National Park Authority expresses concern over threat to payphones

This is an archived press release

Tuesday 31 August 2004

31 August 2004

National Park Authority expresses concern over threat to payphones

The Peak District National Park Authority has expressed strong concern at BT plans to remove 43 countryside payphones.

BT is currently consulting local authorities about proposals to remove the payphones because they are no longer profitable and because most people have a phone in their home or a mobile.

However, the Authority is concerned that - due to the Park's geography and the stricter planning controls on phone masts - mobile reception is patchy. This means that the loss of payphones could cut off visitors, deprive local communities and delay emergency calls.

Councillor John Bull, Chair of the Authority's Planning Control Committee, said: "While understanding the commercial reasons for BT's proposals, there are strong concerns about the removal of such a large number of payphones in the National Park.

"It may well be that 85 per cent of the population have access to a mobile phone, but those phones can only be used where there is an effective transmission network.

"The National Park receives upwards of 20 million visits a year, many of whom use payphones in more remote areas and smaller villages where mobile reception is poorest.

"While payphone usage may be low they can be a vital means of access to the emergency services - particularly in remote areas. In addition, in villages where reception is poor, mobile phone ownership will be lower than average, making it more important to maintain payphone services."

In addition to issues about mobile phone reception, the Authority feels that the payphones should be retained because some are old-style red phone-boxes, a feature of the landscape.

BT does not need planning permission to remove the payphones. In addition to those identified for possible removal, the company has stated that it will retain a further 32 unprofitable Peak District payphones for social reasons.

This is an archived press release

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