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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 09:46 GMT
Fears raised over phone removal
Fistral Beach
Fistral Beach is used all year round
British Telecom is being warned lives could be put at risk if two public telephones are removed at a beach in Cornwall.

Fistral Beach in Newquay is used throughout the year and is at the heart of the town's tourism industry.

The two payphones are close to the beach and have been described by local councillors as a lifeline for visitors and vital in case of an emergency.

But the company says the payphones are not used enough and are not making enough money.

The phones were recently damaged when a car hit them, and BT says it may not replace them.

Town councillor Olive Irons said not having a telephone in close proximity to the beach could put people at risk.

We're not allowed to subsidise the payphone business, it has to stand on its own two feet
Les King, BT

"I think it's extremely important, especially on a world-famous beach like Fistral, which is well used in winter and summer, that we have some kind of public box there.

"People don't always have mobiles and you can't always a signal down there, so I understand.

"Yes, there is a new complex there, but there could be instances when that's closed."

British Telecom says it is consulting local councils on whether they should be replaced.

Phones leased

Company spokesman Les King says there has already been local opposition to removing the phones.

He said: "That's one of the reasons that we go into a consultation process, to hear people's concerns and ask for their views. Then make a decision after that.

"We do provide a public service right across the country, including remote and rural areas. But we're not allowed to subsidise the payphone business. It has to stand on its own two feet."

There have been similar problems in other areas of the county.

In the Kerrier district, the local council has been forced to lease emergency telephones from BT to put on remote beaches where there are no payphones.

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