Town councillors in Burnham-On-Sea have this week vowed to oppose plans by BT to remove three of the town’s last remaining payphone boxes.
BT has announced its latest ‘Sedgemoor pay phone consultation’ and has earmarked phone boxes in Princess Street, Pier Street and Seaview Road for possible removal, blaming the growing use of mobile phones.
At a Town Council planning meeting on Wednesday (March 31st), Deputy Town Clerk Lorna Williams said: “BT’s monthly figures for the last year show the Pier Street call box was used for 19 calls; the one in Princess Street for 10 calls, and Seaview Road for 20 calls – that’s quite significantly down from several years ago, but bear in mind that we have been in a Covid situation for the last 12 months. I think that has made a significant difference.”
Cllr Peter Clayton added: “I think that point is very significant. A lot of people coming out of The Princess Theatre walk up the road and use that phone box after shows. So, with the theatre being closed for a year, it won’t have been used as much – but it is still used. The one in Pier Street is used as well by people calling taxis if there are no taxis on the rank, but that’s been affected too over the past year. Those two should most definitely stay.”
Cllr Andy Brewer said: “The data for the last 12 months is not representative of the normal usage so I’m inclined to think these payphones should be retained for the immediate future.”
He added on the Seaview Road kiosk: “There is very poor mobile phone coverage on parts of the beach.”
Cllr Nick Tolley added: “If there was one call from a box that saved a life in an emergency, it would be worth it. Some people will look around quickly if they don’t have a mobile or find theirs is dead – the phone boxes are still a part our way of life, they are used out there. I think the one in Seaview Road needs a sign from the beach to say ‘public phone this way’. I think we should keep these phone boxes and not lose any of them.”
Councillors agreed to write back to BT, requesting the three are retained.
It comes after Burnham-On-Sea.com reported in September 2019 that BT was removing phone boxes in Burnham’s Rectory Drive, Ringstone in West Huntspill, and Burnham’s Berrow Road.