Should Sidmouth's phone boxes be removed?

  Posted: 09.04.21 at 08:30 by Philippa Davies

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Five phone boxes in Sidmouth could be removed – or put to another use for the local community.

BT has begun a public consultation on the payphones which are hardly used these days.

The company is offering the opportunity to ‘adopt’ any of the phone boxes for a token fee of £1, and says thousands of former kiosks around the country have been turned into tiny cafes or libraries, or defibrillator sites.

In 2019 a red phone box in Sidbury was turned into a book swap site after being adopted by local residents.

BT has placed consultation notices on the five phone boxes it’s proposing to take out of use: they are the kiosks in Station Road, outside the library in Blackmore Drive, in Connaught Gardens, and the two in Market Place.

The company has also contacted East Devon District Council asking for feedback on each of the five phone boxes, with options to agree to the removal, object to it, or put in an offer to adopt the box, on behalf of a member of the local community.

BT has monitored the average monthly usage of the kiosks, and found the number of calls made is in single figures – the most used is the one outside Market Hall, with eight calls a month.

The company has begun a public consultation on whether the boxes should be removed, retained or adopted, which ends on June 24 this year.

The district council has asked Sidmouth Town Council for its response to the proposal, and the planning committee will discuss it at their meeting on April 14.

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