Consultation on BT proposals to close public payphones across Highland

Phase 2 consultation

We are looking for your views on BT’s proposal to remove 110 public payphones across the Highland region.

Regulation set out by Ofcom, the independent regulator, states that local authorities have responsibility to coordinate consultation on proposals to remove public payphones. Highland Council is disappointed by BT’s announcement of proposed closures, due to the conclusion of a prior review of local need as recently as December 2016. However, the current consultation provides an important opportunity to make sure local need is taken into account by BT.

Phase 2 Consultation

We have prepared a first notice of decision which captures feedback received in 136 representations from members of the public, community councils and other community groups. The notice outlines our initial position on the proposed removals. You can also view our draft position on each public payphone by community council area.

Communities and stakeholders are invited to consider the first notice of decision and to comment on the proposed removals.

Please provide your views by email to policy6@highland.gov.uk  no later than 23:59 on 24/10/2019.

We need to know:

  • Who you are
  • Whether you are responding on behalf of an organisation - e.g. community council / community group
  • What specific payphone(s) you are commenting on including telephone number and location
  • Why you oppose or approve removal.

To allow for an effective response to BT's proposals, we require information specific to individual pay phones.

Where are the payphones which BT has proposed to remove?

A full list of BT's proposed public call box removals and the Council's initial position on each is linked above (first notice of decision / list of draft responses by community council area). These payphones have been targeted for closure by BT due to low levels of use. BT has also placed notices in the affected phone boxes.

In areas with 3G / 4G mobile network coverage, emergency services can be contacted by mobile phone users at no cost - where a caller has no signal from their provider, a 999 call will be switched automatically to another provider's network, if one is available. However, we are particularly concerned to identify which of the payphones proposed for closure should be retained for the following reasons:

  • Poor, sporadic, or lack of mobile network coverage at the location; AND
  • No alternative means of making emergency calls locally.

If you have any queries, please contact us at policy6@highland.gov.uk.

Adopting a phone kiosk:

Communities with a traditional, red heritage phone box also have opportunity to adopt the kiosk (with the phone-line removed), for £1. How to adopt a kiosk from BT

What happens next?

Following this second phase of consultation, the Council's final decision notice will be submitted to BT and published in early November 2019. Ofcom states that BT must not bring a proposed removal into effect if it has received written objection to the proposal from the Council by the end of the consultation period.  This is known as the local veto.

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