The local Labour Party is calling for residents to oppose BT removing phone boxes in rural villages in North Norfolk. The company wishes to remove over seventy in rural communities citing the increased use of mobile phones as a reason to do so.
BT argues it will not remove phone boxes from areas with poor signal, but the party claims the company is still earmarking for removal boxes in many areas where phone signal is intermittent or very poor.
In a statement the telecommunications giant has claimed with 3G and 4G phone signals now covering 98% of the country the use of mobile phones has decreased – but North Norfolk is poorly served by 3G or 4G, with most parts of the district finding those signals non-existent. The local Labour Party believes BT needs to improve mobile phone communication before considering the removal of a lifeline at times of emergency.
It is calling for residents to contact their local parish councillors – who are being consulted this month.
Stephen Burke, from North Norfolk Labour Party, said:
“The local Labour Party is opposing the removal of this lifeline in our rural communities. While the mobile phone has reduced use of phone boxes, we live in a rural community where mobile phone coverage is simply not good enough. Any resident living in the villages listed would testify that.
Phone boxes are vital in emergencies, especially in the villages, where very few are served by all the main mobile phone networks if any. BT justifies the removal of phone boxes by arguing that most of the UK is covered by 3G or 4G phone coverage – but almost all of the areas listed by the company are not covered by these signals.
Rather than taking away from rural communities a vital communication link for times of emergency, BT would be better placed finding ways to serve our communities with a good mobile phone signal. Now that it is the owner of EE it should be acting faster. The company must abide by its universal service obligations as an organisation that benefits from taxpayers’ money.
We urge local people to write to their parish councils asking them to protect their local phone box, and to consider taking up BT’s offer of adopting the phone box kiosk if BT does pull the plug.”
BT is currently consulting with local parish councils over the removal of the phone kiosks. It is inviting the councils in areas where phone boxes will be removed to adopt the red phone box kiosks for £1.
74 phone boxes are earmarked for removal including: Norwich Rd in Cromer, Roughton Road in Cromer, Watermill Close in Lower Gresham, in Little Barningham, Holt Road in Gresham, Cromer Road in Sidestrand, Church Street in Northrepps, in Little London, Dukes Head in Corpusty, The Street in Weybourne, The Street in Kelling, The Green in Hunworth, The Street in Hempstead, Old Cromer Road in High Kelling, The Street in Knapton, Trunch Road in Mundesley, Mundesley Road in Paston, Church Street in Gimingham, High Street in Mundesley, The Street in Ingworth, Mill Road in Banningham, Church Road in Colby, Blakeney Road in Wiveton, Newgate Green in Cley, The Street in Morston, The Common in Hanworth, Eagle Road in Erpingham, Metton Road in Sustead, Norwich Road in Roughton, Cromer Road in Beeston Regis, Britons Lane in Beeston Regis, Holway Road in Sheringham, Church Close in Antingham, Warren Road in Southrepps, The Lane in Briston, The Street in Brinton, Briston Road in Melton Constable, The Street in Swanton Novers, The Street in Thornage, Hall Street in Briston, Melton Constable Road in Briningham, The Street in Hindolveston, High Street in Wighton, Wells Road in Walsingham, Station Road in Great Ryburgh, The Street in Little Ryburgh, Highfield in Field Dalling, Field Dalling Road in Saxlingham, The Green in Hempton, Great Lane Estate in Pudding Norton, Wells Road in Hindringham, Moorgate Road in Hindringham, Barney Road in Hindolveston, Penny Croft in Wicken Green Village, The Street in Helhoughton, Market Street in Tunstead, Station Road in North Walsham, Brick Kiln Road in North Walsham, Bluebell Road in North Walsham, The Street in Barton Turf, Union Road in Smallburgh, Long Common Lane in Swanton Abbott, Ingham Corner in Ingham, Lower Staithe Road in Stalham, Clubhouse Car Park in Stalham, The Street in Catfield, Elmhurst Avenue in Sutton, High Street in Stalham, Heath Road in Hickling, Ferry Road in Horning, Coronation Close in Happisburgh, the Post Office in Witton, and St Nicholas Way in Potter Heigham.