UK’s highest phone box saved

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THE highest phone box in the UK has been saved from removal after a public campaign.

The phone box at the skiing base station on Cairn Gorm sits at 2,150ft in an area busy year-round with visitors.

The mountain itself is 4,084ft and the area regularly experiences some of the highest wind speeds and lowest temperatures in the UK.

Mobile phone reception can be extremely poor and hillwalkers claimed the presence of the phone box could make the difference between life and death.

Workers on the mountain were shocked to discover the plan to remove the phone earlier this month when a ranger entered the box and saw a note from BT saying it was to be scrapped.

The discovery prompted a social media backlash from walkers and rangers.

BT have now said that the traditional red phone box will not be removed after concerns from the local community.

A spokesperson for BT said: “We listen carefully to any community concerns and have already, for example, removed from the consultation the payphone at the ski-slope in the Cairngorms.

“Where concerns are raised to us through the local planning authority, we will not remove the payphone.”

Bill Lobban, vice convenor of Highland Council praised the decision.

He said: “This is a very sensible decision by BT and follows pressure from the local community.

“The box has been extensively used in the past and is essential for emergency use.

“People claim when they come off of the hill that they have mobile phone service, but if they can’t get a signal, it’s important they have another option.”

At the time of the note’s discovery, several local people began campaigning to stop the removal of the phone box.

Cairngorm Ranger, Ruari Macdonald, who discovered the notice, said: “How can we stop this from happening? The phone box is an iconic item on the mountain and quite an attraction for visitors to our site.

“As a member of the public I’d be devastated for its removal. How can we save it?”

The news also prompted dozens of comments on social media from outraged mountain enthusiasts urging BT to reconsider.

Pete Mings said: “That’s great, so when your buddy has broken his leg up top, it’s the middle of the night, no mobile signal, you look at your OS map and see a phone box, you go for help and bugger it’s not there.”

David Warnock wrote: “Maybe not used much but the decision to remove them does not just belong to BT as local councils must also undertake a review of how much these boxes get used but for the sake of health and safety the boxes in these areas should be kept without any question.”

And Jackie Johnson said: “Maybe these phones are not used much, all the same, these are needed in an emergency and shouldn’t be removed.”

BT is currently consulting on plans to remove around 1,500 phone boxes across Scotland

The firm said usage had declined by more than 90% over the last ten years as the popularity of mobile phones surged.

Of the approximately 4,800 payphones in Scotland, fewer than five calls were made from 1,280 of themthroughout the past year.

But the firm admits that maintaining each box costs only £310 a year.

 
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