Dartmoor call boxes – save our rural lines

In Issue 103 we published an article alerting the public to the fact that BT had placed notices of removal in 17 phone boxes around Dartmoor, nearly all of them in areas with little or no mobile phone signal.

Although the time for the public to have
their say has now passed, the consultation is ongoing with West Devon Borough Council and the outcome will not be known for another month.

However, we can report that currently, the public phone boxes in Lamerton, Grenofen. Bridge Magpie at Yelverton, Tavistock Road in Princetown, North Tawton and Moor View in Hatherleigh have all been agreed for decommissioning due to ‘No response received’.

Phone boxes at Horndon near Mary Tavy and Sampford Courtenay will hopefully be adopted by the respective Parish Councils.

The remaining nine boxes have all had objections raised against their removal, including the one in Beaworthy which appears to have suffered the same fate as at Bellever.

When The Moorlander went to Bellever, we were told that BT had said the phone wasn’t used – this was, in fact, because it was broken and BT hadn’t been out to fix it.

The objection from Beaworthy reads: ‘The statistics used to base the removal of the PCB [public call box] are inaccurate as the phone has been faulty for several weeks, therefore it has not been usable.

‘This fault was reported on 3rd July with a request for it to be fixed. There was also a request submitted for operating instructions as people may have tried to use it and struggled… The area has an older population with lower income and the possibility of no access to mobile and/or fixed telephones.

‘The mobile signal can be limited therefore it is more likely that the PCB would also be used for emergency calls. The church is opposite the PCB and they have always relied on it as an option in an emergency.’

The objection to the removal of the call box at Bellever from the Dartmoor Forest Parish Council and local residents is lengthy, highlighting the strong feelings surrounding the issue.

One resident said: ‘The area has NO mobile phone signal from any network so the closest to gain any rescue aid in the event of an accident on the moors, which is inevitable at some point. Just because it is little used does not mean it should be decommissioned.’

The Parish Council objects on grounds of no mobile signal, nearby houses with no landlines and it being the only phone in a heavily tourist-visited area in case of emergencies.

The Moorlander is pleased to announce that this particular phone does now work, after many calls to BT.

We have also requested an update on the door, which remains missing, and have been told: “We’ll be able to provide an update on the door once the consultation period ends”.

In the meantime, in the name of investigative journalism, The Moorlander has uncovered the sale of such doors on eBay, if BT are interested.

Ross Tibbles

Author: Ross Tibbles

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