding, and large vehicles have been known to go off the road.

The objection to remove of the Morar box read: ‘Community Council is confident that the recent 16 recorded calls relate to life-saving emergencies. Removal would exacerbate risks to public safety in the event of an emergency.’

Objections were also received in connection to phone boxes in Spean Bridge, Kinlochleven, Roy Bridge, Kilchoan and Fort Augustus. The box in Glenfinnan is hoping to be adopted by the community.

Despite some use over the last 12 months, there was no objections to the removal of phone boxes in Fort William.

Under Ofcom guidelines, the local authorities are responsible for co-ordinating consultation responses on behalf of their local community for any proposed removal of public payphones.

In a statement, Highland Council said: ‘Following a two-phase community consultation, Highland Council has received 163 representations regarding BT’s proposals to remove 110 public call boxes from across the Highland region. On November 7, 2019, members of the council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure committee will be asked to consider and agree a response to BT.’

The response will propose objecting to 55 payphones  being removed, with a further six to be ‘adopted’ by local communities.

The finalised response must be submitted to BT and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by November 13, and will be published on Highland Council’s website.

If BT disagrees with any of the objections made by the council, it will ask to formally review those objections with the council, and Ofcom will consider the decision on proposed closure.