WHILE the post offices debate rages, many communities across North Devon and Torridge are also contemplating the loss of another familiar service: public telephones. BT has applied to the local authorities for permission to remove 47 of Torridgeside s 111
WHILE the post offices debate rages, many communities across North Devon and Torridge are also contemplating the loss of another familiar service: public telephones.BT has applied to the local authorities for permission to remove 47 of Torridgeside's 111 kiosks and 38 of the 154 in North Devon district.BT spokesman Jason Mann said: "We are committed to our obligation to provide a public pay phone service. But demand is down, with usage halved in the past two years alone. Where we no longer believe a kiosk is needed we are seeking to remove it. "This has been the case for a number of years because of a continuing decline in usage, predominantly because of the use of mobile phones. We have written to local authorities to obtain consent where there is not an alternative within 400 metres. If there is a clear social need, they will not be removed."In both the North Devon and Torridge districts about a third of the chosen kiosks were used for less than one call a month; some had not had a call in the past 12 months, he said.Some of the kiosks would be of the 'red box' type, many would not. Those 'listed' as of architecutural value would not be affected, said Mr Mann.The local councils are holding a consultation before responding to the BT request. People have until July 7 to make their views known.North Devon has notified its parish councils and other bodies about the proposals. Torridge will consider doing the same at its next community development committee. Torridge Cllr Adam Symons said: "For many of our rural residents and urban communities phone boxes are an important facility for visitors and residents alike, especially where there is a lack of mobile phone coverage.