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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 12:14 GMT
Townsfolk lament phones loss
Red phone box
BT says most boxes will go from towns not rural areas
People living in Minehead have mounted a campaign to save the Somerset town's public phone boxes.

Many could disappear from the coastal town if BT goes ahead with a plan to remove 30,000 across Britain.

In Minehead the company wants to remove 11 boxes, as a result of increased mobile and home phone useage, but councillor Simon Stokes, who is leading the battle, said: "Not everyone does have a mobile.

"BT says they are talking about a 10 % thinning out, as they call it across the area, but it looks like they are after something like 50 to 75 % of the phone boxes in Minehead."

It's because people are not using payphones as much and we've got too many payphones in fact

Les King
Fred Merrick from the town said: "It's a shame to get rid of the old boxes, it's part of our heritage - I like the old boxes you've got your peace and quiet while you make your call."

But BT denies the move would leave the Somerset town without public phone boxes and say the majority will disappear from urban areas.

Spokesman Les King said: "We are looking at 30,000 boxes across Great Britain that are not being used very much and that also have an alternative payphone nearby.

'Cleaning costs'

"It's because people are not using payphones as much and we've got too many payphones in fact.

"We had an explosion of them in the 1980s to mid-1990s and ended up with something like 35,000 across the country.

"Currently we've got 126,000 and people are not using them as much - people have mobiles and phones at home.

"We've got thousands of boxes that don't make enough to meet their cleaning costs but they're in remote rural areas - perhaps the only payphone in the village - they will all stay."

See also:

06 Nov 02 | England
15 Nov 01 | Business
12 Jun 01 | UK
28 Jan 01 | Business
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