Argyll phone boxes facing BT axe secure a reprieve
Phone boxes across Argyll could have a temporary reprieve after councillors were advised to object to plans for their removal.
Communications giant BT wants to remove 67 phone boxes in locations throughout Argyll and Bute.
But in a report to the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee, which met on Wednesday January 20, council officers noted agreement had been reached for the removal of only 10 of the phone boxes on BT’s list.
Four of the 10 agreed for removal are in Lochgilphead and two are in Rothesay.
The others are in Ardrishaig, Bridge of Orchy, Dalmally and Taynuilt.
Community councils in several areas have lodged objections to BT’s proposals.
Council officials have been unable to contact community councils in the affected areas. In the circumstances the committee should object to the proposed removal, according to officials.
Two phone boxes, at Kingarth on Bute and Bridgend on Islay, are set to be ‘adopted’, meaning the community will be responsible for their maintenance.
Many are listed as having zero average calls per month, with the highest number being eight – for a box in Lochgilphead set to be axed.
Council executive director Kirsty Flanagan said in her report that the original BT consultation was due to finish at the end of 2020, but pandemic restrictions meant many community councils were unable to meet.
Council officers liaised with BT and the consultation was extended until January 2021.
Ms Flanagan added: ‘Given that a number of community councils could not be contacted within the period of the consultation, it is suggested that in order to allow comments to be received from these communities, the council objects to any that have not received a response.
‘This approach will mean that BT will include those phone boxes that have received objections in the next round of consultation processes.
‘The consultation process is relatively simple. They are asking communities if they wish to agree/object to the removal of the box, or if the wish is to adopt the telephone box for an alternative use.
‘There have been a number of communities across the area that have already been through the adoption process and have used these to house defibrillators, small libraries, cake shops or general public information hubs.’