Friday, 6 June 2008

Endangered Species Alert

The deadline for the consultation on BT's proposals to remove a number payphones from Waverley is on the 2nd July, but in order for all of us at the council to collaborate and to send a combined response, we've been asked to send in our submissions by today.

Red Phone BoxAs well as responding individually, you can also sign a couple of petitions. Firstly, at Rowledge Post Offie and Village Shop, where Cliff Putnam the postmaster has a petition (also see page 3 of this week's Farnham Herald). And secondly on our MP's website.

You can find full details for the consultion on the Waverley website, including the letter from BT, the full list of the phone boxes earmarked for removal (includes 33 red boxes), and information on how to contact BT by email, letter or phone.

Please write or phone if you have the time. Small changes like these can creep up on us as a community, and suddenly we realise our villages have changed irreparably, and the icons of our history have gone.

I'd like to record my objections to the removal of the red boxes of Applelands Close, Wrecclesham, and The Square, Rowledge.

* Being under the consultation, it's clear that these boxes are further than 400 m from another payphone, and for those wishing to reach one, especially if infirm in anyway, this is a long way.

* Whilst landlines are ubiquitous, mobile phones as at 2005/6 were owned by 79% of the population, and although this may well have climbed in the past couple of years, based on the slow down of the increase it might only now be around 81% - certainly not full coverage. (Source: Family Expenditure Survey and Expenditure and Food Survey, Office for National Statistics)

Payphones provide for (a) those who have no landline or one that is not working, and (b) especially for those on the move who have no mobile phone. Red boxes are particularly noticeable to those driving and in need of a phone, and to have two such phones in such a small geograhical area removed, would be, in my view, against BT's Universal Service Obligation.

In addition, I feel we should point out that the red box at Applelands Close is in a shameful condition, both inside and out, and I believe that BT's obligations should certainly include maintaining their payphones to a standard that encourages use, rather than discourages.


P.S. As an additional note, I tried hard to find an easy search engine for the location of BT Payphones... and failed miserably. Do you know if one exists? If not, then again, BT are not providing a service that enables someone with no mobile phone, an easy means by which to plan their journey and access to a phone if required.

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