Threat to phone boxes

More than 60 public payphones in Breckland - including one used more than three times a day in Dereham - are to be axed under a 'rationalisation' plan by BT.

More than 60 public payphones in Breckland - including one used more than three times a day in Dereham - are to be axed under a 'rationalisation' plan by BT.

The phone giant has gone out to consultation on its plans to get rid of 65 phone boxes in the area.

And while many have not been used even once in a whole year, there are some which are used on average more than seven times per day, according to BT's own figures.

Those facing the axe include a pay phone in Shipdham Road, Dereham, used 1,353 days in one year, or 3.7 times per day on average, and one on Anne Bartholomew Road, Thetford, used 2,635 times in a year, or 7.2 times per day.

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Another eight had been used between 575 and 180 times in a year.

But BT says many are never used and that almost 60pc of its public payphones were unprofitable.

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Of the 65, 16 had not been used in a year, 20 fewer than 10 times in a year, nine were used fewer than 20 times and five fewer than 40 times. Two were used fewer than 100 times.

Dereham Town Council is set to object to the closures of two phone boxes in the town, the one in Shipdham Road and another in Moorgate Road, used 331 times in a year.

And Breckland Council has invited every parish or town which is set to lose a phone box to a special meeting of its overview and scrutiny commission on May 29 to look at the issue.

A statement from BT on the closures said: “BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, however, over the years as usage has declined BT has been constantly reviewing and, where necessary, rationalising its public payphone estate in order to meet demand.

“This is nothing new, and we will continue to do so. Almost 60 per cent of our payphones are unprofitable, with almost 6,000 phones making less than one call a month.

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

“UK-wide, less than one call a week is made from more than half the kiosks in the consultation, and less than one call a month is made from a third.”

Others boxes up for the axe include:

Moorgate Road, Dereham, used 331 times in a year

Hockwold Road, Weeting, 381

Norwich Road, Watton, 330

Primrose Square, Swanton Morley, 156

Most others on the list were used either no times during a year or little above that.

The consultation with Bt is due to end on July 2.

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