Could this be the end of our beloved telephone boxes?

Phone box outside Church Raike, in Chipping. Photo by Google Street View
Phone box outside Church Raike, in Chipping. Photo by Google Street View

The future of Ribble Valley’s phone boxes is up for debate, following BT’s plans to remove some which are no longer being used.

The telephone operator has launched a 90-day consultation to get rid of up to 50 public payphones within the area.

The list of 50 phone boxes up for deliberation include six in Longridge, three in Chipping, one in Ribchester, one in Knowle Green, one in Mitton and 30 in Clitheroe.

The phone box in Kestor Lane, Longridge, was the second most used, with 104 calls in the last 12 months, with the box in Dunsop Bridge, Clitheroe, making 170 calls.

A total of 18 had not been accessed at all.

Ribble Valley Council will discuss the proposal at its meeting on Thursday evening.

John Macholc, head of planning, said: “There are three possibilities to consider: that the community adopts the kiosk from BT and lose the phone services for £1; object to the removal and state why; or to make no objections.

“Relevant issues to consider could be the location of the box in an area of poor mobile phone coverage; a higher than average need to access emergency services - ie it could be close to an accident blackspot and whether it is in an area where there is predominantly private rented or council housing.”

Coun Ken Hind is urging the public to take part and express their views. He said: “The closure of the phone boxes particularly in thinly populated areas should be considered very carefully. Not everyone has their own landline or mobile phone. Many elderly people still rely on these telephone boxes. In terms of calling emergency services, the phone boxes are important for access. Parts of Longridge still have particularly poor mobile phone services.”

A spokesman for BT said: “BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, but with usage declining by over 90 per cent in the last decade, we’ve continued to review and remove payphones which are no longer needed. Any removal of payphones is carried out in strict adherence to the Ofcom guidelines.

“Where there’s no other payphone within 400 metres, we’ll ask for consent from the local authority to remove the payphone. Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone.”