BT could hang up service on 
half its public payphones

The payphone box in Campsie Terrace, Skinflats which may be removed
Picture: Michael Gillen
The payphone box in Campsie Terrace, Skinflats which may be removed Picture: Michael Gillen

Proposals from BT could close over half the public payphones across the district – and bring an end to many of the iconic red boxes.

The telecoms giant revealed that the move follows usage dropping by 90 per cent in the last ten years as the popularity of mobile phones soared.

It has launched consultation on closing 1500 of the 4800 public payphones across Scotland.

In the Falkirk Council area there are 105 payphones with 54 earmarked for closure in both urban and rural areas.

Notices have been posted on the under threat kiosks and people who have comments are being told to contact Falkirk Council’s planning department.

Although usage has dropped – 700 of the country’s payphones were not used once last year – there are concerns that in some communities, particularly where mobile phone signals are poor, public phones are vital.

Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East MSP, said: “If residents in Falkirk district wish to keep the phone boxes earmarked for removal then they must speak up and take part in the consultation.

“Alternatively, local groups or community councils covering the areas affected should consider the ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme, which has been used successfully in other parts of the country to provide storage for defibrillators or as a book exchange facility – a great initiative where people can go the kiosk to drop off and borrow old books for free.”

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “We have received a list of phone boxes that may be removed from local communities and are currently considering our response.”

A spokeswoman for BT said: “BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, but with usage declining by over 90 per cent in the last decade, we’ve continued to review and remove payphones which are no longer needed.

“Any removal of payphones is carried out in strict adherence to the Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of local authorities.

“In all instances where there’s no other payphone within 400 metres, we’ll ask for consent from the local authority to remove the payphone.

“Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone.”

BT is also promoting its Adopt a Kiosk scheme, whereby councils and charities can “buy” a kiosk for £1.