Good call! Communities urged to adopt an iconic red phone box and give it a new lease of life
Communities are being urged to take ownership of iconic red phone boxes as they are retired from use by BT.
With the growing popularity of mobile phones, customers no longer make calls from the boxes as much as they used to.
Across the UK, 6,600 have already been taken on as part of the company’s ‘adopt a kiosk’ scheme.
Coffee booth: The Amar cafe (pictured) occupies a red call box in Chiswick, west London
And although some are still used as traditional phone boxes, others have been converted for a plethora of different uses including storage for life-saving defibrillators, book libraries and even mini museum exhibits.
BT recently revealed that another 4,000 kiosks are up for grabs.
James Browne, BT’s head of street, said: ‘With most people now using mobile phones, it’s led to a huge drop in the number of calls made from payphones.
Shock tactics: Swindon Borough Councillor Gary Sumner with the soon-to-be defibrillator
At the same time, mobile coverage has improved significantly in recent years due to investment in masts, particularly in rural areas.
‘We’re currently rationalising our payphone estate to make it fit for the future, and the “adopt a kiosk” scheme makes it possible for local communities across the UK to retain their local phone box, with a refreshed purpose for the community.
Thousands of communities have already come up with a fantastic array of ideas. Applying is quick and easy and we’re always happy to speak to communities about adopting our phone boxes.’
Villagers in Hinton Parva, Wiltshire, managed to save their phone box from the scrap heap, after it was carted off for disposal by mistake.
It has been reinstated by BT and locals are planning to install a defibrillator inside.
Gary Sumner, a local councillor, said: ‘We are right next to the National Trust’s Combes walking trail and it is quite an isolated area but the mobile coverage is OK.
So if someone gets into trouble with a heart attack then having a defibrillator nearby could be very useful indeed.’