Page last updated at 23:02 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 00:02 UK

BT plan for phone box 'adoption'

Red phone box
Some councils want to keep phone boxes - even if they have no function

Local councils are to be allowed to "adopt" red telephone boxes and keep them in towns and villages.

It follows a review by BT of its policy of removing the familiar boxes when they are no longer profitable.

The kiosks will be allowed to remain - even if phones have been removed because they are not used enough.

Alternatively, councils can pay an annual fee of 500 to keep a phone inside the box, about half the cost faced by BT.

'Aesthetic' rationale

There were about 95,000 BT payphones across the UK in 2002.

However, the growth of the mobile phone has meant usage has dropped dramatically, and 31,000 have been removed since then.

"During the consultation process around removing unprofitable payphones, a number of suggestions have been voiced by local people and local government," BT said.

"We have listened to these suggestions and can now confirm that local authorities that wish to maintain red telephone boxes - minus the telephone equipment - for aesthetic or heritage reasons will able to do so.

"In addition, local authorities that have requested to contribute to maintenance costs to retain a red telephone box with a working telephone will also be accommodated."

BT said it would not remove any red phone boxes between now and 1 October, the deadline for local authorities to submit their application to adopt or sponsor one.

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