BT phone boxes across Dartmoor set for axe

West Devon Borough Council has been informed
by British Telecom that 17 public payphones
in the region have been identified for potential
removal on the basis of low usage, with ten
locations falling within the boundaries of
Dartmoor itself.

The proposals are not cut and dried quite yet,
however, as BT are obliged to observe a 90 day
consultation period as outlined by communications
regulator Ofcom. Objections are considered on
their individual merit such as areas where there is
no mobile signal – a particular issue on and around
Dartmoor – or accident blackspots to name but two

The multi-stage process begins with an initial
notice being placed by BT in the listed phone
boxes. Although such notices were posted in the
17 payphones in question on 24th/25th June, the
matter has only just been brought to the attention
of
The Moorlander by concerned residents of
one such affected community in Bellever near
Postbridge a renowned mobile signal blackspot.

Yet according to the latest Ofcom mobile coverage
data, outdoor mobile phone coverage in Bellever is
apparently available from two of the main mobile
phone networks: O2 and Vodafone, but as can be
clearly seen from the O2 registered mobile phone

‘NO SIGNAL’ message is
displayed which contradicts Ofcom’s claims and
upholds local concern.

Surrounded on three sides by the immense
coniferous forest bearing the settlement’s name,
the hamlet of Bellever is home to a handful of
small cottages that were originally built for forestry
workers decades ago, a couple of larger dwellings
and a farm. It lies one mile from Postbridge in the
heart of the moor and overlooks the East Dart river

According to one resident who preferred not to
be named, not all of Bellever’s residents have the
benefit of an installed BT landline and with no
mobile phone signal for some distance they rely
on the call box as a vital necessity, particularly in
case of emergency; it was once used to report a
house fire.

the door of the box which was damaged in the gales last winter. They
have never returned to replace it so the interior is now wide open to the
elements. Locals suspect that this reluctance to address either issue is a
tactic by BT to hasten the box’s removal. Following
The Moorlander’s
enquiries BT have promised to investigate both issues
   A BT spokesperson also added: “Most people now have a mobile
phone and calls made from our public telephones have fallen by
around 90 % in the past decade. We consider a number of factors
before consulting on the removal of payphones.
   We consulted with West Devon District Council on the removal of the
payphone in Dartmoor and provided the community with the chance
to comment on our proposal. If the Council tell us they want the
payphone to remain, we will keep it.
   As part of the consultation, we are also offering communities the
chance to adopt phone boxes for just £1 through our Adopt a Kiosk
scheme. Adopted kiosks could house heart defibrillators. For more
details visit bt.com/adopt.

 

The need for payphones in emergencies is also reducing as 98 %
of the UK has either 3G or 4G coverage. As long as there’s network
coverage from at least one network, it’s possible to call 999, even when
there’s no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider.”
Rebecca Thomas who runs the village store and Post Office at nearby
Postbridge is fully behind Bellever’s campaign to save their phone
box and is distributing leaflets encouraging both locals and visitors to
register their objection with West Devon Borough Council (WDBC).
She is also concerned that if Bellever’s call box disappears then the
one outside her shop, which is a valuable community asset for a variety
of reasons, could follow. Her fears, however, have been quashed by
both BT and WDBC who confirmed that while the box was originally
on a list of payphones scheduled for removal, this is no longer the case.
WDBC themselves are encouraging communities affected by BT’s
proposals to take action. Cllr Terry Pearce, Lead Member for
Communities at WDBC, said: “West Devon Borough Council is
very aware of the importance of these phone boxes to our rural
communities, especially where the mobile signal is very poor or nonexistent. We urge everyone to read the consultation documents at


www.westdevon.gov.uk/phoneboxes and send us their comments
before the closing date on 4th August.
‘If you have any concerns about the state of repair of the phone boxes,
please report it to BT directly, but also include it in your response to
the consultation.”
If you are affected by the proposed removal of any of the 17 payphones
listed below and have not already made your comments known, you
have until 4th August to submit your comments to
WDBC – dm@swdevon.gov.uk.

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Author: Themoorlander

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