WEST NORFOLK: Cost-cutting exercise sees BT plan to scrap almost 100 payphones

PUBLISHED: 17:57 28 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:27 02 June 2010

ALMOST 100 public payphones could be axed in west Norfolk as part of a cost-cutting exercise by BT. The telecommunications giant has submitted a planning application to King s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council to remove 98 payphones from various locat

ALMOST 100 public payphones could be axed in west Norfolk as part of a cost-cutting exercise by BT.

The telecommunications giant has submitted a planning application to King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council to remove 98 payphones from various locations within the borough.

A spokesman for the company said the move is part of a consultation process in order to get feedback from local people and the authority.

The company said it currently has 209 payphones in the Kings Lynn and West Norfolk District, of which 187 (89 per cent) are unprofitable.

The spokesman said: "We are consulting on just 98 payphones across the area, just over 50 per cent of all the unprofitable phones.

"We are only looking at the worst contributing phones and are ensuring that service is maintained within the area despite overwhelming low usage.

"BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, however over the years as usage has declined BT has been constantly reviewing and where necessary rationalising its public payphone estate in order to meet demand.

"This is nothing new, and we will continue to do so.

"Almost 60 per cent of our payphones are unprofitable, with almost 6,000 pay phones making less than one call a month."

Figures have revealed that payphone usage has halved in the last two years, and calls are still declining at a rate of 20 per cent year on year.

The spokesman added: "Any removal of unprofitable payphones is carried out in strict adherence to the Ofcom guidelines and where appropriate with the consent of the local community.

"We have contacted the authority to consult with them on our plan to remove 98 payphones. We have also informed them that we will be removing other kiosks where we do not need to consult as this is simply a question of thinning the estate where there are kiosks."

The planning application has been submitted to the Council for comment, although no papers have been put on the website at this stage. A decision will be made at a later date.

BT said that UK-wide, less than one call a week is made from more than half the kiosks in the consultation, and less than one call a month is made from a third.

In all instances where there is not another payphone within 400 metres, BT needs the council's consent to remove the kiosk and, if there is a clear social need for the phones, they won't be removed.

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