700 Scottish payphones completely unused in 2015


MORE than 700 payphones in Scotland went through the whole of 2015 without a single phone call being made.

BT is consulting on plans to axe around 1,500 of its Scottish phone boxes, nearly a third of the total north of the border.

No calls at all were made from 707 payphones in Scotland last year despite an annual bill of £310 per box to keep them in working condition.

And of the 1,280 boxes that were used, fewer than five phone calls were recorded at each one.

The rise of the mobile phone means usage of the boxes has declined by over 90% in the last decade.

BT states that at least 12 calls a year should be made from a box for it to remain viable but that criteria such as mobile coverage, maintenance costs and the number of boxes in the area will be taken into account before any removal decision is made.


Some of the boxes still provide a vital lifeline
Some of the boxes still provide a vital lifeline to some areas in Scotland


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.

“We understand that people still see the local phone box as a potential lifeline, especially in an emergency situation. We have a duty to provide a network of working phone boxes where they are most needed.

“We have to balance that with the commercial reality of a network where the number of calls is falling by 21 per cent each year and almost 70 per cent of phone boxes in Scotland don’t pay their way.”

If the boxes are removed it would leave around 3,300 operational boxes in Scotland, less than half the 6,962 that were recorded in in 2003.

Despite their rapid decline, 1.2 million calls were made in the 12 months to June this year and for some rural communities with poor mobile signal, they remain a vital part of the community.

The Highlands face losing the most, with 156 boxes on the line and at Loch Rannoch, Perthshire, a campaign has been set up to save the phone box at the local train station.
Scott Meikle, owner of the Moor of Rannoch Hotel said: “We are in a very remote area and we don’t get good mobile coverage.

“If someone needs to contact someone in an emergency, they will probably only get a very weak mobile signal and will need to use the phonebox.”
Glasgow city centre is the most popular place for people to use phone boxes, whilst high call rates are also recorded in Edinburgh’s High Street.

The Adopt a Kiosk scheme allows communities to buy their local phone box for £1 and lets people put them to different uses.

Some have been turned into tiny libraries, others into storage points whilst one even contains a defibrillator for medical emergencies.


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