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Martham villagers' anger at BT

PUBLISHED: 12:52 29 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:47 03 July 2010

MARTHAM villagers have failed to connect with BT over plans to adopt a red phone box for just £1.

Villagers hope to take responsibility for a disused phone kiosk on Somerton Road so it can be moved to the village green to replace another red box destroyed by a motorist in March.

MARTHAM villagers have failed to connect with BT over plans to adopt a red phone box for just £1.

Villagers hope to take responsibility for a disused phone kiosk on Somerton Road so it can be moved to the village green to replace another red box destroyed by a motorist in March.

However, BT says it wants to install a modern kiosk on the empty site on the green.

But that would put the new kiosk

in a “Conversation Zone” - and parish councillors say they will fight any planning application.

BT said this week the Somerton Road box cannot be moved as it would require expensive safety tests and may get damaged as it is relocated.

The statement came as the parish council pledged that it was prepared to take on the maintenance of the relocated phone box.

The council has sent off £1 to BT as part of the company's national Adopt a Kiosk scheme to allow communities to save their traditional-style phone boxes from the scrapyard.

Council chairman Mike Huke said that the new village green kiosk would be an eyesore and not fit in with the look of Martham.

He added: “I fail to understand why BT cannot lift up the Somerton Road phone box and move it several hundred

yards up the road. We have been

fighting for the repositioning of

the phone box for eight months now - it has become very frustrating.”

The BT Adopt a Kiosk scheme was set up after telecommunications bosses backtracked on plans to remove thousands of little-used red boxes across the country because they were not financially viable.

Towns and villages that adopt their kiosk for £1 can then keep them as working phone boxes at a cost of

£300 a year to run or turn them into landmarks or community resources, such as information points in return for agreeing to look after them. Nationally, about 300 red kiosks have been

adopted.

A BT spokesman said: “We have been in contact with the council on this matter to explain our position. We are planning to put a new-style box in to replace the previous box which was destroyed in the accident.

“It is not normally possible to recycle red kiosks. Due to weight and because they are made of cast iron, there is a high probability of damage to the kiosk structure when it is moved and it would be unsafe to reuse without a very expensive testing process.”

There are more than 12,500 red telephone boxes in Britain. The first was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for a competition in 1924. Ten years later, Sir Giles refined

his design and the famous K6 or

Jubilee Kiosk was introduced nationwide to celebrate George V's Silver Jubilee.

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